Travellust.


A Weekend of All Things Divine, Pt. 1
4 May, 2007, 7:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I would never consider complaining about the opportunity to travel, unless of course I had done it for 3/7 days of the week for the past two months. The thought of having at least fifteen train switches within a period of three days was exhausting, but I sucked it up, and I’m glad that I did. Even though this was a trip where I would be traveling with the other forty-three students, I could not have had a better itinerary: La Maison du Gruyere, Callier Chocolate Factory and Obrist Winery in Vevey, Switzerland.

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We arrived at Gruyere for the tour early Wednesday afternoon. The small town of Gruyere is set in the hills of northern Switzerland, about an hour south of Geneva. Your eyes are instantly filled with the lush green that one sees in each direction they look. Even though Gruyere has at least fifteen other production facilities in Switzerland, the one that we visited was the original and provided a small, but fun tour. To much disbelief, there isn’t a whole lot that goes in the flavorful AOC cheese, but it is amazing to watch milk go through a process to become a large wheel of cheese which will age for at least six months and weigh up to 70 kilos. Upon departure, Gruyere bids you farewell with a tasting of 6, 8 and 12-month samples of the cheeses, the flavor becoming sharper with time.

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After the tour, we hoped on a train to Bulle and arrived at Broc-Fabrique, where we walked to the Callier Factory. I had honesty never heard of the Callier brand of chocolate (which I later learned to be a shame), and was not so much surprised to find out that they were a part of the Nestle family. The factory itself isn’t open to the public, but the tour includes samples of the basic ingredients, such as roasted cocoa beans, which they allow you to taste, as well as freshly roasted almonds and hazelnuts. You are also able to do aroma tests with these peculiar tubes that come out of the ground and you put your nose up to them and smell such flavors as chocolate and hazelnut or milk chocolate.

After this, you are given a brief history of how the Callier brand came to be, including the invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter who was a neighbor of Henri Nestle. At this point, the chocolate factory may not have impressed you, especially since you really don’t get to see much of the production. But, what happened next would have made any disbeliever forgiving. Our tour guide led us into a room, with backlit frosted glass panels, and a long counter which displayed every kind of chocolate that Callier produced. In your mind you are probably thinking that you are going to get to sample a few, but in reality, your tour guide has just told you that it’s a “free for all” and that we were free to sample as many as we could. As a side note, we were informed that all chocolate under the Callier brand is made with fresh milk from cows in local pastures. After tasting the chocolates, even a young chap would be able to tell the difference it made.

At the end of course she laughed when she knew some had tried so many that they were sick to their stomachs and it is just as if they had anticipated this. Because the next place that you are led to is a small theater that displays old black and whites on a screen, in French, and you are encouraged to sit in very comfortable chairs to watch (or fall asleep after an exhausting day of travel). After you wake up from your mini-nap you can then go to their shop, where all of the chocolates that you tried before are beautifully packaged and modestly priced.

I will post about the winery and details on where to stay in the northern caton of Switzerland in a few days, as a little R+R is in need after such a full week.

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