A bit of Swiss milk chocolate
(A quick note here. From time to time, I get an email asking if I can send Swiss chocolate bars to another country, if they pay me etc. (OK some people just email asking for chocolate without even mentioning payment, but those are easy to ignore :P) I really don't have the time for that I'm sorry to say. Besides, I am not in Switzerland at the moment (I'm in France), and even though I go back to Zürich once a month or so, I don't have the time to run around buying chocolate bars and mailing them out to strangers. I suggest that you google around for people who might do this kind of thing for profit. Chocolate selling ain't my game!)
I spent the last couple of weeks surrounded by chocolate bars.
First, I sent out 53 (plus a couple...I lost count) of chocolate bars to the winner of the Menu for Hope raffle. (It was sent out so late because the recipient was away from home.) The winner had requested that the selection be made up mostly of milk chocolate bars. Now, you might think that assembling 50 + different kinds of milk chocolate would be a tough call, but not here! There are many, many more than 50 kinds of milk chocolate sold in stores here - and I'm not even including the kinds with things like nuts or fruit or whatever mixed in.
Then last week, I got the 'bill' from my stepfather (who is an accountant) for doing my U.S. tax return. (Yes, all U.S. citizens must file them regardless of where they live.) He wanted some Swiss chocolate - milk, of course.
Nowadays, dark chocolate is in, especially since it's supposed to be healthy or something. I do like that intense hit of cacao now and then, but I must admit that I am a milk chocolate kind of girl. Nothing surpasses the sensation of a combination of chocolate and smooth creamm melting smoothly on the tongue.
Here in Switzerland, it's generally believed that the chocolatiers got a bit behind on the dark chocolate craze, and have been playing catchup to the Belgians and the French. These days there are all kinds of dark chocolate varietals and such on the shelves here. But still, Switzerland does milk chocolate the best in my opinion. Sure you can get terrific handmade truffles and pralines in Paris or Bruges, and you could argue that Belgian dark chocolate is better (though I'm not sure that's true anymore). But a plain, (relatively) inexpensive bar of milk chocolate? Swiss all the way.
Here are a few of the mostly milk chocolate bars that were sent out to the eager recipients (sorry for the iffy photos for some of them, I was in a hurry). At current exchange rates you can just about convert the francs (CHF) directly to US dollars (1 CHF = $1). Going from the least expensive on up:
M-Budget is the 'no-label' house brand of Migros, the leading supermarket chain in Switzerland. This full size 100g bar of chocolate is only 50 Rappen, or 50 cents! It's not bad, quite sweet. I think the package design is quite nice too. (The cheapest not-on-sale bar of chocolate I've seen so far is 25 Rappen. That one is not so nice.)
Frey is another Migros house brand. This one has a Euro '08 (that's soccer/football) design on it. Here's the Frey lineup on the Migros online shop, LeShop.
This is a standard bar of milk chocolate from one of the big makers, Cailler (Nestlé), costing about 1.20 CHF. (They messed around with the packaging a couple of years ago, and had to woo the Swiss public back, but now they seem to be back on top.) A very sweet, vanilla-rich flavor.
This is a bio and free trade chocolate bar from Max Havelaar. Tastewise it's average, but you can feel righteous eating it.
Swiss Army brand chocolate with guarana, in Survival portions (50 grams, half the size of a regular bar). Obviously aimed at the tourist trade, but nice design anyway!
Villars is a more upmarket brand, and they make terrific, creamy milk chocolate. My mother's favorite! This is a half-size bar, but they make bigger bars too. The design is very Swiss-cliché, but we will forgive them for that.
Another Villars - milk chocolate with little bits of coffee in it! I love this one so much, it's a good thing it's a tad too expensive to buy every day.
Finally, this is not strictly a milk chocolate bar, but it is very creamy and very intense. It's a house brand bar from Sprüngli, my favorite confectionery store. Made from Cru Sauvage varietal chocolate from Bolivia. The truffles are even more intense, but they go off very quickly (after a week the flavor is already rather faded), so these bars are more durable. Sprüngli online shop.
These chocolate bars are not edible. They're actually an ad for Lindt chocolates, near the Central tram stop in Zürich.
I have often wondered what it would be like if those bars were real...
(Sidenote: For a while, I was contemplating putting up yet another blog dedicated just to Swiss chocolate. But, my waistline and my teeth told me that the necessary research would be too much for them. So I'll just have to confine myself to the occasional chocolate outburst here.)