A Swiss Tradition in the North

Of course, you have noticed that many people from Switzerland visit the Yukon in summer. Did you ever ask yourself what they do in wintertime? Here is the answer: They enjoy a relatively mild winter in Switzerland and every now and then they eat a Swiss cheese fondue. Fondue has a long tradition in Switzerland and Swiss people claim to have invented this dish, even if some regions in France and Italy do the same.

Originally, a cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning, melted in a ceramic pot, and is eaten by dipping bread into the cheese using long forks.

The dish originated in the Alps when farmers were using ingredients that were available in the winter: cheese, peasant bread and wine. Lately people started dipping other bits of food such as potatoes, apples or pears into the cheese.

Every region in Switzerland has its own blend of two or more types of cheese and claims it to be the best. Gruyère or Vacherin are often in the blend, but many Swiss families and restaurants keep secret about their unique blend.To eat a fondue is a very social thing – you seldom see someone eating a fondue on their own. A funny evening is guaranteed if you apply one of the many existing informal “penalty rules.” For example, you must kiss your table mates if you lose your bread in the cheese or if you forget to stir the pot when you dip.

It’s not just a cliché – most Swiss people love cheese fondue. And some of them fall in love with the Yukon and they leave Switzerland forever. Two of them are Yvonne and Harry Ochsner. They came to the Yukon 15 years ago, and they brought their Swiss recipes with them. Harry, who was a carpenter in Switzerland, built the Wolf’s Den Restaurant on his own. In 2002 they started to serve Swiss specialties to both tourists and locals at their authentic restaurant, located 15 miles (24 km) south of Whitehorse.I love the Yukon, but I also missed Swiss food during the last year I spent in Whitehorse. That’s why I really enjoyed eating out at the Wolf’s Den Restaurant. Apart from fondue, they also serve other delicious Swiss cheese specialities, such as raclette, at their rustic and cozy restaurant. The cheese is imported from a Swiss cheesemaker in Quebec and it really tastes like back home in Switzerland. For those who prefer meat over cheese I highly recommend Fondue Chinoise, the meat version of the fondue, or the Tatar’s Hat, in which you roast pieces of meat directly at your table.

After 15 years in business, Yvonne and Harry are thinking about moving on to a new adventure. Although they are hooked to their work and their restaurant, they are looking for a buyer. But Yvonne and Harry won’t stop operation until they have found someone to take over their beloved place.

Try it yourself and enjoy a real Swiss cheese fondue with your family or friends in an authentic atmosphere at the Wolf’s Den Restaurant. Invent your own penalty rules for losing bread in the pot – a funny evening is guaranteed!

Please note that reservations are required for cheese fondue and other specialities such as Fondue Chinoise and Tatar’s Hat. For more information and reservation go to www.WolfsDen.ca or call (867)393–3968. Wolf’s Den restaurant is located at the Caribou RV Park. One and a half kilometers east of the Carcross Cutoff on the Alaska Highway.

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