Paying Pilgrimage To ‘Holey’ Cheese

Switzerland is known for many foods…of course there are a few that are a little strange to the typical American, BUT most Swiss foods, including their chocolate and various other treats, are so legendary that even non-Swiss foods are trying to be associated with the small, neutral, country.

Cheese…glorious Swiss cheese. A counter of this stuff is a beautiful sight, sure to leave you breath stinking but your soul happy.

BUT, there is one Swiss delicacy that really is a king among the greats…CHEESE. But not just any cheese…Nutty, earthy, melty, AOC-protected, Swiss Gruyère Cheese.

When people think ‘swiss-cheese’ they often first think of the large-holed,  nonsense sold in vacuumed-sealed packages at Wal-Mart. But REAL Swiss Gruyère cheese has a profound taste, and makes anything labeled  ‘swiss-cheese’  that you ever pulled from a plastic wrapper seem rubbery and bland. Oh… and REAL Swiss Gruyère does not have big holes either.

I am a complete believer in the ‘power‘ of Gruyère and frequently preach how amazing it is. I have become a loyal follower of Gruyère, and let it guide me to tasty creations that I then brag about to my friends and family.

So whenever I go hiking in the Alps, I always try to pay pilgrimage to the holly birthplace of Gruyère.

The town (and region) of Gruyère, about 45 minutes drive down the valley from Lake Geneva, is the only place in the world where TRUE Swiss Gruyère can be made. If it is not made in this region, with milk from their  cows, then it cannot be the real “AOC” protected stuff. It has been like this for a long time, and guarantees that the high Swiss standards for taste and quality are always reached.

Stuff your face and take advantage of all the samples…MUCH better than any ‘Sample-Saturday’ you will ever experience at Sam’s.

Gruyère is a tiny town that can make a big impact on anyone who loves good food.  In Gruyère they proudly display their generous gift to the world and the few tiny cheese shops on the main street happily let you sample as much Gruyère as you can stuff your face with.  Take advantage of all the samples…this is the only place I have ever been where you can try samples from one type of cheese that have been aged for slightly different lengths. There are samples from cheese aged only a couple of months to stuff that  was aged for a year or more, and of course various time-lengths in-between.   You really can tell the difference in the taste and texture.  Younger cheese with their higher moisture content melt well and are milder in taste. The longer Gruyère ages, the stronger and more earthier its taste gets. It also gets harder and more grainy. While the Fed Up family really enjoys Gruyère no matter how ‘ripe’ it is, most of the family prefers the really aged  stuff…It seems this goes along with our usual expensive taste in most things … The oldest Gruyère is significantly more costly. This makes sense as many cheeses, like fine wines, has a value that  only goes up the longer is sits around.

The Gruyère cheese cave: This is where cheese is born and dreams are made.

In Gruyère, they have done a great job of keeping their town quaint. Few cars are allowed inside the main area, there are cobble stone streets and you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the village. And like all good medieval communities, there is even a quality castle! But Gruyère has not forgotten how they to leverage their distinct advantage of being the sole producer of their distinguished cheese. So for the many tourist, they do have several shops selling all sorts of cheesy souvenirs. And there are tours of the local factory and where you can be a real ‘cheese-head’ and take your picture with endless aisles of Gruyère as it ages in their massive cheese caves. And of course you can get your stereotypical Swiss fondue at ANY of the half-dozen or so little restaurants lining the main street. But the bowl of melted cheese you get served in Gruyère is NOTHING like the junk you find anywhere else. This is pure happiness in liquid form that tastes far better than any other fondue simply because of the magical effect of the Alps in the background, the  sounds of the cow bells ringing, the accent of the waitress, the quaint buildings around you, and the fact that you are in FREAKING GRUYERE, HOME OF GRUYERE!

Now Gruyère is just showing off with these other tasty foods. They can’t just be ok with being known as a legendary cheese manufacture…they have to brag about their meringues, cream and berries too.

Oh, and while you are in this sleepy little village, make sure you get the FULL experience. Plane tickets are not cheap, and you never know when you will next be strolling through Gruyère, so check out the other specialties of the region…Meringues, cream, and berries. All three of these are often served together as a dessert. And while I am  not really a dessert fan, my travel companions all are, and LOVE this combo. I did enjoy a bowl full of some of the tastiest strawberries I have has in a long time. BUT, to be honest though, I was kind of annoyed. Gruyere ALREADY makes great cheese…Now they are just being show-offs with all these other tasty foods they produce.

Next time you are wondering what to visit in the world…Forget Florence, pass on Paris’ boring tower, and all that old stuff in Athens is going nowhere. Instead pay pilgrimage to Gruyère; you will get to stuff yourself with samples, try some great  fondue, and visit a quaint village that is sure to get you yodeling in no time.

Obligatory image of fondue… legally you can’t have an entire post about Swiss foods and not include at least one image of the stereotypical dish…And yes, it was damn good.


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Categories: Recommendations

Author:Mr. Fed Up

A guy looking for good grub. and YES....I have a website...and I am not going to bore you with one of those personal journal type of blogs. I promise. Check it out;


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9 Comments on “Paying Pilgrimage To ‘Holey’ Cheese”

  1. letseathealthier
    July 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    I ADORE Gruyere! Maybe one day I’ll go visit that village, too, thanks to your post! I think I’ll have to post a recipe that includes Gruyere on my blog soon! Do you have any suggestions?!

  2. Sylvie
    July 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Ahhhh Gruyère… It turns plain pasta and even plain rice into the most delicious things… It seem like a “simple” cheese but you can combine it to so many different kinds of foods and change them for the best… You can eat it by itself and its still perfect…
    As far as going to “freaking” Gruyère it’s one of my dreams, the grand finale to my “route du fromage”. Haha

    • July 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      Gruyere is really one of my top cheese choices…it is always gladly appreciated. I especially like the really aged stuff.
      You really will need to visit Gruyere one day. It is a great spot to stop for lunch while touring the Swiss valleys. But to be honest, I would not spend the night there…VERY small town, and you can see it all in a couple of hours.

      • Sylvie
        July 29, 2012 at 8:13 am #

        What about “Gruyère by night”?

      • July 29, 2012 at 9:30 am #

        But then you miss the beautiful scenery once it gets dark. But gruyere anytime is good I guess.

  3. July 31, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Gruyere is good cheese, but living in Geneva, I still like neighboring France’s Camembert and Brie much better!

    • July 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      Wow…those are fighting words! I will admit, that sometimes you forget how lucky you are to have amazing stuff made in your own country. We have some real good cheddars and other cheese made in the USA that I ignore…But, YES, France does make some really good stuff. I am a big fan of their aged goat cheeses


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