Saturday night at the Oepfelchammer

Saturday I was looking over the city of Zurich from the University, which has a wonderful view.


And then Saturday night we met one of Alan’s friends for drinks and then dinner at the Oepfelchammer, which is a restaurant and wine tavern housed in a 14th century building. Alan wrote about this on our Swiss wine website, and yes, people did try to climb through the beams, although no one was successful.

What’s with climbing through the beams? If you make it, you get your drink for free and the honor of carving your name on a wall, beam, or table. Here’s a link to the Oepfelchammer’s website, which shows the different dining rooms. The first photo is the one with the beams, and where this all takes place. As you can see, lots of people have had the honor of carving their names; a tribute to drunken determination. You can’t tell from the photo, but the beams allow very little room to maneuver, so making it up and over without smacking your head is really an accomplishment.


OMG Snow!!1!

I can’t help it. I’m a Southern California gal, so when I looked out the window this morning and saw snowflakes drifting by, I couldn’t help feeling like an excited kid. I grabbed my camera to record this exciting phenomenon!

Here is our backyard with the light dusting of snow we received.
Our backyard with a light dusting of snow. The white ground is actually snow-covered grass.

It didn’t stick on sidewalks or roads at all, and was completely gone from our yard within an hour. But nonetheless: snow! In the week I’ve been here the weather has been mostly sunny, although cold, so this might be my last chance to see snow this season. On the other hand, it could do this a dozen more times before warm weather really settles in. Who knows? Ah, the excitement of living somewhere new!

Welcome to Switzerland. Please enjoy the fondue.

Hooray! I’ve arrived in Switzerland. After over a month completely dedicated to preparing for it, sometimes working 14-hour days, I can hardly believe I’m really here. Most of my stuff has been sold, packed off into temporary storage, or tossed. My condo is painted, newly carpeted, and awaiting a tenant. And my head has stopped spinning (at least for now).

To celebrate Alan and I had a cheese fondue on Sunday night. Here’s a simplified version of how you make it:

First you need to pour yourself a glass of wine, then you grate the cheese. 200 grams (about 7 ounces) per person is the rule of thumb, and everyone has their favorite mix of cheeses. We had almost equal parts Appenzeller, Gruyere, and Emmenthaler.

Grating action shot
Grating action shot

Rub a heavy saucepan or heat-proof clay fondue pot with a clove of garlic. Add the cheese and a little over 1 deciliter (about 1/3 cup) of dry white wine per person. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.

Alan likes to stir in a figure-eight pattern
Alan likes to stir in a figure-eight pattern

Dissolve 1 teaspoon cornstarch into one shot of Kirsch. Once the cheese is completely melted add the cornstarch-Kirsch mixture and keep stirring. Season with pepper and nutmeg. Set over an alcohol lamp and eat by stirring bread cubes speared onto fondue forks into the cheese.

Cut your bread cubes so at least side has crust on it. This gives your fork more to hang on to.
Cut your bread cubes so at least one side has crust on it. This gives your fork more to grip.

It was delicious, especially since it was a chilly day and we had gone for a nice walk up the hill behind our apartment. Cheese fondue is heavy and rich, and the best time to eat it is after vigorous activity in the cold. But don’t worry if you visit in the summer; the Swiss are happy to sell it to you any time you want it.

Packing makes you nostalgic

A while ago I began scanning the family slides. Almost all of our family photos are slides and nobody likes to fuss with projectors and screens anymore, so turning them into electronic files solves lots of problems. In the process I’m getting to see many old photos I’d never seen before, including my parents in the 1950s, before us kids were born. Fifty years is long enough ago now that it seems “historical”, if that makes any sense, and it’s interesting to see your parents as part of history. Here are a few of my favorite photos:

How cool is this? Dad had a great 51 Chevy convertible, with a red interior no less.
How cool is this? Dad had a great '51 Chevy convertible, with a red interior no less.
Interesting to see the Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline circa 1956.
Interesting to see the Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline circa 1956.
Mom at the Rockefeller Center pedestrian mall and fountains in 57.
Mom at the Rockefeller Center pedestrian mall and fountains in 1957.

Knee-deep in art supplies from 1986

There is nothing like paying for an international move to motivate you to really edit your belongings. Right now I’m pulling out everything I own and deciding whether it’s worth the cost of shipping it overseas. And I’m facing the fact that there was no reason for me to hang on to all those pads of weird art paper left over from college. I will never again use Duraline, acetate sheets, or 19 x 24 layout bond (especially now that it’s so yellow). But I’m keeping the Vidalon!

So while I’m busy doing material possession triage, you can do a little armchair traveling to Zurich:

Two webcams overlooking Zurich

A Google Maps view of moving Swiss train icons

Qype is a Yelp-like review site in Europe

Exciting news from the cheese desk!

Hello! Yes, I really am getting ready to move to Switzerland and join Alan in Zurich. I want to keep in touch with all my friends in California, so why not start a blog?!

It’s exciting and fun to be moving to a different country, and I’m curious about what it will be like to be an expat. Luckily Zurich is a very cosmopolitan city, and Switzerland is a lovely place to live, as you can see:

I hope you enjoy reading about my move to this alpine utopia, and I want to hear from you too. Leave a comment even if you just say “hello” back.

A California designer living in Zurich