When it comes to choosing a holiday destination in Europe, Switzerland easily finds favour among travellers. The thought of the destination by itself transports one to a dreamland of sorts, away from the rest of the world. To explore the locales of the country and experience the local cuisines, Cox & Kings had recently organised a Grand Tour of Switzerland for the travel trade media, through its property, MasterChef Travel. Accompanying the group were MasterChefs, Kunal Kapoor & Shipra Khanna. TravelBiz Monitor, in the first of a 2-part series, revisits the first leg of the tour from Geneva to Zurich
Not many travel segments are as enticing and
tempting as a culinary tour. Moreover, when
the destination is Switzerland, it is even harder
to resist, given that the country is just as much a haven
for discerning travellers as it is for food enthusiasts.
A delightful combination of travel and food in this
wonder of a destination, and that too in the company of
a MasterChef such as Kunal Kapoor, is something few
people would want to miss.
On the Grand Tour of Switzerland, organised by
MasterChef Travel, Chef Kapoor was taken on an
explorative tour of the culinary locales of the destination,
from April 17-21. The tour covered the destinations
on the western part of Switzerland, namely Geneva,
Lausanne, Interlaken, Jungfrau, Bern, Gstaad, Lucerne,
MasterChef Travel is a property of Cox & Kings. It is
a collection of culinary holidays designed to reveal the
wonders of the world’s great food destinations.
Switzerland is a dream destination for most Indians,
thanks to the many Bollywood movies that have
been picturised against the backdrop of the snowy,
mountainous terrains of the country. However, going
beyond what has so far been depicted of the destination
on celluloid, Switzerland truly has a lot to offer; attractions
and sights that one needs to witness to believe!
Home to 20% of the Alps in an area of 41,285 sq km,
Switzerland boasts of attractions like Lucerne - with
its lake streamer cruises; Zurich - the country’s largest
metropolis; and the Jungfrau region - with its panoramic
views. The country is the birthplace of recreational
skiing, and is also a chocoholic’s paradise. Alpine valleys,
wildflowers, and snow-laden mountain ranges define this
small, landlocked country.
Options for undertaking a
tour of Switzerland range
from self-drives, train
rides, aerial cable cars, and
Meadows and pastures
constitute a large portion of
the Swiss farmlands, which is
why milk and dairy products
are the major agricultural
produce of Switzerland.
The cuisine of the country
is synonymous with fondue, cheese, chocolates, and
Switzerland produces and exports chocolate on a
large scale, which makes it a chocolate connoisseur’s
destination. The fame of the country for its chocolate is so
far-reaching, that there is a Chocolate Train connecting
Montreux to Gruyeres, and then to the Nestle chocolate
factory at Broc, where one can sample the luscious
delicacies. Moreover, the Swiss are fond of coffee and
wine. They produce fine wines, though in smaller
quantities, which are mostly consumed domestically,
such as the Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.
Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux & Epesses
The first leg of the Grand Tour of Switzerland commenced
from Geneva. The group was taken to the Lake Geneva
Region. One of the fascinating marvels of the city is
the Jet d’Eau, which is an iconic water fountain that is
140 mtr in height. Equally charming and iconic is the
floral clock, L’horloge fleurie. Considered to be the most
beautiful clock in the world, it is adorned with 6,500
Not very far away is the beautiful city of Lausanne,
which houses the unique Olympic Museum. It is home to
over 10,000 pieces symbolic of the Games, which makes
it a must-visit attraction.
A short train ride away is Montreux. The city is
popular for culinary schools and jazz festivals, though
the trademark attraction is the Chillon Castle, located
The highlight of this part of the Culinary Tour was the
visit to the Auberge du Vigneron restaurant in Epesses -
an old village that offers some of the finest wines of the
world. Situated amid the Alpine mountains, overlooking
the Lavauz vineyards, Auberge du Vigneron offers
regional cuisine, prepared with vegetables and herbs
that are grown by the restaurant right on the banks of
the Lake Geneva. A cooking session was organised on
the first day of the tour, wherein Chef Kapoor prepared a
local cuisine made with fish from Lake Geneva.
More Food for Thou
Interlaken, Jungfrau, Bern & Gstaad
Rich with mind-blowing scenery and adrenaline-loaded
adventures, the town of Interlaken is the top-ranker
among must-visit destinations in Switzerland. Here,
the historic town of Thun and the Brienz Lake welcome visitors with spectacular panorama. The highest
train station in Europe, Jungfraujoch (11,371
ft) is the closest one can come to, to experience
what the top of Europe feels like.
The discerning culinary traveller can satiate
his hunger, literally, at The Victoria-Jungfrau
Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken. The hotel
houses restaurants that serve an exhaustive
variety of cuisines. If you crave global cuisines,
head to La Terrasse restaurant. If you are in the
mood for some lip-smacking delicacies from Italy,
check out Quaranto Uno. Else, if it is just a few
moments of relaxation in the company of drinks
and smoke that you desire, then Victoria Bar and
Salon Davidoff are the right places.
Next on the list was the tour of the UNESCO
World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Bern
(Altstadt). Here, one can discover some of the
most beautiful and lesser-known sights of the
Swiss capital, including the unique Bear Pit.
Another attraction is the cellar restaurant,
Kornhauskeller, which serves Swiss classics,
Mediterranean dishes, and the regal Bernese
platter. Then there is the micro brewery, Wabräu,
which is managed part time by a team of 12
people. Brauerei Wabräu serves fresh, handbrewed
beer on Fridays, and produces around
9,000 ltr of beer annually.
However, when it comes to classy small towns,
Gstaad is the clear winner. It is renowned for
streets filled with high-end fashion labels,
celebrity spotting, and adventure activities such
as skiing and hiking. The village is known for
its dairy products, such as the AOC Bernese
Alpine cheese, Saanen Alpine cheese, the
Gstaad Mountain cheese, and the truffle fondue
mixtures. All of these can be found at the
Molkerei Cheese Grotto. A steep flight of wooden
steps takes you to the evocatively-lit world of the
Grotto, which earlier functioned as a community
water reservoir. Extending 25 mtr underground,
it is home to more than 3,000 varieties of cheese,
including some historical rarities. However, what
really steals the show is the Cheese Cave, also
referred to as the Cheese Monument.
Surrounded by cobalt lakes and majestic
mountains, Lucerne - the ‘city of lights’ - sparkles
in every season. The star attraction here is the
14th century wooden footbridge, Kapellbrucke
(Chapel Bridge) that runs across Reuss River.
This covered bridge features paintings, some of
which go way back in the 17th century. Another
popular attraction here is the Lion Monument,
a symbol of loyalty and bravery. The sculpture
depicts a dying lion, and is dedicated to
Switzerland’s mercenary soldiers.
In Lucerne, one can find the perfect blend
of culture and food. The city’s only remaining
guild house, Zunftrestaurant Pfistern, is now
a restaurant, which is known for its authentic
Swiss cuisine. This, teamed up with a splendid
setting in the heart of the city, with magnificent
views of the chapel bridge, Reuss River, and the
Alpine ranges, offers an unparalleled experience.
The menu features meat, fish, and regional
specialties, along with seasonal and authentic
Lucerne cuisine. What makes for a definite try
is the Luzerner Chugelipastete, which is akin to
a meat pit.
Swiss cuisine is incomplete without fondue, be
it cheese, meat or chocolate. To try some, stop
by Fondue House. The warm and cozy ambience
of this restaurant’s artistically decorated wooden
cabin is perfect for relishing the finest fondues.
The best way is to dip bread, potatoes, veggies,
and meats into the cheese.
Situated about 50 km away is the glacier
paradise, Mt. Titlis. The highest point in Central
Switzerland, this is where one can experience
a breathtaking landscape inside the gondola
revolving cable car, Rotair. Mt. Pilatus, on the
other hand, has the biggest suspension rope
park in Central Switzerland, as well as a range
of leisure and recreation amenities. Lastly, a
cruise on the lovely lakes of Lucerne, and strolls
alongside the waterfront promenade are highly
The oldest restaurant in Zurich, the Haus
Hiltl (115 years old) serves vegetarian cuisine,
comprising more than 100 dishes, including an
Indian buffet (25 specialties). Located next to the
restaurant is the vegetarian butcher shop, where
one can find all kinds of veggie ‘meat’, including
hamburgers, sausages, cordon bleus, and tartar.
The restaurant also doubles up as a bar, and a
club on weekends.
The next, and the most obvious, stop is where
one can devour some of the best chocolates,
pralines, and truffles. For this, step into Laderach
Chocolates, which offers tantalising, handmade
treats available in a beautiful range, which make
for the perfect souvenirs to take back home.
Another fine example of Zurich’s culinary
creativity is Zunfthaus zur Waag, located in the
historic town square of Munsterhof. The restaurant
is renowned for its magnificent Renaissanceinspired
facade, and Zurich specialties like ‘Zurcher
Geschnetzeltes’ (sliced veal in a creamy gravy).
Wanderlust is an insatiable feeling, and more
so on a culinary tour. Quite appropriately, there is
more to this Grand Tour of Switzerland that needs
to be spoken about. Watch this space for the second
and the last part of the tour, with MasterChef