Food tour through Zurich

Food tours are becoming increasingly popular. Some are dedicated to a particular neighborhood, others focus on a specific national cuisine, and still others combine street food with street art. The main conceptual difference is the presence of a tour guide. The information content of a food tour with an expert guide is higher than a self-guided tour. The guide can answer questions, lead you purposefully to unknown places and many tips can be picked up. For foodies who want to replenish their culinary knowledge store in addition to eating well, a guided tour is the right choice. For all food tours, it is better to book at the beginning of your stay, so that there is still time to visit the many discoveries along the way on other days.

Bei der Tour durch Zürich dreht sich alles um Schweizer und wenn immer möglich Zürcher Spezialitäten. Um viele Produkte ranken sich schöne Geschichten / © Foto: Georg Berg
The tour of Zurich is all about Swiss and whenever possible Zurich specialties. Many products are surrounded by beautiful stories / © Photo: Georg Berg

A food tour takes its participants through unfamiliar territory, sometimes even off the beaten path, through small alleyways and into stores that would otherwise have been regrettably left to the left. In Zurich, a tour with Yuan Yao of Indulge gave us several of these moments.

Der mollige Blaue Engel von Niki de Saint Phalle in Zürichs ältestem Bahnhof ist Treffpunkt der Food Tour namens Swiss Classics / © Foto: Georg Berg
Niki de Saint Phalle’s plump Blue Angel in Zurich’s oldest train station is the meeting point for the food tour called Swiss Classics / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Swiss Classics through Zurich’s old town

The plump Nana, the “Blue Angel” by Niki de Saint Phalle in Zurich’s main train station is the meeting point of a food tour that is all about Zurich specialties. Participants get to sample more than 15 specialties on the tour, which lasts a good three hours. Many of them can be sampled on the spot, each garnished with exciting stories. These include facts about the daily production of Sprüngli’s feather-light Luxemburgerli or anecdotes such as that of the Spanish-Brötli train, with which wealthy Zurich residents had their employees bring them forbidden butter pastries on the first early morning train.

Yuan Yao, founder of Indulge and well-traveled Swiss, always conjures up little surprises from her large shoulder bag: The Swiss’ favorite chips, the local water with the house number 37, a blind tasting of Luxemburgerli in front of the Sprüngli kiosk in the station concourse. The tour’s density of information is enormous and not limited to culinary stories.

Die Giacometti Fresken in der Eingangshalle der Polizeistation bestehen aus unzähligen Blumenornamenten und geometrischen Mustern / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Giacometti frescoes in the entrance hall of the police station consist of countless floral ornaments and geometric patterns / © Photo: Georg Berg

The flower miracle in the regional police station

Suddenly we are standing in the police station. Police officers walk at a brisk pace through the Blüemlihalle, affectionately called by the people of Zurich. In order to save space, the former cellar vault was converted into an entrance area in the 1920s. The gloomy room was to be made friendlier by painting it. The city of Zurich launched a competition. Augusto Giacometti, a member of the famous family of painters, was awarded the contract and created a sea of flowers in warm red and ocher tones. This vault is worth a detour and can be visited on weekdays at certain times upon presentation of an ID card.

Einer von über 1.200 Brunnen in Zürich. Überall fließt bestes Trinkwasser für alle. Es lohnt sich also, eine Trinkflasche dabei zu haben / © Foto: Georg Berg
One of over 1,200 fountains in Zurich. The best drinking water flows everywhere for everyone. So it pays to have a drinking bottle with you / © Photo: Georg Berg

Zurich’s fountains and the water from Rennweg 37

The food tour through Zurich is also a tour of fountains. Every few meters, you come across one of these water fountains that provide the best drinking water free of charge for everyone. Some of them have been gushing since the Middle Ages, all of them can tell stories and many of them are not only water dispensers but also works of art today. The city of Zurich also offers a fountain tour.

Plätschernde Opulenz. Der Brunnen im Rechberg-Park / © Foto: Georg Berg
Splashing opulence. The fountain in Rechberg Park / © Photo: Georg Berg

At Swiss Classics, we get to hear one of the more recent success stories about a very old Zurich water source. Local Water 37 is a natural spring water from the Uetliberg, Zurich’s local mountain. The right to draw water has been securitized for the owner of the house at Rennweg 37 since 1559. This high-quality drinking water is sold in Zurich, as well as within a radius of a good 10 kilometers. The consumption of local water is to be increased and the proceeds are also used to support international water projects.

No-Muh, ein veganer Käseersatz, aber vor allem ganz viel Yes-Muh. Im Chäs Chäller gibt es allerlei Käse aus Zürich und den angrenzenden Kantonen / © Foto: Georg Berg
No-Moo, a vegan cheese substitute, but above all a lot of Yes-Moo. Chäs Chäller offers all kinds of cheese from Zurich and neighboring cantons / © Photo: Georg Berg

Of course, a culinary tour in Switzerland always includes Swiss cheese. Chäs Chäller carries well-matured cheeses. For example, a two-year-old Gruyère that ripens exclusively for the urbanfoodstore in a rock cellar under a forest. Here you’ll find many Swiss products from small local producers. From handmade chocolate to Swiss spirits and sausages with cool names like Stadtjäger or Wilde13.

Herzhafte Platte in der Boucherie August / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hearty platter at the Boucherie August / © Photo: Georg Berg.

The hearty August at the Hotel Widder

The ram, you learn upon entering the chic Boucherie August in Renngasse, is the heraldic animal of the butchers’ guild. Ham, salamis, Bündler meat, and pork sausage of the finest variety are available here. Behind the old listed façade of eight medieval town houses, the five-star Hotel Widder is a highly modern and very luxurious hideaway in the middle of Zurich’s old town.

Das Hotel Widder in der Renngasse. Alte Fassade mit luxuriösem Kern. Was von außen wirkt, wie benachbarte Altbauten, ist in Wahrheit ein hochmodernen Neubau / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Hotel Widder in Renngasse. Old facade with a luxurious core. What appears from the outside to be neighboring old buildings is actually an ultra-modern new building / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Curated food experiences with Indulge

Yuan Yao, a native of St. Gallen, lives in Zurich. For her, the biggest challenge in planning the Swiss Classics through Zurich was to combine the many traditional stores and businesses and the innovative start-ups around food in a tour of about three hours. The creative start-ups are especially close to her heart. She knows that many of them create excellent products and know their craft. But they are sometimes bad at talking about their products and making them known. This is where Yuan Yao sees her food tours as a platform.

Auf eine Thurgauer Dörrbirne mit Yuan Yao von Indulge im Kolonialwarengeschäft Schwarzenbach. Das Traditionsgeschäft von 1864 findet man im Züricher Oberdorf / © Foto: Georg Berg
On a Thurgau dried pear with Yuan Yao of Indulge at the Schwarzenbach grocery store. The traditional store from 1864 can be found in Zurich’s Oberdorf / © Photo: Georg Berg

Yuan Yao wants to give a voice to the many food talents with her company Indulge. The creative small businesses should be heard and ultimately their products should be bought. “This is the only way we can prevent cool start-ups from disappearing again and their creators from returning to a secure job with a wholesaler or in a hotel,” Yuan Yao is certain.

Vivi-Kola ist eines dieser coolen Produkte aus Zürich. Ein Rezept von 1938 wurde wiederbelebt. Das Geheimnis der Cola-Nuss kann man auf der Innenseite des Etiketts lesen, sobald man die Flasche geleert hat / © Foto: Georg Berg
Vivi-Kola is one of these cool products from Zurich. A recipe from 1938 has been revived. You can read the secret of the cola nut on the inside of the label once you’ve emptied the bottle / © Photo: Georg Berg

“I’m interested in the stories – I want to go into the kitchens with the people” Food journalist Angela Berg in conversation at Indulge’s Yuan Yao.

The research trip was supported locally by the Zurich Tourism Office.

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