"Suufsunntig" and other culinary curiosities
What is actually drunk at Suufsunntig? Why is the Gstaad's Hobelkäse well-known around the world? What's Saanen mustard? How is air-dried meat made? And what is a "Cheese Grotto"? The answers are here.
It would be hard to find a better way of getting know a region than by the locals' eating habits. And the locals in Gstaad are very inventive. Common to all their dishes are fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, Alpine flavours and real taste.
In July and August the farmers of the Saanenland celebrate their traditional Alpine festival "Suufsunntig", or drinking Sunday. However, you would be wrong in thinking that this is all about excessive alcohol consumption. Traditionally a "Schlugg" is first drunk – a by-product of cheese, with a consistency similar to yoghurt. A glass of wine naturally awaits you. The day gets under way at around eleven o'clock with food and drink, yodelling and mountain prayers. The unequivocal highlight of the afternoon is the crowning of the festively decorated prize cow, the Meisterkuh. The proud owner of the prize-winning cow then offers a round of white wine to everyone there. The festivities continue with music and dance until late in the evening.
Gstaad Alpine cheese and Hobelkäse
Gstaad's Alpine cheese and grated Hobelkäse is exclusively manufactured by hand. Its production has to meet strict regulations, starting with the feed to the storage of the curd. Copper vats and log fires are mandatory. After it has been allowed to mature for 6 to 18 months – during the first 6 months of which it is rubbed with salt water every day – it is ready to be eaten. Only the very highest quality of Alpine cheese is refined to become Hobelkäse. It is washed, boiled and stored. After two to three years the "Gold of the Alps" has reached its optimum maturity.
Special venue: the Gstaad dairy cheese grotto
A monument has been built in celebration of cheese in the municipality's former reservoir. Gstaad Dairy has displayed and lit over 3,000 different varieties of cheese – including some historic rarities – over several floors in its Cheese Grotto. Visitors climb down a 25 m wooden staircase underground to learn everything there is to know about Saanen Hobelkäse AOC and its origins.
Air-dried "Simmental" beef
Farmers in the Saanenland and Simmental Valley predominantly breed spotted Simmental cattle. Its air-dried beef is a veritable regional speciality. Raw pieces of meat are stored in a mixture of salt, herbs and spices and then hung up to dry in the air. Large pieces of meat can take up to one and a half years to dry. Tip: Try spicy Simmental air-dried meat on its own or with a little Saanen mustard.
Mustard is traditionally made from mustard seeds and grape must. However, this is not the case in the Saanenland, where the main ingredient is cherry must. Saanen mustard is served in a small dish with ham and sausages. Every family has its own closely guarded secret recipe.