Saturday, August 25, 2007

Many Thanks Indeed

Turning 40 has turned out to be a flabbergasting experience. Many thanks to all of you. I've been showered with well wishes and presents. Especially Toño spared neither trouble nor expense to make this day very special for me. I can really strongly recommend to turn forty. It should happen more often.

Tomorrow, I will fly to Bornholm to board a vessel. The next couple of weeks I will spent sailing in the Baltic Sea. Stabilization tests are scheduled, i.e. the ship will rock 'n' roll on purpose. I hope that at least my stomach will maintain an even keel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hoy en la mañanita

This morning I was woken by a lovely tune sung by Pedro Infante:

Besides of being showered with loads of stuff, Toño managed to bring home behind my back such as a painting, fine wine and sweets, a huge bunch of roses and a tender poem.

By the way, our kitchen is lacking Maraschino, Madeira, Sherry and juvenile Port.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Going Off Season

One of my father's favourites is pear bread or Birrewegge as we call it. This is a typical product for long and cold winters, because it's mainly made of dried fruits.

However, it happens that my father's birthday is in July. We brought him a dozen bottles of Moscato d'Asti, but what I really wanted to make is Birrewegge. Well, I did it a few weeks later. But looking at the weather it's not so off season any more.

Everything starts with a contradiction. The dough is a shortcrust yeast version. This is quite a contradiction. One is not supposed to knead a shortcrust dough and it has to rest in the cold. On the other hand, a yeast dough has to be kneaded until the hands really hurt and it has to rest at a warm sport. I decided to start with rubbing butter into the plain flour and continued like it is a yeast dough. The ingredients for the dough are: 1 kg flour, 350 g butter, 3 dl water, 15 g salt, 60 g yeast and 1 egg.

On the previous day, I already put 1 kg of dried pears into a bowl and added to bottles of wine. Toño chose a Petit Verdot by Enrique Mendoza.

The other dried ingredients (125 g pears, 125 g figs, 125 g sultanas, 1 lemon (zest and juice), 125 g walnuts) are finely chopped and blended with the pears and the wine. Add about 5 spoons of calvados or apple pomace.

The right seasoning is very important. In Switzerland, you can buy ready-made Birrewegge condiment. If you want to mix it yourself, use 25 g of cinnamon, 5 g cloves, nutmeg and ginger.

Flatten the dough. Add sufficient filling and roll it tight. Make tiny wholes with a fork all over it and paint it with egg. Bake them at 180°C/356°F for about 45 to 60 minutes.

Enjoy it with Moscato d'Asti or some cheese for desert.

Washed Out

Last year, we had a Coitus Interruptus. This year, we will have not even have the chance to get undressed. Also the third date this year for the official crossing of the lake of Zürich has far too nasty weather and too low water temperatures.

Let's hope for 2nd July 2008.


On the eve of the big 4, it kind of seems advisable to get rid of certain elements, which somehow sneaked into my wardrobe.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fat Chance For A Cold

We completed our Martha Stuart like weekend by making 8 kg of elderberry jam.

If you are prone to catch a cold, I highly recommend to make some elderberry jam now. Make it part of your breakfast routine and you will be save. Elderberry jam is probably the most delicious preventive measure mother nature has kindly given to mankind.


In due course I will turn 40. The church was the first who dared to congratulate me. I call this memento mori. Whatever, I'm not used to celebrate birthdays but I'm used to indulge myself for the occasion.

I can't remember my tenth birthday. For my twentieth, I made a spring-break trip to Florida. For my thirtieth, I bought myself a IWC Mark XII. And I also found myself something for my fortieth - a huge dough bowl to satisfy my baking urges:

It really big, i.e. 37 cm/14.6 in wide and 17 cm/6.7 in deep. You can knead a dough with both hands in it.

I could not wait until my birthday to use it. The first things I made with it were a Swiss and a Russian plaited loaf.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Smørrebrød is fine, but we had the desire for an alternative. Right next to our hotel in Korsør there was this Chinese.

It's hard to get in. The steps are rather steep. We should have taken this as a warning, spun on our heels and run for Yding Skovhøj.

The restaurant offered à la carte or Mongolian barbecue and Chinese buffet* à discreción. We went for the later combination. While I was waiting for my choice being barbecued the Mongolian way, I rested on a railing. It was hard to get off that thing. It was covered with a greasy layer, which impressed with glutinous qualities.

One could also hardly avoid to be exposed to the exhausts of the barbecuing. Although, I had hung my shirt next to the open window all night, I could turn Toño's stomach topsy-turvy by just bringing it in his vicinity when I came back home.

I had left the place hardly ten minutes, when my body commanded me to the loo to get my intestines drained with a vengeance. This was just the beginning of a rather restless night.

* which included French Fries, a dish I considered being of Belgian origin - just another hint for a fast run.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Smørrebrød Again

I'm back to Korsør... my open air office.

Within the last couple of days, we had all kind of weather besides of a hailstorm (touch wood). There is not much else to do here than working, cursing the weather and eating some smørrebrød three times per day.

However, in the narrow alleys of this small town, I spotted lots of these mirror devices in front of the windows:

People in Korsør seem to like checking the street without leaving the house.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I've been wandering the surface of mother Earth for almost forty years, but until this weekend I've failed to notice that there are plants for which just blossoming is not enough. They have blossoms within blossoms.

I have no idea how this one is called. It's humble yet beautiuful.

Well this one is a bougainvillea. A plant which has a special spot in my heart anyway.


The curse is broken. I just finished the Potter saga. Now I can live happily ever after with my deriously beloved Toño.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Swiss Navy

I reckon that I'm one of few Swiss working in the navy business. Not the easiest thing to do from an inland country with no domestic market whatsoever. Who was I to know:

Greasing is a common practice in international arms trade. Unlike others, Swiss Navy is completely open about it.

Te Beso Mucho

I almost missed it. How could I. Many thanks Odi, for reminding me. is back! is a radio station that broadcasts only a month per year. It's the frequent reminder how dried up the airwaves actually are. Or do you know any other station that dares to broadcast "Besame Mucho" for an entire hour?

Tune your Radio to now. This year, it will last only until 1st September. Bad reception? Stream it!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Buyer's Remorse

The allegeably waterproof cycling shoes Shimano SH-W101 are neigther waterproof nor water-repellent. Twice, last evening and this morning, I got wet feet after only 10 minutes. I will have a word with Pete today.

While I'm at cycling and water: Zürich's cycling routes are not only patchy but also far from waterproof.

No, I did not drive through this.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

There Is No Bad Weather Anymore

Again, Switzerland has not finished dinner or how is it to explain that we are again exposed to this overwhelming flow of rain. Whatever the reason is, it's a bad thing to go to the cycle dealer in this weather.

There is the ancient outdoor saying that there is no bad weather, there is only bad equipment. This is true with one exception. There are no waterproof cycling shoes.

Well obviously, things have changed dramatically, as my cycle dealer of trust claims:
Finally, a shoe for extreme weather cycling. Waterproof polyurethane-coated leather upper features a high-top neoprene ankle cover to help keep foot warm by shutting out mud and water. Cup-molded EVA backed inner sole and Texon mid-sole assure a rigid yet comfortable cradle for the foot.

My caring employer should hire my cycle dealer of trust, because he's the best sales man I know. Last time, I brought a bike for maintenance, I left with two new bikes. This time, with new boots and pedals.

Mr.Mac claims that I've more money than sense, because I wear wifebeaters by Hanro. I reckon there will a lot more rain be needed to prove him wrong in this case.

Slow Book

Toño and I are far from being zealots, but it is just natural for us to to adhere más o menos to the principles of Slow Food. Food just tastes better that way. However, Toño goes even a step further. He also practices Slow Book.

You can call it trivia, but we had bought the identical book* some months before we met at Katalin's swimming class for the first time. We also both had started reading Tolstoy's War and Peace in the restored original version at the same time (August 2004) , which was just before we copped off. Well, I finished this epic in prose about the insignificance of individuals somewhere over Asia on November 27, 2005 and Toño did it last night:

Toño's next book project will be "Matto regiert" by Friedrich Glauser. He can keep going there for a while. I have got Glauser's oeuvre. He happens to be my favorite Swiss writer. Maybe Toño's soon in some years as well.

* With one difference: Toño's copy has an inscription by the translator (in both Russian and German).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Not So Graceful

My colleague Gerd took this picture of me when I dared to step into Admiral Grace Hopper's footsteps by debugging on a navy vessel:

Though, I would never call myself software engineer since (I think it was) Michèle Roten wrote that male software engineering students have the worst sex life of all people populating a campus (female journalism students are supposed to have the best).

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My Culpable Longing

I have got the blameworthy desire for this.

Yes, it's a Kenwood KMT076 in brushed titanium. Although it comes with the bare essential accessories to only half the price of my titanium bike, I was told that "we have other priorities".

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Following My Urges

Sometimes you just have to do it. I mean following your urges. I don't mean the shopping of underwear for more than 500$ like we did this afternoon. I refer to something even lower on the Maslow hierarchy, such as Food.

I took charge of the grocery shopping today.

I took full liberties by deciding that I desperately need some really fresh Russian Salad. Well, I did compromise by having entrecôte on the side.

Toño chose a bottle of Cuvée Expression 2004 Mansis de Fenolheto. A prudent, nevertheless expressive wine. Like the rest of the meal.

We defiantly need more of everything, Russian Salad, meat and this wine.

Dawn on Planet Earth

The last couple of weeks have been marvellous. Since Prince released "Planet Earth", being on it has been become so much more enjoyable.

Planet Earth did not take me by storm, but it enchanted me completely since they* arrived at my weekend residence. It's versatile like this summer which makes it the perfectly matching soundtrack of the season.

* I pre-ordered more than one copy. You might call me impatient.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Be patient for a minute, then your jaw will drop.

There are loads of these videos out there. When did this Daft Hands movement start? Do I have to paint my fingers now with words and try to memorize the steps, when I can hardly tell left from right?