Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Charlotte Royale - Grand Finale

Some final trimming. I'd planed to make some fancy chocolate structure but did not have the patience to do it. In 5 minutes the party will start - hurry - shower - taxi...

PS: for the champagne... we have a crate of Billecart-Salmon on ice.
PPS: Happy New Year - may your wildest dreams come true!

Charlotte Royale - Crescendo

Uff, the topsy-turvy part went pretty good, now I have to apply the apricot jelly to give it a shiny appearance.

Charlotte Royale - Intermezzo

Charlotte Royale is served with raspberry cream. At least this is an easy step, but has to be done on time, because it tasted better when the cream is chilled.

Blend dead ripe raspberries, pass them through a tight sieve, add some lemon juice and icing sugar. Chill it gently. Done.

Charlotte Royale - Chorus

The heart of a Charlotte Royale is made of Bavarian cream. This is basically a Crème Anglaise made of sugar, egg yolks and hot milk, which is flavoured with vanilla. In addition, it is thickened with gelatin, lightened with whipped cream, and flavoured with liqueur. Good bye waistline.

There is hardly any procedure, besides of deep-frying, which is not used to produce this. You have to boil, to whip, to bring close to a boil and in the end, you have to whip it in a deep silver dish which is surrounded with crushed ice. As Escoffier recommends.

Charlotte Royale - Overture

The first attempt of the overture went completely wrong. I had to make a raspberry jam roll. I made it too thin, it almost burned and just did not fit the purpose. The second attempt went far better.

The roll has to be 3 cm in diameter and very tightly rolled. I put into the freezer for an hour and then cut it into 5 mm thick slices. The slices have then to be put tightly into a bowl which is covered in foil. Now, it has to rest at a cool place, i.e. the balcony.

Now I need more eggs for the Bavarian cream...

Charlotte Royale - Prologue

We've planed to have a humble New Years' Eve party. But one thing let to the other and now we are a party of eleven that will have to be entertained and treated. We will celebrate at the residence of Toño's boss Alicia. She is a graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, the most renowned school of hospitality in the world. Hence expectations are higher than the sky.

Nevertheless, Alicia let me choose the main course. With little hesitation, I went for Chateaubriand, the most precious cut of beef, then not yet knowing the size of party. A truly ruinous decision. Naturally, bold decisions have not only financial consequences - I have been appointed pâtisier.

Now I have to deal with this poser. I started with a desk research - that is, I took my recipe books and searched for an item that could serve as crowning moment of the evening. Of course, only a Charlotte Royale qualifies.

Since I've never done nor eaten a Charlotte Royale, I've read everything I could obtain. The lists of risks seems endless. But now I have to act... the eggs are already separated. Please, keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Kirschstengeli, Please!

People have the strange habit to give us Kirschstengeli (= chocolate sticks filled with cherry brandy and dipped in cocoa powder).

Please don't get me wrong, both Toño and I love receiving presents. Very much so, indeed. But our aversion to Kirschstengeli conjoins us too.

Toño can't eat chocolate at all, because it gives him heartburn. I can enjoy chocolate for a very brief period, until it shows on my waistline, which again both of us don't quite like. However, if you give me chocolate combined with liquid liquor, this is absolutely unpalatable for me.

If you still have the desire to give us a present, try it with a bottle of wine, two were even better.

Does anyone want some Kirschstengeli?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Same As It Ever Was least after the third bottle of Château Pétrus...

Friday, December 26, 2008


I have been in utter disagreement with my mother over putting the emphasis on this swine. While I stressed on the first syllable (pígeldi), my mother pronounced it with the emphasis on the middle one (Pigéldi).

¡Feliz Navidad!

... a bit late, nevertheless straight from the heart!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Raging Passion

... is what I wish you for the fourth Advent Sunday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Next Year in Mumbai

This is my last working day in Mumbai. Early tomorrow morning, I will be heading back for two weeks of desperately needed cuddling with Toño. Nevertheless on January 5, I will be back for a lot of sailing time off Mumbai.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Constitution of an Ox

... is what I wish you for the third Advent Sunday.

We have this Nativity scene, like it is a good tradition in Switzerland as well in Mexico. We kind of made a compromise. Ours is not as flamboyant as in the ones in Mexico (I'm a fun-fearing Protestant). But as in the Mexican tradition, Baby Jesus does not appear in the manger before Christmas Eve (my clan never paid such close attention to the script).

A tradition however, we took over from my childhood, is that every year, a new sculpture is added. Last year, we got the donkey. So this year, I sent Toño to get us a cow. Obviously, I had had a window seat at Sunday school. I did not know that it was not a cow but an ox. "the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Is. 1:3).

Toño called me after he had left the first shop to tell me that they only had oxen and no cows. We grudgingly had to yield to the pressure of the Book of Isaiah, and Toño brought home one of those poor bovine.

Both Toño and I somehow feel uneasy in the presence of gelded animals. This is the main reason why we don't have a cat. We would never let a knife close to the cojones of our tomcat, and supposedly this is what you have to do, if you want to keep a cat in an apartment. Maybe this innocent ox breaks the ice.

"Are you in Maintenance?"

A quick update from Mumbai. It's all all work and no play. There was not even a weekend. My caring employer gets the daily rates for this. However, I had signed a weird contract that denies me being paid for overtime. In other words, I just worked two days for free. Apparently, this is included in the compensation package. But I can't deny to have the sense that I'm being cheated. To add insult to injury, next weekend will be no better... and I'm desperately missing Toño.

But how is Mumbai? I have no idea. Everything looks pretty normal from the 10 minutes, I spend on the streets every day. My hotel is right next to the fishing port, where the terrorists landed. Nobody seems to care. Word came through that the Taj Mahal Tower will reopen on December 21. Mumbai never stops.

The only difference I'm experiencing is that the cab can't drive to the hotel stairs (I have to walk 10 meters), and that I have to walk through a scanner and that my bag is being searched. The other day, the lady in charge of getting through my stuff was shocked by all the cables I carried. "What do you work? Are you in maintenance?"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maladroit Reading?

Is it an indication of lacking sensitivity, to travel right now to Mumbai with books like Descent into Chaos and When You are Engulfed in Flames?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Besos Variables...

... for the second Advent Sunday.

Inspired by Nic, I just enjoyed two hours of Bésame Mucho in various versions.

Besame, besame mucho,
Como si fuera esta noche la última vez...

Kiss me, kiss me a lot,
As if tonight were the last time...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Unlike Los Españoles

With all those dangerous things out there in mind, both Toño and I signed life insurance contracts.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Asymmetric Aerobics

This evening, I'll be facing a disastrous combination.

(Former) Gambling Shark, one of my swim buddies, has revealed to us that he's a trained aerobics instructor. He cannot just leave it at that, no he has to prove it to us. This evening he will let us hop and roll. We are supposed to bring a towel, a water bottle and appropriate shoes. Tigresa told me that plimsolls/chucks would do it. Nevertheless, we started the purchasing process for state-of-the-art Aerobics footwear. I'll wear them 1.5 hours tops. That's how long this session is supposed to last.

However, the worse issue is my right shoulder. Two days ago, I was on my way home through icing rain, when the tires of my bicycle slid away in a poorly maintained roundabout, with the direct consequence that my precious right shoulder rapidly approached the kerbstone. My GP gave my a family pack of pain killers and told me that my shoulder will hurt for further 6 weeks. There is nothing one can do about it than eating pills.

So this evening I'm supposed to make the weirdest movements that ever have been invented while I can barely lift my right arm, and while I'm filled with painkillers like a bombonière.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai - The Update

I've been asked, whether the trip to Mumbai is still on. I can confirm that it is, however, it has not been preponed but postponed by three days. I'm supposed to embark on December 10.

Of course, Taj Mahal is not available. I've received two emails regarding this. A former boss of mine wrote "New Room Heating installed in Taj Mahal"*. The other one came from the hotel itself, saying "We will not be able to confirm the booking due to unforeseen circumstances at the hotel."

I've changed bookings to the Taj President. "Good choice", an Indian told me. "it's safe, it's inland". I've measured 300 m to the next shoreline on Google Maps**. He also wrote me "Good, you have the Mumbai spirits, people say Mumbai, will never stop for a moment."

I'm already a bit too Indian, my given name is the surname of people belonging to the royal community of Mysore in Southern India. And my surname is a traditional Punjabi name, written ਹੀਰ.

* he one's commented on a broken arm of mine "It's your own fault, you arsehole". He has his own ways to show that he actually cares.

** Obviously, India had been warned by the U.S. of A. that there might be a terrorist attack from the sea against luxury hotels in Mumbai

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cookie Bitching 2008


Pimp My Cookie Bitching

When I went to buy the ingredients for the pear bread at Schwarzenbach, I accidentally met Aldo, who secretly showed me his newest acquisition: a professional star cutter.

Well, facing Cookie Bitching 2008, I could not resist the temptation to obtain one of this flabbergasting tools for myself.

Only Toño did not entirely share my exuberance. So far, I heavily relied on his Zen like qualities to cut cinnamon stars with the necessary calmness. It's a sticky and hideous dough. However, with the star cutter even I can deal with it without preceding weeks of meditation.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Worst Comes To Worst

Do you please please take care to send me a warm Gong Xi Fa Chai on 4th February 2009, when the Ox year will start. A thoughtful Chinese friend has sent me the Chinese horoscope (not that I believed in horoscopes) and it looks really bad for Goats (which happened to be my Chinese zodiac):

Overall Forecast
This year, Goat zodiac clash with Tai Sui. As such, it is not a favourable year. You have to stay focus and alert in dealing with matters. Be extra careful will petty people. Avoid gossip and be vigilance. Take good care of your health. You should lay low this year.

A time to hold. Be extra prudent when making business and investment decision. Since your luck is not good this year, you have to rely heavily on your colleagues and friends. So treat them well. Not a good time to partner with others in business. Review all documents carefully before you sign.

With this time of bad luck, you need the help of your friends and colleagues. You have to maintain good relationship with your friends and colleagues. Maintain harmony with all of them. Couples should maintain open communication with each other to avoid conflict due to stress from bad luck this year. Show respect and affection with each other.

You hit rock bottom this year on your wealth luck. If can, stop all risky investment this year. Be conservative in managing your wealth. Do not be guarantor and also need to curb your gambling.

Due to stress, you have to take care of your health. You will be mentally stressed also. Seek treatment immediate if you fall sick. Bring the older folks that are born in the year of goat for medical check‐up. Be careful against falls and cuts.