Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Danke Villmal

Switzerland Oct 2012

Here it was, my big moment, spot light on, ready to impress, take out the big guns.....
"Danke Billmal!"
(oh no... Did I just say something in Swiss German with a Spanish accent? Yes.)

Laughter and applause erupts from the poor victim of my verbal Swiss massacre. He is the father of my boyfriend (here after referred to as Swiss) and I am meeting the parents here in Switzerland for the first time. It's apparent that my "Swiss-anish"slip-up has gone unnoticed.

This is not my first trip to Switzerland, nor my first attempt at the ultra romantic, and oh so fluid Germanic languages. My grandmother is Swiss, and although I never picked up on "that funny language Nonnie speaks on the phone to her cousins" when I was growing up, it does ring a familiar note in my ears. But while courting the young and handsome Swiss man, I did pull out the Nonnie secret weapon, placing them on the phone together to practice their odd throat-clearing techniques. I'm sure she helped seal the deal on our courtship.

My boyfriend's father (hereafter referred to as Señor Swiss) was nervous to meet me, and excited to see his son after yet another year of being away from home. It must be difficult to predict whom one is  going to meet when your son calls home and says he's dating an American..... an American that does not speak Swiss German...

Farmhouse at Sunset

Señor Swiss walks into the house and shakes my hand in greetings, hugs his son and announces a surprise. An extended moment later, we wait while Señor Swiss flips through his iPhone for something. He gives it a tap and a song begins to play. It's an instrumental melody that I recognize but can't name.
"The Stars and Stripes!" he announces (I'm a horrible American. I had no idea what the song title was...) and we all begin to laugh.
"You are. The first. American. In. This. House!" He says to me with steady and careful pronunciation. I'm honored and give him my thank you attempt in Swiss German (with a Spanish twang.)
view en route to Gruyere
Switzerland is dreamy in October. The air hydrates your body with a sharp freshness, it's a vitamin all on its own. The hills and valleys are blinding in electric green, sprinkled with cows grazing on the summer's last pasture. It is a magnificent country to wander about in, and even better to walk in the shadow of a local.

We spent our two week holiday from the boat (our home and work) to hike, breathe, sleep in, and fill our guts with copious amounts of cheese. All of which was wildly successful and beyond decadent.

Dairy Air
Now lets get down to business here...

 3 words: Cultured Cows Milk.
 Specifically speaking - Le Gruyere.

It's really not surprising at all that I have so easily fallen for a Swiss man. I did prepare for years and years for him, while slinging cheese at the neighborhood cheese shop, C'est Cheese. I spent four years honing and sharpening my cheese knowledge and appreciation. And for me, Switzerland was always (and I'm not just saying this to impress the Swiss or to diss the French) the highest echelon of artisanal cheeses. Plus they were always the most expensive cheeses in the shop, so that may have had something to do with it. But regardless, my love affair with the strong scent of mountain cheese has not only sustained a trip to Switzerland, but has also impressed a native family.

Here is a beautiful way to incorporate this flavorful cheese into your menu plans. I do highly suggest that you don't skimp on the type of gruyere you buy. Keep it real, and get the good stuff. It's imported and usually around $30 a pound, and it does not have holes in it. I did not include a filling in this recipe, but you can fill it with quiche fixens, or a savory tart of caramelized onions and fennel, etc . Or fold the corners up over thin slices of green apple and knobs of butter to make a zesty and sweet galette!
Swiss farmhouse decor

Gruyere Tart Crust-
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 t salt
8 T cold butter
3 oz grated Gruyere
1/4 c sour cream
2 t lemon juice
1/4 c ice water

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 3 times to combine. Add the cubed butter and grated cheese to the bowl and pulse until the size of the butter resembles small peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times until the dough starts to hold together when pinched between your fingers. The dough may seem dry. Dump the dough out onto a floured counter top. Gently bring the dough together into a tight ball. Try not to knead the dough too much or your warm hands will melt the butter and change the doughs composition. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a piece of floured parchment paper until it is about 12-inches in diameter. Put the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.

Bake the dough at 350. And according to your recipe of desired fillings/toppings.

Harvesting walnuts.

Thank you for stopping by, and for reading. 
Gracias. Danke Villmal.

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