The food adventure with David Lebovitz continues in Lausanne, Switzerland after a 3 hour train ride from Paris: Fondue + kirsch (apparently the two go hand-in-hand), AOC mountain cheese, and of course, chocolate. Breathing in fresh mountain air and enjoying 70 degree weather in a part of Switzerland known for its laid back Santa Cruz-esque lifestyle (as Lebovitz describes this region and I agree) is not a bad way to go especially when the Swiss keep showering me with gifts.
I observe almost immediately the Swiss people in French-speaking Lausanne appear extremely generous and hospitable, especially compared with their Parisian counterparts who are typecasted as cold when you first meet them (a stereotype I will dispel in a future post).
It is not surprising to hear there is a prestigious hospitality school in town- the École hôtelière de Lausanne- where aspiring students apply for the highly competitive program with goals of attaining top careers in the hospitality industry.
I soon learn the Swiss differentiator is not just high quality service, but discreet service. We arrive at Au Coeur de la Cote to consume the famed malakoff – a fried cheese ball no one is quite able to replicate – and other regional specialties. One of the people in our group has something in his teeth. The owner of the restaurant proceeds to quietly hand him a toothpick and lightly shuffles away. The interaction was smoother than a drug deal.
Not only have the Swiss in this region been gracious to us Americans and let us impose on them while they work (and take pictures nonetheless, which is generally frowned upon), they shower us with presents. We trudge to the chocolate lab of prestigious chocolate shop Blondel, where they let us sample anything we want. At one point, I lock eyes with a newly formed chocolate log drying on a rack. As the chocolate maker sees me looking at it longingly, he enthusiastically eggs me on to try it. So, I do and I love it.
The chocolatiers at Blondel send us off with a beautifullly wrapped bag of chocolate delights. Since the Swiss are highly regarded for their milk chocolate, I decide I had better triple validate that information by tasting some pistachio nut barks of milk chocolate and chocolate logs peppered with powdered sugar. Confirmed.
As we make our way to international food specialty store Globus (for you D.C. and New Yorkers, think gourmet delights at Dean & Deluca, only three times as large), the sharply dressed Director personally welcomes us and takes us on a 30 minute tour of the store. As we conclude the tour, we are greeted with a long table of hors d’oeuvres of cured meats, crudo, cheeses and sweets laid out exclusively for us.
As we head out, the staff bids us a farewell and hand us a large goodie bag filled with wine and chocolates. I feel like an A-list celebrity getting my schwag before the Emmy’s.
I would keep writing, but I had better get back out there so I can collect more presents.