Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Divided On Tuna

There is probably no food I both loath and love so much as tuna.

I can't stand canned tuna. I can't stand its texture, I can't stand its colour, but worst, I can't stand its stench. I even have to stop breathing through the nose when somebody next to me is eating canned tuna.

However, if you offered me a tuna steak, briefly grilled or fried in a bit of olive oil or clarified butter, I act like Pavlov's dog.

Toño served the tuna steak with a self-created sauce made of shallots, dill, white whine and cream.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I *heart* Boskoop

There are many apple varieties. But only few are suitable to cook and bake with. One of the most grateful is the Booskop, a.k.a Belle de Boskoop.

This was probably the last time, I baked with Booskop for a long time. Boskoop are best between December and March. The ones I'd used had already clear signs that their season will have passed soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quince Yoghurt

A while ago, I plugged Amselspitz yoghurts. They really brought the fun back into eating yoghurt. But like every novelty, the fun has worn of quickly. Just when I was starting to look around for the next yoghurt sensation, Amselspitz managed to turn the wheel around by introducing a quince yoghurt.

However, I had to postpone my exuberance by an entire week, since Toño simply ate the one I bought a week ago. Nevertheless today, Toño had to work and I actually got an opportunity to taste it.

Celebrating Success

Within any successful organisation one of the key criteria of that enabled their achievements is their ability to celebrate success, as we all learned in one of those dull team-building seminars.

However, our brass prefers to celebrate values. Values which haven been commanded top-down. So a week ago, we were invited to celebrate the four values our caring employer has recently given itself. In a year, our personal qualification (and thus bonuses) will be based how we lived those values. It's as silly as it sounds. Whatever, I kind of forgot to go. I was still recovering from the India trip.

Yesterday, we started again a small grassroot movement to celebrate the right thing. The colleague, who spent the most time with me in India, brought some bottles of Gewürztraminer. I went to the Indian take-out around the corner to get some portions of samosa and pakora. Together, we invited who was around of the team to celebrate the success of out latest project in India.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rotten Socks

The other day I recommended Fritz's Apple Mint Organic Ice Tea. There was none available at the good conscience take-out I went to grab a tandoori chicken sandwich. So I took the Rooibos & Passion Fruit version. Wrong move! I don't like it. It kind of tastes like made of rotten socks.

Where's The Sky?

My caring employer has decided that it's time for me to move to another office. There is a positive side of it. The new one is bigger which is in favour of my areal filing system. However, there are some negative sides too:
  • A vending machine is in crawling distance. Not good for my love handles.
  • It's on the second floor. The old office was on the fifth floor. When avoiding the lift, this was a free workout I was even paid for. And, it's also not good for my love handles.
  • I can't see the sky without breaking my neck.
Old view:

New view:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Salmon Topped Rösti

I'd asked for something with potatoes and Toño surprised me with a rösti.

Toño grounded some apples to the potatoes to add freshness and topped the rösti with Scottish salmon and a mustard and dill dressing.

Probably to compensate for the bad concious of serving aquaculture fish, Toño proffered an organic Terra Sávia Chardonnay to accompany the rösti.

And there is some left for my lunch :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting Healed

It was Tobey Maguire, who single-handedly heeled me from my arachnophobia. It happened when he tried to get the knack of getting the thread controlled out of his wrist in the first Spider-Man.

I think I'm experiencing something similar with my ophidiophobia. This time by Lila Downs and La Mari of Chambao with their song Ojo de Culebra (snake eye).

Did I mention that Toño and I will have front row seats at Lila Downs' concert in Lucerne on June 4, 2009?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bresaola Chiavennasca

Due to all the dancing on the vibes of spring, brunch had to be postponed to early afternoon.

The table on the balcony was loaded with a hearty Bircher müesli, aged sbrinz, cheese treated with chardonnay, cheese treated with elderberry wine and Manser's Bürli.

However, the pièce de résistance was the delicious Bresaola Chiavennasca from the Valtellina*.

* Valtellina would be part of Switzerland, but it was lost due to the pathetic all-or-nothing strategy of the Swiss delegation at the Congress of Vienna.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tarte flambée

Tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish composed of thin bread dough rolled out in a circle, which is covered by crème fraîche, onions and bacon.

My recipe might deviate from the original, however, it is fast and I like the outcome.

I take a pizza dough made with spelt flour. and put it into the mould.

Then I spead sufficient crème fraîche all over the dough, and sprinkle at least one chopped onion onto the crème fraîche.

Then I add some slice of ham - I prefer ham to bacon - and put the rest of the crème fraîche on top.

I back it for 15 minutes at 240°C/464°F.

Dancing On The Vibes Of Spring

Who had thought that only minutes before spring started the lovely postman would bring me two items which turned my moody self into a dancer on the vibes of spring. I'm so manipulable by retail therapy.

One of the two items is Howies' Pd Polo in breton blue + citrus. The other one is Yes Pet Shop Boys etc.

I'm on my fourth run through Love and I'm simply loving it. It's both day-glo and pastel, bleeding heart and political, artistic and commercial. The boys are in good shape. The best track is The Way it Used to be - simply stunning. Where is the mascara? I want to dance all day and night.

Tonight will be aera's night of the flowers party. We'll have to go. There is no alternative.

PS: this the thousandth post on gomad.ch

Friday, March 20, 2009

Buy Land


Added later
I found something on the made in Fiji in howies' spring catalogue:

Back in 2000, I fell in love with Merino. I loved its function, its quality and
most of all that nature provided it. And because it came from the land, one day after it had come to the end of its day, it could return to the land too. I was sold. I still am.

It was my answer to all those petro-chemical base layers out there, which I know from using them, just don’t do what the packaging says they do. (Nice packaging though.)

Around a year ago, we started a project to find out what the footprint of each of
our products was. David Hicks sat in front of a computer collating the data, and also working out what it meant. To find out the truths and not just what we had assumed.

And the truth of it is we didn’t like some of the results.

Moving the production of Merino from New Zealand to Fiji a couple of years ago to save a few pennies had increased our carbon footprint many fold. And we didn’t even know.

What we had not been aware of was that the fibre goes from New Zealand to China by boat to be made into yarn, and then the yarn goes back on the boat to New Zealand to be made into fabric. Then it goes off to Fiji to be made into our garments. Once made it then goes back to New Zealand before it is flown onto LA. Then to London. Then finally to Cardigan. No matter how you looked at it, it didn’t make for good reading.

That said, Merino is a truly great product. The best there is.

And because we use the highest grade that we can find, ours has a great reputation. And regularly wins the awards against all the big boys.

But making it right now in Fiji doesn’t fit with our aim to produce the lowest impact clothing that we can. That hurts. But the truth isn’t always what you want it to be. So we have to change.

So right now, we are looking into spinning the yarn in New Zealand and making the garment there. If we can’t, then it makes more sense to make the garment in China rather than Fiji. Doing that would mean each Merino product would travel 17,181 km less miles per garment. And this would cut our carbon footprint down by 95% (down to 0.12kg).

Only when you can measure something can you improve it. A hard lesson learnt.

That Awful Tomato

There are this irrelevant odd things that drive you absolutely mad whenever you encounter them. One of those for me is the pathetic slice of tomato which is put on every green salad I dare to order.

Why putting something red on top of something that has been declared green?

Only 4 Hours & 21 Minutes

to go until spring is supposed to break this year and - yes - it just started to snow again.

Los Abrazos Rotos

Pedro Almodóvar's new drama Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) premièred this week in Spain.

The film centres on a four-way tale of dangerous love, and was shot in the style of a hard-boiled 1950s American film noir. A man (Lluis Omar) writes, lives and loves in the darkness. He was the victim of a brutal car accident fourteen years ago in Lanzarote. Not only did he lose his sight, but also the woman of his life, Lena (Penelope Cruz). He was a movie director, and Lena was his main actress and his lover, although she lived with a successful mogul (José Luis Gómez)

Más información sobre esta película

No release date for Switzerland has been announced so far. However, I excpect it in august. As kind of my personal birthday present by Almodóvar.

Read more about the film in EL PAÍS' Almodóvar and opinion sections.
Read more about the Spanish title in just some words.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

just some words

I was in the mood to start a new side-blog. It's called just some words and it's about words I came across.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Flowers

I did it again. My brain does not do names. It's even worse with birthdays. Almost a month ago, my sister was celebrating hers and I only remembered today. As a poor consolation is here a song by the lady my sister was named after:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fritz's Apple Mint Organic Ice Tea

Toño's caring employer had to cut cost and for once an employer let the most pawns on the board and instead moved to a cheaper location. Thus, Toño has different lunch opportunities. One of them is the soup shop Suppenkasper, which besides of soup also sell Fritz's Organic Ice Tea. Toño put one with apple mint flavour in the fridge, called me and asked me to taste it.

That's how I came serendipitously across this beverage. I would never taste ice tea spontaneously. I was under the (now false) impression that there is no bottled ice tea I might like.

The twist with this ice tea is that it's actually refreshing and that its flavour is not buried under tons of sugar or glucose syrup. Nevertheless this ice tea is also sweetened but with agave syrup. Maybe of agaves from Toño's home town like this ones on his uncle's field:

There is only one downside. Where we live, you can only buy this brand of ice tea in shops where copper-wool-bast types are shopping.

I Love Vasily

On this day 15 years ago, I was standing at a street in Moscow holding a sign, which read I love Vasily. How did that happen?

In 1994 I spent some months in Moscow, trying to learn their beautiful language. At 6 p.m. on weekdays, I spun the dial of my tiny transistor radio to 104.7 - home of Radio 7 and the show Vasily's Neighborhood, hosted by Vasily Strelnikov. I've never heard another show alike again. I was literally chained to the loudspeaker.

Every evening the listeners could win a t-shirt in a contest, requiring to recognise 4 tunes, the original artists and the ones in the recordings played. I did not even have to try.

Nevertheless, my opportunity came, when Vasily announced that the show will participate in Moscow's first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade. Everyone holding a sign saying I love Vasily would get a free Vasily's Neighborhood t-shirt.

All I had was a lot of time, a legal pad, duct tape and coloured pencils. My hand hurt like hell, when I had finished my poster.

The parade was on Sunday on Moscow's Kalinin prospect. Nowadays it's called New Arbat street. I was there quite early and went to the beginning of the street. I still remember that I bought some ice cream from a nice lady while walking down that street.

There were quite some people along the street, but nobody was holding a poster. But as soon as the parade started, hundreds of posters appeared like out of nowhere. Also mine.

My luck was, that for once I was early. Vasily was there but he had only 50 t-shirts. I grabbed one of the last.

By the way, picture 8, 9 & 12 are from Moscow's first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Vasily's blog.

Into The Twilight

On my January trip to India my beloved Lumix LX2 grab & shoot had gone astray. It happened between the moment, my driver dropped me at Bangalore airport and when I entered the airport building.

There is this new duty for domestic flights which had to be paid for before one had entered the building. The camera might have fallen out of my bag in the hurly burly in front of the counter or a pickpocket might had pursued his trade. All I know is that I needed a suitable replacement - like a.s.a.p.

Easier said than done. I was seriously contemplating the new Lumix G1, however, Panasonic seems to deliberately withholding it from the Swiss market. You just can't buy it here. Panasonic deserved to be snubbed, however, I kind of like their cameras.

So I went to the next at hand - the brand spanking new LX3, the successor of the LX2 with an improved twilight capability.

Spring Awakening

My return from India was highly appreciated since the garden geranium needed to be pruned and a soil replacement. Thus on Saturday, Toño and I went to my clan's residence, where we can keep our garden geranium at the right temperature in the almost 400 year old cellar with meter thick walls.

From exactly there, some more disturbing news arrived yesterday. My brother and my father had an argument which resulted in my father walking away. My mother and siblings had no other choice than to call the coppers when night fell. Luckily those had the right instincts and found him rapidly. My father can be stubborn as a teenager. He refused to get in their car. An officer had to walk him home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I was begging her

... nevertheless, did not make it on the guest list. and she sent me an invitation.

Just another of those facts of life I have to come to terms with. My strong believe in the good in man has been reinforce.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Farewell To India

Once in a while one has to indulge oneself. Like I did today by going for the big Indian buffet at dinner.

Well, there is this German saying without any English equivalent I'm aware of: die Rechnung ohne den Wirt machen. Literally it translates to something like making the bill without the landlord. It means there is something you haven't considered.

In my case, I haven't considered the in-your-face manager of the restaurant, who made me taste every single dish on display. Now I'm overfed like a French duck. There is a huge mess in my stomach. The wafer-thin mint were these Kuja Karti made with figs and cashew nuts and covered with vark:

Kuja Karti

However, I have to admit that every single dish was simply delicious. I have adapted a bit too much for my taste. It's time Toño regains control over my diet.

I have to pack anyway. In half an hour I will head to the airport. I hope my plane will not be delayed due to the nasty weather in Zürich. How do people only cope with that?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring & Love Etc.

Are you ready for spring? Love etc. the new single by the Pet Shop boys is already on high rotation and on March 23 follows Yes, the new album. Yes, this will be a great spring.

Mission Accomplished

Although there is no banner and presidential speech, I'm quite glad that it's over and the customer has cleared the system for exploitation.

There will be no flight back till Thursday. I'm forced to recover from the deprivations and hardship of the recent weeks in the lush Taj Lands End close to Shahrukh Khan's residence at Bandra in Mumbai. I wish Toño were here. But soon...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Not Yet Into My Arms

However deep you indulge in procrastination, you will never beat our client. My colleague does not longer condone this behaviour and buggers off in due course. I, on the other hand, am about to extend my stay for another week. With a sailing starting tomorrow evening and lasting till the middle of next week.

Last weekend one of the condensation devices broke down, which derives water our of the ambient air's humidity (there is plenty of this). The water still produced was needed for the boilers so the crew had to go without washing for two days. And yesterday, an engine had problems and we had to chuckle back to port with 8 kn. I reached the hotel at 2:30 am.

Talking about hotels. Of course mine has no vacancies to extend the stay. I'll have to switch to one that is 1 hour from the port during night and 3 hours during commuting times. But I will stay on board for most of the time anyway.

Anyway, I'm caring less by the minute. I'm actually humming The Great Song Of Indifference for hours. This is another song that's on my mind right now:

...and when talking about ships.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Club For A Hero

Me and my colleague are stuck here in Mumbai for another week with another sailing starting on Tuesday and lasting (probably) three days.

But it's not as bad as it seems. We've received a pep talk email from a caring employer's brass, calling us true heroes for so stoically enduring these hardships. On our return, they will probably have named a corridor after us. We are dead certain about this. The only open questions for us are, who will unveil our roll of honour and which champagne will they serve?

How do you celebrate being called a true hero? Well, I stuck to a tradition I anyway have on trips which include staying at lush hotels. I ordered a club sandwich. I have got this tradition since July 1989, when I was deflowered* in a hotel in Damascus.

* with respect to club sandwiches

Kylie Is With Me

I'm not alone here any longer. Kylie joined me.

Mumbai, February 27 (ANI): Australian pop sensation Kylie Minogue on Thursday arrived in Mumbai to record a song with Oscar winning music composer A.R Rahman for forthcoming Bollywood film 'Blue'. Catcalls and cheering crowd greeted Minogue as she landed in Mumbai. The film starring actors Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Zayed Khan, Katrina Kaif and Lara Dutta is touted to be India's first 'official' underwater film.