René Ryser is proud of his ‘cheese grotto’ high above Gstaad, more than delighted with the arrangement that allows artisan cheese-makers to store their products in the controlled environment of his warehouse in Lauenen and happy to sell these delicious local cheeses in his shop.
Made with raw milk from the cows that graze the pastures of the Berner Oberland from Interlaken to the Simmental, each cheese is unique to its creator. Alpkäse, a six to eighteen month valley cheese, is a full fat hard cheese stored as rounds that weigh between five and 16 kilos. Hobelkäse, the mountain cheese, is a mature cheese with a depth of flavour that sets it apart.
In their shop on Lauenenstrasse at the bottom of the town beyond the Saanen river, we ogle regional cheeses – Bleu de Lenk, Etivaz, Livarot, Sapolet, Schönriederli Geräuchert – and cheeses from further afar including cheeses with geographical indicator status.
Then it becomes obvious. Alpine tradition is defined by the cheese-makers across the Bernese Alps with a tradition that goes back thousands of years.
Back to the grotto.