After crossing the Surenen pass during my attempt at the Swiss Alpine Pass Route, I came upon a sign saying "Alp Käse". Not being the type of person who can walk past cheese, (especially after walking 8 hours that day), I stopped to make a purchase and have a look around the dairy. The Raclette that we ate later that night when we returned to Zürich took me by surprise. Here was a cheese that was delicate, with the flavours of Alpine grasses bursting through and a milky sweetness that spoke of the environment of where it came from.
At Stäfeli, Ruth and Stefan Arnold are kept busy seeing to 20 cows, 20 goats, 100 sheep and 20 pigs. After milking their animals each morning, Ruth and Stefan set to work making Raclette, mountain AlpKäse, butter and a little semi- hard Alp Goat milk cheese - a variety of cheese rarely found in Engelberg’s dairies. The couple process around 45,000 litres of milk each summer. Most of their production is used in the family restaurant next to the dairy on the mountain, with none being sold outside the area they live in.
The Arnolds are only making cheese in the summer time when the animals are grazing on the Alpine Pastures, so these are true Alpine cheeses. In the winter season the Arnolds do other work - Mr Arnold on the ski fields at Engelberg.
The Stäfeli, almost 1,400 metres above sea level, is the last stop before crossing the Surenen Pass - a beautiful high mountain pass across the Urner Alps in the canton of Uri in Central Switzerland. The pass crosses between the Blackenstock and the Eggenmanndli peaks, at an elevation of 2,292 m. The animals are grazing on diverse alpine pastures between Stäfeli and the Surenen Pass.