A Swiss Alps Culinary Adventure
From Gruyères to Montreux, Switzerland!
The Swiss Alps has been Europe’s playground for hundreds of years. This paradise of glistening peaks, tumbling glaciers, and gushing waterfalls has a magical way of inspiring creative genius. Poets, musicians, inventors—and especially culinary artists—have all flourished in the Alps. Now it’s your turn. The Romans left a legacy of viniculture on the sundrenched slopes of the Swiss Alps. The Swiss invented meringues, fondue, muesli, and Raclette. They invented and perfected chocolate as we know it. Their cheeses are world renown. Switzerland’s restaurants have been awarded more Michelin stars per capita than any country in the world. Explore your own food passions as you make Gruyère cheese in an alpine chalet over an open fire as local cheesemakers have done for over 900 years. Then standing side-by-side with a master chocolatier you develop your own chocolate creations. You learn the secrets of preparing a bubbling caquelon of classic cheese fondue. Your culinary experience will be enhanced by walks through vineyards with breathtaking views, spectacular mountaintop excursions, and guided outings through walled medieval villages and storied castles. Your food adventure in the Swiss Alps includes round trip transfers from the Geneva Airport, six nights hotel accommodations, breakfasts, dinners, ground transportation, excursions, classes, demonstrations, tastings, guided walks, recipes, interpretive notes, and the services of an English-speaking expert guide. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable visual and sensory feast in the Swiss Alps.
Gruyères Hotel - For One (Dbl Occ)
Your first 2 nights Lodging will be in the village of Gruyères. Over 300 years ago the Hotel de Gruyères was a livery inn where coachmen would stay as they delivered nobility to the hilltop village. Located adjacent to the walls and ramparts of Gruyères, the hotel is perfectly situated and offers dramatic views of the castle, in a romantic and peaceful setting. Deer graze in meadows below the hotel and dazzling mountain views abound. The traditional chalet-styled rooms are accented in natural woods and heavy hewn timbers. A bounteous breakfast features the traditional local favorite—double crème and meringues.
Montreux Hotel Accommodations
Your next four nights lodging will be in the historic town of Montreux. This mountaintop setting on the heights of Montreux with its gardens suspended over the waters of Lake Geneva has inspired the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Lord Byron. On a summery day, to sit on the terrace gazing out over the lake and the Alps verges on bliss. From humble roots in 1869 the Hotel Victoria soon added magnificent lounges and acquired over 500 objects d’art and collector’s items to create a sumptuous atmosphere bearing witness to the Belle Époque art of living. Each room is individualized and tastefully arranged within its generous space. Modern embellishments include a swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness room, sauna, spa, and golf practice greens to transform your stay into many moments of pleasure and relaxation.
Rendezvous | Transfer to Gruyères | Artisan Chocolate Demonstration | Village & Castle Tour, Welcome Dinner
You’ll be greeted at Geneva International airport and transferred to the walled medieval village of Gruyères, with its picture-perfect setting on a hill overlooking rolling pre-alpine farmlands. The cows that graze the lush grass and fragrant flora of alpine meadows in the peaceful valley of the River Sarine produce the milk for Gruyère cheese and Switzerland’s finest milk chocolate. Once you’ve arrived and settled in, you will set off for a guided walk of the historic village and its 13th-century castle, home to the Counts of Gruyère. Within the village walls meet with a traditional chocolate maker who roasts, grinds, and conches his own select cacao beans to produce his unique creations. We enjoy a welcome dinner in a traditional chalet within the village walls.
Traditional Gruyère Cheese-Making
After breakfast we set off for a mountain dairy where we’re on hand for the morning cheese making. Using time-honored tools and methods, the cheesemaker combines the morning milk with the evening milk before cutting the curds. Holding the hem of the cheesecloth in his teeth, he snatches the curds from the whey, and then presses the steaming hot curds into the round forms to produce hand-crafted wheels of Gruyère, Switzerland’s most popular cheese and its most widely exported cheese.
Artisan Bread Baking | Hands-on Fondue Cooking Class
In your first cooking class you’ll discover the secrets of traditional baking in a 200-year-old wood-fired oven. We’ll learn successful techniques for kneading, rising, and shaping the dough. Then once in the oven we discover how to create a crackling crust. Later, you’ll explore the history and tradition of cheese fondue—made with the finest Gruyère cheese, of course—then carefully prepare this classic Swiss comfort food to savor for your evening dinner, along with the bread you’ve just baked.
We explore the sun-kissed terraced vineyards of the Lavaux UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll walk through the vineyards comprised of 14 wine villages nestled among the vines and reflecting the region’s 1000-year winemaking heritage. Our route leads from the medieval villages of Grandvaux with its narrow alleys and characteristic vintner’s houses from the 16th to 19th centuries, to the lakeside vineyards of Rivaz. If you want to experience the scenery with all the senses you should also taste it. The vineyards are daringly constructed on steep hills, so a glass of Chasselas makes the trail to Rivaz twice as much fun.
Making Chocolate Truffles at Läderach
After breakfast a funicular descent to Montreux and a short boat ride on Lake Geneva take us to the neighboring town of Vevey—a foodie Mecca. It is the birthplace of the chocolate bar in 1819, milk chocolate in 1875, and white chocolate in 1930. Imagine a town of just 18,000 people with four Michelin-starred restaurants and the world headquarters of Nestlé. In Vevey we are exclusive guests at the Läderach chocolate studios and shop. Läderach chocolate represents the highest levels in chocolate design, quality and taste, and you will learn the art and techniques for making chocolate ganache and truffles from a master chocolatier. We conclude the day perfectly with dinner in one of Vevey's Michelin-starred restaurants.
Alpine Herbs | Farmstead Goat Cheese | Raclette at the Source
Terraced vineyards, a Roman amphitheater, and other ruins attest to the influence ancient Rome wielded in the Rhône Valley. Flanked by the Bernese Alps to the north and showstoppers like the Matterhorn and Weisshorn to the south, the sunny Upper Rhône Valley is Switzerland’s leading wine region and an agricultural paradise where orchard fruits, nuts, and herbs flourish. At a nearby goat cheese dairy we taste the versatile and varied types of goat cheese from tangy chèvre to ash-ripened bleus. On a walk through mountainside herb fields with a Ricola herb grower we discover both the culinary and medicinal uses of available plants and conclude with a meal in the farmer's home. Raclette cheese originates in this region and at dinner in a chateau we’ll sample five different renditions of this favored cheese from top local fromageries and come to appreciate its nuanced characteristics from a knowledgeable racleur.
Montreux Market | Serving Cheese | Chillon Castle | Farewell Dinner
Montreux’s vibrant weekly market, along with some of the specialty food markets in the old city, are the perfect place to sample local fresh products—artisan oil, cheese, honey, liqueur, or local wine. In the company of a mâitre fromager we select an array of cheeses you will use to create an impeccable cheese plate. You gain practical and professional guidance in how to select the cheeses used in your cheese course, along with serving, pairing, accompaniment, and presentation tips that will separate you from the novices and elevate you to the ranks of a true fromager. A tranquil walk along the shores of Lake Geneva takes us to the stunning and well-preserved 12th-century Chillon Castle. This impressive citadel with its exceptional natural setting on the lake was immortalized by Lord Byron. You’ll conclude a perfect day and a perfect week with a multi-course lakeside farewell dinner where we relax and gaze out over the Alps.
What Our Customers Say
We had a fabulous time -- one of my top favorite vacations. Greg and Elaine, our tour guides, were wonderful. They were very knowledgeable, personable, and efficient. They took us to GREAT destinations with GREAT experiences. Switzerland is a great destination in itself. The bread making, chocolate making, and fondue making were highlights. I have and will continue to recommend this tour and Epitourean to my friends and my travel agent
- KC. Oct. 2016