Bauer Bread for Breakfast

Bauer bread

If you ever have a big, hearty, bicycling houseguest from Amsterdam; and they offer to bike down to Albisriederplatz on Sunday to buy fresh bread, say “yes”!

Bauer Bakery and Cafe is open on Sundays, and famous for their Champagner-Schwedentorte (a fondant-covered Champagne cake). I bought one for a party once and people still talk about it. I’ve also had perfectly cooked eggs for breakfast in the cafe, and the bakery counter is filled with breads, finger food (Mini Laugenbrötli, etc) and pastries.

We discovered Sunday morning that their full-grain breads are delicious too, and we fixed ourselves breakfast sandwiches of ham, avocado, and a fried egg. It’s preferable that the egg yolk is still liquid, and it’s okay if it drips when you’re among friends. You can then happily tear off another piece of bread to sop it up.

Breakfast of eggs, ham, avocado, and fresh bread from Bauer

My new Swiss-influenced hobby: ogling mechanical watches

Ochs und Junior Date watch
Ochs und Junior Date watch shows the date through 31 perforations, arranged as a gentle spiral.

It’s happened: I am now interested in watches. Since Switzerland is the quality watchmaking capital of the world, I guess it was inevitable that I would start dreaming of a nice watch. Continue reading My new Swiss-influenced hobby: ogling mechanical watches

Happy Twenty-Twelve from Zurich

Dawn in Zurich

This is what Zurich looked like a little after 8:00AM this morning: dawn comes pretty late in Winter. It makes it very easy to catch a pretty sunrise.

Bush bejewelled with raindrops

Instead the snow we expect this time of year, it’s been rainy. How did I never before notice how raindrops decorate twiggy bushes like this? Oh wait, it’s because I lived in Los Angeles, where if it did rain, I wasn’t outside walking around. After celebrating my second New Year’s Eve in Switzerland I’m now a member of the normal human race that does errands and goes for walks even if it’s raining or snowing. I’m becoming hearty.

Christmas tree-decorated crane

It’s not all gray skies either, and there are little visual treats to be found everywhere. Here’s one of the ubiquitous construction cranes of Zurich sporting a Christmas tree (you can see it up there, on the left end). I wonder if this is part of the labor negotiations for crane operators. Two coffee breaks per shift: check. Hard hat with company logo: check. Christmas tree: check.

I’ve been carrying my camera around more often lately, because I’m in the mood to capture fun little things I see, and remember interesting little ideas, and then share them all here. It’s all part of wanting to create things and share them without worrying too much about how finished or professional or “good” they are. For the New Year, I find myself agreeing with this from Neil Gaiman:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes…. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things.”

The original post is here. Happy New Year everyone!

Two reviews from our road trip to Beaune

Building in the center of town, Beaune
The center of town

Last month we went on a road trip through France, and out first stop was Beaune. This makes for a perfect trip since it’s an easy 4 hour drive from Zurich. Besides enjoying a lovely walk around the city walls, each day we had a few glasses of wine, tried a new restaurant, and then headed back to our hotel satisfied and happy. Two places stood out enough that I’d happily recommend them. (Click on the headings to go to listings on Trip Advisor).

Hotel Alesia

We stayed here once a few years ago when they had two stars, and we really liked it then: friendly, clean, and a good-quality generous breakfast. Their location outside the city is really easy to get to by car, and it’s not too long a walk into the center of town. Now they have three stars and the decor has been nicely upgraded, free WiFi is available, and the price doesn’t seem to have gone up at all. Handy tip: there’s an Aldi right nearby (you can see it from the hotel), which is a great place to stock up on bargain-priced provisions before you drive off to your next destination.

La Part des Anges

We arrived in Beaune planning to eat at two restaurants chosen from Trip Advisor reviews (La Ciboulette and L’incontournable), but being August, they were closed for summer holiday. Oops. On to plan B: wander around and choose by the old-fashioned educated guess. We liked the look of La Part des Anges, so even though the kitchen was closed, simple dishes were still available and we had a plate of smoked salmon, then a cheese platter, both accompanied by a couple different wines by the glass. Everything was perfect, delicious and lovely. We sat outside watching the world go by, taking our time, getting a little tipsy but not drunk, enveloped in that magical feeling of everything being just right. I saw from some reviews on Trip Advisor that it doesn’t always go that way here. But our experience was so nice that my recommendation is definitely give this place a try. Have a glass of wine. See how things go. If you’re not having a good time, move on. But if everything seems good, stay and enjoy la part des anges.

Beaune city wall
Beaune city wall

A summertime walk along the Sihl and the Uetliberg

If you’d like to go on a simple walk just outside Zurich, take the 13 tram to the Strassenverkehrsamt stop and head for the Sihl. The Sihl is one of Zurich’s two rivers (the other is the Limmat), and if you were to follow it south out of the city, here is what you would see:

pretty path aong the Sihl
Wide bike/walking paths with trees and grass...
5.6 Km
...and the occasional marker.

If you choose to return by skirting the east side of the Uetliberg you’ll  hike through forests and fields. There are so many ways to go, but I kept it simple and headed back to where I started.

Fill up your water bottle...
treaa and grass
...and be sure to enjoy all the summery shades of green.

Here’s the route I followed:

Einkaufen Laufen

It’s so nice to be able to do all my shopping on foot. Since every time I go grocery shopping I buy only as much as I can carry, I usually need to go every couple of days. This has several pleasant benefits. One: I can keep us stocked up on fresh bread, fruit and vegetables all the time. And two: I’ve invented a new exercise which I call einkaufen laufen, meaning shopping hiking (if you like made-up phrases in German).
My groceries usually weigh about 12 kilograms (a little over 26 pounds) and I carry them in bags rather than using a granny cart. Plus we live on a hill, so it’s a nice bit of exercise. I don’t know if einkaufen laufen can take all the credit, but I am in better shape now that I’ve been living here over a year.

Bags of groceries
My two bags of groceries

Bookworm that I am, I really liked Moby Dick

Moby-Dick or, The WhaleMoby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked it. In the beginning when I was getting to know the characters they seemed a lot more modern than I was expecting. I guess human nature hasn’t really changed all that much in 160 years, and a good writer can capture the timeless truth about people. The story becomes more and more fantastic and the writing more stylized as the book goes on, until it’s very Shakespearean: filled with symbolism, grand drama and tragedy at the end.

Melville inserts a lot of explanation about whaling in between the progress of the story. They’re necessary to understand the plot and mostly very interesting, but sometimes they get a little dull. That was the only thing I didn’t enjoy.

But other than that, I was really happy to read it. I also liked recognizing a passage Stephen Fry quoted on QI! “Ere long, it is taken down; when removing some three feet of it, towards the pointed extremity, and then cutting two slits for armholes at the other end, he lengthwise slips himself bodily into it. The mincer now stands before you invested in the full canonicals of his calling.”

View all my reviews

A California designer living in Zurich