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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May - An Interesting Month

I cannot believe that today is already May 24! This has been for me a pivotal month, a month of reflection and introspection, and one of those times in life when one must stop, take a deep breath, and try to understand where to go next.

Exactly a month ago, it was Easter Sunday and I was at my parents' place for a few days. Then, I had a crazy, crazy week full of irrational events, and a weekend with my friend here in Zurich.The following week, I decided to take a step back and reassess my life, as I was going through some rough times. Mostly, I am really hard on myself and sometimes I lose confidence, going through periods of highs and lows. Often, I try to overcome these feelings by being strong and carrying on, but at times I just feel low. I have learned to enjoy the highs and cope with the inevitable lows of life as best as I can - I am not always successful, but, at least, I try my best to stay positive.

I have discussed and found inspiration from some dear people in my life, while others, albeit concerned for my well-being, don't really understand who I am, how I think, and what I do. In particular, I have been really motivated by a book I am reading, which encourages the reader to let go of some things, and start doing other things not because they are expected, but because one wants to do them.

Expectations are an aspect I particularly struggle with: on one hand, I place high expectations on myself, and on the other hand, I recognize that other people also place their high expectations on me. I am expected to be smart, rational, do well, settle down, et cetera. However, do I stop and wonder what is it that I really want? I have responsibilites, I generally make rational decisions, and keep my focus. At the same time, perhaps I am not interested in being rational, settling down, and all that. And this is also ok.

Last year, I started listening more to what my heart says, and, although it's been hard and I have questioned my choices many times inside me, I have not looked back and I have not regretted it. I plan to continue doing so - always with a rational backup plan in my drawer, of course. After all, they say:

"Expect the worst, hope for the best".

Earlier this month I turned 30, which makes me really happy and at the same time it makes me think about the place in life I am at the moment, and where I want to go. I have been having some general health and anxiety/ stress-related issues, I have been traveling quite a bit, and I have started letting go of things, situations, and people that, while important, are taking time and energy from me and the pursuits I want to focus on. At the same time, I have tried to strengthen and develop old and new relationships. I love, I hate, I am emotional, and I like every minute of it.

Now I will finish this week, then spend a few fun days with my friend in Lisbon. And then, on to new and exciting adventures: a greater focus on my blog and cookbook, developing my newly-official relationship, thinking carefully about my next steps, fighting my fights against the world. Business as usual, but with a pleasant twist.

Life is a good thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Food Finds

Being a big time foodie, I am constantly on the lookout for new food experiences: restaurants, cafes, grocery stores to find ingredients for my recipes, and mostly to discover new flavors that inspire me in my recipe-creation endeavours. I find Zurich a particularly generous city in terms of exposure and access to diverse culinary adventures. Some people have complained about prices (too high), variety (or lack thereof), and quality (volatile), but my experience so far has been extremely positive and I will try to address the objections strictly from my own personal experience.

On the money side, I should mention that food, together with traveling, is one area where I allow myself to "splurge": my budgeting, financially conservative, living-way-under-my-means and bargain-savvy happy self will not blink a second time at spending a ridiculous sum of money for a fine dining experience (which I will have saved the cash in advance for - sorry, I am that way and I can't help it!). Therefore, while I agree that eating out in Zurich can be expensive, my saving nature, and the fact that I perceive eating out as a treat (to myself and to my loved ones) rather than a habit make me more inclined to spend the money on that.

On the variety side, there are very few foods I don't like or eat*, and so far I have not been disappointed by the availability of choices in Zurich. Also, if I crave a certain type of food and I either can't find it or I am not particularly impressed with what I found in a restaurant, I will most definitely try and make it from scratch. Chicken fried steak and homemade biscuits, anyone? Of course, if I expected to eat Korean food like in Korea, or Italian food like at home, I would be sorely disappointed, but this is true for all places I have been to/ lived in the world.

On the quality side, well, it is all a stroke of luck in my opinion, wherever one is: the chances of finding good food and the misadventure of eating bad food can happen.

The questions I ask myself all the time are the following: 1) Is there enough variety of food here to keep me entertained/ not bored? 2) Does a particular food satisfy my taste buds and experience demands? 3) Can I find the ingredients to make what I want to eat from scratch?

Zurich's answers to these questions has been "YES" so far, with one important exception. Until now, I have not been particularly impressed by any Japanese restaurant I have been to, neither in taste (nothing truly outstanding) nor in variety of available choices (nothing exceptionally creative). Being my favorite cuisine, I will admit that it is somewhat hard, and I still cannot bring myself to cook it from scratch. So for now I will keep on looking, until I find my happy Japanese spot here in Zurich.

Lastly, I would like to share some interesting food finds that I stumbled upon lately.

Churrascaria Rincao, a Brazilian restaurant located near Sihlpost. I went there with a big group of people for an all-you-can-eat-meat type of evening. We were served all types of meat, some more satisfying to my taste than other, but while the quality was good and I enjoyed most of it, it was nothing to write home about. I have definitely had more interesting all-meat dining experiences in the past (such as the Argentinian Pampas in Palo Alto, California and Papagaio in Tel Aviv, Israel). The company was amazing though, so all in all a good experience.

Abyssinia, an Ethiopian place where we had a buffet with different plates and again a big group of people. I am a lover of Ethiopian cuisine, and I truly thought that this place was amazing - particularly, I loved lamb in a spicy sauce and the beef tartare. And that bread...yum....A definite positive on my "great restaurants" book, I will go back again for sure, and I highly, highly recommend it.

Le Cedre, a Lebanese restaurant I checked out with a friend who was a newbie at this kind of food. I liked the way they cooked the usual things, eggplants, hummus, falafel, their meats were good, their wine was good. I was disappointed by one thing though: I wanted kanafeh, and that's why I went there - because I read they make it. However, they told me they make it only in the morning, and therefore only have it for lunch - they are right that it must be eaten hot, so they cannot keep it until evening, but still...oh well, the excellent company of the friend I went with erased the disappointment for missed kanafeh, at least a bit ;) No, seriously, I had a fine time and I recommend the place.

Currently, there are a couple of stores I am looking forward to visiting, as well as a couple more restaurants, on which I will share my impressions in a later post.
*For the records: I don't particularly like cucumbers and would not consciously choose them, but will eat the occasional ones if they are already there in a dish. I will not eat blood sausage, even if it was the last available food on earth. I love oysters, but for some reason my stomach does not, whether they are raw, grilled, fried, or whatever, and so I won't eat them if I can avoid it. Aside from these, I eat everything, and I will try everything at least once.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Impressions Genevoises

A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful couple of days in Geneva. I must say that, ever since I saw it for the first time, I always love when I go back and visit the city. The reasons are several: I enjoy speaking French and understanding the random conversations taking place all around me; people are cold but friendly, and this reminds me of a more laid back and sleepy version of Paris; finally, when I go there I somehow feel relaxed and on vacation.
This time I met a friend from school in the States, and we caught up with each other’s lives, dreams, directions, and recent happenings. We had a coffee by the lake, then excellent Vietnamese food at Cho Lon (Rue de Zurich, 43). As everyone knows, I love food and I always enjoy trying new recipes and discovering new ways to spoil my senses. However, of all the possible world cuisines, Vietnamese was never on top of my list, albeit I have a deep love for noodles (particularly egg noodles, rice noodles are ok); it’s not that I dislike it, on the contrary: what I want to say is that, whenever I happened to go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I generally liked it, but it’s not the type of food I would look for nor crave. Perhaps the best way to describe my relationship with Vietnamese food is that I am neutral to it.
I was in for a surprise: as I sat in front of an outstanding bowl of pho, I realized that I had really missed Vietnamese food. After years of Vietnamese food overload in California (and thanks to the culinary skills of very capable friends with Vietnamese heritage) I had not had it ever since I moved to Switzerland, and it never occurred to me I’d miss it. Craving Korean food - perhaps. Craving Japanese food - for sure. But Vietnamese food…My taste buds and brain thought differently though, and I highly, highly recommend the place if you ever visit Geneva.
My friend and I walked around and saw all the United Nations buildings, and I even got the “insider tour” – for me, an economist with a focus in international institutions and business who originally picked her college major with the idea of becoming a diplomat, it was like heaven. It was excellent to share personal impressions about our experiences in Switzerland, which are different, but at the same time there is a sort of fil rouge.
Later I said goodbye to my friend, and headed for a walk in the old part of Geneva, which I did not know: a cobweb of quiet cobblestone streets, a two-faced heart of Catholicism and Reformation. Somehow, I couldn’t help but think that Geneva is the perfect place to have a coffee, go to the hairdresser, buy cute jewelry and lingerie, bon bons, and rose-scented products. Funny enough, to this day only two other places in the whole world give me this feeling, which is a mixture of decadent paresse and uninterrupted intellectual stimulation: Paris and New Orleans. It was nice to find the same sensations in Geneva.
I wish I’d had more time to wander around, and also go shopping more seriously in the new part of town, but I had to go back to Gare Cornavin to catch my train back to Zurich. I said au revoir to Geneva, and hopped on the train accompanied by pleasant thoughts of the weekend, as well as the perspective of upcoming fun in Zurich. Little did I know that I was in for a shocking surprise in Zurich too!
Destiny is cruel – sometimes you meet wonderful people and never see them again even though you would die to, and some other times you meet people who pierce your heart ruthlessly, whom you hope, for your own sake, never to meet again and not reopen the wounds, and you bump into them months later, on a random evening, as you exit the Hauptbanhof, cross the street, and turn right on your way to the grocery store. Natürlich…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clubbing in Zurich

Contrary to expectations, I must admit that the Zurich nightlife is amazing. Prior to moving here, I thought I'd find a fairly quiet and laid back city, nothing too exciting, and I was prepared to live with that. What I found, instead, is a vibrant, young, and cosmopolitan city.

Last weekend I had a couple of interesting and fun "excursions" into the Zuercher night, starting from Valmann where I met some random cool people, such as a German-by-birth, Basler-by-choice working for a big pharma company (guess which one), a Polish personal trainer and psychologist, a Slovakian risk manager for an investment bank, an Italian American intellectual property lawyer from Boston, a Dutch wine trader, a chef from Canton Schwyz, and the list continues...

Then my dear friend S.G. came for the weekend, and we had a blast walking around the city, enjoying the very nice and warm weather, eating all kinds of foods, talking about plans for the future. After a nice couple of glasses at D-Vino, we headed for a night of dancing at Amber, and let me tell you...we danced until we couldn't take it anymore, and when we eventually left, we walked into the Zurich night with happy feelings.

Here is a picture of me having a grand time, courtesy of - I am not even going to say how sore I was on Sunday, and then Monday, and then Tuesday (with the added bonus of soreness from the gym!). Today was the first day I was completely OK, but I think it's a fair enough price to pay for such an outstanding time.

Let's leave it at that.

On the other hand, giving the increasingly longer "recovery times" and to quote one of my favorite country music singers, some might say "I ain't as good as I once was"...

In reality, it is all in the brain.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Graubünden Adventures

Last weekend we went to Laax (canton of Graubünden) with a few friends and coworkers for a pleasant ski weekend. I must say that it was my first weekend ever since I got back to Zurich, and while I wouldn't have minded to be home a bit (!), I greatly, greatly enjoyed the time spent with friends as well as the majestic landscape. Not so much being sore after a day of skiing, when I hadn't worn my skis for about three years...

We left Zurich on Friday afternoon, and, already at the Hauptbanhof, I lost my travelling companions! Here's how it happened: it was entirely my fault, because I decided to stop for a cigarette before getting on the train, and we agreed to meet on the train on the way to Chur. Natürlich, we got separated: the train was very full and we didn't see each other, but talked on the phone and agreed we'd meet on the platform or on the bus Chur-Laax. From the time the train arrived to the bus leaving time, there was exactly a 6-minute time span, so we had to run. Of course, not knowing exactly where I was supposed to go, I ran on the opposite direction to where the bus stop was, and ended up missing the bus! No big deal, because I had plenty of time to get to Laax before dinner time, but it was already dark, I had never been there, and somehow I had to explain to my German-only speaking bus driver to please tell me which stop I had to get off at to get to the hotel. I know it doesn't sound like a huge deal, except that, as I said, it was pitch black outside, and the stops were quite far one from the other, in the middle of nowhere. I thought it would suck if I got off at the wrong stop, with no one around, and even if there was any soul around, they probably wouldn't speak any English. Worst case scenario, I thought, I'll find someone who speaks Italian or French, which shouldn't be too hard, or just guess my way through the labyrinth of understanding/speaking Swiss German...Well, to cut a long story short, I was able to somehow successfully communicate with the bus driver in some mixture of undefined language, met a couple of nice Rumantsch-speaking old ladies on the bus (the Rumantsch sounds a bit like the spoken dialect of my neck of the wood in Northern Italy), and made it successfully to the hotel. Moral of the story: cigarettes are bad for you, hehehe...

The first night we had dinner and then went dancing and it was a lot of fun, but I left quite early (1:30am) because I really wanted to ski the next day. On Saturday morning, we wake up and there is a very nasty snow storm coming down, we can barely see anything for the fog, but of course we are not deterred, and armed with skis, ski boots, helmets, and goggles, we head up the mountain for a day of fun. Let me tell you that I hadn't skied in more or less three years  - and the last time I was in Tahoe on a very easy slope, so nothing comparable to the intensity of skiing in these slopes, on top of the very bad snow condition and snow storm - and because I was in Italy in the past few months, I didn't really go to the gym, so I was both out of practice and out of shape. I had fun and it was good to be back in the snow, but I took it easy and at the end of the day I was as tired as I could be.

In the evening, taken by snow trucks, we went up the mountain and went to an outstanding restaurant, Grandis Startgels where, after an aperitif, we had a four-hour dinner. The chef, who spoke Italian and is awesome, delighted us with an avocado mousse with shrimps, cranberry sauce, pumpkin chips, meat roti, salad, green risotto with fish, a selection of cheeses and jams, three types of desserts, coffee, and the unforgettable main course: polenta enriched with cheese and cooked directly on the burning fire, and four types of fire-roasted meats: lamb, chicken, filet, and deer. All accompanied by cascades of excellent red wine. I was in Heaven. I never wanted to leave again. Actually, I want to go back and "hide" there for a few days, hiking, reading, and eating, assuming they let me. Needless to say, I did not go out that night, but straight to bed after dinner...I was done.

The next morning, some people left early, but the day was sunny and beautiful, and perfect conditions for skiing. Except that I was so sore I couldn't even dream of wearing my skis, so instead I had breakfast and then went on a hike around the mountains with my friend. We walked all the way to Flims, where we had a nice hot chocolate and I tried for the first time Capuns. Delicious.

Then, we made it back to Zurich later that afternoon. I must admit I really liked Laax and Flims, and canton Graubünden in general: people are super nice, they speak Italian, and they definitely know how to cook! Added bonus, the landscape is breathtaking.

January Travels

Chile, a brief stop in New York, a visit to London, chilling in Varese, then back to Zurich.


I stepped back, recharged my batteries, and learned some important things in all these trips.

First, my heart has reasons that go against reason, and I accept that.

Second, the challenges ahead will make me stronger as I walk right into them.

Third, all is important, but there is nothing more important than family.

Fourth, I am blessed to have the greatest friends in the world.

Now let this year begin...a big question mark, but I am curious.