Once upon a time there was a young girl sitting in the lunch room of a chalet somewhere in the mountains of Berner Oberland. Like all the other boys and girls signed up for that ski camp she just had arrived on a bus and was waiting to learn whom she would be put in a group with and when they finally could grab their skis and hit the slopes.
Restless and bored at once the kids started to unpack the lunches they had brought from home. The sounds of aluminum foil being torn off, insulated bottles being opened and apples being bitten into took over the room.
Eating her thick and soothing butter, salami and pickles sandwich the girl all of a sudden noticed a boy sitting a few chairs down at the opposite side of the table. Or more so did she notice his lunch.
Purity and prayer
All afternoon there were six glasses and a pitcher full of perfectly pure and cold spring water standing on the sturdy wood table. When the pitcher was empty one of us would stand up and refill it at the fountain. A very simple scene? Well it made for the most inspiring and fulfilling al fresco afternoon I ever have experienced.
Cheese maker Willi Schmid had taken us to visit his friend and one of only two of his Jersey milk purveyors, Hansruedi Giger. The drive up from the dairy in Lichtensteig was curvy, steep and led us through forests for most of the ride. The moment we got out of this green awning we found ourselves on a soft looking high plateau. Bright grass, flowers, a tree here and there. And far up the narrow road two houses.
Since this is my first contribution to this blog please let me introduce myself: I am a Swiss food journalist turned cheese importer & wholesaler. My company, Quality Cheese, was born out of lack. When I moved to Florida fifteen years ago I immediately started to miss all the fabulous cheeses I had loved, been exposed to and eaten daily back home.
During a phone call with my friend, Affineur Rolf Beeler, I mentioned that I would have to start importing his products. Somehow this little joke stuck in my head. A few months later I ordered thirty pounds each of Rolf’s Gruyere, Sbrinz and Emmentaler. I set out for a trip that led me to five cities and chefs like Tom Keller, Daniel Boulud, Gray Kuntz and Charlie Trotter. Upon my return I found the first order on my fax machine. From a certain Mr. Max McCalman for (at the time) Picholine Restaurant.