Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to Normal

The festivities went well and I ate more beef tongue than so far in my life up to December 24, 2010.

Later today we'll be heading to Las Vegas to meet the. Daughter if Toño's late godmother.

Location:W 57th St,Los Angeles,United States

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Preparing for the Festivities

The day was mainly dedicated to preparing for the festivities - that is, we drove to numerous Mexican tiendas to get ingredients for tamales and ponche. For the latter, a fruit named tejocote was needed, which was difficult to get for a reasonable price. They also bought a box of tongues. I have no idea what they will make with them. However, I haven't seen as many piñatas in my entire life as today. The ceilings of all shops were covered with them.

But now, we are relaxing by enjoying margaritas :)

Location:W 58th St,Los Angeles,United States

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Warm Welcome with Frijolitos, Carne de Res y una Cervezita

Although in coach, the flight to Los Ángeles was uneventful, which is always good. Though, Toño was a bit peeved, because the maître de cabin dropped by to greet me personally and let me choose my lunch before they started serving to ensure I get the choice. These perks were not granted to Toño. Being a frequent flyer is not always easy, but I reckon we got the exit row seats with more legroom thanks to my seniority.

At LAX we had to wait an entire hour on the tarmac. BA was blocking our gate. They were probably not keen at all to return to snow messy Heathrow.

Immigration was then a bit of an ordeal as well, Toño's Swiss passport is without biometric features and he had to use his Mexican, for which has a visa. This cause some intense scrutiny. An upgraded passport is definitely on the to-do-list.

The welcome by Toño's relatives was then more to my liking. They served us frijoles, carne de res and cerveza :)

We are staying with Toño's aunty Chica, her husband Héctor, and their teenage sons Héctor and Alfonso in a nice house in south central Los Ángeles. Aunty Chica is actually younger than Toño. Three siblings of Toño's father live here nearby. For Christmas, siblings of Toño's mother will come from Palms Springs. It will be huge :)

Location:W 51st St,Los Angeles,United States

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Heading for a Navidad Americana

We are heading to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas and New Year with Toño's relatives. There are many of them. I've counted presents for 10 families.

However between us and Los Angeles are 13 hours of *cough* coach *cough* :/ well, at least we can prepare ourselves for this in the lounge.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Big Chill

I'm on business in India and it's unusually chilly here. Today, the Bangalore edition of the Times of India featured the headline Big chill leaves Bangalore shivering on the front page. Today's high temperature forecast was 21.3°C. I'm starving for sympathy here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

5 on the fifth - Faces

This month's 5 on the fifth theme is Faces.

Since we are in the middle of Advent season, I took portraits of the figurines in our nativity scene.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cookies Delivered

I was a good boy today, travelled through the heaping snow and brought my mother the Christmas cookies. She was already worried and thought with me having to travel to India this weekend, there will be no time for the cookies. She's relieved now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cookie Bitching 2010

Yes Michelle, I'm on it, that is Christmas baking is already done.

There will be a trip to India next week and we will embark to Los Angeles on December 22 to celebrate Christmas and New Year with Toño's relatives. So I was forced to begin early in Advent with the traditional Christmas baking. And yes, I baked exactly the same as last year.

This at the bottom is pear bread and I usually make that in November as soon as the dried figs from İzmir are available. But was a bit late this year so I got a combined baking frenzy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

There Is a Butcher Deep Down Inside Me

Since the best part of making hamburgers is operating the mincer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Paupiettes in Autumn

I haven't bored you with a recipe in a while, so I do it again. This time it's for chestnut stuffed paupiettes with mashed pumpkin and potatoes on the side.

I asked my butcher to cut me some thin slices of beef and Toño brought me some roasted chestnuts he got from a street vendor. The slices of beef we smeared with mustard, added a slice of ham, thinly sliced leek and onions, topped it with rough crumbs of chestnut, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Seas Everything was rolled to nice paupiettes.

The paupiettes were briefly fried and then removed, the remains in the pan were used to make the sauce with flour, white wine, beef stock, thyme and rosemary. When the sauce was boiling, the paupiettes and the remaining stuffing was added again and braised for 50 minutes.

For the mashed potatoes, we replaced a third of the mass by pumpkins, which we processed together with the potatoes.

Friday, November 05, 2010

5 on the fifth - Recycled

This month's 5 on the fifth theme is Recycled.

I did a cheap one by just snapping what was being recycled this week.

Glass bottles To be disposed at the glass bottle banks in public places; sorted by colours; blue and red glass in green glass bottle bank; picture glass, window glass, crystal glass, safety glass, mirrors have to be brought to the recycling yards

Garden refuse collection In green containers or in handy bundles before 7 a.m. on the curb; weekly pickups for subscribers from March to December;

Paper collection Every fortnight bundled and tied before 7 a.m. on the curb; no collection boxes or paper bags!

PET bottles To be disposed at the 5000 PET bottle banks in the shops; squeeze the air out of the bottle to reduce space and put lid on; bottles for oil, vinegar, sauces, detergent and beauty products are not to be recycled

5 on the fifth pictures Change every 2 seconds

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stylish Carry-on Shorthauler?

Frequent business trips are part of my work life. For short-haul overnight stays, the aim is to avoid check-in luggage at all costs.

Surprisingly, I find it rather difficult to find the right choice of luggage that allows to do this with style. Most business travellers do this by choosing one of these small trolleys sized 55x40x20 cm, but honestly, they look just silly, especially when being towed by a fully-fledged man. But what is the alternative?

Knowing the requirements is essential in my job. So I try to make a list of what I want:
  • no wheels
  • big enough to hold everything I need, but small enough so I never have to check it in.
  • easy to handle at airport security
  • keeping my computer scratch- & shock-free
  • space for some files and newspapers
  • space for briefs, socks and dress shirts for next day's meeting
  • space for essential toiletries
  • space for the travel book
  • strap for shoulder on the airport "workout" routes
  • made of light-weight durable material, ruggedized enough to survive more than a couple of years of travel
  • last but not least: it has to cause envy of my taste.
But now, where is my carry-on shorthauler?

Trapped Organically

Switzerland is bipolar when it comes to grocery supermarkets. The big two Migros and Coop share about 80% of the market*. I'm a Migros shopper by choice. Coop's shops are just a tiny bit too clean for my liking (I don't like to shop in hospitals) and it is difficult there not to buy organic products (I usually go for Integrated production).

However, Migros is catching up on the organic front. Though while Coop sticks to the copper-wool-bast-tree-hugging-taliban kind, Migros goes for the European-Union-style-lowest-common-denominator kind of organic production.

Migros did this catching up by putting an identical design in earthy colours on all their organic products. Apparently it worked admirably well on my subconscious. Our fridge is stocked up with organic Migros yoghurt that cost at least 33% more than the ordinary ones with the juicy fruits print on them. And honestly, I can't detect a difference in taste. Why do I buy them?

* both Migros and Coop are customer owned co-operatives.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Swiss Army Rediscoveres 400 Tanks

During my military service I spent a lot of time in fortresses deep in the Swiss mountains. In one of them, I took me 20 minutes to get from my berth to daylight.

Apparently mountain fortresses are not an appropriate mean to defend Switzerland any more and the Swiss army has to get rid of them. Right now, the inspectors of the ministry of defence are reviewing budget and inventory. In this process they rediscovered 400 tanks which had been stored in one of these fortresses.

The inspectors also discovered that a foreign consultant company has been hired to accompany the implementation of the security policy report. The minister of defence has been cited: "When I'd learned about this, I almost bit into the tabletop of my desk".

Source: Tages Anzeiger

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A few weeks ago, we could celebrate Toño's birthday. And since Toño has a penchant for both wine and presents, I bought him a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal 2002.

Cristal has become infamous for being the American rappers favourite bubbles, but little is known by most of its consumers about the rather modern way it was created:
Cristal was first created in 1876 for Alexander II of Russia, and is viewed by many as the first prestige cuvée. As the political situation in Russia at the time of his rule was unstable, the tsar feared assassination. He ordered that bottles containing the drink be made clear to prohibit hiding a bomb within them, as could happen with a typical dark green bottle. Louis Roederer commissioned a Flemish glassmaker to create a Champagne bottle with a flat bottom. Typically, bottles made from common glass have a bell-shaped bottom (the punt) to make them strong enough to cope with Champagne's pressure. A flat-bottomed bottle needed to be made from stronger, clear lead crystal. The Champagne has since become known as "Cristal".

The orange cellophane wrapper is there to protect the exclusive champagne from the bad effects of UV rays. By the way, lead containing crystal class should not be put into the glass recycling bin.

Among many other things, Toño was also given a magnum bottle of Château Cheval Blanc 1998. We are equipped to party really big :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Une soupière et un légumier

It might be because of Martin's Sunday lunch pictures, however we are now proud owners of a légumier (left) and a soupière (right):

Toño, the man with the refined taste, bought them. It would have been nice to have them as a matching set from the same line of china, but this seemed impossible. It might be that people lost the sense for fine dining and/or service à la russe is out of fashion... in short, these things are hard to get.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

5 on the fifth - Round

This month's 5 on the fifth theme is Round.

On my way to work I cycle through the Oerliker Park, which features a 35 m high round tower:

Twelve years ago this was an industrial area and the tower should keep up the memory of the funnels that used to blacken the sky here. I though for 5 on the fifth I could - despite my fear of heights - climb the tower and take a round of pictures.





Monday, September 20, 2010

Hotel Treats

It's getting boring, I'm again in India. Nevertheless, the trip was nice (complimentary upgrade to 1st class), and there are 3 things in the hotel room I really liked:

A teddy bear on the bed.

A possibility to plug my music into the room's entertaining system.

A bum gun.

However, the exuberance was soon checked when I logged on to the interweb and heard disburbing news about Lunty by Nic (more about). I'm quite worried about Llunty.

Friday, September 17, 2010

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Toño!

Always a day after México's, we can celebrate Toño's birthday. But unlike México, which celebrated its bicentennial day of independence, Toño has got to celebrate a prime number birthday.

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and cheque'd even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
–- Sonnet 15 by William Shakespeare

Sunday, September 05, 2010

5 on the fifth - The Blues

This month's 5 on the fifth theme is The Blues. Well, I've got a well balanced sunny disposition, if I'm not exposed to panpipes. However there were two things this weekend that caused a bit of a blues.

1. Toño is on a business trip

Normally I'm the one who away on business, but with autumn coming up, the wine fairs start as well and they are often on weekends. I had an alumni reunion and cartloads of works, so I did not join him there.

Thus I had a lonely bus ride at 2am*;

had to sleep alone in our bed;

had nobody to talk about weird real estate billboards;

and had nobody who was dabbing the sweat from my temples at the gym.

2. The End of for 2010 is an amazing club DJ backed radio station that enchants Zürich for a month a year. This month is over now.

*though I was listening to Eeel's Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This year we managed only to see one show at Zürich's Theater Spektakel. It was Rennen by Belgian youth theatre project Kopergietery.

I wanted to go to three dance performances but only started to buy tickets two days into the pre-sale, which was far too late. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the one show very much.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Hawtest King

As every decent human being, I try to buck the trend when ever possible. I really do. But this Sunday at 5pm all defences caved in when I switched to the Schlussgang (last round) of the Eidgenössische where 20-year-old Wenger Kilian won the Schwingen tournament unconquered. As a result, he was declared King of Schwingen (Schwingerkönig)

Schwingen, the very traditional way of wrestling here in Switzerland, seems to have become the latest trend. City slicker who used to go to tango classes when they were not sipping mojitos are now apparently practising Schwingen.

Well, and now I got caught as well. Today when I went groceries shopping I grabbed a copy of Schweizer Illustrierte featuring our new king.

A week ago I had to preferred death to having seen a copy of it on our coffee table. But they've got this 15 page special about our new hawt king. Sorry, I just could not resist.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

5 on the fifth - On The Road

This month's 5 on the fifth theme is On The Road. Well, I was on the road only 5 minutes so far, here is what I saw:

My town bike is equipped with a Chinese bicycle bell of the brand Five Rams. It's essentially two bells in one and I'm heard when using it.

The advantage of a push bike is that you can use a wide variety of roads and alleys.

There are obstacles though,

and you're given a lot of instructions.

Finally entering my caring employer's premises, and yes, I don't trust my colleagues.

I took the picture with the Hipstamatic iPhone application, which makes pictures in a vintage look with various lens and film combinations. When one shakes the iPhone, the combination is selected randomly. Since I was holding the iPhone in my hand while riding, shaking could not be avoided. Thus the different looks of the pictures.