Switzerland delivers eye-popping beauty whenever you visit, but in summertime, the high mountain meadows roll out a welcoming carpet of lush green grass popping with colorful wildflowers. The Alps’ irresistible allure dazzles even the locals. On any given day, you’ll find families, couples both young and old, groups of friends as well as solo hikers enjoying the trails, the scenic lakes, a picnic or a bike ride in their mountainous backyard. And what will you always find in their picnic basket? Cheese, of course!
For decades, the words “swiss cheese” were riddled with sapless connotations and visions of yellow apertured cheese with a bland texture.
The reputation was gleaned largely from large, format-style cheeses, including mass produced versions of Emmentaler, Gruyère and Raclette, which were exported at the expense of artisan varieties. But those days are over. Once ruled by the subsidies and production controls of the government-funded cheese cartels, the Swiss cheese market has experienced a renaissance, as cheesemakers have begun to reimagine the identity of this variety.
Appenzellerland, set between the Alps and Lake Constance in the northeast region of Switzerland, is a place where traditions are closely guarded and time is a relative term. In fact, as I walk through the car-free village of Appenzell, with its candy colored, chalet-style houses, quaint restaurants and whimsical displays of garden elves lining the sidewalks, it’s the anachronism of brightly clad tourists taking selfies on their iPhones that reminds me I’m actually in the 21st century.