Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Last week's business trip went to Cádiz in Spain, the oldest existing city in western Europe (founded c. 1100 B.C. by Phoenicians). The weather was absolutely nasty. Cars were hit by falling palm trees and heavy rain forced us to stay inside.

Nevertheless, we went for dinner to the exquisite Ventorrillo del Chato, the oldest existing restaurant in Cádiz (founded 1780). We could escape the usual Spanish courses (delicious but always the same) by going for the eight course degustation chef's sampling menu. Definitely the best decision of the entire trip.

Tomorrow, I will embark to Bangalore in India.for almost three weeks. I miss Toño already.

Added later: There was a "no smoking area" sign on every table in the restaurant. When a couple asked for a smoking table, the waiter went to a table and took the sign away. Solved.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Forced To Be Boring

I'm no saint*. I work in the defence industry and I am member of a trade union. Actually, I was. I had to give my notice to Unia, my union.

In Switzerland a group is collecting signatures for an initiative to prohibit the export of weapons from Switzerland. If this come through, I will be off the pay roll. My union was (so far) not openly supporting the initiative, but they don't try to hide their sympathies at all.

A union that is trying to make me redundant is not quite correlating with my reasons to be in a union. You understand that I had to go.

Since today, I'm a not so proud member of the Employees Switzerland. It's not the hippest club to be with, but they rejected the initiative from the first minute. I'm now officially boring.

* although I once rejected an offer to work for a bank (of course for ethical reasons)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Beware of Chinese Cinnamon

Thanks to the Swiss Sunday press we know that we've escaped death only within a hair's breadth. A food scandal is threatening Swiss children. Especially condemnable is that the poison is hiding in popular Christmas cookies - i.e. in the very popular cinnamon stars. Big producers such as Nestlé are according to the Sonntags Zeitung using cheap cassia cinnamon (from China!) instead of the True or Ceylon Cinnamon (read about the differences). The cheap Chinese cassia contains much more of a substance called Coumarin which is toxic! Hence the outrage.

We can reassure you that we only use pure Ceylon Cinnamon from the poshest spice shop in town:

Our cookies are home-made and can be trusted.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lucky Bad Predictor

An collegue of mine is the software engineer who programs our predictors. They are used to predict the motion and behaviour characteristics of missiles - that is, projectiles, bombs, rockets, guided missiles, name it. The calculations of the predictors are used to direct guns in order to take out the dangerous thing before it hurts our clients. This collegue made a very bad prediction as I found out this week.

He was on sick leave for a couple of weeks. When I saw him again, I though he'd lost some weight. Nosy as I aim, I asked him and he replied: No, I'm just wearing the old trousers. I though I would gain weight and bought baggier models. But I didn't and now I back with the old ones. Lucky bastard.

Friday, October 27, 2006

giveawine.com to me

Yesterday, a new web-service was launched called giveawine.com. Finally something really useful on this thing called internet. Why? Because you can send me some wine!

Let me explain. I know there are many people out there desperate to send me some really good wine. But to do this is very tedious. Wine has to be packed and handled with extreme care and customs is just a nightmare.

giveawine.com helps by cooperating with local wine shops. You enter the country and the recipient's place of residence and you get the wines on stock at that place. Select one or more, fill out a greeting card, pay and off goes the present without any hassle.

So far (i.e. since yesterday), this service is available for Switzerland. It's supposed to go international quite soon. But that is no problem for me, because I live in Switzerland! Just ask for the shipping details via gomad.ch@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


We just came back from George Michael's 25Live show in Zürich. There is not much to say but that it was absolutely amazing. Toño, Tina and I loved it more than we deserved to - and we deserve a lot, I might add.

Here a bit of George Michael for all of you:

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Day of the Quinces

The quinces are finally ripe. My mother called on Saturday morning, giving me the word. Well, we rushed to my clan's residence and got what we needed - that is, loads of quinces.

Ancient Romans used the flowers and fruit of the quince tree for everything from perfume to honey. We will not measure ourselves with that great culture and humbly restricted us to soup and marmalade*.

For both you have first to rub off the pubescence with a dry cloth. If you want to make soup you better peal and de core the fruits. For marmalade you better don't. However both worked so well, we started to experiment, such as creating quince and boskoop marmalade.

If you never had the luck to taste quinces then indulge yourself in a glass of Gewürztraminer or Johannisberger . Their spicy bouquet is full of aromas of ripe quinces.

* Trivia alert: The original marmalades were made from quince - the Portuguese word marmelada means "quince jam".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cider Rules the House

My father has started the production of this year's cider.

He has put over 500 litres of apple juice into to the big bottles. Far too much as my mothers claims, although this just covers the yearly consumption. The fermentation is supposed to be over by Christmas. If you're nice to him, my father might share a glass with you.


The first of many prior to Christmas trips is over. I can tick Glasgow off the list.

I can't say that I've seen much of the town. Our hotel was supposedly close to downtown, however the view from the window was not very encouraging to tramp into that direction:

The problem with short trips is that a soon as you've adjusted your language decoder to the local vernacular, you have to leave again. Nevertheless, both Mr.Mac and I found the time to have one of these Aberdeen Angus Fillet Steaks* au Poivre, Stovies and Wild Mushrooms at a restaurant called the ubiquitous chip.

This was really great, however being welcomed at home with a stupendously delicious Coq au Riesling lets those kind of memories fade away quite fast.

* In Swiss supermarkets you pay 76 Swiss Franks (60$) for a kilogram of Angus beef!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mi maleta es mi casa

The quite time is over. It looks like I'll live out of my suitcase for the rest of the year. These are the trips scheduled right now:
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Cádiz, Spain
  • Bangalore, India
  • Bremen, Germany
  • Bangalore, India
  • Virginia, U.S.A.
I will miss at least 6 Spanisch classes in a row. How will I ever be able to master this language? Recovery and some catching up on the language will be on Mallorca by the end of the year. Finally a trip together with Toño, if he has the patience to wait...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Boskoop Nose

My nose feels like a boskoop today. Actually it started at two in the morning when my nostrils gave up on my. My mucous membrane felt like a boskoop was shoved up my nose. This is not unusual on a Thursday night, but it was never as bad before. Toño even got up in the middle of the night to make me some tea. Thursday evening is our swimming class evening. When chlorinated water gets into my nose, it get out of service 5 to 6 hours later for up two days.

Last evening I used lots of opportunities to get water into my nose. Our dear Katalin commanded us to practice all sorts of racing starts and tumble turns. We had to do it for front crawl, breaststroke and back crawl. The tumble turns we had to do at the wall and in free water. After a free-water back-crawl tumble-turn I was so disoriented that I swam towards the bottom of the pool. I was lucky that nobody suggested to practice all these for butterfly as well.

I've decided that today, I will only practice theoretically.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rediscovering Boskoop Soufflé

The lovely Ms.Mac has sent us a bag of big and delicious Boskoop apples:

Boskoop are the best general purpose cooking apples I know. Ms Mac tagged the apples with a note, saying that they were from the Kürbisaustellung for me and Toño to enjoy. Ms.Mac's wish is our command. I looked for a recipe and produced something like this:

This is a kind of soufflé with mashed apples, eggs and zwieback.

It was good, however, I remember a dish my mother used to make which is similar but far better. I've called her and asked for the recipe. She hasn't done it for a long time and is not quite sure about the details anymore. From what she recalls, she used white bread, and coarsely grated apples. Both she put in layers into the soufflé mould. At the end she poured a mixture of eggs and milk over it and put the mould into the oven. It will require many tests and trials to get as my mother did it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dawn Of A New Eddy Merckx

Some weeks ago, fabulous Pete from Cycle Shark recommended me to use one of those Price bicycles for my daily urban rides. I ordered two, one for me and one for my deriously beloved Toño. Yesterday, Toño's bike arrived. He can cycle but has never had a bike of his own before. This is his first:

I reckon, we will not have to wait a long time until he will catch up and force me to practise a bit more to keep pace.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Duck In Its Blood

My kitchen is not badly equipped with appliances. Of course, one has never enough sharp knives. But there are much more important things missing, such as this one:

This is a Canard au Sang (literally "duck in its blood") or Duck Carcass Press. I discovered this while reading the latest issue of Marmite, the Swiss magazine for the culture of dining. How is this handled?
First, a duck is strangled to retain its blood. The duck is then partially roasted. Its liver is ground and seasoned and its legs and breast are removed. The remaining carcass (including other meat, bones, and skin) is then put in a specially designed press, similar to a wine press. Pressure is applied to extract duck blood and other juices from the carcass. The breast is sliced and added to a reduced red wine sauce and served with the liver. The juice from the carcass is thickened and flavoured with butter and Cognac, and then combined with the breast to finish cooking. Other ingredients that may be added to the sauce include the mashed liver of the duck and/or foie gras, port wine, Madeira, and lemon. The legs are broiled and served separately from the breast.
This dish has been created in the Paris restaurant called Tour d'Argent. They can look back to over a million pressed ducks. They keep count. Much stranger, there are people who do this at home. The one portrayed by Marmite is at 42.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Delighted by Quinces Soup

Pumpkin soup is delicious, no doubt, but does it have to be the same every bleeding autumn? No, there are alternatives such as Quinces Soup. We tried it and we are delighted.

Quinces Soup with Ginger

Serves 6, preparing time: approx. 25 minutes, cooking: approx.. 45 minutes.
  • 300 g quinces
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 150 g carrots, pealed & cut into small pieces
  • butter
  • 2 tsp. grounded ginger
  • 9 dl chicken stock
  • 1.8 dl cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • pepper from the mill
  1. Abrade the quinces with a dry cloth, peel, core and quarter the quinces, cut them into pieces. Fry the shallots, carrots and quinces slowly in butter. Add ginger and let it fry for a brief moment. Add the chicken stock. Turn down the heat and let it boil on low heat for 45 to 50 minutes. Put some pieces of quinces and carrots aside for decoration.
  2. Mix the soup in a blender. Add cream and sugar. Boil up. Season.
  3. Put soup in the bowls. Decorate with whipped cream and the quinces and carrot pieces.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

This weekend we were doing everything but procrastinating. On Saturday, we bought each others Christmas presents and today we brought in the harvest. Especially the chilies yielded impressively:

A bit embarrassing is what we got from the Tomatillos:

When I cleaned out the Geraniums, I found a strange intruder. It might be a wee cherry tree, but I'm not quite sure:

[To Autumn]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dining with His Excellency

Toño, I and some friends of ours went to a tasting of Uruguayan wines this afternoon. We had to impose merchants to participate (it worked again).

Uruguay is famous for its Tannat wines. They also do Asados and of course, there was one at the tasting (my first actually). My cut of meat was served by the wife of His Excellency, the ambassador of Uruguay. His Ecellency then commanded me to drink wine. They were really charming. I had to obey. Now I head for an early night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Litespeed!

My Litespeed Obed can celebrate its 10th birthday this month. Litespeed makes the best titanium frames. They are good on the hills, down and up. You have to fall in love with the flex of those frames.

They were good, those 10 years. Although, my Litespeed has to share my affection with the GT Zaskar LE, my other off-roader. Nevertheless, it has never disappointed me or shown any sign of jealousy. It's not just good, it's a brilliant bike! It's definitely my choice, when snow and ice try to stop me from moving around.

How does one celebrate an occasion like this? I paid my Litespeed a proper maintenance. New cogwheels, new brake pads and spanking new tires. They are the absolutely flash Nobby Nic by Schwalbe:
Spirited grip. Devilishly fast. Nobby Nic combines the incompatible: It has divine grip and goes like the devil. How is that possible? Triple compound - an MTB tire first -, combined with the super-fast carcass used by Racing Ralph.
For the rest of the month it will be pasta only, but hey, it's for my Litespeed Obed!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wasted Summer

It was nasty today, cold and rainy from start to end. Summer seems definitely over. Sadly, it was again a summer wasted by Swiss women. They just don't wear frocks anymore. Why is that? I have no idea. So much beauty wasted in far too tight trousers.