The Swiss Trinity: Watches, Cheese & Chocolates. The two of the three will take you to the Gruyere region of the Canton of Fribourg and the home of its famous cheeses & chocolates. The Armaillis, the cowherds of Gruyere, tell us that the secret of rich flavors is quite simple: it's the cows and the great milk they produce. Additionally it's the love, the care & cheese-making skills the Armaillis provide that make the difference. The region has been associated with the black & white Fribourg cows for generations. What many don't know is that the last purebred was slaughtered in 1975. They have been replaced by Holstein cows which also have black and white markings. In Spring during the "Poya" you will see them proudly being guided with their bells clanging to higher pastures.
Do you like chocolate truffles? Does the mention of Frigor or Femina make your mouth water? Would you like to create & design your own personal box of pralines? If so, a visit to "Maison Cailler" in Broc is a must. Only a few Swiss chocolate factories offer tours of their plants. Cailler, the oldest brand of Swiss chocolates still in existence today, is an exception. Not only can you tour the factory, you can sign up for classes where they will teach you among other things how to make your own handmade truffles. It's quite a lot of fun. You'll probably hear Swiss tell you, that: "Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth is lying."
In the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving, in China it's the Mooncake Festival, in the Philippines it's the Pahiyas, in Sri Lanka it's Thai Pongal, and in Fribourg it is "La Benichon". This celebration which takes place in Gruyere the second Sunday in October was originally a religious ceremony giving thanks for a great harvest. Today, it's an opportunity for families and friends to gather around a feast of local products. As with Thanksgiving, the tables buckle under the many dishes served. Typically a brioche-like bread is served with Benichon mustard, cabbage soup, various meats including ham, smoked bacon & sausages as well as lamb, and of course Gruyere & Vacherin Fribourgeois cheeses top off the meal.
The City of Bulle, the capital of the region, has a neat historical quarter, but to get a real feel of a medieval town you'll want to visit Gruyere. The picture perfect castle is perched on a small hill surrounded by a magnificent panorama of the Alpine foothills. While there you can enjoy their famous Moitie-Moitie Fondue (half-n-half). For the fondue recipe posted on this site we substituted Fontina for the Vacherin used in Gruyere. In closing we invite you to listen to a rendition of the "Ranz des Vaches" recorded in 1975 by Bernard Romanens, a well-known shepherd & cheese-maker. The song brings tears to the Armaillis.
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