Stop by a couple of the shops and try the different cheeses (Figure 2). They are a bit less pungent than your typical Swiss cheese, and even if you normally do not enjoy cheese, you just may find that one of these matches your palate. I’m not a big “eat cheese in chunks” fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed trying all the different cheeses (and leaving with half a wheel with a diameter of 6 inches).
Now go down the street a bit more, and you will see an elegant café called “Grand Café Al Porto” (Figure 3) that opened back in 1803, when Ticino became a part of the Swiss Federation. Walk in, and you will be greeted on one side with chic, overpriced pink/brown boxes of chocolate and on the other with a glass case of delicately-made chocolate based pastries. Order a pastry and sit down at a table in the sophisticated mahogany dining area.
The people who come here are mostly well-dressed—I even saw a fashionable man who looked like he would be a mad scientist if he had just put on a lab coat! When the chocolate mousse cake I ordered (Figure 4) was brought over, I was delighted! It was a mousse pastry with what a lady described to me as a biscuit. Instead, it was more of a thin bread filled with mini melted chocolate chips wrapped around the mousse cake. Then, it was covered with the most decadent, sticky fudge I’ve ever had, and all topped off delicate chocolate pieces and a raspberry with gold speckles. It was the perfect chocolate concoction.
I also ordered a drink: dense hot chocolate (Figure 5), since I was really in the mood for chocolate. Wow. This was like a rich, creamy, milk chocolate bar melted into a mug. Perhaps this was a bit too much chocolate, but the drink did come with a small glass of water, and neither item I ordered was overly sweet for my taste.
This café, although a bit pricey, is definitely worth going to!
Tip: If you normally do not enjoy strong cheeses (or cheese at all…), try the “medium” cheese. It really is a selection of tasty, smooth-textured pieces that anyone would enjoy.