When you ask someone about Canton Uri, they’ll likely mention that it’s one of Switzerland’s three original cantons, along with Schwyz and Unterwalden. Or, they might bring up William Tell, Switzerland’s national hero. The famous statue of him stands in Altdorf, the capital of Uri. A chapel and museum in the canton also bear his name. But, what about its culinary specialties? If you plan on visiting this picturesque canton in central Switzerland, here are nine traditional foods you can try while you’re there.
A dessert made of dried pears in a red wine sauce and served with whipped cream (nytlä), Brischtner Nytlä will surprise you. The dried pears originally developed as a way to preserve them during the cold winter months. While the soft pears may initially not look very attractive, they have a wonderful flavor enhanced by the wine and complemented by the whipped cream.
Similar to the Urner Pastete (see below), the Iberlitzli has raisins for its filling. This little hand pie has a puff pastry exterior which surrounds the raisins, unlike the Urner Pastete, which has them exposed on the sides when cut into individual servings. I personally do not enjoy the high concentration of raisins in these pastries (although my husband loves it), but if you can tolerate this, then you might really like it.
Ryys und Boor
A popular dish from Uri, Ryys und Boor translates to “rice and leeks.” Made with risotto, it also sometimes calls for the addition of cubed boiled potatoes, and almost always has fried rings of onion as a garnish. Serve it on its own or with some Swiss sausages for a hearty, comforting meal.
Anise-flavored biscuits with a ground hazelnut or almond filling, Uristier Anisgebäck used to be popular in Uri on the day of public voting known as Landsgemeinde. People would gather outside and show their support by raising their hand — a process that does not allow for anonymous voting. In canton Uri, the Landsgemeinde ended in 1928, but the pastries have remained. Made with egg whites, Uristier Anisgebäck has a crisp, meringue-like quality to it. Bakers use a wooden mold to create the cantonal symbol of a bull on the top.
Made from raw, full-fat cow’s milk, Urner Alpkäse is a semi-hard alpine cheese. The cows graze on alpine pastures, and the farmers produce this cheese up in the mountains during the summer months. To be considered an Urner alpine cheese, everything related to its production must take place at an elevation of at least 1,350 meters. About 200 tons of this cheese is produced each year.
Also known as Hälberli, Urner Brot is the cantonal bread for Uri. Two rounded balls of dough are baked together to form this bread. After baking, the loaf is separated into two equal parts and sold separately. Made with either ruchmehl (contains around 85 percent of the grain) or halbweissmehl (contains about 75 percent of the grain), Urner Brot has a thick crispy crust.
The Urner Hauswurst is a dried sausage that typically contains beef, pork, deer and/or goat meat. Each butcher has their own recipe. The sausages generally have a length of 10-15 centimeters (about 4-6 inches) and a diameter of about 2 centimeters (3/4 of an inch). These sausages work well for picnics and especially for taking along on a mountain hike.
Like the Iberlitzli shown above, the Urner Pastete has a filling made with raisins. Instead of small, individual hand pies, the Urner Pastete has a large rectangular shape, with the raisins sandwiched between two layers of pastry. The large rectangles are sliced and traditionally served with coffee.
This fried, diamond-shaped pastry has a filling made with ziger (German) or sérac (French), a cheese made from whey. You will find Zigerkrapfen in several Swiss cantons, but in canton Uri, they often contain Magenträs, a spiced sugar made with cinnamon and sandalwood. This ingredient gives the sweet filling a light salmon-colored appearance.
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