Paris-Lausanne Tour 2012

Etivaz

I don’t know why, but almost all the pictures from my Paris-Lausanne culinary tour came out kinda goofy. Out-of-focus, askew, grainy, or there’s odd pictures of sidewalks, one of me lounging in a bathrobe, guests eating and drinking (no one looks great when putting a forkful of food in their mouths so those pictures I’ll keep to myself…and I hope they do likewise), lots of chocolates rolling off conveyor belts, and even those scrumptious, insanely good Swiss meringues with double-cream Gruyère tasted (a lot) better than they look here.

meringues and Gruyere cream

The week passed by as a whirlwind of tastes – we moved from one chocolate shop to the next in Paris – Fouquet, Jacques Genin, Patrick Roger, and Jean-Charles Rochoux. Then, when we hit Lausanne, we switched gears, focusing our attention on cheese, air-dried beef, and white wine.

Taking the train to Switzerland is always a treat because of the great service, and the meal they serve you in your seat, which is especially welcome if you have an early morning departure.

Swiss Train breakfast

air-dried beef

As soon as we landed, we hit the ground running, braving a massive chocolate tasting at Blondel (which, surprisingly, had the spiciest chocolate I’ve ever tasted – who knew that would happen in, of all places, Switzerland?), the cheese shop of André Macheret, which is ground-zéro for the best Gruyère cheeses, aged anywhere between 6 months to three years. Being a soft touch, I gave a jumbo wedge of it a lift back to Paris.

The sun off Lake Geneva beamed at us as we strolled the great outdoor market in Vevey; beautiful baskets of plump, juicy raspberries and dewy-green gooseberries, wild mushrooms from the nearby alps, perch and féra caught in the nearby lake, and I even had an energy bar made by a local baker. (The woman in front of me in line bought the very last pretzel and as much as I was tempted,
unfortunately, line-jumping isn’t as tolerated in Switzerland as it is back in Paris.)

cheese fondue

After returning to Lausanne for a number of years, I’m resolutely convinced that there’s no better way to get to know a group of strangers than sharing a bubbling post of fondue at Café Grütli, washing it down with glasses of local chasellas white wine, alternating with shots of kirsch that some locals once told me that you had to do if you dropped the bread from your fork into the fondue. Or you had to kiss everyone at the table.

Fortunately it wasn’t me who made the first “drop”, and my guest was a good sport when I told her it was time to ‘drink up.’ But when scraping the burnt ends up from the bottom of the pot (called la réligieuse, or “the nun”), my own wad of bread took a tumble, so I took one for the team. Being troopers, most of the rest of the table joined me – in solidarity.

Lausanne

So while I didn’t catch many good shots of the action this week, it’s hard to get a bad shot – or complain about anything for that matter – if you have a room overlooking Lake Geneva at the Lausanne Palace hotel. And I have some pretty great memories. And an extra little souvenir…where my waistline used to be.

Switzerland

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55 comments

  • June 24, 2012 6:01pm

    Oh I’m so very envious (but I’m sure you’re used to people telling you that). Always enjoy reading about your culinary adventures!

  • Michelle
    June 24, 2012 6:06pm

    David if this doesn’t make the readers want to jump on a train and scoot over to Switzerland asap, I don’t know what would…chocolate, wine and cheese.

    Love reading about your tours and hope I can join one some day. Sounds like you have amazing guests and wonderful itineraries that cannot possibly be justified via a recorded blog entry.

    Keep writing about your culinary explorations! I will keep dreaming about which one I will take on my next jaunt over the pond…

  • June 24, 2012 6:09pm

    So beautiful. Is it bad that we have been back in the states not even a month and I’m counting down the days until we move back in august? I must be a gluten for punishment because although your blog makes me miss France immensely, I look forward to new posts like it’s Christmas morning.

  • June 24, 2012 6:29pm

    Ah a fondue place I haven’t tried yet! When my parents come to visit we’ll def. give Café Grütli a try, thanks. And I def. agree about Macheret, I do my best to make a regular visit to their stand in the market, especially for the meringues au vin cuit!

  • June 24, 2012 7:08pm

    I don’t know which makes me more envious, the chocolate, the cheese or all that sunshine; it’s been horribly cold and rainy here in Seattle all month. Looks like a fun (and delicious!) trip. Thanks for sharing!

    • June 24, 2012 7:10pm
      David Lebovitz

      Well, if it’s any consolation, it’s been pouring rain in Paris for the last 4-6 months non-stop. Lausanne was sunny, bright, and warm. And when we returned to Paris, it was driving rain. Merde!

      • June 24, 2012 7:21pm

        Well, let’s raise up a glass of kirsch and toast to Summer arriving soon to both of our fair cities!

  • June 24, 2012 7:52pm

    It’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to go to Lausanne, but it remains one of my favorite cities. Looking at the photo of Lake Geneva and the alps really brought back some great memories.

  • Lindsey
    June 24, 2012 9:48pm

    I’m sure it was amazing. I hope I’ll be fortunate enough to join you on one of your tours; it’s a dream of mine!

  • June 24, 2012 9:54pm

    The fondue is great, but I could never ever resist those meringues with double crème; that’s heaven!

  • June 24, 2012 10:38pm

    You’ll have to try harder to post goofy photos. Here’s nursing cheese envy. Are Lausanne’s chocolate conveyor belts Lucy-worthy?

    Cheers,
    C

  • Brittany
    June 25, 2012 12:30am

    sounds like a lovely time. Sad thing is that your ‘bad’ photos are my great photos! ha!

  • Emily
    June 25, 2012 12:37am

    I spent a few days in Vevey about five years ago and this makes me want to go back!The trains are a wonderful way to travel, especially because you get to see more of the country that way.

  • June 25, 2012 2:37am

    A tour like this would be a dream come true. I hate it when photos don’t come out as expected and there’s no way to get a do-over.

    Loved this post.

  • Charlotte
    June 25, 2012 4:15am

    I was born in Lausanne. Such a beautiful city!

  • Peggy
    June 25, 2012 5:30am

    I miss Geneva . . . cheese and chocolate, mmmmm.

  • John
    June 25, 2012 6:08am

    Lausanne Palace?!? Well done David! There must be more money in blogging than I thought! Love the blog, read it faithfully every Sunday night, will be in Paris in 3 weeks!

    • June 25, 2012 8:50am
      David Lebovitz

      Our stay there was part of the chocolate & gastronomy tour – it’s a great hotel and our guests are happy to stay there when we do tours in Lausanne, and so am I!

  • June 25, 2012 6:27am

    David it is wonderful to see this post! We are leaving the US for our European vacation in two days. Our trip includes a train voyage from Venice to Paris with an overnight stay in Lausanne. We’re eager to try a fondue restaurant. Your photos are wonderful!

    We next stop in Dijon to visit a friend who lives in the street that M.F.K. Fisher lived in – so the photos and descriptions of Vevey, where she also lived, add to the magic of our trip. Thanks!

  • June 25, 2012 8:08am

    I just had a trip to Provence with a pre and post tour in Paris. It had been a while since I had spent any time at all in Paris and I had a list as long as my arm of things to do/eat/see.
    Many of them came from your site David, so thank you for that, excellent suggestions.
    It rained and rained but still didn’t dampen the enthuisiasm.

    Jacques Genin chocolate shop was amazing – don’t have a clue how he makes his passionfruit and pineapple toffees but they require a serious OH MY GOD!

  • June 25, 2012 10:29am

    David, this was a such an uplifting and fun post. Since we’re planning a trip to Lausanne within the next couple of weeks, it was timely for me as well.

    It has been raining here in Brussels too. The locals keep telling us that no, this is just an abnormally cold summer, but every summer in Brussels has been this way for me for the past 5 years or so. :)

  • Maxine
    June 25, 2012 12:24pm

    Are you an undercover employee of the Switerland tourist agency ?
    Because it is only when reading your travel stories to this country that I want to visit Switzerland, no matter how hard they try in the booklet the send yaerly with my Telerama (Frenc cultural weekly).

    The double creme meringue just makes my mouth water, ohhh :-)

    Regarding the waistline, Morocco does this to me : oversweet tooth and to much mint tea. By the way do yo say sweet tooth for someone insanely fond of sweet taste ?

  • Sandra Castro
    June 25, 2012 4:19pm

    David is this an annual trip,I may dream of joining one,please let me know how far in advance to plan?Thank you!!

  • Jasanna
    June 25, 2012 4:26pm

    What was that spicy chocolate you tasted? I love chocolates infused with spices, orange oil, etc, and I love trying spicy chocolate, so I’d love to know!

  • Patricia
    June 25, 2012 4:32pm

    So happy to be back where the sun is shining on lac leman, Paris was indeed dismal. We probably were swapping routes on the same days.
    Not much exploring time spent across the lake but am now sure to try the spots mentioned in Lausanne. ..and speaking of helpful information from David,I now have a vial of rennet for trying cottage cheese…this man is a huge resource.
    I had lists that I was not able to complete taken from blogs and missed the local nutella address near St Germaine. Just one more reason to hop the train back to Paris when the sun comes out.
    I’ll bring you cheese from Lausanne,the least I could do for all your blogging help.

  • June 25, 2012 4:39pm

    For any of your readers who aren’t lucky enough to join you on your Paris-Lausanne tour but would like to taste some Swiss chocolate and cheese, the Swiss Chocolate Train is a really good option. I took it a couple of weeks ago when I was in Montreux.

    I’m not sure if I can make clickable links in your comment section, but here are two posts that I wrote with photos.

    Swiss Chocolate Train (Part I)

    Swiss Chocolate Train (Part II – Gruyere)

    If you ever decide to venture further down the lake, the Montreux Palace is a great place to stay, especially if you’re there during the Jazz Festival!

  • Paula
    June 25, 2012 5:33pm

    Really, I want your job. Paris, food, travel, frieneds, you seem to have made your life heaven on earth. It’s the old “Do what you love…”, You are an inspiration.

  • Jessica
    June 25, 2012 6:04pm

    The meringue with double cream soft gruyere looks terrific. If one can’t find the gruyere; ;is there a substitute available?

  • June 25, 2012 7:56pm

    meringue with double cream gruyere…. I believe I may faint from deprivation here.

  • June 25, 2012 8:26pm

    This post makes me want to get on that train and sink into the Alpine beauty and delicious food… Thanks, David!

  • June 25, 2012 9:54pm

    Out of focus photographs are works of art. That’s my excuse anyway :-)

  • June 25, 2012 10:03pm

    You had me at the breakfast tray…
    What is it about European breakfasts…just heavenlly
    wish I could ‘pin’ it..

  • Jeanne
    June 25, 2012 10:27pm

    Oh my goodness! We leave for Switzerland on Monday! Seriously, when does that ever happen?? We land in Geneva so I’m definitely going to make Lausanne a stop on our itinerary. Thank you!

  • June 25, 2012 10:50pm

    Well, the photos you’ve shown are beautiful. I’ve just been lamenting over some out-of-focus goodies I made and all after receiving a nice compliment on my photo styling. You are a great writer and cook. :) Greeting from PA, USA.

  • Lisa Norris
    June 25, 2012 11:10pm

    Ah, this sure brings back the memories of a great trip last year. Meringues with double creme is my all-time favorite experience. Though the pistachio bark at Blondel is also amazing…

  • JoAnn
    June 26, 2012 2:22am

    Daveeeed! Again with those meringues with double cream gruyere?!?! You’re going to make me bonk my nose on my monitor one of these days! I’ve never had one, but I have imagined what they taste like. I really have. By hook or by crook I’m sinking my teeth into one of those meringues!

  • Christina
    June 26, 2012 2:52am

    OK..I am stumped..What exactly is double creme Gruyere? I know meringues and clotted cream, and double cream but the Gruyere part is a mystery. I hate sounding ignorant but the cheese double creme sounds wonderful and I am fascinated…I live in a wonderful southern Atlantic U.S. state [un-named of course ] that does not have many interesting grocery shopping oportunities..Help!! Thank you..I travel vicariously through your website..and thank you or that…Christina

  • Aude
    June 26, 2012 3:45am

    That’s just too painful to read…. :’)

  • Christina
    June 26, 2012 7:13am

    tis true, tis pity…hard to cook neat stuff when intersting foods are not available locally and can only be obtained via the Internet….which requires a great deal of advance planning

  • June 26, 2012 8:09am
    David Lebovitz

    Christina: Double-cream is the cream skimmed off the milk, produced by the cows in the region. So, of course, it’s only available in the area of La Gruyère, where it is produced.

    Jeanne: The great thing about Switzerland is that it’s so easy to travel to places via the trains, which are clean and on time – and fast. There is a very good outdoor market in Lausanne on Saturday mornings, and Andre Macheret has a stand there with his excellent cheeses (there’s also a small shop he has in town, too).

    Maxine: It’s such a delightful culinary destination that I added it to my annual Paris tour itinerary. We spend a few days in Lausanne (and Vevey), which is a nice contrast to the bustling streets and shops of Paris.

  • Christine
    June 26, 2012 8:22am

    Thanks. Now all I can think about is fondue (insert Homer Simpson drooling sound). Not sure I can talk my boyfriend into a pan full of melty cheese for dinner when it’s 85 degrees outside, but I’ll try.

  • Christina
    June 26, 2012 12:37pm

    Thank you..I thought it might be that simple…double creme from Gruyere but was intrigued by the thought of something a little different… Christina

  • Celia
    June 26, 2012 10:48pm

    my dahrling daveed………….i am transported…..this one, was a leetle more speciale……smile…I can smell the air…..cecile

  • Norine
    June 27, 2012 4:09am

    Ah, fuzzy focus. I once had my lens on auto but my camera body on manual. Fuzzy. But even your fuzzy food looks lovely and still a travel temptation :-).

  • Bee
    June 27, 2012 9:01am

    As for a few other commenters, the pictures and your post made me remember living in Geneva years ago. I can just feel the sunshine and fresh air. Not to mention wanting to eat the crusty chewy bottom of the fondue!

  • June 27, 2012 2:57pm

    Photos are great but memories are better :)

  • June 27, 2012 8:39pm

    Ah, I’m so jealous. I spent a semester in Switzerland in high school, near Lausanne and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Such a beautiful country.

  • June 28, 2012 5:26am

    Mon dieu! Fondue! That photo of steaming dairy goodness more than makes up for any bad photo you might have taken. I’m going to have to add fondue to my list of things to try to make. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Lisa
    July 1, 2012 2:54pm

    I am sorry to tell you that nothing you ever photograph in Switzerland will beat the cheese sandwich from last year. I still dream about that sandwich……….

  • Dorothy Rackley
    July 4, 2012 5:32am

    Hi David,

    Can you tell all of us who did not go on your Paris-Lousanne tour, and are now kicking ourselves!, when you will do this again? Price? Size of tour? How far in advance do we need to book?

    Please, please say that you will do this again!?!

    Thanks,

    Dorothy

    • July 4, 2012 6:57am
      David Lebovitz

      I normally do these tours once, or sometimes, twice – a year. We take a maximum of 10 guests. If you want more information, check out additional information on my Tours page.

  • Olivia
    July 4, 2012 11:19am

    Next year, if the group and a tour are organized, I will definitely join you!

  • Dorothy Rackley
    July 4, 2012 11:08pm

    Thank you for the tour information. Can’t wait!

    I also have a recipe question. I hope it is ok to ask it here. I am going to make your version of an apple tarte tatin this weekend.

    I have tried this dessert using other recipes. They always make the carmel sauce first for 10 minutes and then add the apples. I have looked at the video you made. You, instead, melt the butter, quickly stir in the sugar, add the apples and then proceed.

    Is there a reason you do not make the sauce first? I have never been happy with other recipes (the sauce never carmelizes the apples and the apples don’t darken). I am hoping yours will do the trick.

    Thanks!

    Dorothy

    • July 6, 2012 6:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve done it both ways – it also depends on the apples, how moist they are, ect. When you caramelize them on the stovetop, you can see directly what you’re doing and how nice and dark they are getting as you go.

  • Leora
    July 6, 2012 6:12pm

    Wow! This is actually the first time I came across your blog, although I’ve heard about you. Got here through reading about your visit to Israel. This is actually perfect timing because I will be going to Lausanne in a couple of weeks for a conference. Being the poor student that I am, I will be eating my lunch in the cafeteria, but I will be saving my pennies for some of the things you listed. It all looks wonderful!