Our first visit on the iteneray is to the Maestrani Chocolate Factory in Schoggiland, St. Gallens. A one and a half hour drive from Zurich on a northern heading. As we drove, the scenery started to get whiter.
The landscape is now wrapped with snow. There's no leaves on the trees.
We then found the place!
The factory looks clean and clinical. Only a few small billboards on the wall gives away its purpose. Even that would not make it easier for Malaysians to identify as the chocolate brand "Minor" is not sold here.
Toni was the factory's tour guide which waited for us. After the normal introductions, he took us to the factory's auditorium where he explained the history behind the factory, the brand and the chocolate industry in general. Below is a picture of Toni next to a tub of molten chocolate dip!
He offered some to us and it was brilliant! It tasted different than what you would get from chocolate fountains from some of the better hotel buffets in Kuala Lumpur. Smooth and creamy.
In the picture above, Toni is preparing the chocolate for us to taste.
This contraption is basically a hot water bath. There is another bowl at the bottom of the bowl of chocolate containing hot water. Direct heating will spoil the chocolate.
Besides the driver, there was only 5 of us in the party. The auditorium is designed for many more than that. At least we got the full attention of Toni the guide! Here is a picture of me asking him about the story of chocolate.
At the various corners of the auditorium, there were giant replicas of the various products produced by this factory. I was told that Maestrani produces more than 600 different types of chocolate products. They even manufacture products for other brands.
The various types of products for "sampling" - more like "stuffing your face with chocolate" session!
The lady bird series of chocolate is unique and cute.
Below is a picture of Franz our driver. We were also lucky to find out that he also works as a professional photographer. Two for the price of one!
The history of the Maestrani Chocolate Factory stated with Mr. Maestrani, an Italian, a chocolate maker that migrated to Switzerland due to the excellent choice of milk. He started the company in 1890s.
After the short briefing as well as a short video presentation in the auditorium, we proceeded to the factory's museum which showcase the old machines and methods of production.
Some sample of the base products.
An old weighing scale.
An antique copper mixer.
A hot water bath made with copper to melt the chocolate.
An old wrapping machine.
Some old product posters.
Wrappers that have been fitted into the wrapping machine waiting to be used to wrap the chocolate as it comes through the machine.
Some of the additional ingredients added to the chocolate, such as hazel nuts etc.
The schematics of the production process.
We got a guided tour of the actual production floor but was asked not to take pictures. All I can say is that it was awesome!
After such tours, it ended with the factory shop. We went mental in the shop. The chocolate was so dirt cheap that we bough a whole bag full.
The traditional cow bells of Switzerland.
The lady bird.
More free samples. Yum!
More coming on the Switzerland trip in the next posting!