A professionally guided hiking trip, in the high Swiss Alps is fuelled by the thrill of connecting with nature’s wonders, but that is not all. During each day of a challenging trek like our Haute Route Classic itinerary , tired travellers get to refuel with gourmet meals and local culinary treats.
Nothing represents the character of Swiss Alpine cuisine like the variety of cheeses, many handcrafted in small batches with methods passed down through generations.
The centuries-old tradition of cheesemaking is still influenced by the changing seasons and types of terrain amid high mountain peaks and glaciers. Swiss cheese is classified as either Alpine or mountain cheese. Alpine cheese is a protected term that only applies to products made in the summer on Alpine farms, when cows are free to graze in open pastures, enjoying hundreds of varied herbs.
Mountain cheeses are made year-round in the lush valleys, where agriculture provides hay to feed the cows.
The Haute Route Classic trip treks through villages in the shadow of great peaks like Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin, and the Matterhorn. Along the way, hikers take full advantage of access to special, limited production Swiss Alpine cheeses, and perhaps purchase a selection to savor later with a glass of wine by the fire.
A taste sampler, raclette, or fondue may be part of the menu awaiting hikers at the end of an exhilarating day.
Still produced mostly by hand, the types of cheese vary from semi-hard to hard or extra-hard, with flavors from mild to spicy. As a prized specialty with limited production, Swiss Alpine cheeses are not readily available outside of a few retailers or from the producers themselves. Most of them meet the required specifications to earn the AOP (Appelation d’Origine Protégée) label. Some of the most renowned selections include Gruyère d’alpage, Vacherin Fribourgeois d’alpage, Berner Alp, and others1.
Your expert hiking tour guide will introduce you to a rare experience, tasting this artisanal product in its place of origin.
1. My Switzerland. Alp-cheese-treats-from-the-alps. Web. 16 June 2013.