The consumption of cheese stimulates the same area in the brain as drugs do. I read that just today.
Well, that certainly explains a lot. And it may well be no coincidence that I am reading this today while writing this article.
But there we are already on the subject: Who actually makes the best cheese in the world?
The opinions about it certainly go far apart, but probably almost everyone agrees:
Without a doubt, cheese of the highest quality in the world is produced in Switzerland.
And which is probably the best Swiss cheese? Well, not a few say then: It’s the Appenzell cheese.
So I come to my last question for now: What makes Appenzell cheese so popular and above all so tasty?
What I can already tell, is that the secret itself is not (fully) revealed. But what you learn during a visit in the Appenzell cheese factory is, that the secret has been kept for 700 years. And by only 2 (in words: two) people worldwide it is guarded and consists of a very specific herbal liquid.
Yes, it reads almost like a novel indeed. Locked in a Swiss bank vault so it lies.
The recipe of an economically so incredibly successful cheese. And why is it so popular and successful? This is exactly what anyone who has tried an Appenzeller cheese can answer. During our visit today in the Appenzell cheese factory and the subsequent visit to the Appenzell folklore museum, we tried to reveal the tasty secret.
The Appenzell cheese factory
In the middle of the picturesque village of Stein in Eastern Switzerland, the Appenzell cheese factory exists now since almost 40 years. It was opened in 1978.
Since then, more than 8 million visitors came to explore the magic of the spicy cheese. But what is there to discover exactly in the Appenzell cheese dairy?
The first thing that strikes you when you look at the hallowed halls is an enormous love for detail and tradition.
The Appenzellerland impresses with rustic customs, an incredibly beautiful landscape and a lot of hospitality. Many of the traditions and customs can then be found again in the process of cheese making.
In addition to the direct production of the cheese, here you will get an insight into the history and production of Appenzeller cheese with individual guided tours. With much love and patience, the guides explain about the meaning and origin of the beautiful costumes, how long a cheese ripens, how it was transported hundreds of years ago and above all how its entire production process works.
Make bouquet garni yourself
One of the highlights of a guided tour is certainly the own mix of herbs that are used for the herbal liquid of Appenzeller cheese. With mortar and pestle you work orange-thyme and co and take the finished mixture in a small herb bag with home.
By the way, in the “do-it-yourself-corner” there is also a vial with the legendary herbal ulcer. And on top off the overall picture, you can enjoy an excellent view of the barely 12,000 cheese loaves waiting for their future eaters in the imposing cheese cellar.
Public guided tours take place every Wednesday and Sunday in German at 2pm. Booked tours also include a delicious cheese vesper. If that is not enough or even appetite for more … rescue is in sight! The in-house Appenzell cheese dairy restaurant ensures extraordinary gourmet delights.
Welcome to the in-house Appenzell cheese factory restaurant. Of course everything here, how should it be otherwise – is about the delicious Appenzeller cheese.
For connoisseurs there is an extensive breakfast buffet every Sunday from 9 to 11 o’clock. For CHF 22.50 (around USD 24) adults (for kids up to 12 years CHF 1.60 only) can fill their stomach with all sorts of delicacies. The menu is available here.
Delicious bread fresh from the oven, the spicy cheese directly from the Appenzell show dairy, smoky delicacies made from meat as well as all sorts of sweets and more you can find here and therefore you can easily spend a whole gourmet morning there.
For larger groups there are even special menus. Everything can be put together individually.
And for those who like to lend a hand, there is the so-called Käsekessi. Here you have the opportunity to prepare the Appenzell specialty “Käsehörnli” yourself.
The second highlight here is the Appenzell Folk Culture Museum located next door.
And yes, this is a museum of a different kind.
A variety of original preserved exhibits from the rural-Sennian culture can be admired here. Of course, special attention is paid to the traditional cheese making processes. Appliances, buckets, so-called Tansen, Brenten and much more, even a classic Appenzell hut with a functional cheese factory and all the interior is shown here. In fact, cheese is actually produced in the small house.
In the further focus are various traditional costumes and jewelry hangings for humans and animals from the region.
The famous bells, various costumes, masks and many more things are placed here in a small space.
Peasant painting upstairs
There are interesting exhibits of the contemporary furniture painting (also called Senntumsmalerei) to admire.
Likewise, you will find massive wooden planks walls with beautiful paintings from the 16th century. Generally, everything here is themed as “Folk historical art”. Furthermore, visitors can expect many exhibits from the centuries-long textile industry. This has noticeably shaped the life of the people of the Appenzellerland since it has been one of the main sources of income for the local population in addition to agriculture and the rural economy.
There is even the possibility to see some of the original exhibits like the hand embroidery machine live in action.
For all those who do not only discover Switzerland in the Winter time as a ski resort, a visit to a place such as the Appenzell Cheese factory offers an ideal opportunity to learn about the country and its people in a short time. The Appenzell Cheese factory with its rich and long-standing traditions offers a very big extra portion “Switzerland”.
And if you then remember that you can watch one of the best cheese in the world made directly in its hometown and you can even eat directly … how to top that?
First, we recommend the extremely exciting visit to the museum. And once the thirst for knowledge has been satisfied, it is about the earthly hunger, which is taken care of perfectly in the gourmet Appenzell show dairy.
That’s it for now, travelpeeps – say Cheeeese!
Until next time, then from 2,500 meters altitude of wintry Säntis, the highest mountain in eastern Switzerland.
As always, all photo impressions are in the gallery.