A few weekends ago, we took a trip to the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland for a little birthday adventure among the mountains.
Our destination: a tiny street of buildings close to the border between Switzerland and Italy.
The hotel we stayed in had once been a stopover point for postal riders and traders and has been restored to honor its history. The walls are whitewashed, the floors are wide planks of wood and the mattresses are made with horsehair. If you are curious, horsehair mattresses might be the best sleeping pill on the market today. Upon contact, they provide a strong narcoleptic effect.
In the spirit of its original use as a boarding house, the building is heated with wood stoves and all the guests eat home-cooked meals together, at a long farm table. All the recipes and food served are local to the tiny border town of Poschiavo.
One of the perpetually fascinating things about Switzerland is the drastic differences in cuisine from one canton to another and sometimes even within cantons. We spent time in another part of Graubünden over the summer and the food there was extremely hearty with definite Swiss German influences. In this area the food was still filling but more delicate with similarities to some Italian dishes. I fell in love with a buckwheat pasta dish that is very iconic of the region as well as the local brown bread which was shaped in a ring and dotted with fennel seeds. One of the other guests in the hotel grew up in the region and told us that the ring shape allowed multiple loaves to be strung up on a wooden pole in the kitchen which was then hung from the ceiling.
Every morning, we were treated to a spread that included fresh eggs, goat cheese and dessert leftovers from the night before (pictured here is a cherry Linzer torte. Swoon).
While cooking our eggs on the wood-fired stove, my childhood dream of being Laura Ingalls Wilder was finally realized. All that's missing now is a calico dress and bonnet.
By the use of "our," I think I implied that I cooked my own egg. Full disclosure: that implication is false. I left that work to my resident egg cooking master.
On the first night, before dinner, we took a hike on the path near the hotel.
From the path, we could see Poschiavo off in the distance.
I am running out of adjectives to properly describe Switzerland. The light raking across the mountains fell into the "incredible" category though "cinematic" and "gorgeous" also apply.
While the food and atmosphere were excellent and ideal for a relaxing few days away from home, I soon learned that we did not come just for a cozy wood-heated weekend of gorging on food (though that absolutely did happen)...
We came for goats. Specifically to meet them, feed them, milk them and learn to make delicious cheese.
The hotel works closely with a local farmer who raises a herd of 300 goats. 40 of these hang out in the stable on the ground floor of the hotel. Upon meeting the hotel's 4-legged residents, I may or may not have revised my imaginary plans for our someday dream home to include this exact feature.
Having goats on the ground floor means that one could theoretically visit them and scratch their necks before dinner. Theoretically.
The goat story is really one that needs to be told on its own. I'll provide the second installment shortly.