A typical Swiss farm shop (Food Destinations #5)
For Food Destinations No. 5, the theme of which is “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, our first inclination was to pick a restaurant we go to often. But while we have some favorites, we don’t really go to any one restaurant more than once or twice a month on average, since we like variety when eating out. On the other hand, there are a couple of food stores that we shop in almost every day, where they truly know our names. One of our favorite haunts is our very typically Swiss local farm shop in the suburbs of Zürich.
The Müller family runs a small farm that is typical of the non-rural areas of Switzerland. It’s tucked in the middle of ever-spreading housing construction, and they have had to slowly cut down their farming activities over the years - getting rid of the cows a few years ago, and the egg-laying chickens just recently. They still have the apple orchards and the vegetable and berry garden though.
Their farm shop is housed in a former small abattoir. Like most such farmer-operated stores, it has very limited opening hours: from 9 to 11:30 two mornings a week, and 30 minutes in the evenings every day except Sunday.
The product selection is top notch. Even though they don’t have their own chickens anymore they still sell fresh, organic or Integrierte Produktion (which is a designation for produce that’s almost totally organic) locally produced eggs for a bit less than the equivalent quality at the supermarkets. While the eggs are still expensive by U.S. standards at around 60 Rappen or US 50 cents per egg, they are worth it all the way.
They have their own line of organic apple products: Süssmost (non-alcoholic apple cider), apple preserves, dried apple rings, and a delicious alcoholic bubbly apple wine called Blauacher Chlöpfmoscht.
The Müllers are also part of the Slow Food movement. Following that philosophy, they carry a nice selection of interesting and locally produced products, such as organic spelt, called Dinkel in German and epautre in French, and pasta made from spelt and other flours.
Depending on the time of year, they have all kinds of interesting things like wild garlic pesto, elderberry syrup, and a variety of honeys and jams. During the harvest months they have a small selection of fruits and vegetables. They also sell a delicious Bergkäse - country farm cheese, made from the milk of cows that spend the winters in the meadows in the hills above our village, and the summers up in the Alps near the resort town of Arosa in the Grisons, chomping on alpine flowers and herbs. Imagine a great aged Gruyère with rich, herbal undertones. You will rarely see this kind of cheese sold at regular stores in the city, or even at the open markets, because the production is too small.
And on Saturdays, Frau Müller bakes some delicious bread on the premises. The chubby Knopf (knot) loaves, fragrant with milk and butter, are to die for, and the whole grain Hirtenbrot (shepherd’s bread) is not far behind.
Does this sound special? It is, but yet it’s not. While the Müllers’ store is quite a bit prettier and better stocked than most, small farm stalls and stores selling what the farmer produces exist in many communities around Switzerland, quietly upholding the tradition of fresh, locally produced food. We really hope that the continuing encroachment of large supermarkets and hypermarkets won’t drive these tiny family run operations into extinction.
Müller’s Buurelädeli, Dorfstrasse 56, 8906 Bonstetten
Open Mon-Sat 18:30 - 19:00; Fri & Sat 9 - 11:30
If you live in or are visiting Switzerland and want to find a farm store
The best way to find a farm store near you is to just keep your eyes open as you walk or drive around and look for the signs that say Eier (eggs) and/or Frische Früchte und Gemüse (fresh fruits and vegetables). In the French speaking areas, look for oeufs and legumes et fruits frais. Or, ask your neighbours! Most towns and villages have at least one farmer who sells things like fresh eggs and vegetables directly. Shopping at farm stores is one of the under-appreciated pleasures of living in Switzerland.
This is an entry for Food Destinations No. 5 food blogging event hosted by From Our Kitchen. It’s part of the Food Destinations series originated by Just Hungry. Keep an eye on the host site From Our Kitchen for the roundup!
If you’d like to host a future Food Destinations event and bring fame, fortune (well maybe not that) and visitors to your food blog, please let us know.
(Photos and research by Max, written by Maki.)