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Portugese Patterns

portuguese tiles

ceramic tile

Portugal has been one of those few European countries to which for some reason both my husband and myself never had been to. We had often been very close by, in Spain, we had seen pictures, heard recounts and read articles though. According to them, every pore and place of this history laden little country sounded fantastic, and a few weeks back we finally decided to go see for ourselves and travel to Portugal.

What a great decision this was! Even though our expectations were high, we did not get disappointed in any way. The cities are charmful and pictuesque, full of art and beauty stories, the villages and landscapes ever changing, rural and genuine. There’s colors and gardens and architectural styles, orchards and green spaces and traditions. The people act calm, friendly and helpful towards strangers, and seem like a happy and serene bunch between themselves.


vineyards in the duoro

And the food, oh the glorious food, is an entire story on its own. Portugese food is down to earth and does, what food first and foremost used to be and (at least there, how refreshing to witness) still is intended to do: It nourishes. Both the body and the soul, and abundantly so. There is little Froufrou in Portugese food, and much honesty. Animals and plants are used in their entiety. So one will get served pig ears instead of just the loin, turnip greens instead of just turnip, or tiny, whole fishes, eyes, fins and all. Continue reading “Portugese Patterns” »

Home, Swiss Home

on the road again, with bag and coffee

By the time you read this, I will be across the big pond. Far away from where my every day happens, on vacation, back in sweet Switzerland. Home, Swiss Home.

I might be sitting outside a chalet, surrounded by bright white, squeaky snow, enjoying a Caffe Fertig (black coffee with a good splash of an herb or fruit brandy, depending on the region). Or taking it easy inside a chalet, reading or watching the snow flakes dancing, or baking or eating something freshly baked. I might be talking to a sweet sheep, or tasting the even sweeter cheese that was made of its milk.

finest pastry shop in Switzerland


Sculpture in the Zurich train station

I might be on a train to Spain for the day (and maybe the next), I might be cooking with friends or for friends or both. I might be biting into the most fabulous bread I bit into since my last stay in Switzerland. I might be doing nothing, or a little bit of desk work, or a lot of looking into the air. Hiking for sure, skiing perhaps, drinking tea with my Mom, knitting, strolling the markets, showing the boys my favorite hiding places. Or book stores, museums, food spots and architecture. I might be surprising some friends in cheese at their production or selling places. Sharing stories, memories, laughter and food. Enjoying a Fondue. Or eating a Crème-Schnitte (the best ever, and probably original, version of a Napoléon). Or Düri Bohne (dried green beans). My aunts Suure Mocke (wine marinated roast), hopefully. Or get spoiled by our Chef friends.

pastry cone and soup, fine dining

Breakfast in Switzerland, traditional

There might be other things, new things (and foods) I will be detecting. There’s always so much to do and try and taste. There is never enough time. Never.

But I will share with you every thing – every bite and place and sip and find – after my return. So I say “ciao” for now. Enjoy the Holidays, the celebrations and all that comes with them, to the fullest! Be merry and happy, and keep your full belly at all times!

I will be doing just the same. Home, Swiss Home.

morning vie over Seeland,

Pictures at a Fridge #2 – Market

Farmer's market in the old town of Biel-Bienne

This picture (taken by the local photographer Jeanne Chevalier, year unknown, but guessing in the 70ies) shows a part of the old core of Biel, where I grew up and went shopping for vegetables, fruits, eggs, honey and cured meats with my mother regularly. The buildings on the right hosted the city’s government with all its many stuffy bureaus, the police station, the theater (which’s emergency exit lead straight into the bedroom of my beloved aunt Margrit and uncle Fredi) and a little office my dad and I visited on fall afternoons to check the mushrooms we had foraged (and my mom still refused to cook, because she didn’t trust just anyone’s judgement). At the lower end of the street was a Café, a chocolate shop and a shoe store. Mom and I loved both the coffee shop and the sweets place, but we avoided the shoe store.

This market still exists, and it has grown massively. Nowadays there is one stall right beside the next one, and a double row – one facing left, the other one right – through the middle. There’s restaurants and several coffee shops now, a gorgeous little Italian specialty store and a fish monger who carries tons of dry and preserved foods from Spain and Portugal. Oh, and my favorite yarn store still is around the corner, plus now also an old friend’s sewing studio. And the best horse butcher in town. And, of course, the Bichsel family, the one farmer my mother bought all veggies and greens from (because them, she did trust).

So many memories. Such great moments. So many delightful strolls. – Thanks for sending me this post card, mama. It is one of my absolute favorites, ever. And it is the only one who made it onto the fridge.