When you visit friends in Switzerland, and their family has a chalet in the mountains, you definitely fit it into your schedule. From afar, I've seen Zhanna and Gary post photos from this special place during all seasons, and we were so excited to experience it ourselves. The chalet is in a small village with a handful of other homes, a church, and a couple restaurants, tucked away in a high mountain valley next to a beautiful lake, Lac de Taney. In the summer we could have driven up to the town, but in the winter (well... April), we had to park at the bottom, and hike/snowshoe up a steep snowy trail. After reaching the chalet and dropping off our bags, we explored around the area. Gary ventured out onto the frozen but melting lake while we anxiously took photos. What's a popular destination to hike to in the summertime was mostly deserted and the restaurants closed.
Our amazing hosts hiked up with a bag full of cheese, wine, garlic, and bread. The scent of homemade fondue on the stove is almost as good as the meal itself. We learned that fondue (basically melted cheese and bread) is somewhat of a special occasion meal—about once a month. Hanging out with a Swiss, Gary, and an American who now lives in Switzerland, Zhanna, was the best way to learn about the local culture and food from a familiar perspective. We kept a wood fire going and shared stories and played boardgames until our eyes were heavy and our tummies and hearts full. We need more special occasion meals in our lives.
- Julia + Yuriy