Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Honeymoon Day 6: Swiss Chocolate truffle making class at Cailler

Honeymoon Day 6: Swiss Chocolate truffle making class at Cailler

Up early again from jetlag, but easily in good time to catch the early train that we had booked. We had to leave Montreux pretty early to get up to Broc-Fabrique by 9:30am for our 10am CHOCOLATE MAKING CLASS. YUPPPP. Hilariously, knowing us, we took our time and still left too late despite getting up early. We raced to the train to make sure we caught it, but... wait... we gotta get a fresh baguette first! I swiftly jumped into a bakery, threw some Francs in the lady's hand, grabbed the baguette, and continued our quick ramble towards the train station. That was, of course a good move, and we still caught the train with... well, 5 or 10 min to spare. :)

For this train, it's again the MOB Panoramic train like the one we took on the way into Montreux. Nice to get to try it again :) We just took 2nd class (included with our rail pass) this time. Really, it's just about the same as first class as the 2nd class trains now have big windows too. And off we went to Montobovon station, where we would swap to a different train.

The ticket taker guy was very excited. We seemed very pleased that we were traveling on his train!! It was very endearing. The trip to Montbovon was very "local-yokel", as we passed by several small "stop on request" villages, with single farmhouses sitting upon big and vast farmlands.

We arrived at Montbovon and our buddy from the train dropped off a stack of newspapers with the attendant at this tiny station. It was very funny, he had brought them from Montreux since I presume Montbovon doesn't get regular newspaper delivery :) haha. We were one of (if not the only) people to get off the train at Montbovon. "Your next train is on the other track", the attendant at the station told us -- how did he know!? Presumably, if we're coming in on that train from Montreux, we're either staying in Montbovon (unlikely), or continuing onto whatever the next train was. Either that or my flourescent green Arc'teryx jacket screamed "tourist!"

Anyhow, we swapped trains and continued on towards Broc-Fabrique. We went past Gruyères (home of my favourite cheese) which looked small but awesome. We arrived a little while later to Broc, and walked about 3 min to the Cailler Factory!!

We're here!

The shop was unfortunately still closed, but the cafe was open. We went in and I ordered a Chocolate Chaud. "Would you like whipped creme?"... "Mais oui!"

After demolishing that absurdly tasty hot chocolate, I managed to look through the store swiftly before our chocolate-making class started.

This is the kitchen area where our instructor was setting up

This looks gooood
And then... our Atelier du Chocolat begins! Our teacher was an absolute tour-de-force, switching languages between English, German, and French like it was nothing. She was super funny too and making jokes to everyone in all 3 languages. Incredible.

First step was to warm up some milk, and then break your choice of baking chocolate (dark, milk, or white) into the warm milk. We mixed it in to remove the lumps from the chocolate. Michal chose white chocolate as the base and I chose milk chocolate as the base. Then, we added cream, then butter, then added a mixture of spices and/or alcohol choice. Michal added cafe and Bailey's, and I added matcha and a Passion Fruit liquor! (Of course, I chose some crazy combination).

After getting all the ingredients together, we had to stir until it was a nice consistency. Then we refrigerated it for a while. Our instructor then taught us how to "pipe" it, and we created a piping bag. Then we took it out of the fridge, piped it into little swirls, and then refrigerated it again.

As it was cooling off, she described to us how Tempering works for our outer shell of the "truffes". To Temper, you take out 2/3 of the chocolate, heat it up, and then cool it slowly, mixing back in the original 1/3. This makes the chocolate "shiny" and ensures that the fat doesn't separate. It looks better too. She was an awesome teacher and I believe at some point called us "Oompah Loompas".

Tempering the chocolate
After coating the truffles, then you roll them in toppings
Now, it was time to coat our own chocolate. Michal took her white chocolate and coated it in milk chocolate, and I took my milk chocolate and coated it in dark chocolate. With latex gloves on, you hand-roll/cover the chocolate with the coating, and then drop it in one of 4 coverings: cocoa powder, candied almonds, nibs of some sort, and something she called "chocolate vermicelli". We made nice friends with a couple from Northern Schweiz. They were nice and really funny, we made some jokes together. As I was coating my truffles, I started dipping two at a time (one in each hand) into the mixes at the same time. 2x chocolate covering at once, "Look at my efficiency! I am so Swiss!" I told them and they laughed. We still took forever to create our masterpieces but it was fun to joke around and make some friends now that the major hard and careful work was done.

Culinary masters!
Check out my masterpiece work!
We made SO MANY
So that was all super epic.

They told us at the end of the class that we also go to keep our Cailler apron and chef's hat!!! Yes!!! We also got a funny graduation certificate from the class. She had joked earlier that only "nice looking 'truffes'" would earn you the certificate. Haha.

The class went a bit long and we were running short on time to get back on the afternoon train (which comes to Broc once per hour), but with our chocolate-making class ticket we got free entry to the museum. We heard there was free chocolate at the end of the tour, so we decided to check it out. I asked the dude at the front how long the exhibit was, and he said something like 20-40min. We RACED through the 20 min audio portion (and would have gone faster, but the doors opened to the next rooms automatically and only after the exhibit was complete). The best part was they were talking about the origins of chocolate and they made it sound super epic. They kept talking about the legend of "XOCOLATL!!!!!!!!!" with a booming voice.

OK audio portion done... time to ROLL.... 1:27pm... 1:28... 1:29... we literally ran through the remaining non-time-minimum self-guided portions of the tour, past a conveyor belt and some other random stuff.

We raced past this and FINALLY got to the moment of truth, the final room of the tour with free chocolate tasting... we've gotta ROLL!!!

"The moment you've all been waiting for..."
I ate like 3 of these before we ran outta there
We ate like 5 pralines each and hauled ass back to get our jackets from the locker and ran outside, down the short road back to the train platform. Only 1 train per hour... 1:33pm... some young local boys hanging out (loitering?!) near the Cailler entrance cheered us on. 1:34pm we got to the train and sat down in our seats, panting (and admiring our chocolate creations). Whew. The train left promptly, on schedule, at 1:36pm.

And... off to Gruyères!

We were on the train for maybe 30 min or so and then arrived at Gruyères for our planned stop. We had heard that La Maison du Gruyère was a bit "touristique", but we went to take a look. You had to pay admission for the tour which we had heard mixed reviews about, but the main thing I really wanted to see was the Gruyère cheese caves. Amazingly, you could see the cheese cave through a window without going into the exhibit! Yay! There was even a cheese robot stacking huge circles of Gruyère. It was awesome.


Again, we had organized way too many stops and things to do for the day, but we were on a mission. Instead of say, just chillin', we went on a nice walk/hike up a hill/hiking track into Gruyères town itself. It was also quite touristy, but the walk up there was super nice and it was super small and cute there. I absolutely was on a mission to try the famed Gruyère double cream and meringue.

View walking up to Gruyères town, back towards the train station

We got to the main town square and looked around for a quick place to stop. Gotta stop quick as we only had, you guessed it, 30 more min to eat and get back down the hill to catch the next (once-per-hour) train! We found a little spot and they sat us for a quick meringue and double cream. It was very smooth and tasty cream. Fun! We're totally insane, but I'm so glad we stopped.

We walked back down towards the Gare a different way, the time on the main road. "We have plenty of time, we still have 12 minutes!" Haha.

Almooost back to the station...
We still had another 10 min so I went into the shop at La Maison du Gruyère and bought some "Gruyère Vieux", which she said was one of the oldest ones and was very flavoursome. We walked across the road to the station... use all the seconds! We still had 5 min at this point, so I went into La Poste for some stamps. I can't believe we didn't miss any trains with our insane "do all the things" approach.

Onto the train we went on the way to Chateau d'Oex. As we enjoyed the scenery and relaxing for a little while, we opened up the cheese and it was DELICIOUS. Many times I've had Gruyère in the states, it has tasted awesome but can be quite gritty. This one was nothing of the sort. It was smooth and had a very strong flavour. It was soooo good. "Packed on Jan. 3rd"... the day before!

That cheese was soooo good. And the Baguette from the morning came in handy!
I thought this was hilarious. As an example advertisement, instead of using a name like "John Smith"... the SwissPass ad uses the (apparently) very common name of "Katrin Burgermeister". Amazing.
Back to Montbovon again, to switch trains :)
Another 30 min on a new train and we were at Chateau d'Oex, this idyllic little village we'd seen from the train on the way into Montreux a couple days before, and had read about in one of the hotel magazines. We figured we'd check it out. My biggest interest there was going "sledging" which is sortof like tobogganing -- they have a pretty epic organized "sledging" run in Chateau d'Oex as part of the skiing hills. By the time we got there, though, we were pretty tired from schlepping all day and getting up early, and it was insanely frigidly cold, and also almost no cable cars were going up because there wasn't a ton of snow. It was already 4pm, kindof getting late in the day. So maybe just time for lunch. How bout some more milk products?! (BTW, never come to Switzerland if you're lactose-intolerant). We had found a place called "Le Chalet", a cute "Cheesemaker and alpine-style restaurant". They have some cheese demonstrations during the day and are sometimes on organized tours, but we wanted to just DIY this tour and it was super great. We knew we were going to miss the cheesemaking, but that was OK, hard to do everything when you do it all in one day!

Bring on the Raclette! They gave you an awesome DIY Raclette setup -- a little heater, a tiny pan and scraper, and a giant plate of cheese. You also got potatoes and pickles and onions and bread. Also: a giant plate of meat! (Some of it was beef at least, but we had to leave a bunch of it unfortunately). So tasty. It was super fun to do Raclette and it tasted awesome. The "Swiss Herbs" Raclette Fondue herbs were super epic too.

Bubbly cheese
Scraping the cheese onto your bread


We enjoyed that lunch to the extreme. That was delicious. Instead of racing back, we took our time and enjoyed, as there were many of the MOB trains going back to Montreux from here. We did, however, manage to get onto the "other" scenic GoldenPass train, the MOB GoldenPass "Belle Epoque". It was suuuper fancy. "They should have called this thing 'Belle-Epic'". Plush, comfy seats, cushy and magic. We were both instantly asleep.

MOB GoldenPass Belle Epoque

Time for a post-Raclette nap!
Whew! What a busy and awesome day. We got back to Montreux and were still pretty tired (still a bit jetlagged, too), so it was clearly nap time, again!

Some snacks to try that we picked up on the way back to the hotel
After some time we freshened up and went to Funky Claude's Bar again for some music and amazing cocktails. This time rather than the Smoky Old Fashioned (which was truly epic), I had the "Smoke on the Water", a cocktail made from Ardbeg whisky, vanilla Galliano, lemongrass and aromatic bitter truth lemon. It was also good but the "Smoky Old Fashioned" from a couple nights earlier was the winner. We also got "Ella's Cheesecake" which was INSANELY fresh!! So crazy. We enjoyed while watching people dance and listening to the awesome jazz music.

We enjoyed the music and good times, and I was sad that I had missed the other afternoon bar's specialty (a non-alcoholic passionfruit tea drink called "Daytime Passion" giggle water)... so the bartender MADE ME SOMETHING CUSTOM WITH IT!!! Even though they weren't the same bar, they somehow created for me a "Surprise du Barman" and made me some incredible passion fruit-based drink which is easily one of the best cocktails I've ever tried. Magnifique! It had a brilliant flavour, so so good, and I had no idea what was in it. They also gave us fun Cailler chocolates with hilariously translated phrases on them, "Shake your body".

Surprise du Barman!!!
Some older local dude was there and seemed to be randomly handing out what appeared to be cigars to people he was talking to. He had a bunch of them rolled up inside of a big ziplock bag. It was very odd indeed but seemed genuine... we weren't sure what the deal was there. But anyhow, at some point he came over to us and said hello and handed us two -- it was then we realized that he was calling them "cigars" but they were handmade cigar-shaped cookies. Ohhhhh. Still, a little odd to bring a ziplock of homemade cookies to the bar with you, but I'm not arguing! Haha.

"Cigar" cookies
What an awesome day and such a fun evening.