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You will most likely be frolicking in the public spas of Leukerbad or skiing the pristine snow fields of the Torrent before discovering the ancient Valais village of Albinen only about 10 miles away. This is due to the fact that it’s tucked away behind vertical cliffs through a tunnel remarkably constructed as late as 1980. In the centuries before this important milestone, reaching the village involved climbing an extensive network of ladders anchored into various crevices in the steely granite. Given this challenging terrain, it isn’t surprising that the village’s population now
hovering around 270, hasn’t notably fluctuated since statistics were taken in 1850. But upon arrival in what is one of Switzerland’s best-preserved traditional mountain villages, Albinen, nestled in its 4000 feet south facing perch affords many hours of direct sun and jaw dropping views of the Rhone Valley below.
Listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites, Albinen’s extremely compact layout was shaped by scarcity of buildable land that was settled by shepherds back in 1224 due to its strategic proximity to alpine meadows for grazing. Streets here are actually narrow enough to pass as sidewalks….definitely not wide enough for even the tiniest Smart Car to sneak through. In one building, a historic Walliser stube built in 1636 still has a large crack in the wall from an 1855 earthquake. Godswargjistubu Delicatessen’s rustic interior is like stepping back in time with wooden planked floors and a large wood burning stove to the right of the kitchen entrance. At one time the entire building was used as a parsonage for the nearby church before undergoing extensive restorations.
In addition to day trippers, Godswargjistubu Delicatessen is the perfect stop off for hikers and snow sport enthusiasts seeking authentic Swiss dishes made from scratch utilizing a wide variety of alpine ingredients. Each day, a different seasonal 4-course menu is based on the best available vegetables, herbs, and homemade condiments that owner Hannelore Tsokhim-Bumann and her son Roger have harvested directly
from the forest and their own gardens. This is possible even during winter since their root cellar is amply stocked with a wide range of vegetables like cabbages, carrots, and turnips as well as home pickled and canned staples. During the summer, Hannelore leads groups on herb walks sharing her knowledge of how to locate and harvest alpine treats like meadow hogweed buds (aka wild broccoli), nettles to be used in nettle-Godswärgji tagliatelle, mushrooms, wild garlic, barberries, and various Alp tea ingredients which she steeps in her own brew that’s delicious hot or iced.
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored visit.