A Swiss Chocolate Love Affair to Remember

Posted on November 8, 2010

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My love affair with Swiss Chocolates has been long-standing.  It goes all the way back in 1998 when I first visited Switzerland.  Back then, I worked for a Swiss Company, Hoffmann La Roche, as District Manager for their Diagnostics Products.  My colleagues and I joined a global-wide company competition and was lucky enough to win the prize. The prize was a week trip to Montreaux-Vevey joined by other employees of Roche from all over the world.  It was my first intercontinental trip and Swiss chocolates made the best impression and memory of Switzerland.

While in Montreaux-Vevey, we toured around the area and one of the destinations was an old romantic castle that you would expect to see in fairy tale, Chateau de Chillon.  On that night, we enjoyed a gourmet dinner and my first delightful taste of Swiss Chocolate Truffles.  Growing up in Manila, my idea of chocolate are simple milk chocolate bars of Hersheys and Cadburys.  Biting into this smooth, silky cocoa-dusted dark chocolate squares gave so much satisfaction I wished I had more.  It was the first time I had a taste of exceptionally good dark chocolate.

When I moved to Canada, travel had become a second passion.  When I finally had a chance to go back to Switzerland, I had every intent to sample more chocolate. I had the memory of the chocolate truffles from Montreaux so vivid in my mind, I  planned on finding something similar to what I tasted years before or top it up with another sinful chocolate concoction.  My best friend and I went through several gourmet shops sampling only what would I later learn as Switzerland’s  pavé glacé of Geneva.

From Montreaux to Lausanne and finally to Geneva, we went in and out of chocolate shops indulging in chocolate truffles.  When you first walk in the door, you would get a waft of coco in the air that would make your mouth water at the thought that the store are laden with chocolate.  Then your senses get overwhelmed of how much different chocolate selections in one shop that you can choose from.  It’s like a donut shop experience in North America, you can select which chocolate flavor you want to buy and so the possibilities of what a chocolate box can hold are endless.  They sell the chocolates by weight and different combinations can bring a lot of pleasant surprises.

But being the one-track-minded person that I am, I only wanted solid dark chocolates similar to what I have tasted in Montreaux the first time I was in Switzerland.  I would get a few pieces from each chocolate gourmet shop and eat it right away.  All of them were wonderful but the best was the one we found in Geneva.  To tell you honestly, by the time we reached Geneva, we have already tried several and I did not really expect I can still distinguish if there was any difference to the chocolate experience.  But well you could say, I ate my words, swallowed it together with the best chocolate truffle in Switzerland! :D

This little piece of heaven, you can find in one of the busy streets of Geneva, a tiny shop called Rohr (http://www.rohr.ch/).  My best friend says his father discovered this chocolate shops in one of his travels and he guaranteed to me that this is the best Swiss Chocolate he has ever tasted.  At that point, I think I was on my chocolate threshold (too many tastings make it seem like every gourmet chocolate taste the same) so I took my best friend’s word for it and bought a big box without trying it first. Walking out of the store, I looked at the box and thought it was kind of silly not to try it when my friend feels so confident about it.  So I opened it up and popped one into my mouth and I literally did a turn-around, leaving my friend surprised when I suddenly changed walking directions.  The chocolate truffle melted so smoothly in my mouth that I knew one box would not pacify me.  It was that good!  The coco flavor was deep, rich and smooth and not overpowered by sugar sweetness some truffles normally are.  The chocolate was absolute perfection.

Chocolat Rohr started as a confectionery/bakery back in 1936 by Hans Rohr.  He and his wife did everything from scratch and have gradually gained success within the local community.  His decision to branch out to making chocolates changed the direction his business as the sales of his chocolates overtook the cakes that he started his business with.  It would not be too hard to imagine the reason as the same recipe is still easily the company’s best seller today, the Pave Glace’ of Geneva.

Next time you happen to find yourself in Geneva, stop by this little chocolate shop.  I guarantee this would be come a highlight of your trip the way it was with mine :)

postscript:  Images are not of my own.  They belong to Rohr’s website.   I confess my camera eye goes blind when it is in competition with dark chocolate truffles ;)