European Cheese Tour: Day 1

La Couronme Hotel

I am sitting across from the Hertz kiosk at the Geneva airport, propping myself up on my luggage. In the past 30 hours, I have not slept or changed clothes, and exhaustion is forcing its inevitability on me. But as weary as I feel, the excitement of this trip offers constant rejuvenation.

I am in Geneva as the central point of a 5-day cheese tour that will bring me to Comte in the Jura Mountains and Gouda in Amsterdam. Daphne of Essex Street Cheese has arranged this gathering, and a contingent of five cheese mongers from around the States will make the trek with me.

My flight arrived seven hours before we were to rendez-vous at the Hertz, so I took the tram into center city for a quick tour. I found my way down to Lake Leman, the main feature of which is the Jet d’Eau, which propels water 140 meters into the air. It was neat, but seemed more like an accident than a tourist attraction.

Jet D Eau

From here I worked my way up the tallest hill in Geneva to reach Cathedrale St. Pierre. Given the historical significance of this church (John Calvin preached and led the reformation from its pulpit), I was expecting it to by abuzz. But I was one of only two people inside, and the other was an employee. I paid the fee of four Swiss Francs to ascend the tower and was greeted with a 360 degree view of the city. But my enthusiasm was tempered by fatigue, and I hopped the next train back to the airport.

Cathedrale St. Pierre Panorama

Once assembled, our assembly of cheese nerds drove past the Alps to the Jura Mountains, and settled for the night at a quaint hotel in the town of Jougne. Dinner, prepared by the owners of the hotel, included snails with pesto and a seemingly bottomless carafe of wine. I will sleep like a baby.

Tomorrow, the true fun begins as we trek further into the Jura range to witness Comte production from curdling the milk to the final stages of affinage. Stay tuned, as I will be updating our blog daily until I return.

Escargot dinner