This past February, I had the pleasure of being on the maiden Sweet Zurich Tour with the Limmat city’s own expert of all things sugary: Kerrin Rousset.
Best known for her food travel blog MyKugelhopf, Kerrin's guided sweet safari allowed me to visit several new feeding grounds with plenty of Zürich's finest chocolates, confectioneries and pastries!
Seven months later, I joined Kerrin and a group of American, Australian and Swiss tourists on another guided trip to discover even more hidden gems in Zürich. What I noticed right away about the tour was that it wasn't the same tour from February.
Kerrin fits herself to her group and allows their interests to dictate some of the tour’s information. Having strong personalities in the group, she challenged us to a debate about the virtues of white chocolate and whether it actually is chocolate. I still maintain that it is chocolate, otherwise it wouldn’t be named chocolate to begin with...
Discovering Zürich's Chocolate Culture
As we arrived outside the first shop, Kerrin gave us a bit of information about the owner and the owner’s passions. Interestingly, they do not just carry big chocolate brands.
Instead, this shop has very good relationships with a few artisans who produce chocolate.
After the tour, I came to much of the same conclusion about Kerrin: She doesn’t just bring the curious to a few sweet shops, but rather she has a very good relationship with the owners of the shops.
The importance and value of these relationships can be seen in the way the owners entrust Kerrin to show off their shops and take people even into areas normally closed off to the public.
While Kerrin is the tour leader, she does not lecture but encourages dialogue among guests, shop owners and herself. This open discussion allows you to feel very comfortable with the people you’re jaunting through town with.
La Vie en Chocolate
I have also noticed that Kerrin truly is a connoisseur. Now, some of you might think: "Of course she is - that's her job." But while many claim to appreciate something like wine or chocolate, few understand it. For Kerrin, it is not just about the exclusivity or price of chocolate or confectioneries, but about the work and raw materials that go into it.
In this manner, she very convincingly asks her guests to stop for a moment, take a breath and truly savor the moment (and perhaps a chocolate truffle). Similarly, she also has the tourists appreciate the city of Zürich for its quiet charms that much more.
Zürich is a city for connoisseurs. If you don’t take the time to understand it, you’ll miss its subtle seductiveness.
In for a Sweet Surprise...
As the tour progressed, we visited some old haunts and on the way to another shop, Kerrin stopped us in a back alley. She had us gather around and opened a bag to reveal her goods - guaranteed to give many their fix!
"What do you want? I got double chocolate, white chocolate macadamia..." Cookies! In a way, it was a visit to virtual worlds as these cookies are currently only available for purchase online. Seems that Ms. Rousset is quite the guru and after helping advise a young Swiss entrepreneur in the art of American cookies, Kerrin has become the first distributor of these delicious treats. First hit is free.
"Tastes like home!" was a comment from one of the American guests. Visitors on The Sweet Zurich Tour can expect to find out where these cookies can be ordered. For expats living in Switzerland, this is welcomed news as many really miss their giant chocolate chip cookies.
As the tour came to a conclusion, Kerrin had one more pleasant surprise for her guests.
Realizing that remembering all the information from the Sweet Zurich Tour can be quite difficult, she handed us booklets with the history of chocolate manufacturing in Switzerland and important terminology, so that the next time we venture into a fine purveyor of sweets, we will know exactly what to look out for and the important questions to ask!
Slow down, take an afternoon off and join Kerrin on a tour of Zürich’s sweet spots. You will walk away with a new appreciation for chocolate and Zürich. If you have been on the tour or live in western Switzerland, keep your eyes and ears open as Kerrin is busy planning tours outside of Zurich — maybe your city will be next!
Thank you, Kerrin, for the wonderful afternoon - and keep up the amazing work!
(Pictures courtesy MyKugelhopf)