Sunday, August 26, 2012


I just came back from two weeks of travel to Italy, where I took care of my grandma, and spent some time with my parents as well. I was thinking that I have not upated this blog in so long, and at the same time I reached some important "marks": my 1-year anniversary with my man, my 2-year anniversary in Zurich, my 5-year anniversary with the firm. I am now ready to open a new chapter in my life, move on and move forward. But more of this later.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Contentment: the quality or state of being contented.
Contented: feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation.
(from the Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Quite a bit of time has passed since the last time I posted. I know, I had made a commitment to post more, but the rest of November and December were swallowed by intense work, health issues, and preparing for my trip to Africa. Luckily, work got done, the health issues were identified and will easily be resolved, and the trip to Africa went wonderfully.

Actually, the trip surpassed all expectations. Not only was I able to recharge my batteries, be away from everything, and enjoy the scene in a beautiful location of the planet, but I had one of the (if not "the") most enriching experiences of my life.  Africa made a dent in my heart that will never go away: it taught me humility, appreciation for life, people, and circumstances, whatever they may be.

Africa reminded me of how strong a person I am, that I can overcome every difficulty with hard work and a positive attitude. It reminded me that I don't have to do anything I don't want to, but I must work hard to employ my skills where it gives me the most satisfaction and makes the highest impact. It taught me that I can live with less, that I don't need stuff, that a simple life is what's best for me.

Africa taught me that when you find that special someone, you don't let him/her go. At the same time, that you must not compromise your mental and personal sanity to stubbornly prove that you can make it work.

Africa taught me that, while I am and will always be a lonely traveler, I will never be truly alone, but will be wrapped by the embrace of the entire world.

Africa taught me to find contentment where I am, while at the same time to use my present status as a basis for progress, and a ramp to launch into the bright future ahead.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Veggie, Meat, and Fantasy

Two great culinary experiences in Zurich recently for me: very different, but equally loved and recommended.

Hiltl (vegetarian) - I often passed by on my way to the gym, but it took me a year to finally go...I had the Casimir, a rice dish with quorn, mango, fruits, and a bit of saffron in the sauce. Everyone in our group loved it: others had the risotto with mushrooms, the papaya salad, and the Indian black curry - all good. I thought the presentation of the food was excellent too.

La Cote (meat, Kreis 3) - As a meat fan, I loved this place. I had their (in)famous Cafe de Paris entrecote, the way I like it - as rare as possible, or "bloody" as the waiter said with a smile. You can also eat charbonnade. We all shared a couple of desserts and they were nothing special, but then again, I was in "meat heaven", so nothing to complain...

A Taste of... - Zurich Lunch Adventures

In the past few months, I have been organizing lunch events with several friends in Zurich. Usually, I pick  a different place every time, reflective of a different cuisine, mostly on Fridays, but occasionally on other days. The reason is that, generally, Fridays are a bit more laid back in the office, for everyone.

Here are some of the places visited (with the links), and some comments/ recommendations.

A Taste of Jamaica
Cozy take away place with a couple of tables, it is awesome: nice owners/workers, cheap, and delicious food. Highly recommended. But plan on taking a nap afterwards, I had to have 2 teas to be able to get back to work and stay awake!

A Taste of Sri Lanka (or India?)
Nimmi Restaurant & Take Away
I liked it. It was a big portion, it was tasty, and it was cheap. The shrimp curry was a bit on the spicy side for me, but totally edible - I am not a big fan of spicy (as in "hot", not "spices"). I was satisfied with the price/quality ratio.

A Taste of Vietnam
I had the pho with beef and really liked it, even on such a hot day. I have been back for dinner and had the pho with fish, even better. Their lotus tea is nothing to write home about, just tastes like regular tea to me (but what do I know?)

A Taste of Vietnam - Part 2
Roasted Duck with Rice costs 17 francs at lunchtime. Definitely recommend the place.

A taste of Asia
Teoh Asian Restaurant
Loved the food, loved the company. I had noodles and chicken with veggies and mushrooms. Definitely going back for more. I also had dinner there with some friends, we had a special pork dish - food is super tasty, but I thought they could do with a bit bigger portions.

A Taste of Italy
This is my favorite Italian restaurant in Zurich, and I keep going back, over and over again. We stumbled upon this place with my colleagues a while back, and it was love at first sight. They have a very good menu special for lunch - 20/22 CHF including salad, main course (usually have 4-5 choices available with the menu deal), coffee, and drink. For Zurich, I think it's a very good deal. Their cuisine is "creative Italian" I would say, combining different tastes of the Italian traditional cuisine in new ways (like the outstanding pasta with eggplant and mint tomato sauce, yum!). The people who work there are awesome too. The fact that I could have eaten the same/similar dishes in my dad's kitchen, with the same friendly atmosphere, just made me feel at home.  I had the pasta with vegetable and black olives tomato sauce, a coke, a salad with bread and an espresso, and the bill came out to CHF 20. Delicious and cheap. Highly recommended.

A Taste of Bavaria
Great, great food and fun group!
No beer for me this time, but the bratwurst, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut I ate lated until the following day!
A Taste of the USA
Helvti Diner
Talk about disappointed hopes...My dreams come true...a diner in Zurich! The place was quite full, but we had a reservation, and squeezing in a bit, we were fine.
Forgivable sin: my dark-chocolate milkshake was a bit liquid (definitely less thick than a "North American style" milkshake), but nonetheless it was very tasty and I liked it.
Unforgivable sin: I like my meat as rare as possible, and I asked for a burger accordingly. I got a very well done burger instead and someone else got my burger probably. Now, ok that we were a big group, but if you are serious and you take the trouble of asking the clients how well done they want their meat cooked, well, keep track and don't scr** it up! It might be an honest mistake, but I am sorry to say that it kind of spoiled my meal a bit. Ok, I am not sorry to say - for that price, don't scr** it up!
My conclusion is: I should have listened to my gut feeling and gone with a Dr Pepper and a pastrami sandwitch instead. If I happen to be there again, I will try this option. However, I definitely won't go out of my way to go back to this restaurant!
P.S. FYI, I had a much tastier burger at the Oliver Twist pub in the Niederdorf, for a fraction of the price.

A Taste of Switzerland
I had a great, great lunch, and the best fondue I've had in a looooong time. Heartily recomment the place. Power nap needed, good thing I had a black tea throughout!

A Taste of Greece
Great company, great food, the place is really cute and looks/feels like eating in a friend's dining room. I had the aubergine saganaki (eggplant and various other veggies with feta cheese and tomato sauce) and really, really enjoyed it. Water, salad, main course, and bread a-plenty for CHF 16.
Next planned event is A taste of the Langstrasse (and currywurst) at Körry. Currywurst is a typical Berlin treat, and I have been to the place already, but it's always worth going back.  
Is it fatty? YES
Is the place a "hole in the wall"? YES
Is it absolutely delicious for all currywurst and pommes lovers? YES, YES, YES!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Well, All Things Considered

...As I typically answer these days when asked how I am doing.

I am doing ok, I would say. Better, perhaps, is a more appropriate word.
I have been in Italy for a week, supposedly chilling out, but really not ever being able to completely disconnect from everything. I had quite a bit of plans for this week of vacation, but I did none of the things I planned to do. Instead, I was completely absorbed by some work, taking care of a loved one, and just dealing with an over-active and over-reactive brain. I have about ten posts in draft format that I need to complete, recipes that have been tested and need to be finalized, ideas in my head that need to be put to paper. I decided that, while I hope to be able to do all this, I will not beat myself up if I don't. After all, I am supposed to be on vacation.

The week was a very good one though, for several reasons. I learned a lot, and had the chance to practice "having a servant heart", which is the cornerstone and foundation of my personal belief system. To be fair, I did relax sometimes with some sunbathing, friends' visits, some good music and movies, chilled conversations and old stories, and I know there will be more to come in the next few days. I need all the energy I can get to deal with the month of September and the following ones, both in my private and professional spheres.

The last year has not been easy, and, while I have felt a lot better in the past two months, I still have that certain feeling of uneasiness from time to time. The huge difference is, now I am not letting it overcome me, but I am actively dealing with it.

Recently, I received the same comment from two different people who don't know each other: they both said that I always seem happy, always smiling, and people find it hard to believe that I ever have hard times. All that shines is not gold, as they say. But one would find it hard to pick it up it from what I write, say, or the smile on my face.

It is not that I am faking happy emotions I don't possess - I really am, deep down, an internally happy person. However, I too have hard times, and, while I disapprove of hiding one's emotions, I am a believer of preserving private feelings, and of not letting your internal struggles interfere with your external accomplishments and actions - if you feel awful, it's nobody else's faults, and, while it is helpful to talk to a friendly and understanding ear, one's "bad mood" should not create problems to other people. That is why I will very rarely discuss private matters with people beyond my "happy few" list, which consists of seven fantastic people, the best of the best, the ones you know who love you unconditionally, no matter what you tell them.

Two other people instead told me that I am hard to label and put into a category, and asked me "But who are you, really?". That is a good question. I often ask myself "What do you want to be?", perhaps I should also start asking "Who are you?" instead.

Well, if you really know me and are really close to me, you already know about the highs and lows, the constant doubting and questioning, the euphoric moments coupled with falling in the "pit of despair". Yet, I still find pleasure in life, in little things that make me happy and carry me through. I questioned everything about my life, made some important changes, remained "suspended" in some other areas, loved myself and hated myself with a passion. The positive thing in all this is that I learned that I, too, can have doubts. I, too, need help sometimes. I too, am not invincible. I too, can suffer, and it is perfectly ok to suffer, it is a fact of life that we cannot always avoid.

Most importantly, I no longer feel "stuck", I am moving on and making progress, although slowly, and guess what? I got my "grinta" back and figured out that I can go wherever I want - "wherever" being more a state of mind than a physical place. I always knew this, but somehow I had forgotten it. I really, really need to get back into martial arts, for my sanity and because I miss it like the air that I breathe.

After this series of random words, there is not much one can say, except perhaps...good night! I have a feeling that, when I read this post again tomorrow morning, not all of it is going to make sense, but well, all things considered, life seldom makes sense.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exactly How It Is

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I heard this today after a long time, and it dawned on me that this is a pretty darn good summary of the whole thing, from beginning to end.

I quite like the end though, "I just called to say I want you to come back home..."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

International Food Finds

Some more recommendations on cool places from all over the world to eat/drink/hang out, right here in Zurich.

Argentinian: Ojo de Agua.
While taking a little walk in the older part od Zurich, I stumbled upon this little store with a cafe and restaurant, and realized that they had yerba mate for I bought a kilo and I am enjoying it now. I do need to buy another bombilla, because mine is broken...I have since discovered that this little place is actually part of a bigger business, including a restaurant in Paradeplatz.

Israeli/Jewish: Kosher City.
I was not particularly impressed I must say, I was hoping they'd have more variety for what they advertised online, and also I was hoping to find more "Sephardi" rather than "Ashkenazi" food. Nonetheless, I was able to find Osnei Haman (which I made last year from scratch and they came out quite good, but this year I didn't have any time). I also bought kosher ingredients to make potato burekas, gvina levana to make ugat gvina, humous with zaatar.

General Asian: New Asia Market.
Located on Feldstrasse, right next to the office, there is a sister store in Basel as well. It seems operated by Vietnamese people, and there are a lot of Thai products, cool snacks (such as sesame sticks), and various spices and ingredients to make Asian food. I have to go there soon to see if I can find what I need to make Kimchi.

Korean: Yumi Hana.
Situated on a side street of Bahnofstrasse, very close to the Hauptbanhof, it was a gift from heaven. It placated my craving for Korean food which I was carrying for months, and I also bought ginseng tea, soba and udon noodles, soy sauce, and extra-firm tofu.

Moroccan: Maison Blunt.
Exceptional ambiance, outstanding company of my girlfriends, the food was ok. I have been spoiled by much better Moroccan food before, but I would definitely go back for the environment again. Also, it is in one of my top favorite parts of Zurich, the vibrant Kreis 5.

Chinese: Suan Long.
Located in the infamous Langstrasse, I went there on a Friday evening after work, with a large group of friends, and after an apero at Dini Mueter - which deserves a mention of its own, because it is an awesome, awesome bar/cafe with a lot of character and a certain attitude. I thoroughly enjoyed the place and the company, and ate a delicious duck. I definitely recommend it, and will go back again. The evening continued with drinks at the Volkshaus, the "House of the People" (another awesome venue for a chill drink, mingling, and eating a simple but tasty meal) and then on to my first experience at exploring Zurich's reggae scene.

In closing, I know I already mentioned it in another post, but Zeughauskeller is so good that I keep going back! After that first time with my brother and his girl, I went back with all sorts of people and in different circumstances: with guests and friends visiting Zurich, with Swiss friends born and raised in the city, and with foreign friends living here. I tried various dishes, and, last but not least, a passion of mine, veal liver with rosti. Sublime.