Thursday, January 31, 2008

Time Travel Networking

Although I neither do Facebook nor MySpace, I've been found by an old mate on the Internet - via Xing.

My mate went with me to recruit school 20 years ago. He had found an old list of our platoon back then and started his search. Well this week, four of us met downtown for lunch. Luckily, one brought some photos, which helped to trigger some of those deeply buried memories. Like this one, which was taken while I was defending my country with my life foxhole:

Did we really wear such glasses in the eighties?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Bit Of Unsolicited Advice

If you ever learn anything from me let it be this: When buying an overpriced business shirt at Herren Globus and you care to have a breast pocket on your shirt, always, always check whether the breast pocket is actually stitched to the rest of the shirt and not just loosely enclosed. Because I can tell you from experience that returning to the shop in a righteous manner fully prepared to tell the staff that they sell overpriced flawed garment only to learn that the decision makers on the shirt design did not want to impose on the customers that they have to wear a shirt with a breast pocket and that if you wish to have this enclosed option, Herren Globus sewed it on for free in less than a fortnight is not nearly as much fun as you might think it is.

That is all.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sauerkraut Focaccia

A recipe on Mickle's request.


350 g spelt flour
1 tsp. salt
15 g yeast
1.5 dl milk
0.5 dl white wine of milk
2 tbsp. canola
1 tbsp. of mustard seed to sprinkle of top

In recent years, spelt became kind of fashionable in Switzerland. However, the recipe should work with run of the mill flour. Mix flour and salt in a bowl and make a dent in the middle. Dissolve the yeast in a bit of milk. Add the rest of the milk, white wine and oil and pour the mixture in the dent. Knead until you've got a smooth and malleable dough. Let it rest at the warm spot under a cloth until the dough's size has doubled.

Knead the dough again a bit and make a disc of about 25 cm diameter. Sprinkle mustard seeds and/or fleur de sel on the top. Put a baking parchment on the baking tray and bake the focaccia for 20 to 25 minutes at 200°C. Let it cool slighted, cut it horizontally and then into eight pieces.


Spread mustard onto the bottom half, slather freshly cooked or heated sauerkraut lavishly, add prosciutto, crème fraîche and put the upper half on top.

Source: Le Menu

I Don't Want To Grow Up

Zürich has lost Radio Tropic and won Radio 1 the radio for adults only as its tag line claims.

I heard it purely accidentally for only a few seconds and already new that I have no intention to grow up. Wind of Change by Scorpions - the second worst song in music history, only topped by Wind of Change in the Russian version! Even DJ Bobo and Dire Straits are bearable compared to that torture.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Commendable Feasting

This weekend, we are setting an example in seasonal and healthy cocking. We are only using storable vegetables like for tonight's pot-au-feu. And already twice, we had Sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut with Anise

Just cook the Sauerkraut with half a tablespoon of aniseeds and serve with freshly made meatballs. You feel like a small boy playing with mud when mixing the mincemeat with old bred, egg, mustard, garlic and freshly chopped herbs with your bare hands.

Sauerkraut Focaccia

Bake a focaccia with spelt flour. Let it cool slighted, cut it horizontally and then into eight pieces. Spread mustard onto the bottom half, slather freshly cooked or heated sauerkraut lavishly, add prosciutto, crème fraîche and put the upper half on top.

The Asiago Scandel

In 1951 diplomats from Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland met in the lovely town Stresa at the banks of Lake Maggiore to negotiate and sign the so called Stresa Convention for the Use of Appellations of Origin and Denominations of Cheeses. A cheese called Asiago is listed in Annex B which protects cheese characteristics.

Based on this convention, Switzerland limits the import of Asiago cheese to...

Asiago Pressato

... and prohibits the import of...

Asiago d'allevo

The first is a smooth fresh cheese with little flavour. The second is a full-flavoured, crumbly and aged cheese. Since Switzerland also regulates diameter, dimensions of holes and bulge of the body, Asiago cheese makers are forced to produce a special yet boring version that is only sold to Switzerland.

Why is one of the richest countries in the world denied to enjoyed the delicious products of craftsmanship of our esteemed neighbours without resorting to contraband? I just can't come to terms that a country so dependant on exports keeps snubbing on free-trade.

Cycling In Zürich

Cyclist in Zürich have not the best reputation. I'm no angle either (cycling maxim: take no prisoners). However, even if you really try hard, as a cyclist, in Zürich you just can't adhere to traffic regulations. Cycling tracks are patchy and meandering. At loads of crossings your are supposed to get off the bike, push it over the crossing, before your are allowed to saddle again (i.e. along the brand spanking new Glattalbahn). Why don't have cars to do this? Well, and the best of all are the contradicting paintings on the roads (you are not supposed to cross an uninterrupted centre strip / median):

By the way, this was taken on an approach section to the Veloland Schweiz grid - which is supposedly designed to promote recreational cycling for families.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Café de Paris Blancs de Fruits Litchi

A thoughtless dear friend of ours brought us a bottle of Café de Paris Blancs de Fruits Litchi - a sparkling French wine from the Bordeaux region flavoured with Lychee! What were we supposed to do with this?

I took the juice of two grapefruit, chopped the pulp of another grapefruit. Put everything into the blender and filled up with Café de Paris Blancs de Fruits Litchi. Cheers!

Brussels Sprouts

A long quest found its end. I've discovered a methode to cook with Brussels Sprouts, so that I actually like it.

Last night we went for Chateaubriand and hence had to cut down a bit today. The decision was to got for a soup for lunch. I felt like oatmeal soup would be the perfect choice. But we had only a quarter of a leek left. So I substituted the additional required quarter with Brussels sprouts - the only other vegetable that was left.

So far the best decision I made today. I would never have thought that Brussels sprouts could taste so absolutely fabulous like in combination with leek, roasted oatmeal and stock:

Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan (I prefer canola), add three tbsp of oatmeal, roast a bit, add the chopped leek and Brussels sprouts, reduce the heat and braise lightly. Deglaze with 0.8 litre of stock. Heat the soup up, reduce the heat and let it simmer for half an hour.

Bear the Consequences

I reckon you heard about the rogue trader that caused his French bank Societe Generale a loss of 4.9bn euros ($7.1bn; £3.7bn). While we were reading the papers in bed, Toño asked "Is there the possibility that he might loose his job?" Well, I'm not a prophet...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Under Shower After The Workout

There are a lot of things that are happening under shower after the swim workout. Such as last August, when I told Beat - the third pooftah in our swim team, former chef turned gaming lobbyist and avowing kitchen appliance aficionado - that I have a soft spot for a certain kitchen appliance.

Last Thursday under the shower, Beat remembered our conversation and he told me that he has his hand on a second hand Kenwood Chef in excellent shape. Well it's not the Major in brushed titanium but it cost only a fifth of that price. I could not resist and after Toño gave his blessing... well it's now in the kitchen of our weekend residence.

There is only one problem of the “law” of diminishing marginal utility. I don't need two of these multi-functional kitchen appliances. Is there anyone out there interested in a TURMIX varioTronic 600 with many extras - such as blender, fruit press and grater?

Added Later

The TURMIX varioTronic 600 has found a new home at Tina's mother.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Breakfast (2002)

Uploaded by gaysrkool

Wish you a romantic weekend...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Meet The Eels

This weekend was devoted to oregano and Eels*. Oregano made it in every main course (without having anything Italian), Eels occupied the rest.

Having a red-eye back from Canada was not the most pleasant experience. The film selection did anything but deserve the term selection, the book I took with me was boring**, and The New Yorker was also not up to its usual standard. With Swiss still jamming business class on middle haul flights with substandard seats, there was not much sleep in sight***. All I had was my iPod and destiny made me select Eels. I have to quote myself: It's like standing in a rain of diamonds - painful yet wonderful. This saved my trip home.

Coming home, I was surprised with with two new records****:

Meet The Eels. Essential Eels Vol.1 1996-2006.

Eels Useless Trinkets. B-sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased. 1996-2006.

They went straight to hot rotation. I reckon, I have to calm down my attraction to E or will get into trouble with Toño. However, I hope, after missing Eels twice due to business trips, to meet them on March 6, when they will receive Switzerland in audience.

* not the ones people catch with horse heads since they read or saw the The Tin Drum.
** I devoured The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, enjoyed his How To Be Alone, but have to warn anyone attempting to read The Discomfort Zone. It's a heap of horse shit.
*** Though the service was flawless - at least for me. The bitchin' lady next to me got what she deserved.
**** US release 1/15, Europe 1/21 - I have no idea why I received them earlier.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ultimately Outbourned

I'm quite far from having a crush on Matt Damon and I still think that he was an utter miscast as Tom Ripley. However, I've had a soft spot for Jason Bourne from the first movie.

I did not come around to see The Bourne Ultimatum in cinema. And I reckoned that it was shown on airplanes in autumn, a time in which I was only traveling short haul. Well, I thought that I missed it and ordered it on DVD to satisfy my secret desire.

On Wednesday this week, only minutes before I embarked to Montréal in Canada, I received the email confirmation that the disc has been dispatched. Guess, what was on show on the airplane.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Haggis

Well, tonight for dinner, we had the Haggis carefully selected for us by Ms.Mac. We strictly adhered to the instructions given by Ms.Mac and served the carefully heated pound of haggis with mashed potatoes and mashed turnips.

If you blank the list of ingredients in your mind, it tasted really good. The Haggis was well seasoned, though a bit too salty for my taste, but definitely yummier than the standard minced meat one usually has to face.

Will will not make it a standard in our diet - it is a bit too heavy - but we are happy to have made the experience.

What wine does one take to such a dish? We first tried a Merlot from the Valais. Unfortunately it was flawed (a combination of vinegar and sauser).

We then switched to "Pago La Jara 2004" from Toro in Castilla, Spain. This is another brilliant wine by Telmo Rodríguez, or the driving winemaker, as he is also called due to his estates all over Spain. This wine has a special memory for Toño and me. We had it also on the night we copped off for the first time. Now it also linked to our first encounter with Haggis.

Remebering Menudo

The lovely Macs brought us pack of Haggis, the Scottish traditional dish made of a sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal and the minced heart, liver and lungs of a sheep.

I called Toño to get him to buy the necessary ingredients (potatoes & turnips) for the side dishes, however, I refused to disclose further details on this Haggis despite that it is a Scottish delicacy. Toño then asked his boss, who seems to be suddenly quite Irish to me (I thought she is of Spanish and Appenzell origin).

He called back reminding me that two years ago I refused to try Menudo, the Mexican beef tripe stew.

Who am I to blame, the stall also had quesadillas on the menu. When I have the choice between anything and quesadilla, I go for the latter.

How is Haggis? Qui vivra verra.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pascua Y Luna De Miel En México

It has been decided. In two and a half months, we will embark the second time to México to celebrate Easter, a bautizo (baptism) and two primeras comuniónes. And in addition this will be kind of our honeymoon. Quite a program to be squeezed in mere three weeks.

I tried to book the flights on miles. But cattle class was already completely booked out. Bugger, I had no other choice than to go business class. Thanks to my new Senator status, I got a 50% miles discount for my companion.

Despite the packed program, we plan to have some recreational time at a truly romantic spot, such as e.g. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

That gives me only two and a half months to get into bikini shape and Toño to get any passport (the Mexican has expired and Switzerland still hasn't completed its Byzantine bureaucratical process [so far 2 years, 2 months and counting])

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Standing My Ground

Can you imaging? It's already the fifth of January and I still adhere to my New Year's resolution, which is to eat more seeds.

So far we had roasted buckwheat on a bed of freshly cut mango with a grape pip oil vinaigrette; and...

hot and spicy barley soup with carrots and ginger; and...

Toño is preparing a lukewarm chicken salad with green lentils...

which we will accompany by a bottle of Lanzaga 2005 Rioja by Telmo Rodríguez.

Emerged From The Abyss

I've got myself a new mobby. Silly me's bought exactly the same model as Toño already has. Bets are open when we first grab each other's phone in the morning.

So far the most difficult task has been selecting an appropriate ring tone. This has become something really difficult since phones are not capable any longer to just ring. And as a güero, I can't get through with a hot Latin tune (as Toño had to point out). After hours of testing and pondering, I went for the piano rift from Level 42's Leaving Me Now, which was also used heavily in Strike's I Have Peace. I'm not a particular fan of either combos, but I thought that this one does sound least silly in most occasions. What a shameful criteria.

I'm far from having peace, because I've lost all numbers. Please send me an SMS with your name or vCard to +41 79 205 04 49. Many thanks!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Socially Dead

Don't try to bell me up on my mobby. I've lost it on a train. There is also no point in sending me any SMS until further notice.

Frau Stirnimaa

Swiss chart show Hitparade is celebrating 40 years of chaining teenagers to the radio, by playing hits of those old times for hours.

Toño almost pissed his pants when hearing GRÜEZI WOHL, FRAU STIRNIMAA! by the Minitrels for the first time.

This song was on top position for 10 weeks at the end of 1969. It's time to say goodbye to Mrs. Stirnimaa - for good.