Cheesemaking & Alp Brunch in Pontresina, Switzerland
June 29, 2012
When you promote yourself as a super active, globe trotting foodie beware. People might plan for you to share in the amazing experiences ever. Experiences that you will never forget, because they are that special. On my first day in the Engadin / St. Moritz region of Switzerland the fabulous gals at the tourism board had a treat in store for me. Working on absolutely no sleep I have never felt more excited to get moving. Where did we go? We went to a local dairy artisan cheese maker. We indulged in a traditional Cheese Brunch / Lageplan Alphuette at Alp Schaukaserei. At the dairy they treated us really awesome upon our arrival…
You can see from the photos that we were well taken care of…
The dairy website is wonderful but it is all in German. That is the primary spoken language here.
The site features their store, the cheese making process, the Alp Brunch and more. I cannot figure out a way to translate the German to English. You can enjoy the photos though. Pictures say a thousand words, right?!
If you visit the dairy in Pontresina don’t worry, many of the folks working here speak enough English to fill your every whim, wish and desire. Besides it is fun to speak with your hands and try to communicate. Smiles work wonders! That right there is Stefan taking us through the beginning of the cheese making process…
What we enjoyed is called the Kaese Platten…
These were beyond cheese platters. I have never seen such artistry done with cheese, nor has it ever tasted so fresh and fabulous. They produce just a few varieties of cheese on the premises, others are favorite artisan varieties that they shared with us. They sell all sorts of goodies in their store…
Here is the awesome gal from Engadin Tourism who arranged all this fun. She is with Peter the main cheese maker.
Even though Peter does not speak English we communicated well together…… my guide was a great translator! Lots of giggles were shared.
By the way we did not hike, walk, drive a car or take a train to How did we get there? On e-bikes! Have you ever ridden an electric bike? I had never done it and I was a bit skeptical that it would be tricky or make me feel lazy. Neither of those were true. It was a blast! The great news is you still get a great workout ~ you determine how much assist you want on your ride. So easy and fun!
The Swiss take great pride in traditional cheese making. The process at the dairy is carefully practiced with patience and passion. No steps are skipped and each needs to be done at precisely the right time.
In between nibbles of fine cheese (every type you can imagine) dried fruit, pickled veggies, fresh fruit and cured meats, we were called in to watch different stages of the cheese making process.
Here is Peter again in the temperature and humidity controlled cheese cellar. This is where the cheese aging process takes place.
Here is me and Peter. *Hi*
There are many processes to making the cheese….
A few of them include:
- Milking the cows in the morning and evening. Bringing their unpasteurized milk to the right temperature (32˚ C) in a huge cauldron over an open fire (by the way the place smells amazing from that fire!)
- Adding rennet (a natural enzyme) to it so the milk naturally curdles.
- The milk is slowly stirred, in about 40 minutes it is coagulated.
- When the curd is the consistency of jelly a “harp” stirrer is used to cut the curds into corn kernel sized pieces. This causes the curd to separate from the whey.
- The cauldron goes back over the fire and it’s contents are heated back up to 36˚ C.
- After about 1 1/2 hours the cheese maker lifts out the cheese (which is now a big ball settled on the bottom of the cauldron) with the help of a giant cheese cloth. (You need big muscles for this!)
- The cheese is placed into a “Vaetterli,” a wooden cheese mold. The cheese loaves are turned upside down a few times over the course of a day.
- The cheese is then brined for about 1 hour.
- The cheese is trimmed to shape and stored in the cellar for the aging process. Here it is washed and turned daily.
- After 4 to 5 weeks (or longer) depending on the cheese, it is then ready to enjoy!
It is amazing and inspiring to watch the process unfold before your very own eyes!
There are even cute bunnies and play equipment for kids to enjoy.
Since this is set in the country there is plenty of room to spread out and run around! You might need to after eating so much cheese!
If you want to visit them for the Alp Brunch please do in the summer as this facility is mostly outdoors and is closed in the winter.
They do have winter offerings though. Check their website for more info on that.
Have you ever been to a traditional cheese making dairy? How about any other artisan food producer?