Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Future is Now!

Today we awoke to some alarming news.


That's right, the pope has been acquired by Apple. We found about it when the pope tweeted that he will not be referred to as the iPope. We were able to glean all of this using only the meager German skills we've picked up in the past few days. Not too bad, eh?

Dolce Vita in Rapperswil

After letting this new settle in we began our day with a ride into nearby Rapperswil (pronounced "Rappers-ville" much to the delight of visiting English-speaking tourists). Sadly there were not too many rappers. There was someone playing a recorder in the square but unlike so many on YouTube he was not beatboxing at the same time.

Nate Pretending to be an Archer

We explored the medieval portions of the town and I even got to do my favorite thing: pretend I was one of the king's archers firing on a mob of unruly peasants!

You Say You Want a Revolutio

After I practiced putting down a rebellion I stumbled upon this graffiti and determined that the Swiss underground didn't appear to be all that big a threat. See the way they ran out of space at the end and tried to squeeze in the 'N' before the edge of the building? Weak.

Revolu . . . tion

Then I rounded the corner and ran into this little gem. Yeah, I don't think my archery skills are going to be necessary against this lot.


After all this rebel suppression we went to a place called Jakob for lunch. I got a recommendation on a Swiss beer to try (another lager) from our waitress who was delightful. Since the message was entirely in German we asked her to translate but her English was a little weak. Twice she told us that dishes on the menu were made with 'garbage.' We later learned that she meant 'cabbage' but by that point we were not too keen on trying those meals out.

Another Veal Wurst

Jen had another veal wurst with a smothered onion wine sauce and pomme frites.


I had the Scottish Lox which is my usual standby.

Ross had a pasta made with 'peperonicream' which is not anything like what it sounded like.

Statue Outside Einsiedeln

After lunch we headed to Eisiedeln. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside which is unfortunate because it was breathtakingly beautiful. Inside there is a little chapel build around a 'black Madonna' and they were having a service where they whipped out a guitar and started playing Bob Dylan songs in German. Not at all what I was expecting.

Meginra From Einsiedeln

In lieu of purchasing any Black Madonna replicas I got this souvenir which is an herbal liqueur made by the monks of Einseideln. I can't wait to try this. It might even be better than my last risky European liqueur purchase when I purchased that truffle flavored liqueur.

Ikea in Spreitenbach

After a quick stop off at Ikea we picked up Gregg and the four of us went into Zurich for dinner. As usual Ikea was the point at which the clouds cleared and sunshine came back into our lives. Much the same as our American Ikea experiences.

Aperol Spritz

We were able to use our charm (most of it Ross's) to get a table at Terrasse for dinner. It was great and we were introduced to a new drink: aperol spritz.

Swiss Syrah Antica

Our waitress was fantastic. When Gregg asked her about the Swiss pinot noir on the menu she said it was terrible. Then she recommended this Swiss wine. I was excited because one of my goals was to try Swiss wine on this trip since you can't really get it outside of Switzerland.

Halden Krone

Then she said they didn't really have much beer but recommended this Swiss beer -- the Halden Krone -- to me. Another lager! Then she told me that after dinner she often goes to the place across the street to have beer because they have a better selection but sometimes it gives her a headache.

Veal with Porcini Cream Sauce and Basil

Turbot and Lobster Tail

I had the veal with porcini cream sauce and Jen had the turbot with Lobster tail. Both were excellent. But it's getting really late and I think we need to go to bed now.


"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane
Kathy says: "I thought he'd NEVER stop writing about his stupid meals! Check back tomorrow when they go and check out how authentic Swiss cheese is made. Personally I don't eat dairy because I don't think the human digestion system was designed to process lactose. It's a poison, people. You're killing yourselves!"


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Best Wurst

Today we slept late. Even with jetlag as an excuse I felt guilty that we didn't leave the house until about noon. After a quick breakfast we started our climb down the steep slopes of Richterwil's streets leading to the train station.

Last Train to Zurich

By some miracle we were able to get on the right train to Zurich though we were both convinced that we'd find ourselves somewhere slightly off course like Rome or Shanghai.

Beautiful Shrimp

After getting off the training and walking through the city in the rain for a bit we came across a Globus where we saw some beautiful foods on display. I was able to take this this one picture before I was spoken too very harshly by some German-speaking teenage girls who worked the counter. I'm really bummed I didn't get a chance to get any snaps of the sliders they had. You can't even escape sliders on the menu in Switzerland!

Lunch for 27.00 Swiss Francs

We also grabbed a sandwich and a half at the Globus with a water and a Fanta. You can click on the link to blow up the receipt on the photo but I'll just tell you it came to 27.00 Swiss Francs. That's $32.34 USD as of today. This is what I get for lecturing my friends about how Americans don't spend enough money on food. Apparently we do when we go to Switzerland.

"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane
Kathy Says: "You guys are such tourists! I know all the best spots in Zurich for affordable eating. I can't believe you ate somewhere as mainstream as Globus! I know a wonderful cafe off the beaten path that--"

Shut up, Kathy!

Jen and Nate at the China Garden

After lunch we stopped by a China Garden and inexpertly took this picture of our big stupid heads blocking everything in the garden that was worth looking at.

Nate Peeks

Then I popped my head out from behind a circular doorway.

Bridge Jumping Zurich Teens

On our way back to the train we came across some Swiss youth who were jumping off a bridge. Don't worry, they didn't die. Though I'm pretty sure they were drinking so it's only by their own luck that they happened to live through the day. This shows how good a citizen I am. I see kids jumping off a bridge and I seize the opportunity to take a bunch of pictures.


We returned to the train station, rain-soaked and weary, dreading the steep walk back up to Gregg and Ross's. Just then Gregg pulled up, honked his horn, and carted us home just before a massive downpour started. He also fixed us drinks. I had this Feldschlösschen, another Swiss lager. Generally I'm not a big fan of lager but I've rather been enjoying it these past two nights. It's been nothing short of delightful, actually.



We started off with this salad with bell peppers and some lightly salted cooked beets. I'm a fan of any type of beet so this was a great start for me.

Veal Wurst

We also had some traditional Swiss veal wurst which Gregg grilled for us. For the third time in two days I was able to enjoy this with some more of the tarragon mustard. I think I've come full circle on tarragon in the last couple of weeks.


For dessert we picked up some macaroons from Confiserie Sprüngli. After asking the woman behind the counter if she spoke English she said, "A little." Then we had a ten minute in depth conversation with her about pastries. Methinks she is too modest.

We selected hazelnut, champagne, champagne deluxe, chocolate, bourbon vanilla, raspberry, apricot, and peach. They were the best macaroons that have ever happened.


To accompany the macaroons Ross and Gregg served up some Limoncello which was quite nice after a fantastic meal.
"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane
Kathy Says: "I don't like limoncello! It's too sweet! I prefer having just plain tea with dessert. The dessert is sweet enough."

You can go to hell, Kathy.

Dinner Reflection

After dinner we chatted for a while before bed, our images reglected off the glossy red stripe along one wall of the apartment. Not even Kathy would be able to spoil a moment as wonderful as this.

Lord knows she'd try.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Swiss Please!

After a long day of travel yesterday we arrived in Switzerland early this morning. However, this travel was not without incident.

On the plane Jen and I were separated for some reason and a nasty woman sitting beside me refused to give switch seats with Jen, even though she was traveling alone and it meant having the exact same aisle seat only one row in front of where she was.

"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane

Here is what she looked like as she slept. I took a picture of her while she was unconscious but for legal purposes I selected this photo from Google Images to use instead. It's fine because it's pretty much exactly like what she looked like. Except for the joie de vivre. While I believe she did take joy in making those around her unhappy she wasn't quite as pleased as the woman in this picture.

In actuality she was sour and nasty. She responded to my question about if she’d mind switching seat with my wife as if I’d shoved a lemon in her mouth and said: “Actually I would mind!” Then she spent the next twenty minutes of the taxiing sequence explaining to me how it would just be too much for her to consider such an outrageous request.

This demon woman, we’ll call her Kathy, slept for most of the flight, at least for the parts where she wasn’t watching Just Go With It and sniggering to herself at the comedy genius of Adam Sandler. Either that or she was laughing about the fact that she got to sit next to me as and some fat vegetarian dude who took up his entire seat and much of mine.

At least she was small. Small and crappy. Like a concentrated crap sandwich.

Disappointing Sandwich Baggie

Speaking of crap sandwiches, I would have much preferred a crap sandwich to the “food” the served on the flight. After going through the peanut butter sandwiches which I packed in accidentally purchased tiny snack bags, this food was awful.

I was asked if I wanted chicken or pasta. I selected pasta since I didn’t really want to eat meat. What arrived was a tiny cardboard boat with microwaved penne and some sort of horrendous beef sauce. As a side there was a corn niblet salad and a roll in a hermetically sealed plastic bag that appeared to be covered in some sort of flour or dust. It tasted like maybe it was the powdered tears of past passengers.

Also, everyone on the plane got some sort of chocolate dessert. Everyone except me. I just watched as everyone around me enjoyed their dessert. It looked like it must have been the most delicious part of the meal. That’s probably only because I didn’t taste it. I’m sure that like most of the rest of the meal it was filled with disappointment and sorrow.

Kinder Bueno at Toronto Airport

We did eventually arrive in Switzerland after stopping in Toronto (to find Kinder Bueno bars), several delayed flights, rebookings, and the captain flat out lying and telling us that the flight would only be five hours. This was a flight of betrayals.

"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane

Kathy Says: “Hey, Jen & Nate! I barely noticed the time go by as I was watching Owen Wilson’s latest side-splitter, Hall Pass!”

But my friend Kathy was loving every minute of it.

Swiss Alps from the Balcony

After arriving in Zurich we were picked up by Ross who carted us off to Gregg and Ross’s apartment which enjoyed this lovely view of the Swiss Alps. After some water and lunch we both passed out for three hours and awoke to this lovely view of Lake Zurich off the balcony. Just in time to shower and get ready for a dinner which would quickly redeem our horrible Air Canada meal.

Karlskrone Lagerbier Hell

I was given, by request, a Swiss beer called Lagerbier Hell from Karlskrone. It sounds much worse than it was. While lager isn’t generally my favorite beverage this was exactly what I needed after a long day of travel. Unfortunately after virtually no sleep the 4.9% alcohol did go straight to my head.

"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane

Kathy doesn’t drink alcohol. She requested the flight attendant bring her hot tea on three occasions. Kathy thinks alcoholic drinks are for the weak. Besides, it’s easier to be completely self-absorbed when you’re in full control of all your faculties.

Tomato Salad with Toasted Bread, Mozzarella, Basil, and Balsamic

We started with a delicious salad with Roma tomatoes, toasted bread, basil, balsamic, and mozzarella.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon Mustard

Also we had a pork tenderloin smuggled in from Canada – Swiss pork is apparently prohibitively expensive – that had been marinated in Maille tarragon mustard and grilled.

Swiss Cherries and Apricots


For dessert we had local Swiss apricots and cherries along with palmiers and fennel tea.

German Keyboard

After dinner I panicked a bit at the thought of trying to type a blog entry using these German keyboards. Jen couldn’t even log into her email account because she uses a “#” in her password which isn’t even present on the keyboard. Uh oh. Have I given up a valuable security secret?

Swiss Alps

This was a fine close to our first day in Switzerland. Now that we’re too tired to think straight we’re going to turn in early so we can get a jump on the adventures of tomorrow!

"Kathy" Sleeping on Plane

Kathy likes to avoid the mountains. Denser population means there is more happiness to neutralize if she remains on the flatlands.

See you all tomorrow where we make our first trip into the city!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Poor Man's Cobb Salad

I don't think I've ever made Cobb salad at home before. I would even say that after tonight's dinner I still have never made Cobb salad at home. What I made tonight was something of an affront to all that is holy and sacred about this Hollywood Brown Derby creation.

The Poor Man's Cobb Salad

I'm sure there are many purists out there that will argue about exactly what does and does not go on top of a Cobb salad. For the purposes of not shopping and cleaning out our pantry I am going to define a Cobb salad as a salad with toppings that are neatly lined up in rows. Most of what I put on top of this salad would be considered atypical.

From left to right we have: hearts of palm, green onion, shallots, mixed olives, crushed macadamia nuts, bacon, shrimp, and artichoke hearts. I also made a dressing with sour cream, mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, honey mustard, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. I made way too much of this dressing so I'm probably going to end up throwing half of it away. Since the sour cream was going to spoil anyway I suppose it doesn't matter.

This salad was pretty delicious but I discovered the problem with Cobb salad: it looks beautiful but there's one ingredient missing from every Cobb salad . . .

Salad Mixing Bowl

A bowl to mix it in!

Mixed Cobb Salad

After tossing it together with the dressing it loses a little visual appeal but it sure makes it a heck of a lot easier and tastier to eat. I guess that's just technology for you. When the Cobb salad was invented in the 1930s they probably hadn't discovered mixing bowls yet.

Penne with Spinach, Bacon, Shallots, and Cream

Cobb salad, I guess, should probably be a main course. For some reason I had it in my head that since it was a salad I should make a main course to go with it. An unnecessary main course. I guess it's been longer than I thought since I've made a Cobb salad.

For this pasta dish I used a little remaining bacon, shallot, garlic, butter, and cream to make a sauce. After I cooked it down for a bit I tossed in some cooked penne and the summer spinach from the week's share along with some freshly grated nutmeg. Even with all the heavy items in the sauce I used so little that it ended up being lighter than you would think, even when topped with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Butternuts Weissebier

To accompany these dishes I had another summery weissebeer, this time from Butternuts Beer & Ale in Garrattsville, New York. They brag on their website that this weissebeer tastes better than German Weissebeer because it has to travel about 5,000 miles less to get to your mouth. I have to admit that it was pretty good but the German weissebeer I had the other night tasted pretty damn good too.

Phew. Made it through another night. Taking tomorrow off but Sunday's dinner may be a bit of a challenge. It may be some stale bread with a jar of pasta sauce.

Jen thinks we should go out for dinner. She's probably right but at this point it's just a matter of pride. If we go out for dinner then the terrorists win.

They hate us for our freedom.