This year marks the third edition of my holiday gift guide for people in Switzerland who love food. The list of 12 items below includes gift ideas for friends, colleagues and family members who like to cook or for those who appreciate eating well. You will find many of these items in my own Swiss kitchen.
All of the following items, which appear below in no particular order, can be purchased online or via email for shipping throughout Switzerland.
1. Linen Bread Sack
For storing all your delicious Swiss breads, I recommend using a cloth sack. A crusty loaf lasts longer in these bags because it prevents your bread from drying out. I purchased one earlier this year, only afterwards finding out that my cloth bag had an inner plastic lining and needed to be hand-washed (!). Thankfully, Katharina Arrigoni of BesondersGut has some linen bags that come in two sizes, one for standard loaves and one for baguettes. You can purchase these via her online shop. Plus, they are machine washable! I love practical gifts, and almost anyone—whether you bake your own bread or not—can use these sacks.
Where to buy: BesondersGut
Cost: CHF 16.00
2. Drink Like the Swiss
In 2017, Andie Pilot’s first book, Helvetic Kitchen—named after her blog, appeared on my holiday gift guide. A year later, I am happy to include her second book, Drink Like the Swiss, also published by Bergli Books. Both a guide and cookbook for Swiss beverages, the pages are filled with her colorful illustrations. Her book contains nearly 100 drink recipes served at all temperatures, ranging from an Ovomaltine milkshake to Glühwein (hot mulled wine) to an Alpine Ice Tea Syrup. You will find drinks from throughout the country, and her playful drawings help make the recipes fun to read and easy to understand.
Where to buy: Bergli Books
Cost: CHF 24.90
3. Candied Chestnuts from Ticino
According to Dany Stauffacher, the founder of the Sapori Ticino gourmet festival, marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) from Giglia make the perfect gift. The company that makes them, Giuseppe Giglia in Lugano, is named after its founder and opened in 1921. These candied chestnuts are still made based on the original recipe from Mr. Giglia, and are individually wrapped by hand. If you know someone who likes chestnuts, a box of these sweet treats would be a good choice.
Where to buy: Giuseppe Giglia SA
Cost: Starting at CHF 24.50 for 250 grams
This summer, Philippe Martin of La Valote Martin produced the first certified bio (organic) absinthe in Switzerland. Made in Val-de-Travers, the birthplace of the “green fairy,” this new absinthe is an organic version of Martin’s L’Originale. He grows many of the herbal plants in his own garden, and the rest he obtains from elsewhere in Switzerland. To receive the organic label, he changed the recipe slightly since he could not source licorice and star anise that would meet the standards for Bio Suisse. With all the key ingredients, however, it still has all the qualities and taste of an authentic Swiss absinthe.
Where to buy: La Valote Martin
Cost: CHF 66.00 for 1 liter, also available in 50cl bottles
5. The Most Beautiful Cafés and Tea Rooms in Switzerland
A new edition of a 2013 guidebook will help you find the most beautiful cafés and tearooms in Switzerland. Available in German and French and published by Patrimoine Suisse, this book presents 50 places where you can enjoy a coffee or tea in a unique and often historic setting, and in regions throughout the country. It will help you find some of Switzerland’s best cafés and tearooms, including those hidden gems that only the locals know about.
Where to buy: Patrimoine Suisse
Cost: CHF 16.00 (For members of Patrimoine Suisse, CHF 8.00)
6. Haute Fondue
From publisher Helvetiq comes a cookbook devoted to a classic Swiss dish, fondue. Written by Jennifer and Arnaud Favre, Haute Fondue is available in German and French, you will find 52 recipes for different types of cheese fondue. Learn about Swiss regional preferences for fondue and tricks for perfecting your fondue techniques. In addition to more traditional Swiss fondues, you will discover some new flavor combinations, like a cheese fondue with curry powder and pineapple or a fondue made with stinging nettles.
Where to buy: Helvetiq
Cost: CHF 35.00
7. Swiss Parks Regional Foods Gift Boxes
The Swiss Parks Network offers gift boxes with food products made within the boundaries of their parks. At this time, Switzerland has 19 parks—two of which are currently in the “establishment phase.” Twelve of these parks have products that bear the Swiss Parks label. The purpose of this federal program is to help individuals and businesses promote their regional food products, which are made in accordance with sustainable development practices. You can choose from 28 different gift baskets presented in their catalog. I personally like the Via Capricorn gift box (CHF 57.90), which contains alpine cheese, sausage, a nusstorte, pasta, chocolate and more.
Where to buy: First review the options in the catalog online, then contact the individual parks by phone or email to place an order.
Cost: Ranges from CHF 19.00-98.00
8. Alpsteinbitter Stengeli
Over the summer, I visited a lovely shop in the center of Appenzell called Goba Flauderei. This Swiss company produces Flauder soda and a range of liqueurs, as well as tea, fruit syrups, mineral water and other products. One in particular that I think would make an excellent holiday gift is their Alpensteinbitter Stengeli. Alpenbitter, a Swiss herbal liqueur, appears in the directory of traditional Swiss food products maintained by Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse. Made in collaboration with the Confiserie Laimbacher in Appenzell, the cylindrical candies are filled with this liqueur and wrapped in dark chocolate.
Where to buy: Goba Flauderei
Cost: CHF 23.50 for 10 pieces
9. Swiss Historic Hotels Gift Voucher
For the person who enjoys traveling and discovering regional Swiss food, a gift certificate from the Swiss Historic Hotels association would make a great gift. When you use these vouchers you can explore the culinary scene in different regions of Switzerland. Plus, these hotels often have restaurants that focus on serving local cuisine. With 55 hotels to choose from, in urban and rural locations throughout Switzerland, everyone will surely find a place that fits their needs and interests. One of my favorite hotels within this association is the Hotel Palazzo Salis, where Chef Monika Müller serves dishes like risotto with lamb sausage and pizokel (a traditional buckwheat pasta from this region) with kale and Swiss chard.
Where to buy: Swiss Historic Hotels
Cost: Gift vouchers available in amounts ranging from CHF 25.00 to 1,000.00.
Tanja Grandits, whose Restaurant Stucki has earned 2 Michelin stars and 18 points from Gault & Millau, has published a new cookbook full of recipes (in German) that she makes at home for her family and friends. Tanjas Kochbuch features recipes like Mandelmüsli (almond muesli) and Linsen-Safran-Suppe mit Zitronen-Feta (lentils-saffron soup with lemon feta). This book also contains basic recipes for versatile salad dressings, sauces and pestos. A gift for the fine dining fan who doesn’t always have a lot of time to cook.
Where to buy: ex libris (currently offering 20% off)
11. Kuhn Rikon Paring Knife
I received a little red Kuhn Rikon paring knife for Christmas several years ago, and it has become one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. This company started in Switzerland in 1899, and its headquarters are located in the canton of Zürich. I especially like their paring knives that have a cover for the blade—a great feature if you want to take them on a picnic, for example. These knives have a non-stick coating, a 2-year warranty and come in many different colors and patterns. It makes a great stocking stuffer, or you could box it up with your favorite Swiss cheeses and dried sausages.
Where to buy: Kuhn Rikon
Cost: CHF 7.90 – 11.90 per knife
I interviewed Martin Dahinden, Switzerland’s Ambassador to the United States, in 2016 about his German language book on Switzerland’s culinary secrets—Schweizer Küchengeheimnisse: Gesichter und Geschichten hinter bekannten Gerichten (Swiss Kitchen Secrets: Faces and Stories Behind Famous Dishes). This year, Ambassador Dahinden published another book in English, largely drawing from his previous work, but expanding on it considerably to include over 90 recipes. Beyond Muesli and Fondue: The Swiss Contribution to Culinary History tells the stories of key individuals connected to Switzerland who have made a significant impact on food and cooking.
Where to buy: Buchzentrum
Cost: CHF 20.90 (softcover), CHF 32.50 (hardcover)