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.

Continue reading “Roughing it in Switzerland”


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.
Continue reading “Amsterdam”


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”


Since I had a lot of veggies piling up in the fridge, I figured palak/saag paneer and “Gemüse Spezial” (my favorite vegetable and paneer dish at the Pakistani Imbiss I used to go to in Berlin) would be a good way to use them up. But before I could make them, I needed to make the paneer first.

I finally figured out digital macro

If you’ve never made paneer before, don’t be intimidated. It’s really easy, and as far as I can tell, it’s impossible to screw up. Continue reading “Paneer”