Q – This may qualify as the weirdest request of the week. I love fondue. I love cheese. But I am a connoisseur, as snobby as my wine drinking friends up here in Seattle. For my 60th, my wonderful wife bought us two tickets to Zurich on SAS. The purpose of the trip is visiting the best cheesemakers and doing tastings on the premises. But here’s the thing – there is one cheese that is my absolute favorite and that would be Gruyere. So here is my question – is there an escorted tour for this sort of thing, so do I drive myself around, something I really don’t want to do, or do I hire a private cheese-knowledgeable guide for the entire trip? Where will I find what I am seeking? Cost is really not an issue. It is more about where to go and how to go. The trip will be for nine days. Thanks so much. We feel like we know you from these posts.
A – We think you will find your nirvana if you base your stay in Lausanne, Switzerland. There actually is a Gruyere Association and they do arrange tours of some of the better cheese-makers. We are unaware of other organized specialized cheese tours but perhaps it is not a bad idea. We’ve always thought that a wine and cheese tour might be successful if the two groups went off on their own during the day and met only in the evening to sample the days best “catches”.
As to methodology – Lausanne is beautiful and a great place to come home to each evening. We would suggest that you have your travel adviser arrange for a program of, perhaps, three or four days of private touring. There are well-connected local guides who can make this trip really come alive. We don’t think you need to have someone with you every single day. When interviewing your travel advisor the key question is “Tell me about your on-site relationships in Switzerland”?
If the cheese backs you up you will find remedies at any Swiss pharmacy.
One other bit of advice. You might want to become a connoisseur of fig preserve. The best comes from Croatia and it should always accompany the cheese.