Some of the most valuable saffron in the world is grown in Switzerland.
High on a Valais mountain is the tiny community of Mund, who harvest no more than five kilos per year. Saffron grows from crocus flowers, each bloom yielding only three thin scarlet threads. It takes over a hundred flowers to make a single gram, which can cost upwards of 30 francs.
It's thought that during the Middle Ages the saffron was brought to Switzerland from Spain by pilgrims on the Jakobsweg, who smuggled it into the country in their hair and beards.
It was grown in the Valais until the 1950s, when farmers started abandoning their crops, but in the 1970s, under threat of a road being built through the historic saffron fields, the locals spoke up, sparked an resurgence in saffron farming, and saved the flowers.
Today it is as revered as ever, though hard to get a hold of (the saffron I used in this recipe is not the Valais kind, though I wish it were!). Although you may not be able to afford strands of the scarlet gold, you can buy other Mundner Saffron products like bread and liqueur here.
Read about the saffron harvest here.
For the booze in this recipe I used Vieil Abricot from Distillery Studer, because my sister-in-law works for them and she keeps us in the sauce, but you could use another apricot spirit, such as Valais Abricotine. Both this and the Valais saffron are protected AOP products.
1 shot Vieil Abricot or Abricotine
a few threads of saffron
1 tbsp apricot jam
chilled sparkling white wine
Place the saffron in the apricot spirit and allow to soak for at least an hour.
Strain into a wine glass.
Add the apricot jam (you can warm and strain this if it's chunky), then top with chilled, sparkling white wine.
If desired, garnish with an apricot wedge.