Cheesemaking & Alp Brunch in Pontresina, Switzerland

by Marla on June 29, 2012 · 43 comments

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Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

When you promote yourself as a super active, globe trotting foodie beware. People might plan for you the the most amazing experiences ever. Experiences that you will never forget, because they are that special.

On my first day in the Engadin / St. Moritz region of Switzerland the fabulous gals at the tourism board had a treat in store for me. Working on absolutely no sleep I have never felt more excited to get moving.

Where did we go? We went to a local dairy artisan cheese maker. We indulged in a traditional Cheese Brunch / Lageplan Alphuette at Alp Schaukaserei.

At the dairy they treated us really awesome upon our arrival…

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

You can see from the photos that we were well taken care of…

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

The dairy website is wonderful but it is all in German. That is the primary spoken language here.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

The site features their store, the cheese making process, the Alp Brunch and more. I cannot figure out a way to translate the German to English. You can enjoy the photos though. Pictures say a thousand words, right?!

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

If you visit the dairy in Pontresina don’t worry, many of the folks working here speak enough English to fill your every whim, wish and desire.

Besides it is fun to speak with your hands and try to communicate. Smiles work wonders!

That right there is Stefan taking us through the beginning of the cheese making process…

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

What we enjoyed is called the Kaese Platten

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

These were beyond cheese platters. I have never seen such artistry done with cheese, nor has it ever tasted so fresh and fabulous. They produce just a few varieties of cheese on the premises, others are favorite artisan varieties that they shared with us. They sell all sorts of goodies in their store

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Here is the awesome gal from Engadin Tourism who arranged all this fun. She is with Peter the main cheese maker.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Even though Peter does not speak English we communicated well together…… my guide was a great translator!

Lots of giggles were shared.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

By the way we did not hike, walk, drive a car or take a train to How did we get there? On e-bikes!

Have you ever ridden an electric bike? I had never done it and I was a bit skeptical that it would be tricky or make me feel lazy.

Neither of those were true. It was a blast! The great news is you still get a great workout ~ you determine how much assist you want on your ride. So easy and fun!

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

The Swiss take great pride in traditional cheese making. The process at the dairy is carefully practiced with patience and passion. No steps are skipped and each needs to be done at precisely the right time.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

In between nibbles of fine cheese (every type you can imagine) dried fruit, pickled veggies, fresh fruit and cured meats, we were called in to watch different stages of the cheese making process.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Here is Peter again in the temperature and humidity controlled cheese cellar. This is where the cheese aging process takes place.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Here is me and Peter. *Hi*

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

There are many processes to making the cheese….

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

A few of them include:

  • Milking the cows in the morning and evening. Bringing their unpasteurized milk to the right temperature (32˚ C) in a huge cauldron over an open fire (by the way the place smells amazing from that fire!)
  • Adding rennet (a natural enzyme) to it so the milk naturally curdles.
  • The milk is slowly stirred, in about 40 minutes it is coagulated.
  • When the curd is the consistency of jelly a “harp” stirrer is used to cut the curds into corn kernel sized pieces. This causes the curd to separate from the whey.
  • The cauldron goes back over the fire and it’s contents are heated back up to 36˚ C.
  • After about 1 1/2 hours the cheese maker lifts out the cheese (which is now a big ball settled on the bottom of the cauldron) with the help of a giant cheese cloth. (You need big muscles for this!)
  • The cheese is placed into a “Vaetterli,” a wooden cheese mold. The cheese loaves are turned upside down a few times over the course of a day.
  • The cheese is then brined for about 1 hour.
  • The cheese is trimmed to shape and stored in the cellar for the aging process. Here it is washed and turned daily.
  • After 4 to 5 weeks (or longer) depending on the cheese, it is then ready to enjoy!

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

It is amazing and inspiring to watch the process unfold before your very own eyes!

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

There are even cute bunnies and play equipment for kids to enjoy.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Since this is set in the country there is plenty of room to spread out and run around! You might need to after eating so much cheese!

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

If you want to visit them for the Alp Brunch please do in the summer as this facility is mostly outdoors and is closed in the winter.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

They do have winter offerings though. Check their website for more info on that.

Pontresina, Switzerland | Cheesemaking and Brunch | FamilyFreshCooking.com

Have you ever been to a traditional cheese making dairy? How about any other artisan food producer?

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie @ Averie Cooks June 29, 2012 at 1:21 am

Have you ever been to a traditional cheese making dairy? = yes, grew up in rural MN and between the dairies in MN & WI, I have been to plenty…but they are 1 million and 80 degrees from what you are experiencing.

Marla, I am sooo happy for you! And all these images that you took and edited, so fast, and on no sleep; you are a machine. I can’t wait to hear all about it next time I see you! HAVE FUN!

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2 Marla June 29, 2012 at 1:30 am

Averie, that is hilarious. I bet those MN are very different from the Swiss! I was inspired to post this so quickly with all the ideas so fresh in my mind!! Glad you enjoyed. Lots more fun experiences to post!

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3 Rosa June 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

Gorgeous! I envy you… ;-)))

Great to know that you are enjoying the food, landscapes and people!

Cheers,

Rosa

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4 Marla June 29, 2012 at 9:27 am

Rosa, you promised me I would love your country and I am indeed smitten!

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5 Katrina June 29, 2012 at 3:24 am

Looks like such an amazing time! I did a similar trip in Gruyere! A bit different, but fun nonetheless. I’ve actually never been to Pontresina! Keep the Swiss posts coming!

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6 Marla June 29, 2012 at 9:27 am

Really Katrina?! That sounds like so much fun. Maybe one day I can see Gruyere too, that is if I can keep away from this stunning Engadin region ;) I want to make Switzerland a habit! Glad you are enjoying my Swiss posts, many more to come I promise!

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7 Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free June 29, 2012 at 5:59 am

I am so jealous of you right now, it’s ridiculous. What a gorgeous place! Have fun (how could you not?)!

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8 Marla June 29, 2012 at 9:25 am

Alex, don’t be jealous ~ you just gotta visit here some day. Add it to your travel “to-do” list ;)

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9 Bakerella June 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

Your photos are beautiful Marla! That second photo could be a book cover.

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10 Marla June 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thanks so much Angie! Means bunches coming from you :)

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11 aida mollenkamp June 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

What a magical experience! Enjoy it!

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12 Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] June 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Absolutely amazing!!

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13 susan June 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

Simply gorgeous and what fun!

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14 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective June 30, 2012 at 8:02 am

Amazing Marla. That “lodge” house is marvelous and so are all the other photos.

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15 Marla June 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

Thanks Sommer! That log cabin dwelling was amazing!

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16 Sloane July 1, 2012 at 4:01 am

What gorgeous photos! It looks like you are having so much fun! I remember watching a film-strip (remember those?) on Swiss cheese-making in 4th grade and finding it completely fascinating even then…you are living the dream;)!

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17 HeatherChristo July 2, 2012 at 8:04 am

Seriously gorgeous photos Marla! And everything looks so delicious! What a great trip!

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18 Antonia @ healthinspirations July 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm

WOW! Those cheese and meat plates look wonderful. That’s an assortment of some of my favorite cheeses. I especially love the Tête de Moine.
Your pictures are beautiful. I’m glad you’re having a wonderful time! Switzerland really is one of the most beautiful countries .

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19 Marla July 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Hi Antonia! This is the most memorable cheese experience ever! Nice that you have tried some of these. I actually do not know the names of them so your knowledge is helpful!

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20 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen July 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm

What a treat to be able to visit and see how it’s all made. I’d be in heaven, I’m such a huge cheese lover!

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21 Marla July 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Sylvie, such a memorable experience! I hope you get to visit some day :)

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22 Sweetsugarbelle July 3, 2012 at 1:58 am

What a dream!!!

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23 Kristina Vanni July 4, 2012 at 11:11 am

What a great experience! How fun – thanks for sharing!

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24 Brooke @ Food Woolf July 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm

wow. What an incredible trip. I’m so glad you got to go to such a beautiful place!

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25 bridget {bake at 350} July 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

Oh, Marla! It looks like a dream trip! I’ve loved seeing your instagram pics and I hope you’ll post more about your trip! Beautiful pictures…and CHEESE!!! ;)

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26 SMITH BITES July 5, 2012 at 10:20 am

what a trip Marla – Switzerland looks as dreamy as it always has been since reading Heidi when i was a little girl – and the cheese – omg, the cheese!! so happy that you were able to go Marla!! (((hugs)))

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27 Jeanette July 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Marla, what an incredible treat to see your travels to Switzerland and all that gorgeous cheese in the making. Stunning photo of that log cabin.

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28 Marina {YummyMummyKitchen.com} July 9, 2012 at 8:17 am

Um, Marla? This is the most amazing post ever. I’m ready to hop on a plane to Switzerland :) Gorgeous photos – thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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29 A Canadian Foodie July 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Marla!
They set the table in pink and turquoise! They must have known you were coming! Good for you! Great things happen to good people. I love Switzerland! The opportunity for a junket is incredible and I am sure you had the time of your life. Want to get into some cheese making? Starting a project August 1 #cheesepalooza ! It would be a great monthly family activity! Just sayin’
:)
Valerie

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30 Marla July 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Hi Valerie! Thanks for your visit :) I could totally see you hanging out In Switzerland! Funny what you said about that table ~ no wonder I was so drawn to it. #cheesepalooza sounds like fun!

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31 Angela July 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm

So. Freaking. Cool. What a wonderful experience. I love all the photos, but the bunny is my favorite…

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32 Marla July 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Angela, I HAD to include that cute bunny ;)

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33 Grace July 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Marla great post – what an amazing experience, I would love to do this someday. My bother-in-law lived in Switzerland when he was younger, not long before moving to Canada. He’s shared so many fond memories of the beautiful country. Electric bikes – how cool!

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34 Kirsten@My Kitchen in the Rockies July 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Wow, that must have been an incredible trip. Your pictures are gorgeous!
St. Moritz brings back some many memories. This is were I actually learned skiing.

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35 Marla July 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Really, you learned to ski in St. Moritz? Awesome! I bet you are a great skier :) I hope you get to ski bunches in Colorado as well.

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36 Cookin' Canuck July 21, 2012 at 6:50 am

What an amazing experience, Marla…and your photos captured it beautifully! If you hold a cheese-making course here, I will come!

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37 Marla July 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

Dara, you would be first on my list! xo

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38 Aimee @ Simple Bites July 21, 2012 at 7:01 am

I’ve only been to Switzerland briefly, but this post shows that I need to get back soon!

My mum made our own cheese when I was growing up. When my sister got married, mum cured several special wheels for the big event. It beats Kraft, that’s for sure. :)

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39 JulieD July 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Wow, that cheese is so beautiful!! Looks like such a fun time for you!!

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40 Kathy Patalsky August 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm

so beautiful there! You always tell such a beautiful story via your pics Marla!

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41 Marla August 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thank you Kathy!! Means bunches coming from you :)

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42 leanne May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Alp Brunch! Looks like an amazing day! Switzerland is on my travel list, I loved your post!

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43 Marla May 3, 2013 at 3:52 am

Thanks so much Leanne! This was one of the best experiences I have ever had ~ hopefully you can visit Switzerland someday soon :)

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