Greetings from the Pays La Gruyère, picture-perfect Switzerland…the myth of cows, chocolate and cheese

La Gruyère is indeed a part of Switzerland one could think it has been artificially built to please Japanese Tourists. But as a matter of fact, it is all very genuine and a place on earth I really like because it is not so overcrowded like other parts of my homeland. It is a very mellow landscape, cows on lush meadows, creeks running through it and historical buildings and castles on top of the hills.

There is a lot to see and do. Let’s start in Gruyères, set high on top of a hill with a castle and a picturesque old town. The famous cheese inherited its name from the very same village, and you guess correctly, there is of course a cheese factory on the foot of the hill which you can visit. You can watch the cheese makers, taste and buy cheese and other very delicious treats. In the midst of the village, a totally untypically Swiss “thing” to visit is the HR Giger museum (The Alien guy) and his bar. It is very special indeed. I do not really like the guy, but the architecture of the bar is a must-see! Absolutely extra-terrestrial! The castle is worth a visit as well and so are the various restaurants.

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Unfortunately, when we were there the “Auberge de la Halle” was closed, that was very disappointing as apparently they serve fresh morels filled with minced veal. Sounds so yummie. We ended up at the Restaurant Des Remparts and had a very delicious dinner. Meat on a hot stone, sounds a bit like a massage, but it was really very nice and decent in the price too! One specialty would of course be the cheese fondue in 120 different variations, and as a dessert, double crème de la Gruyère with meringues and red berries. I did…resist! The meat alone was more than enough!

There are a few hotels in/around Gruyères, the one we discovered and stayed for one night is a true gem. Le Broc’aulit, not to be mistaken for Broccoli 🙂

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The old Auberge was transformed in a wonderful Bed & Breakfast a few years ago, most of the ancient parts have been maintained because the building is under protection of historical monuments. Somehow, we seem to be very lucky when booking hotel rooms directly on hotel websites! When we checked in, we got an upgrade to the Suite. This was a really special treat as the room is facing the village of Gruyères and the Moléson. Waking up to a clear blue sky, looking outside the window was really like living a fairy tale! The Moléson is the highest mountain in the region, you can go on top by funicular or cable car, it is 2002 m high, nothing compared to the real alps, but since it sits in the pre Alps it looks quite impressing compared to the hills surrounding it.

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Broc has 2200 habitants and 2(!!) railway stations…why? One has been built right in front of the Cailler Chocolate factory, as a courtesy to the many people who work there. And here we go with one of the main reasons why a stop in Broc is a must. Cailler offers visitor tours where you can taste all their products and you can also do courses and learn how to make your own Pralinés (no need for me, I helped Daddy for many years doing the finest one on earth).

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There’s of course more to see and do, visit the hot springs, hike around the lake of Gruyères, bike, ski, visit Bulle, Romont and Fribourg. But ours was just a stopover and we had no time to do all of this…but, we will be back for sure.
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Quick and isi dinner…comfort food!

Arrgghhh! It is snowing outside and ice cold! After two weeks of spring we are back to winter…I need comfort food! Here is my Sunday quick and isi dinner:

1 pack of dough for quiches, round or square
500 g fresh spinach which I had blanched yesterday, drained and kept in the fridge. You can also use frozen one, but defrost it before using it. No Creamy spinach, eh, just normal one!
100 g Gruyères cheese, grated
50 g cooked ham cut in tiny little cubes…ok, I bought them cut like that 😉
1 egg
1 dl milk
2 dl cream
Yes, you can also use just milk or just cream. You remember? I am clearing up my fridge today, so I use what is left.
Salt, pepper, chili powder, aniseed, nutmeg, oregano, thym

Unfold the dough and put it on a baking plate with a high enough rim. I used two plates of the size of my iPad Air. With a fork, make hundreds of little holes in the bottom of the dough..hundreds, if not more!
Preheat the oven to 180c, I know it is boring, always the same temperature!

Chop the spinach and drain the water if any more comes out. Mix the spinach with approx 50 g of the Gruyères and the ham cubes. Add the spices and herbs to your liking. The aniseed however is a must, it gives the pie the special flavour.
Crack the egg into a shaker, ideally without the shell, add the milk, the cream, some more spices. Careful, if the ham is salty, do not use any more salt.
Shake well. Fill the baking plates with spinach-cheese-ham mix and pour the egg-cream/milk mix on it. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the pies. Bake for about 40mins.
Let it cool a few minutes before you eat it, but it definitely should be enjoyed while it is still hot.
Comfort food helps on a day like this!
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