Archive for December, 2009

My turn to host!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

So this post is kind of late in coming, but that should not diminish it’s importance!  For two weekends in a row I was given the great pleasure of hosting not only Claire (yes, twice in one fortnight :) but also my parents!

The weekend of Dec 5th and 6th was Claire and Seth time.  We pretty much just hung out together and did romantic things such as go to the pool, and drink beer with friends.  Daniel, who has featured on this blog before, has become a regular drinking buddy and generally comes out with us to find a watering hole.  At our new favorite place – a bar with a 4 page beer menu – Daniel acts as translator of the various drink descriptions.  This is a great thing, but we have learned that having a translation is not really a guarantee of ordering success…

The week after Claire left my parents arrived.  I managed to find a really nice B&B in the old town of Winterthur called Bagels, just above a coffee house of the same name.  The people there were really friendly and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for accommodation in Winterthur (link – opens new window).  Funny thing though is that they don’t really eat bagels in Switzerland and we heard more than once someone asking what a “bag-el” is…  In German, the English pronunciation would be obtained from Bägel, which we thought might be a good change of name for the coffee shop.

The first few days of their visit were Seth and mom time.  My dad had work in Düsseldorf and flew there Tuesday, returning Thursday.  I worked most of the time, but got to spend evenings with my mom, practicing German (generally embarrassing both of us), watching German TV, eating and drinking.  We spent some time in the Christmas markets, but those are for the most part seen one, seen ’em all.

Not much changed in that routine when my dad returned.  We went out, ate food, and walked around the old town of Winterthur.  On the Friday I took my parents into my work and showed them around.  They got to see the production facility and also meet my colleagues.  Unbeknownst to us, the Research Dept Christmas party was the night before and my normally social work group was acting elusive…I later found out that they were pretty much all hung over!

Claire arrived on Friday night and on Saturday we spent the day in Zürich.  I really like Zürich and with the help of my parents I found another reason why: Kunsthaus (link): the city art gallery.  As a lover of modern art I felt like a kid in a candy store.  We went in, had a bit to eat and then scattered to cover as much ground as possible.  Claire and I stuck together, but we didn’t see my parents again for about 2 hours while we walked around gaping at the collection.  Magritte, Picasso, Kandinsky, Rothko, awesome.

Alas, all good things come to an end and on Saturday night I had to say goodbye to my parents.  They flew out on Sunday morning, but I look forward to seeing them when they return for their 10 day bike trip in June (it’s blogged, now it’s official!).  The next day Claire went home and I returned to my normal routine, but somehow better…

dsc_0200.JPG Claire, Bob and Seth in Zürich

dsc_0232.JPG Politzei keeping those Amnesty international hooligans in order in Zürich

dsc_0265.JPG German Santa and his totally sinister buddy. In Switzerland he has two sidekicks, both whom carry clubs to f*ck up bad kids! (I’m not kidding)

dsc_0174.JPG Winterthur house of stars.

dsc_0295.JPG Claire and Seth after a visit from Mr. Blobby (Gilchrist family version of Santa)!

sethandclaireresized.png Claire and Seth in Zürich.

Sadly, as the official family photographer, there are no photos of my mom in Switzerland, so I’m putting in the following Photo-shopped (actually GIMPed link) image to give you the idea.  Claire and I were really happy to haver her around.

seth-mom-and-claire.JPG Seth, Sally and Claire in the Swiss equivalent of FAO Schwartz.

The 6 Hour Feast…

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Well it feels like Christmas has arrived in Grenoble all of a sudden, with an amazing (pre)Christmas dinner and a lot of snow!

I have decided to move apartments over Christmas, because although the family I am currently living with is really nice, I miss living with people the same age as me. I was lucky enough to have some of the French people I know here offer up a room in their lovely, huge, 6-bedroom apartment in the center of town, and of course I said yes. It is really neat, because it is the same apartment that my friend Kristin lived in when she was here a couple of years ago, with even a few of the same people. I really appreciate her introducing me to them, because they are really nice and, as I found out last night, excellent cooks!

They invited me over for a Christmas dinner to celebrate the beginning of the holidays, and that day it began to snow. By the time I was walking over to their apartment, there were several inches! It was really lovely to sit inside the living room, listening to them play some Christmas carols on the guitar, and watch big flakes of snow drift down past the window.

The evening was certainly one to remember. We started eating at 9pm, and we finished the last dessert (yes, that means there was more than one) at 2:54am. When I arrived the kitchen was bustling just like you see in a restaurant during the peak hours, with people running around and things sizzling. I retired to the living room to listen to the music and keep out of the way, and soon everything was ready. We all sat around the dinner table, and then proceeded to eat, talk, and sing our way through the next 8 courses, and 6 hours. We did take a short ‘snowball fight’ break, but it literally did go on for that long.

The Menu…truly magnificent!
Un purèe aux carottes, avec coriandre et crème fraiche
Un pot de crème, melangè avec les tomates seches et du jambon cru A little pot with cream, sundried tomatoes, and proscuitto
(Served with a sparkling white wine)

More Entrèes
Les huitres, cru, du pain avec du beurre salé huitres are oysters. cru is raw. I was not a fan…
(served with Gevertzraminner – not sure how to spell that…)

Plat Principal
Les St. Jacques, avec les poireax à crème et du pain Scallops fried with onions and herbs, and leeks cooked with cream. And bread.
(served with un bordeaux)

Plat Principal #2 (this one took me by surprise because I thought we were done…)
Un ragoût du sanglier, avec du chou et les pommes cuit Wild boar and potato stew, with stewed cabbage
(served with some other kind of red wine…I kind of lost track by this point)

Du pain et fromage, fait à la main Bread and homemade cheeses

Sorbet aux citrons verts avec vodka Homemade lime sorbet with a shot of vodka poured over it

La bûche de Noel The traditional French Christmas cake, shaped like a log, covered in chocolate cream. Delicious.

I think the funniest part of the evening was when we tried to go retrieve the Christmas cake, which had been chilling on the balcony, and realized that it was completely buried under the snow.

Seth will be coming to join me here on Thursday, and we will be hanging out in Grenoble for Christmas, hoping to do some skiing, sleeping in, and hopefully, more good eating!