Recently I have received an email from Wikio that my blog is ranked 27 in the Travel & Tourisms category which was quite pleasing but at the same time feel pity because I have not been able to blog about my travels. A lot of ideas and memories have flowed into my head but hardly can get my head into it. I like writing about my travels when they are still fresh, otherwise other new things come up and then eventually lose the interest to write anymore.
It has almost been a month seen my last post. I do miss blogging but right now, my first priority is really the little one. Although I do not have much time right now but I have not given up cooking something nice at home. Recently we have a guest visiting from UK for dinner, I have prepared fish moolie and a Thai green papaya salad which I will write about today. Peter prepared a beef rendang the night before so to help me out that I did not need to stress out on top of taking care of our Baby Marc. I also prepare another curry called fish moolie, hope will have time to blog too. From now on, you will probably read more about our little one rather than my gourmet travel.
Having said that I am glad that we could still have some short day trips during weekends. Two weeks ago we visited Trümmerbäch glacier waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen of Interlaken. These are 10 glacier waterfalls inside the mountain which are made accessible by a tunnel lift. The Trümmerbäch alone drains the mighty glacier from Eiger (3970m), Jungfrau(4158m) and Mönch (4099m). This is the only glacier-waterfalls in Europe which are still accessible in Europe. I walked up with Marc in a baby carrier, he could continue sleeping like an angel without being woken up by the extremely loud noise from the waterfall at all, very amazing! That day, we had game for lunch as this is only available in Autumns. I had escalopes of venison with sauteed grapes and game cream sauce, Donna, my friend had Jugged chamois hunter’s style. And all game dishes are typically to have pear with cranberry sauce, red cabbage, brussel sprouts. chestnut and glazed chestnuts. That day I found the venison tasted better and more easily acceptable, the chamois tasted rather rugged.
So after further ado, I should go back to my Thai Green Papaya Salad. When I was in Hong Kong, most of them I tried were too spicy for my taste, this time I can adjust the spiciness myself, when I first made the garlic chili paste, I thought it may be too spicy for me and my guest but in the end it came out just right and like it very much. The original recipe called for tomatoes and carrots but instead I used red onion which I find the purple color blended very nicely with the green snake beans as well as the dried shrimps and the sweet onion taste and its crispy texture went with the green papaya even better then the tomatoes.
Recipe adapted from Temple of Thai.com
- 8 Thai small red chilies (bird eye chilies), cut into 3-4 pieces each
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and cut each into 2-3 pieces
- 2 tbsp small dried shrimp, soaked in the water for a while and discard the water, chopped briefly
- 1 unripe green papaya, peeled and julienned, make about 4 cups
- 1 cup long snake beans cut into 3-4cm long pieces
- 2 small red onion (make about 1 cup), cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup tamarind juice concentrate
- juice of 2-3 limes
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts, using a pestle and mortar
- Prepare the ingredients as indicated.
- To make tamarind concentrate: Start by compressing tamarind in warm water. Work the tamarind with your fingers to dissolve the soft fruit; gather up remaining undissolvable pulp, squeeze to extract juice and discard. Pour the tarmarind juice to a saucepan and bring to boil and then simmer to make into a concentrate juice. Use 1/4 cup for this recipe, the remaining can be kept in the fridge for other uses such as Pad Thai (Thai Fried Rice Noodles).
- Use a handheld blender to whiz the garlic and chilies into a paste.
- Panfry the dried shrimp and snake beans briefly.
- Place the julienned green papaya, red onion, dried shrimps and snake beans into a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix well. Then add in the garlic chili paste.
- Mix the tamarind, lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Make sure the sugar is dissolved completely. Then mix into the green papaya. Let it stand for a while before serving so the green papaya can absorb the hot and sour salad dressing. Just before serving, mix in the chopped peanuts.
- Transfer to a serving plate and with chopped peanuts.
So what did I do on Swiss National Day? I got a little treat and had a getaway weekend in Gruyère. On Saturday we played 18 hole at Golf de la Gruyère SA. It is a very nice golf course which is located along the side of Lake Gruyère and offers a spectacular view while playing. The good thing about this place is that you do not need to be a member of the golf course nor a handicap but you do need to have a local qualification known as Platzreife (PR).
We had a quick lunch before tee off and that day they had a set lunch which comprised some traditional regional food to celebrate the Swiss National Day.
Here is a sneak peek of what I had :
Soupe de chalet (Swiss Cottage Soup) which contains mainly Potato, Spinach, Milk, Macaroni, Gruyere cheese, Creme fraiche
Berries & Apple tarts
That day we had 30 ºC, very exhausting after playing but I was very proud of myself that I have been able to achieve HCP 36 for the very first time, well with a few mulligans, I amit but very encouraging to motivate me to play more in the future.
And after golfing, we stayed in Hotel Cailler which is located in a small village called Charmey. Cailler is one of the popular Swiss Chocolatiers but I could not figure out if there is actually any relationship between this Chocolatier and the hotel. Anyway the biggest advantage of this hotel is that it is directly accessed to the spa: Le Bains de la Gruyère. The room rate includes one time use of the spa.
And for dinner, we had a superbe dinner buffet on the hotel terrace. I was most impressed with their terrines appetizers and their desserts. The tiramisu was one of the very best I had, the texture was smooth, but not floppy despite served in bite size. I also love the local specialities: double crème de Gruyère served on top of meringues and berries, really awesome. The next day we bought some home from the fromagerie to enjoy at home.
That is the tradition wooden spoon and bucket to keep the double cream.
Of course firework is something not to be missed…… The hotel itself had organized a series of firework which the hotel guests and diners could comfortably view from the terrace or balconies.
On Sunday, we had a relaxing spa and sauna. Thereafter we drove to the village Gruyère itself, it was too crowded to visit today and decided to save for next time. We then drove up to the next village, Moléson. The temperature immediately dropped which made us wanting to have a cheese fondue which we initially did not think it’s so suitable in the summer.
We walked up to the Fromagerie d’Alpage which has a long history of 300 years old (Built in 1686, rebuilt in 1827 and renovated in 1990) It is now protected as historic monument. I prefer to this place more because of the rustic style is conserved. We went inside to the restaurant directly linked to it and immediately ordered a Fondue moitié-moitié* (half & half cheese fondue), a glass of white wine to go with to warm up a bit.
*Fondue moitié-moitié is made of equal amounts of Gruyère AOC cheese and Fribourg Vacherin AOC cheese.
For my whole album please click here.
So that’s all the highlights of this getaway weekend, until next time.
Other links or interesting activities in the region:
- Tourist information about Fribourg region
- Les Fromagers de Suisse, you can find recipes using Swiss cheese (in French)
- Charmey: information about having fondue between the sky and earth, available all Saturday evenings from June to September
- Old Village Landeron, Summer markets selling fresh local produce: Year 2009, 19 Aug, 0900-1700
- Charmey Adventures SKYWALK
- Tents on the trees
Two of my friends from Hong Kong came to visit us and we spent a wonderful weekend in Chamonix- Mont Blanc. This is a place where I have wanted to visit for a long time after hearing the experience and looking Peter’s pictures. He had made those challenging glacier walks years ago. Of course my friends and I were not going to do anyway that challenging whatsoever. We went hiking for one day and then went up to Aiguille du Midi, 3842m the next day. The book said it is an easy walking but I did not find it easy at all. Luckily I was told that this series of guide books are written for experienced hikers.The walk we did was exciting and challenging enough to us, lifetime experience, I would say. It was more than a normal hiking for us girls, we experienced snow walking with a steep slope on one side and a bit of rock climbing. Despite of all the challenges, I managed to finish the trail of course, the most rewarding part was that we had a family of Chamois following us on our last part of hiking.
The link below to see the route we made:
Planpraz – Col du Brevent – Brevent 2525m and back
And some photos to share our happy and exciting moments with you:
Peter is our guide of course
It was not that steep actually, we were just posing : )
This part is real, no kidding!
Mont Blanc with clear blue sky !!!
Linda and Johnny: “We made it!”
Our picnic lunch, French bread with Alpine farmhouse cheese.
This Chamois kept following us on our way down!
Aren’t these baby chamois cute?
I have recently been to a chocolate exhibition in Lucern Museum of History. The exhibition will last until August.
To all chocolate lovers, I hope you will enjoy these photos I have selected for you : )
So let’s begin the chocolate tour:
- Old fashioned pots for Hot Chocolate
Here you are seeing a chunk of 200 kg chocolate blocks with some interesting facts:
- a cacao tree produces cacao seeds can produce about 3kg of chocolate
- In Switzerland, on average 12.4 kg of chocolate is consumed per head. 75% of people likes milk chocolate, 20% dark chocolate and 5% white chocolate
- there is about 500-600 kcal per 100g of chocolate which accounts about one-quarter of the daily calorie requirements which is equivalent to 1.2-1.5 litre of coca-cola or 5-6 bananas or 200-250 white bread
That’s why it’s nicer to share your chocolate with your loved ones.
Old fashioned chocolate dispensers/ machines
Here are a few pieces of chocolate art :
- Chest of drawers with a collection of interesting chocolate:
- Chocolate salami
- flower of chocolate plant
- Chocolate Noodles
- 2 different Savoury chocolate: Ham & Red pepper or white chocolate with Coconut curry
- Chocolate Sushi with Ginger or Mandarin
- Chocolate Cigars
- Pure dark chocolate with Smoked figs
- Sugar free or Allergic free chocolate
- Chocolate Body Painting
- Viagra chocolate tablets!!!!!!
- Chocolate specially for dogs
- Seniors Chocolates
- Chocolate Chess
- Various Swiss brands of chocolate
WHICH CHOCOLATE HERE YOU FIND IT’S THE MOST INTERESTING OR YOUR MOST WANTED ONE? Please leave me a comment, I would love to hear
I was able to buy and sample the chocolate salami that day, here is a closer look for you, it contains nuts and some dried fruits
After visiting the museum, we had a nice stroll around…..
And finally, the car is loaded with chocolate, farewell to Lucern and time to go home…………
Back dated in February when I visited Florida, I was fortunate to go behind the scene of Steamy Kitchen’s TV show. She talked about chocolate that day because Valentine’s Day was approaching that week,and there I came across William Dean Chocolatier, a fabulous chocolatier in the neighbourhood. Thereafter I started paying more attention about chocolatiers around me.
Being living in the chocolate country, Switzerland, I feel it’s good to learn more about chocolate, I have only found out recently that Basel is not only about pharmaceutical industry, we do have a small high end chocolatier here run by Beschle family founded in 1898. And since 2007, they have started to penetrate to other markets namely US and Asia.
I always buy chocolate as souvenirs for families and friends when I go back to Hong Kong and certainly it’s good to know more special chocolatiers, so I can give some surprises to them from time to time, I feel like I am becoming an ambassador for the Swiss Chocolate.
On 1 May, my friends and I have visited their factory, we have learnt a lot that day about their in house chocolate production. After the tour, we were offered to sample numerous of their chocolates.
The special ones which we like most are :
- Quizás Grand Cru series, series of dark chocolate from different chocolate producing countries.
- Grand Cru Criollo au Romarin & Thym Citron which has a touch of rosemary and thyme, it seems it’s becoming fashion to infuse herbs into chocolate.
- Grand Cru Ivoire aux Amandes, even I am not a white chocolate fan, I have to put my thumb up
- Grand Cru Trinitario au Fleur de Sel et Pistaches, this one, Beschle has won an award in UK
And when the stock at home is finished, I will have to try the Ivoire aux Amandes & Myrtilles, white chocolate with blueberry !!!
Then we found out that there is a Chocolate Exhibition in the Lucern Museum of History which we have visited a week later. Stay tune for the coming Chocoholic Part II.
Some facts about Chocolate in Switzerland and the chocolate trend, for your interest:
- There are 18 Swiss Chocolate Companies
- According to Chocosuisse, Switzerland is the largest consumer of chocolate per capita. More than 90 million tons are consumed here– that’s about 12 kilos per person for year. This includes tourists and people who drive over the border to buy Swiss chocolate.
- The world’s economic woes shouldn’t have been worrying Swiss chocolate-makers much. Their sales leapt up more than 9 per cent last year to a record 1.8 billion francs. The rising price of raw materials did have some impact, but sales rose, both here and abroad, and almost 180 new jobs were created in the industry. In 2008, people ate around 85, 000 tonnes of Swiss chocolate in total.
- Dark chocolate seems to be in because it contains less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. It is more appealing to those who wants a little bit of health and a little bit of chocolate.
- U.S and Western Europe markets were stagnant last year, showing little growth, therefore need to open up new markets
Chocolatiers are eyeing new markets in China, Russia and Eastern European countries. And with that new demand, that will make cocoa supplies tighter, pushing prices up.
- Americans consume almost half of the world’s annual chocolate products
- Every American & Russian space voyage has included chocolate bars.
Hazel (Hazelaar in Dutch) flowering in early Spring in our garden!
Spring has come!!! It was lovely today, sunny and not too cold outside. Initially we planned to go skiing in Adelboden but we dropped this idea as it is rather tiring to go back and forth in just one day. Eventually we had a relaxing day, did some gardening work and then we went for a few bobsleigh runs in Langenbruck, Basel-Land (in the Jura region) and of course not to forget to take my new first DSLR Nikon D90 and try it out!
Highlights of the run:
- Fun and speed – a kick for kids, adults, schools, groups and company outings alike.
- Solarbob – the only toboggan run with a 540° roundabout in Europe!
- Globally unique – Lift is obtained even with solar powered
- About 1000 meters Toboggan pass in the middle of nature.
- Lowest in Switzerland.
- Available all year round in dry weather condition.
- Free speed measurement on the long straight (can go over 50km/h!!!)
Surprisingly, there is English instruction!
Normally, you won’t see a long queue, must be the sunny day which gets people outside!
OMG, it’s really fast: 46.5 km/h!!!
We even had free performance afterwards !!!
There is another Bobsleigh run in Saas-Fee which is even longer, you will have to wear a safety belt for this one. Great for non skiers or even skiers who still have energy after skiing!
Peterplatz, from the outside
Basel Herbstmesse or Herbschtmäss in Swiss German (Autumn Fair) is the oldest and largest fair in Switzerland (this is the 485th times this year). It is an event which not only kids look forward to but also for those who are young at heart who wants to have a bit of fun, go for a few rides, scream when coming down from the Power Tower; and for those who like street foods and local produce.
Being a non-Swiss, I am curious to know all kinds of food selling in the market stalls. This year I got to taste a few more things that I have not tried before. Thanks to Carmen for showing me all these goodies. So apart from just having sausages, raclette, Gebrannte Mandeln (almonds roasted in sugar), glühwein (mulled wine), Apfel most (Freshly non-filtered apple juice, warm or cold) and Magenbrot (spicy sweet bread), I have discovered a few more things this year.
Fresh Magenbrot (Fresh Stomach Bread) contains stomach-friendly spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg flowers, it is said this is good for your body after having the heavy food from the food stalls and help your digestion.
Gebrannete Mandeln (Almond roasted in Sugar)
Beckeschmütz, these are the softest marshmallow in the world and my favorite. They are softer than you imagine. There is one stall where you can get white chocolate coated. They have to be consumed within 2 days maximum. I like buying a few home and eat as desserts.
Frisch Wacker Rosenkiechli, these traditional cakes are in the shape of roses, they are very light in texture and sprinkled with icing sugar. I tried it 2 years ago but not this year, it’s not even possible to try a round of everything. Too heavy!
Kokosmakrönli (Coconut Macaroon)
Schoki Bananen, these are chocolate coated bananas, you can choose milk chocolate or white chocolate coated. This stall uses Lindt chocolate. The base of these bananas are coated with a layer sesames, they are simply lovely.
A cheese stall, small production not mass production cheese
Kartoffelpuffer (Potato pancakes), this is a traditional snack originated by the Germans, Czechs and Austrians. I found several recipes in the internet which you can replicate at home. A portion comes with 2 big pieces, make sure share with friends. There are 2 sauces you can choose to go with them: apple sauce or garlic sauce. I chose apple sauce. They were really crispy, tasted like a bit of my mom’s potato cakes (chinese version) that was the smell which had attracted me to try.
This is how the Kartoffelpuffer look like.
Kääskiechli (Swiss quiche), I was told this one is very good, the size per piece is not too big so you can save up some space in your stomach to try other things
Schùnggegipfeli (Left) & Èpfel im Schloofrògg (Right), more pastries, these are for next year to try out.
If you want to try more different types of food, you will have to visit the fair several times as one or two food items can fill you up very quickly. My excolleagues always get together at least one lunch gathering in the fair each year and have some fun together. It’s very refreshing to get some fresh air before getting your heads down again.
There are 6 places where the fair is happening at the same time but the one in Peterplatz has the longest history and I found the foodstuff there are better than the other sites. If you want to go for a few rides, then Messeplatz will fulfill your appetite. One thing I have noticed here is that most of the market stalls get the same spot each year, this makes it very convenient for us as we would know where to find our favorite stalls the following year.
There are just a few more days until the Herbstmesse ends this year, however, by the time you read this post I should have arrived Hong Kong and will stay for 2 weeks seeing my family and friends . So will have to wait until next year to discover more things …..
* zur Säge means next to the saw-factory; wirtshaus means inn —>i.e. the inn next to the saw-factory
On my actual birthday this year, my hubby took me to a haute cuisine restaurant as a treat. I had been there once for a christmas party from work but this time was a private occasion, it indeed felt more special.
This restaurant is not located in the city centre (13 km outside centre of Basel) but can be reached by tram easily from town in 15 mins. It is well-known in the neighbourhood and I later found out that it is awarded with one Michelin star but the owners which are a young couple are pretty low profile about it as I did not see anything when I entered the restaurant.
You will not expect to have any menus hand out to you. Sandra Marugg Suter, the co-owner had detailed their menu of that day carefully to us. For the main course, there were two different meat to choose from. In case, you don’t like anything, you can just let them know to change to something else.
So this is what we had that day:
Greeting Starter: White asparagus soup & salad with white aspagus & local ham from Flüh.
2nd Starter: Herb mousse with herb brioche, small salad & grilled perch & scampi. The scampi cooked just right!
1st Main Course: Grilled Lamp Chop from Scotland. The lamb was great, the meat was rosé.
Accompanies: Rosemary new potatoes & broccoli mousse. I am fond of potatoes normally but with new potatoes, it’s a different story. Whatsmore: Rosemary & potatoes are just perfect match. How can I resist!
2nd Main Course: Lasagna with garlic and chicken. I was surprised of how the chicken came out as they have been able to cook it just right. It was so tender and looked a little pink but not undercooked. If you don’t like garlic, you can ask them to leave out but I love garlics.
1st Dessert: Fresh Strawberries in Rosé Champagne with Peppermint ice-cream. Because it was my b’day, I had a special treat & had taken an extra dessert from their list.
2nd Dessert: This was the dessert that originally went with the menu: Quark with fresh apricots, on the side was flaky pastry. What was written on the plate—Gute Geburgtstag means happy birthday.
Final round: Cappuccino; the swan-shaped aluminium foil was a special patisserie to take away. Too full to eat more ….
This is what’s inside the swan-shaped aluminium foil: Rhubarb Kugelhopf. We had it for breakfast, making us recalling the lovely dinner.
Wow, 6 courses dinner: 2 starters, 2 main courses and 2 desserts. And of course, good food cannot go without wine, we had a bottle of wine from Gaja, Toscana. This restaurant is certainly recommended for special occasions. I am very pleased that you could find restaurants in Switzerland that served contemporary dishes.
Wirtshaus aur Säge
Steinrain 5, 4112 Flüh SO
Tel: +41 61 731 1577
This is the most viewed picture in my gallery! EUR 60, it surely worth it!!!
A lot of people, especially the Dutch had high expectation to win in the quarter final but in the end we were all disappointed with the results. Nevertheless, I am certain those who came to Basel had a great party.
I learnt something that day: there is no sure win!
Here are some statistics that you may be interested to know:
- 180’000 visitors from Holland
- 500’000 litres of beer consumed
- 100’000 litres of mineral water
- 40 tonnes of garbage
………..Biggest party in Basel ever, even bigger than Fasnacht !!!
Hope you enjoy the snapshots! Orange Party……
This is a Swiss soup very popular in the Swiss mountains especially in the Graubünden region. I take this soup for lunch every time when I go skiing. I like it a lot as it is tasty, good in fibre and nutritious, also the soup s filling but you will not feel it too creamy or heavy at all. It is ideal after doing some sports and as a winter soup. Barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. Not sure if it is true of not, barley is also said to be good for skin beauty. I think it is because if your digestion is healthy, it will in turn improves your skin condition too.
I like the soup so much that I want to try it at home. This is a recipe from my Swiss friend, Caroline. Made it multiple times already and at first I was hesitant about the egg yolk and cream added in the end just before serving, because I was worried if it is rather fattening so I have skipped for the first few times but then it did not taste exactly the same as those I had out there. Therefore I tried it with the addition of the egg yolk cream and magic, this is the taste that I have been looking for. This is something that cannot be missed out!!!!!!
As Basel is one of the host cities for UEFA EURO 2008, it is no doubt the city is full of EURO 2008. You have probably seen the pictures of the St-Jakob stadium and the fanzones. Being a shopaholic, I am looking from another perspective-the shopping perspective of course. Looking as the shop windows dressing can be as amusing and get inspired by the creativeness.
Most famous shopping area: Freie strasse
Chocolate shop in Markplatz: Gold-plated football costs CHF 408-; Gold-plated trainer costs CHF 185-
Limited Soccer MO by Swarovski, only available in Switzerland and Austria.
Famous cookies from Basel: Basler Leckerli Shop in Claraplatz
Strangely I found them in the shop window of a watch shop.
Coca Cola and Adidas
Hope you enjoy the photos and also feel the atmosphere here!