Postcard from … Geneva

Geneva is a beautiful and well-run city. Where else do bus departures have a countdown clock in minutes and seconds?

On the food front, though, Geneva has a reputation for frilly fine dining. It’s best summed up in a scene from the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), when Sabina (Lena Olin) and Franz (Derek de Lint) leave a restaurant early because the jobsworth Maitre d’ refuses to turn off the annoying muzak.

Some say that the city is lacking in edginess and excitement. That may be right, but here are some things that Geneva does very well. They include banking, selling watches, chocolate and cheese. Banking is an unfashionable profession and nobody really needs a watch anymore. But there’s no denying the eternal appeal of the latter two.

With a spare couple of hours to kill before a flight back to London I got a tip off that the Halle de Rive market, a Mont Blanc pen’s throw from Lake Geneva, was the place to head for. It boasts not one, not two but three fromageries. And soon I arrived at what turned out to be the mother nipple of milk-based food products.

Goats cheeses at Bruand, Geneva

Most Swiss cheeses are made from cow’s milk. But my attention was drawn to the rather beautiful selection of goats’ cheeses available at Fromagerie Bruard. If we’re going to get all seasonal, then springtime is the right time for goats’ cheese.

I asked for a few to take back to the UK. So here are the four that were picked for me and safely transported back to London, clockwise from top:

Bûchette de Manon: a log-shaped unpasteurised cheese from Alpine goats, matured with herbs and with a blueish white rind. This cheese had a lovely firm texture, perhaps because of some ageing, combined with a nice mild herby flavour.

Galletout: A flat, pancake-like goat’s cheese. Incredibly soft and creamy with the big kick of a strong aftertaste.

Crottin Aubonne: a small truncated cone-shaped cheese, with a soft white rind. Aubonne is a Swiss municipality in the Vaud canton. Both rind and cheese had a great texture, the interior firm yet creamy, with a good strong flavour.

Bi-caillou: a small brick of unpasteurised Alpine goats cheese with a greyish rind. Hard-textured, with a sweet flavour combined with a nice bit of acidity.

It turned out that three of the four cheeses recommended to me were French! But the pick of the bunch for me was the Swiss Crottin Aubonne. So Switzerland wins twice, as well as making a great cheese it’s also near France. Next time, I’ll try the cow selection:

Cows milk cheeses at Fromagerie Bruand, Geneva


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