Dawa – a simple tropical cocktail

While on vacation in Kenya with my sister, we stumbled upon (and later, because of) a fantastic cocktail. Simple to construct, lots of flavour and extremely refreshing. It’s called a Dawa, which is the Swahili word for “medicine.” I assure you, the name speaks to the effect rather than the taste.

A simple tropical cocktail
Washed-up, shore-worn sea turtle skull for scale.

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Roughing it in Switzerland

or Five Days of Fine Dining

My former boss and friend Mark now lives in Switzerland where he and his family have a chalet in Jaun, the only German-speaking municipality in district of French-speaking Gruyère in the Prealps, or Alpine foothills. Mark generously offered the use of the chalet over Christmas.

Tiffany, Sebastian and I took up the offer and planned to go for 4-5 days over Christmas. When Peter and Graham, friends from Canada, planned a vacation to Berlin over Christmas and New Year it was decided that they would join us.

Alpine foothills
The Prealps, which is not a made up word.

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Road trip! On the Autobahn! To Amsterdam! Where is was actually sunny and warm, unlike Berlin!

In brief: if the Germans know pork, then the Dutch know dairy.

The Dutch are serious about dairy.
That is sliced cold butter on the bread.

The grocery store even had a walk-in milk cooler. All the milk I’ve had in Europe (even the discount milk in tetra paks) has been better than the tasteless slime you get in North America, but the milk in the Netherlands was no less than delicious.

The apartment we rented had a gorgeous terrace that was perfect for enjoying the bright sunny mornings. We ate leisurely breakfasts out there all three days. I zoned in on cheese and butter and crackers and toast. I dabbed on some jam every few bites. Lovely.
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I travelled to Zürich for the weekend. A friend moved there from Canada for an internship, and I met her at the airport to help her as she settled in. The idea was that my crappy German would serve better than her total lack of German. Plus, having been a brand new immigrant myself only two years ago, I’d relate to some of the challenges faced in those first few days.

A friendly volunteer from the internship program named Eivind met us at the airport and led us to Sara’s new place. I offered dinner on me, so we dropped off her bags and headed out for — what else — beer and fondue. Continue reading “Zürich”

Comme un bouchon

Bistrot Lyonnais

On Monday, in Geneva for business, I ventured from my hotel a little before 8pm to look for dinner. After perusing the menu of a few places in the neighbourhood, I settled on the little “bistrot lyonnais”. The menu looked a little meat heavy but made my mouth water.

The proprietor and wait staff greeted me warmly and seated me in the cozy restaurant near the bar with a good view of the black board with the daily specials.  The last item on the board was “Spécialités orales de Cédric et Mélanie”. Continue reading “Comme un bouchon”


Kristin and I went to Rome for a few days before Christmas a year ago. One of the never-ending joys of living in central Europe is such kinds of trips, partly for the joy of seeing these places but moreover for being able to casually say, “I went for Rome for a couple days.” Last year I also weekended in Amsterdam and London, and spent afternoons in Dresden and Słubice, Poland. I have a ticket to Zurich for a weekend later this month.

Neither of us had been to Rome, and while I had no specific desire to visit, Rome offers several landmarks and the allure of Real Italian Food.

Kristin at the Vatican
Kristin at the Vatican

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