Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting A Bit Of Cider

We are off to Spain. Asturias to be precise. We will visit SICER the first international trade fair for quality cider.

We will be back in a week...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Early Bird

It's only April but I've already found the salad that correlates just perfectly with the vibes of this summer:

It's roasted Buckwheat on a bed of freshly cut Mango with a Grape Pip Oil Vinaigrette. Preparations take less than half an hour and it tastes superbly refreshing.

I still suffer from an overdose of mango pulp, which I received in the summer of 1980. I usually turn away in disgust from anything remotely mango like. However, this is different and I absolutely love it.

Summer May Come

You thought this was bad?

It's getting worse!

Yes, we bought ourselves some brand spanking new matching plimsolls.

I loath shopping clothes. Buying shoes is even worse. But the ultimate torture is buying summer shoes. However, we somehow managed to buy these lovely pairs within 5 minutes between a latte and jumping onto a train. We tried them on and kept them on. My old ones landed in the next trash bin.

We went for Navyboots. We've cast a covetous eye on them for quite some time. Finally yesterday, we seize the day.

I love all about them. How they gently hold my food, how the texture of the canvas pleases both body and eye, and specially the tag line on the tongue: produced to fit feet in action. And last but not least, we received the best give-away you could wish for on a hot spring summer day: bottled Navyboot mineral water.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Fine Food Brother

It's hard to bury the hatchet, but I might have to change my views on Swiss supermarket chain Coop and their Fine Food product group (read about digging up the hatchet).

How could events evolve that far? Everything has started at my clan's residence:

Here lives my brother, who happens to be a farmer. Besides of producing milk, he grows all kind of crops, such as apples, tobacco, sugar beets, wheat, corn, potatoes, and gherkins. Actually he is among the last four (4!) Swiss gherkin farmers. He was close to give up this labour intensive product, when last year Chirat, one of the two pickle producers in Switzerland, decided to use only foreign gherkins and the other factory could not make up his mind.

But imagine, an odious retailer like Coop comes as the white knight in shining armour and saves this old trade. Starting this summer, original Swiss gherkins will only be available as Fine Food Gherkins. I might have to alter my shopping and occasionally denigrating behaviour a tiny little bit.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Time for Bruce

I live in a tenement building at the edge of Zürich. It's a nice place, although our area has had the reputation of being probably the most boring place of town. But that is over, thanks to a shocking teenage gang rape case we are now the synonym for urban street credibility. I fear the rents will go up in due course with all the trendy folks flooding in due to the newly gained reputation.

As I said, it's a nice place, despite the close airport, seven railway lines in close range, tram turning place in hearing range, open air traditional folk music on early Sundays mornings from the restaurant nearby and the noisy allotment gardeners. There is lots of green in my view, grocery shops are in walking distance and my neighbors are nice (almost deaf or extremely tolerant).

The only problem is the lacking patio. Where do you want to make a proper barbecue?

But there is hope, as my dear friend Tina has informed me:


This balcony barbecue grill is called Bruce. It looks a bit silly, but what a name. I immediately think sweat-stained die-hard style wifebeater. The perfect setting for dead meat roasting on hot coals. There is only one problem. You can't drink wine to meat grilled on something called Bruce.

[Get Bruce]

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bellyaching Weekend

We've just faced another of theses perfect weekends with warm but not hot temperatures and almost never ending sun. My plants on the balcony are sprouting like there is no tomorrow. It was one of those weekends that shouts at you: Get up! Get out! Enjoy me! And what was I doing? Bellyaching every bleeding day of it.

It started early Friday evening. A pain was building up in my abdomen. Slightly but steadily. It was at it worst between 10pm and 2 am. I took a painkiller and sipped tea but it seemed not to have any effect.

In the morning after I finally found some sleep. My stomach still ached but not that bad. My health insurance has this call service where you can consult a doctor. I was not the only one who was seeking advice. I took more than an hour until the telephone doctor called back. I explained the nature of my pain and he advice me to see a doctor immediately, because it could be my heart!

Of course, I obeyed and rushed with my caring Toño at my side to a doctor that is open even on weekends. Again, I was not the only one in pain. The waiting time lasted two hours. The nice female GP took it again very seriously, touched me all over my belly and asked for my blood and urine. After they drained both of my arms and my pee shines did not get in the way, she presented me the results: every thing is fine (even my heart), only a value called C-reactive Protein (CRP) indicates inflammatory disease. She reckoned I could be experiencing a beginning Appendicitis and referred me to the hospital.

With a letter in my hand and Toño at my side, I drove by tram and bus to the hospital where I was put in a cubical and given one of this hospital shirts without spine coverage. The doctors were all good looking, made a competent impression and made again lots of test. I learned that my stomach, pancreases, gall bladder, normal bladder, both kidneys, intestine and liver seem all in perfect health. They could not entirely rule out the Appendicitis, but claimed that I look a bit too healthy for that sort of thing. Because they found no better explanation, they reckoned it could also be a Gastroenteritis, despite the missing diarrhoea and vomiting.

However, I did not complain and went home with a full day of medical experience to stay the rest of the weekend mostly in a horizontal position and endure the bellyaching of unclear origin. All the time Toño took perfect car of me, except when he put the hot chilli pepper in the oatmeal soup. I have to agree, it gave it the extra touch and I can highly recommend it, when the belly is far from aching.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Super Ready/Fragmenté

Today, The Young Gods released their new album Super Ready/Fragmenté. It's again a flabbergasting experience that pushes the edge of the envelope. It's my new drug.

[check out the songs]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tasting Spring

I almost gave up on Migros, my favorite grocery store. Innovation seemed to have dried out. They kept repeating themselves. But just before Easter I discovered that Migros have resurrected themselves by butting the brand spanking new Spring Season Yogurts on the shelfs:

Still disappointing, though, is that they are not able to spell strawberry in German. It's Erdbeer, stupids. Never mind, what really counts is, how they taste:

Strawberry and Lemon Balm
Very refreshing. The strawberry flavour is subtle and well bonded with the bitter-fresh lemon balm. Uplifting as spring should be.

Elderberry Flowers
Tastes like Flauder and nothing else. One dimensional, boring and far too sweet.

Also very refreshing. The acidity of the rhubarb is well bound with the yogurt. Even better than my rhubarb cake.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Nueva Helvetia Is Calling

I just has been confirmed that Toño and I will go to California* in July to participate in a Quinceañera, the most important day in the life of a Mexican woman besides of her wedding. We are very exited! Californians, put away the hippies, we are coming!

Wow, this year, we will cover 18 time zones.

* Nueva Helvetia in Spanish, meaning "New Switzerland", was a Mexican-era California settlement (read more)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Fecundate Resurrection Day

If you're neither an Easter Bunny, Easter Egg nor a tender Easter Lamb, I wish you a happy and fecundate Resurrection Day.

Otherwise, I'm probably to late anyway.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Late Bloomer

To be honest, I think I've never cooked fish in my entire life* until today. Although we did not obey Lent, we tried to be good Christians by eating fish on Good Friday**

I decided to go for local perch (perca fluviatilis) on an onion and orange bed. It was surprisingly easy. I definitely have to pay more attention to the fish counter in the future.

* Expect some trout grilling as a boy scout on the open fire.
** We obeyed only an lacto-ovo vegetarian diet today, which I think is within the Christian tradition, isn't it? Butter isn't. But can one cook without it? No way. I think beaver would have been allowed too (thanks to Pierre-Francois-Xavier Charlevoix), but they are so hard to find.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Powerful With Style

The BBC claims that front crawl is the fastest stroke and gives you the feeling of being powerful in the water. Sadly, I can only emphasize the section gives you the feeling. I heavily neglected both swimming and cycling in the first quarter of the year I will turn forty. Things have to change big time and fast. This evening we have swimming class again and I haven't done a single stroke since last week's class.

Now it's too late to practice in the water, hence I've decided to get some style inspiration by the best, since not only in swimming, the perfect style is the key to success.

Ian Thorpe

Alexander Popov

Mark Foster

We Were Scissor Sisters

I'm happy to tell that Ms.Mac recovered just in time and showed up with the perfect boots to shake to Scissor Sisters' tunes.

We could not have asked for a more pleasant company to groove.

On The Prowl

My former flatmate and former labour union activist Tigresa is heavily on the prowl. When she's not shopping at Walmart in Atlanta (1 watch for 4$ and a float bag for further trips to Siberia), she's supervising the movement of a fridge in the Swiss mountains in a centers for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. I reckon, Tigresa still has many surprises in store. We are happy to receive word.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lack of Spice?

As revealed yesterday, Zurich, Geneva, Vienna, Vancouver, and Auckland remain the top scoring cities on Mercer's Quality of Living index. Flipping through the survey, I found some fine print at the bottom, showing that there might be an other side of the medal:

Quality of Living vs. the quality of life

The Quality of Living index is based on several criteria used to judge whether an expatriate is entitled to a hardship allowance. A city with a high Quality of Living index is a safe and stable one, but it may be lacking the dynamic je ne sais quoi that makes people want to live in world-renowned cities such as Paris, Tokyo, London or New York. Sometimes you need a little spice to make a city exciting. But that "spice" may also give a city a lower ranking.

What makes one person's quality of life better or worse cannot be quantified in an objective index. Therefore, Mercer's Quality of Living report reflects only the tangible aspects of living in a city on expatriate assignments, and leaves the question of the quality of one's life to those living it!