This past weekend was my grandmother’s 84th birthday. Of course this required decent celebration, so I packed my Dresdener Stollen (a pastry that deserves a post of its own in due time) and went off to the Lake of Constance. We celebrated all day Saturday, and it was nice to know that at 84 one can still enjoy early-morning mimosas!
The next day, my parents and I decided to take a trip in their new red VW Polo to the Swiss Alps. It was my request to go to Switzerland, as I love the country, the mountains, and, nowadays, the cheese (and let’s face it, I’m working on getting an addendum for my passport, so I had to get another stamp!). When I was younger I was the only person in my immediate family who couldn’t appreciate a good Gruyère or Appenzeller, but those days have changed. My taste buds have matured along with my personality, and I am now a full-fledged member of the Swiss Cheese Lovers Community (nonexistent as far as I know, but there should be one).
Aside from their famous cheese, the canton of Appenzell in Switzerland is also known for two pastries: the Appenzeller Birnenweggen and the Appenzeller Biber. The first is a type of fruit bread with a very thin pastry dough on the outside and filled with dried pears, figs, raisins, nuts, and other fruits. It’s amazingly tasty, and obviously quite filling. The Biber is a traditional Lebkuchen pastry sandwich that has a nut crème filling (often marzipan) that tastes wonderfully like Christmas to me. While not as moist and flavorful as the Birnenweggen, the Biber is a very yummy advent-time treat (that seems to be eaten year-round in Appenzell) that goes well with a good cup of Swiss coffee.
We also visited a cheese factory, though it was a bit disappointing. We didn’t get to see as much of the process as we’d hoped. Part of this was due to the fact that it was Sunday and they were just finishing their shift and cleaning all the machines, and part of it was due to the fact that it was a much smaller operation than the other cheese factory I’ve been to in Oregon, the Tillamook factory. What I did get a peek at was all the cheese wheels lined up and patiently waiting to be done aging. That was pretty cool! I’d very much like to take a guided tour of a factory sometime, and see the process in action. As a souvenir I bought some fondue that I hope to share with my friends here who enjoy stronger cheese fondues. And in the meantime I will satisfy myself with looking at the Swiss stamp in my passport and dreaming of being high up in the Alps again with its breathtaking views.
These lovely pastries were purchased in a cute little bakery/konditorei called Drei Könige run by the Gmünder family. They are located on Hauptstrasse 26, 9050 Appenzell, Switzerland Tel. (+41 071 787 11 24) Fax (+41 071 787 52 88)