Saturday, March 19, 2011

Catching Up

Here I am back visiting my sister, Nico and Zoee just two weeks after returning home from my last visit. I had the good fortune to be able to return with my Mom who had planned to visit this week.

I realized that I need to post about the few days I had in Paris during my last visit before I forget everything.

Nico's parents, sister and nephew were coming to visit while I was here so I thought it might be good to go exploring for a few days to give them time to visit and make the house a little less crowded. I originally had it in mind to go to Annecy, France, a town I have been told I would enjoy but one that somehow I never make it to when I'm here visiting. Hotels were pretty booked so I scratched that idea. I thought about heading home a few days early as I was missing Steve and home. Steve suggested that since I would have to pay a change fee for my flight I should think about visiting his cousins in Paris for a few days. I was at first a little reluctant; I didn't want to impose especially last minute. I emailed Steve's cousin Marie-Catherine to float the idea by her and her enthusiasm made me excited to go for a visit.

I took Easy Jet to Paris which was maybe $120 or $140 Euros which was considerably less than the cost of the train. The last few years I have been surprised by how expensive the train is and how much less it is to fly intra-Europe.

I arrived on Thursday around noon. Marie-Catherine kindly offered to pick me up from Orly instead of me taking the train. It was wonderful to see her when I got off the plane. We quickly grabbed my bag and made our way through a little traffic on the peripherique and got to her and Jean's new digs in the 10th. Marie-Catherine and Jean have been in their new place for about 5 or 6 months. They had renovation work done before they moved in that included a fab new kitchen and re-working some of the rooms. It is an amazing flat and totally them. I got to meet Mickael's girlfriend, Flora and the three of us, Marie-Catherine, Flora and I went to a neighborhood brasserie for lunch.

After lunch, Marie Catherine headed to the office for a while and I spent about an hour exploring their new neighborhood. When me met up back at the flat I got to say hi to Yoann who seems quite happy being back in Paris proper. I love Yoann. He is a a funny, smart teenager who is not afflicted with the teen syndrome that some kids go through. For dinner Marie-Catherine made a dish of pasta with creme fraiche, comte and sausages and it was the best meal I had that this trip. I love her cooking.

Friday Marie-Catherine, Yoann and I made our way to the 9th in search of A l’Etoile d’Or, the most wonderful confection shop I've ever been to. I learned about it via David Lebovitz's blog "Living the Sweet Life in Paris".

Here's a link to his posting-

The shop is everything he says and more. The proprietress selects what she sees as the "best of" various chocolates, candies and other sweets from around France. I was quite literally a kid in a candy store and it was most excellent.

I purchased several bars, or tablets of chocolate from the Lyonnais chocolate maker, Bernachon. The Bernachon family are not just chocolatiers but chocolate makers who make their chocolates directly from the bean not from someone else's couverture. The bars are wonderful and perhaps I will jot down my thoughts on them another time but what really thrilled me were the "chocolates" and truffles from Bernachon that one chooses by the piece from a precious and elegant glass display case in the center of the store. These chocolates were, well... extraordinary. The confections were perfect (I chose mostly nut pastes, nougats and whole nuts) and the chocolate itself was the "snappiest", most velvety richest chocolate I've had.

You can read more about Bernachon chocolates at their website-

The fairy tale experience at A l’Etoile d’Or was followed up by a quick lunch at a cafe across the street from the Moulin Rouge.

Dinner Friday night was with Steve's uncle, Jacques, and his friend, Fracoise, at a Corsican restaurant in Jacques neighborhood. We were joined by Jean and Marie- Catherine's oldest son Guillaume and his girlfriend Pricillia. I always enjoy getting to see Jacques and Francoise. Francoise and I have a fondness for one another despite our language barrier. She speaks no English and I have a hard time understanding her heavily Breton accented French but none the less we are sympatico. The last few times I've seen Francoise she has asked Steve and I to visit her home in Brittany and I hope that we are someday able to do that.

Saturday I joined Marie-Catherine and Jean for a quick shopping trip to Bercy Village where the olive oil shop that Marie-Catherine is fond of is located.

From there we headed to the Marche D'Aligre where there is a spice shop I wanted to visit in search of fresh vadouvin. Alas, the shop didn't have what I was looking for but I always enjoy a stroll through this market and its environs. We lunched at La Gazzetta, a place we stumbled upon which turned into a happy accident with a lovely three course fixed lunch that was quite good and quite reasonable.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little more wandering around Marie- Catherine's neighborhood.

Saturday night we went for dinner to the home of a good friend of Marie-Catherine's. An enjoyable evening and an enjoyable meal was shared by all.

Sunday Yoann, Jean, Marie- Catherine, Guillame and Priscilla drove to a town in Lorraine to have Sunday dinner with Priscilla's parents. This was quite a meal. We were at the table for four hours and I said "uncle" several times. I was encouraged when after the meal someone suggested a walk around town! The three hour drive back to Paris caught some of us napping to be sure.

Monday I was on my own. I started out walking around the Marias in the neighborhood where the apartment Steve and I like to stay is located. I'm like a homing pigeon. I feel like this neighborhood is my home base in Paris. I enjoy visiting the familiar places and also discovering new things. As much time as I have spent in this area I still find many new things every trip.

I had a falafel lunch at Mi Va Mi which is across the street from the famous L’As du Falafel and is my choice over LDF. I also really like Chez Marriane which is just up the street from LDF.

After lunch I walked the area around Les Halles then over to the Musee de L'Orangerie for the Monday afternoon English guided tour.

After the museum visit I walked back to where I started in the Marais and then took the Metro home to MC's. Why did I walk back instead of taking the Metro from a spot closer to the museum? I was on the hunt for some chocolates that a friend asked me to pick up and there was one particular shop at about halfway there and two others pretty close to where I had started the day plus, it's Paris and who doesn't love walking around Paris? I struck out on all three as it was Monday and they were all closed but it was a wonderful time walking around.

Monday night for dinner we met Sophie and Stephane at a neighborhood place they, Marie- Catherine and Jean like. It was a great meal but more importantly great to see Sophie and Stephane. We had a lively political discussion and it was a great way to cap off my short time in Paris.

Tuesday morning I flew back to Switzerland and had one more night with Jenny, Nico and Zoee and enjoyed a quick visit with Nico's family. We all took a stroll in Montreux along the lake in the afternoon and Jenny made her amazing pot pie for me for dinner that night.

Wednesday morning I was on the train before the sun came up. A kind desk agent in Geneva took care of my seating assignment for the flight back to the states so I had a whole row of three to myself which meant I slept most of the way and had a good flight.

I was happy to have so much time with my sister and Zoee but I will say that three weeks is a long time to be away without one's partner. I was happy to get home to my husband and my own house.

Phew, I'm glad I got that all written down. I was already having a hard time remembering everything.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Past Few Days

This has been a low key trip i.e. not a lot of adventuring or site seeing. Most of my time has been spent hanging out with Jenny and Zoee.

Within the week and a half that I've been here Zoee has sprouted like a little weed. I swear she has gained 2 pounds and grown a little longer in a matter of days. One afternoon while Jenny went for a swim I walked her around the gardens surrounding the pool. It was lovely to stroll her around. She slept most of the walk but every time I looked at her my heart about burst.

Sorry that I am not posting any pictures of Zoee but Jenny isn't keen on that. Zoee and Nico heard word from the county that they will accept Nefertiti as a middle name so, Zoee Nefertiti it will be.

I went to the museum in Martigny Friday to see the current exhibit which is a diverse collection from an anonymous patron of the museum's private collection. Zoee enjoyed strolling through the outdoor sculpture garden which made my heart happy.

Saturday, Jenny, Zoee and I took a drive to the Valais town of Haute Nendaz for her to check out a vacation rental for Nico's annual get together with friends. We shared a fondue de tomates for lunch at a place in the center of Nendaz. The house was beautiful with lots of rooms for everyone, great common areas and a pool with 360 degree views of the mountains. I threatened to come back for the get together.

Sunday we went to Nicole and Cyril's place for dinner. I got to meet Nicole's two sisters who were visiting, one from Glasgow and one from London. They were both joys to meet. Michelle who lives in Glasgow (where Nicole's family is from) is a fast talker. Now, I usually have no trouble understanding any variety of accents but between her Scottish brogue and fast talking I was left feeling like she was speaking Greek much of the time. It really made me laugh. Nicole and Cryil are expecting and Nicole is darling with her little baby belly.

Yesterday (Monday) I visited the Chateau de Chillon along the shore of Lac Leman.

After the chateau I drove up from Jenny and Nico's to Glion and Caux. These two places caught my attention-

Pretty interesting, no?

Today I am going to take the Golden Pass train for a scenic ride up to the mountains.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Switzerland February 2011

It is hard for me to believe that my niece Zoee was four months old before I got to meet her. When she was born I resisted the urge to get on a plane for Switzerland to see her but Steve and I had just returned from Italy and I had seen my sister prior to meeting Steve in Italy. It just didn't make sense to fly back right away. Then it was prepping for Thanksgiving pie season and I thought that Jenny, Nico and baby Zoee would be in Cleveland for Christmas so it made sense to wait for them to come. Well, getting Zoee's passport proved not an easy thing (she still doesn't have it) so the Christmas trip was cancelled. All that along with the other life stuff and it was the end of January and I still hadn't held my niece.

I arrived Thursday and Zoee is the most precious thing ever. Of course I've felt that was about each of my nieces and nephews but extra special is the time you first meet them.

Zoee is a tiny little thing. She weighed just 6 lbs 7 ounces when she was born and she is probably only 10 or 11 pounds now. Her little fingers and toes and button mouth all melt my heart.

She is a pretty quiet baby, not a lot of laughing and cooing but when she does laugh, oh is it something.

She has just started teething and spends almost all of the time I hold her with my finger in her mouth rubbing her gums against it. It is a riot to see her take my hand and try to guide it to her mouth. In just the few days I've been here she is already putting her own fingers in her mouth more.

Zoee likes to be held and is not much for laying in her baby seat or on the floor on her blanket.

She loves her Mommy and Daddy. If she starts fussing when I'm holding her she immediately is consoled when she goes to Jenny.

I love holding her in my lap while Nico sits next to us playing guitar. Zoee can't take her eyes off her Daddy when he is making music for her and Jenny sings to her all the time.

Jenny and Nico were going to use Black (my sister's and my maiden name) as her middle name but when they registered her name the county contacted them to say that Black was not an acceptable name. It is strange that though Zoee is not a Swiss citizen Jenny and Nico are subject to the Swiss' rules regarding names. Nico took to calling Zoee "Ti Ti" and both he and Jenny like the name Nefertiti, the beautiful woman has come, so they have a request in to make that her middle name and are waiting to see if Nefertiti will be allowed.

I got in Thursday and took the train from Geneva. It's funny to me that I used to stress a little bit about taking the train instead of Jenny coming to the airport but now it is second nature and I don't mind it at all in fact I enjoy the train trip.

I didn't sleep well on the plane and so wanted to take a nap but I resisted. Jenny had a baby massage class in Vevey Thursday afternoon so I went with her and walked around town while she had her class then we did a little grocery shopping and ran a few errands and came home.

For dinner Thursday Jenny made pizza. She used a pre-made crust and made her own sauce with lots of onions and a little oregano, the way we had it growing up. The pizza was delicious!

Friday I spent the day leisurely cleaning the kitchen cupboards and drawers and hanging out with Jenny and Zoee. Nico worked from home that day so we got to have some time with him too. He played a lot of guitar for Zoee.

Jenny and Nico were expecting college friends of Nico's and their three month old baby for the weekend so Friday evening I cleaned the downstairs bathroom and Saturday Jenny spent the morning cleaning while I went to the Vevey market, grocery store and farm for provisions for the weekend. We had seen vongole at the grocery on Thursday and Jenny decided she would make pasta vongole for dinner Saturday night. Shortly after I got home from the market Nico's friends arrived from Lyon. While Jenny and Nico visited with them I chopped the onion, garlic and parsley for the pasta and toasted walnuts and cleaned a pomegranate for the salad. We all had a great meal and a nice evening visiting. After dinner the guys went to Vevey for a friend's birthday party.

Sunday I baked a blueberry pie while Jenny got a pot of soup going for couscous. Nico, Jenny, Zoe and their guests, Clarise, Ben and Leelou, went to Montreux to walk at the lake and I stayed behind and made radish and harissa salad and cooked peppers to have with the couscous. Steve's family calls the cooked peppers and garlic "cooked salad" or "marmula". I am unable to find an internet reference for "marmula" so perhaps I am spelling it incorrectly.

Once everyone returned from the lake we had a wonderful couscous lunch. Jenny has become a great cook. While her couscous was different from what I'm used to from Steve's Mom and aunt it was delicious. Steve's family uses a couscous blend that has cayenne, paprika, coriander and cumin while Jenny used cinnamon, cumin corriander and a little caraway. Steve's family's version is more savory while Jenny's was slightly sweet like what I've had in couscous places in Paris. I prefer the more savory but will say that of all the slightly sweet versions I've had my sister's was far and away the best.

The blueberry pie for dessert was a big hit. Nico always makes a big deal of it when I make pie which of course makes me feel like a hundred dollars. Clarise and Ben enjoyed the blueberry pie as well as I was glad that I had made a little tart with the left-over crust for them to take home. As we were finishing the pie Jenny and Nico got a call from another friend who happened to be in town from Australia and he stopped by for pie. Zoee got her first taste of blueberry pie and she was loving it. I dipped my finger in the juice from the pie and let her suck that from my finger and she kept wanting more. It was very cute and had us all laughing.

Clarise, Ben and Leelou left around five and Jenny, Nico, Zoee and I spent the rest of the day hanging around.

I talked to Steve about maybe flying home early because Nico's parents, sister and her son are coming at the end of the month and it would really be tight for all of us to be here. I had thought about going to spend a few days in Annecy but for I didn't feel like exploring a new city without Steve. It's not that I'm not adventurous just that I am thinking this is a long time to be away with out Steve and I am missing him. Steve thought I should go to Paris to see his cousins and spend time enjoying my favorite city. I was hesitant about the idea because I really just wanted to go home early but I sent a message to his cousin to see what she thought of the idea and her excitement about it made me excited so I spent the rest of the evening looking at train and plane options and this morning I booked a flight to Paris. I will go for a few days and will return to my sister's the day before my flight back to the states.

Today Jenny, Zoe and I puttered around in the morning and then we went for a walk to Brent. When we got back Nico was home from work and he, Jenny and the baby went to the pool for a swim. They are back and I am waiting for Jenny to put Zoee to bed then I will make pasta vongole round two with the clams we had left from Saturday.

We haven't planned out the rest of the week but ruled out the trip to Dijon we were thinking of. It doesn't make sense to go to Dijon for a few days when I am going to Paris. I know for sure that I will spend an afternoon at the museum in Martigny ( The current exhibit is of over a hundred works from a private collection. The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, has long been a supporter of this museum and from what I've been told by my sister this collection is momentous. I am greatly looking forward to seeing it and have in my mind that it will be as monumental to me as the L'ecole de Paris exhibit was in Paris ten years ago.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 2 and # Orlando

This has been a very low key trip which is great because as much as Steve works it's nice to have time just to hang out and be with each other. Steve works from home so you might think we are with each other all the time but that's not how it works. Even on the evenings when we have time to go out he is often answering business calls and emails. It is hard for us to get a break of uninterrupted time.

Yesterday we spent the morning listening to the sales pitch for the Hilton property property where we are staying. The reason we took this trip was we had a great offer from Hilton to come stay at this new vacation club property for next to nothing in return for listen to the sales schpeel and considering buying into the property. Not a bad exchange for a few days in the sun.

We headed back to Anh Hong for lunch yesterday. We shared a green papaya and Vietnamese beef jerky salad and a bowl of pho. Anh Hong is more along the lines of Vietnamese home cooking as opposed to restaurantized food. They don't use MSG in their pho which meant I was able to enjoy a bowl of it without a reaction. If you don't react to MSG it's hard to explain just how frustrating it is to have MSG reactions. I stopped eating pho a few months ago after having a reaction to Superior Pho's broth. I just learned that Bac does not use MSG in their broth and I am looking forward to trying it when we get home. Anyway, one of the highlights of our lunch was the house-made chili sauce. This chili sauce is phenomenal, like maybe my favorite ever. The heat level was fairly tame but the flavor and balance of the sauce were spot on. I liked it so much that I ran next store to the Vietnamese market and bought an inexpensive sauce in a glass jar and the folks at Anh Hong emptied the jar, washed it out and filled it with the chili sauce for me to take home.

After lunch we bummed around a little. We hit the Brazilian bakery we like for cheese puff balls and this wonderful, not too sweet chocolate cake to keep for breakfast this morning. When we got back to the hotel I spent an hour on the treadmill and Steve spent time in the hot tub.

Dinner last night was at the Ravenous Pig. Our friend told us about the RP two years ago and we loved it so much we had dinner there two nights in a row and both still talk about how much we enjoyed it. To tell the truth, yesterday we were so into being lazy we considered not going to the RP. Fortunately, that thought only lasted a few minutes. We had a most wonderful meal of oysters (Onset) served with tiny cubes of a porter gelee and an au point mignonette and stone crab with a perfect mustard, lemon mayonnaise or as the menu said "appropriate sauces". We shared a salad of frisse and other young greens tossed with house smoked lardons, a caesar dressing and topped with a poached egg, a common enough salad but done perfectly at RP. We also shared a house-made pretzel with a Taleggio & Porter fondue and for dinner shared a pasture raised veal chop which was accompanied by a side of slivered trumpet mushrooms with slightly larger than brunoise bits of potato and what was almost like a beurre blanc. As wonderful as the veal chop was the trumpet mushroom accompaniment was the star of the show for me. For dessert we had an incredible butterscotch creme brulee and a glass of Tokai which our server recommended that was not on the current list of offerings. We were surprised and tickled our sever remembered us from our previous visits even though they were two years ago. He took great care of us and it is always nice to see such longevity in the restaurant biz.

This morning we lolled around in bed until noon. That is not something we do at home and it was nice. We had our snacks from the Brazilian bakery for breakfast and I enjoyed my tea with no rush to be anywhere or get anything done. After noon we came down to the pool and here we are, enjoying the sun and the few more degrees of warmth over yesterday.

Tonight we are headed to the Vineyard Grill for dinner. The Vineyard Grill is a steakhouse at the Ritz Carlton. I had dinner there on my own a handful of years ago when Steve was dining with conference folks and we were staying at the JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton property. The following year my uncle happened to be in Orlando for a golf outing the same time we were here and we enjoyed a meal at the Vineyard Grill with him and Steve and I dined there together another year. It is rare for me to enjoy a steakhouse and since Craftsteak closed there isn't a steakhouse I know of that I would go out of my way for other than the Vineyard Grill. Unfortunately, the beef is commercial corn finished beef but Steve likes that from time to time. They also have wonderful raw bar, fish and seafood options and the salads and sides are outstanding. That's why I like this place as much as I do, for the sides. I prefer to throw my own steak on the grill and while I may make a great salad to go with it I don't spend time making things like smoked cream corn or creamed spinach to go with the steak.

Our dinner at Grapevine was wonderful. It was a great date night.

Our last morning was spent lolling around then we packed our bags and hung out at the pool until it was time to leave.

All in all a wonderful time away with my husband.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm trying to live up to my promise to myself to make at least the most basic record of my travels. I'm way behind. I have Italy from last fall to write about and a recent NY trip let alone Mexico from last winter.

I started this blog as a way to help me remember experiences from my travels and I feel like it is especially important now because my memory is not what it used to be. Just today Steve and I were discussing a place and I was 100% positive this place was in Miami while Steve thought there was a chance it was in Orlando. On top of that as we were driving around this evening in Orlando there were things Steve mentioned that I had trouble remembering.

So, even if the entries are brief I'm going to try to be better about making them.

This morning at 9 AM we left an icy cold Cleveland and arrived in sunny Orlando two hours later. Warm Orlando? Not really. It was about 65 degrees this afternoon so not very warm but Steve and I were both happy to see the sun!

From the airport we headed to the Vietnamese part of town for lunch at Lac Viet. This is a place I read about on Chowhound but had not before been to. I was concerned when we drove up and saw a big sign on the sign of the building that read "Voted Best Vietnamese in Orlando" or something to that effect. We thought it was OK but not special. In fact, I would say that of all but one of the dishes we had we prefer the preparations of the same dishes at other Vietnamese restaurants in Detroit. We had one new dish that we have seen but hadn't had before and that was Banh Xeo which is a crispy rice crepe folded like an omelette and filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork. I was glad to have tried it but have a feeling it may be better prepared elsewhere.

Before we left Lac Viet we asked our server if there were any places around that served fresh pressed can juice. He directed us to Ahn Hong. On the way there Steve said he thought this was the place I was so thrilled about on a past trip because of their wonderful cane juice with kumquat zest. I was 100% certain that the plce he was talking about was in Miami. Well, when we got to Anh Hong I realized that he was right. My concern about my faltering memory was soothed by a big icy glass of fresh pressed cane juice with kumquat. I love this stuff and even have fleeting moments of thinking about opening a sugar cane bar in Cleveland or anywhere for that matter!

After that we headed to our hotel to check in. We dropped our bags of in the room and headed down to the pool. I was not in to going to the pool in 65 degree weather but Steve really, really wanted to so I joined him. It was chilly! After a little time in the hot tub we returned to our room for a nap.

Dinner this evening was at the Nile Ethiopian restaurant. We've been to this place once before on a previous visit and while neither of us thought it was the best Ethiopian we've ever had we both enjoyed it. Tonight the thought of lentils and veggies instead of a big meal was appealing so the Nile it was.

We had a nice first day here in Orlando.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Past Few Days

This has been a pretty laid back trip which is good with me. Jenny is already on maternity leave so we've been able to do what we do so well, just hang out.

Wednesday I went for my long walk. I have several walk/hike paths that I like to do when I'm here: one is hiking the gorge, one is about a three mile walk and the long walk is about 4 miles. Jenny lives in the mountains so each of the walks/hikes involves some serious climbing but most of all the long walk is killer steep uphill. I wish I knew what the actual inclines are but suffice it to say they make me work, hard. The long walk is so steep uphill that the first quarter of the walk takes me to the top and the remaining three quarters is down hill, maybe one third and two thirds but, something like that. I was a little frustrated with myself for how slow I had to take it going up the hills but as I climbed I began to remember that this path is so steep that I always have to take it pretty slow. Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore I reached the top and started the descent. I love to jog downhill. Laugh if you will but my jogging pace is most people's walking pace and jogging downhill uses muscles that jogging on a flat surface doesn't use. I found my pace right away today and it felt great. I jogged about 1.5 miles which I was very pleased with given that I haven't jogged in 4 months. It also felt great to find my pace so quickly.

Thursday I got going early and went to Manor in the morning then the latterie in Blonay then spent the afternoon cooking.

I had a brisket from the farm which I cut in half.

One half went into the fridge with a steak sauce marinade. The marinade (really more of a steak sauce as there is no acid) recipe came from my friend Dave. He used it a few weeks ago on a hangar or flank steak which he then grilled. It was amazing. So anyway, I emailed him for the recipe but I had almost none of the ingredients so I did a lot of improvising. I used about a half cup of ketchup, a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce, sliced ginger (in place of horseradish) a few splashes of soy sauce, a tablespoon of course mustard (in place of Dijon style) a tablespoon of honey, paprika (in place of ancho chili powder), salt and pepper. I am going to try grilling the brisket mid-rare over charcoal tomorrow. I have read mixed things about how brisket eats at a rare temp and I am curious to see how it works out.

The other half of the brisket got rubbed with paprika, salt and pepper then went into a pottery roasting pan with an chopped mix of fresh mushrooms (a mix from the store with a bit of everything: chanterelle, shitake, morel and cremini), a can of chopped tomatoes, about 2/3's the can worth of water, three cloves of garlic and a sliced small hot red pepper. This all got covered with foil and went into a 300 degree oven for about four hours then out of the oven to cool and into the fridge over night.

Once the brisket was taken care of I made two batches of crust and quiche filling. One batch of crust is for a double crust apple pie that I will make this weekend and the other batch will make two quiche, one for while I'm here and one that went into the freezer along with filling so Jenny can have an easy meal when the baby arrives. For the quiche filling I used the same mushroom mix as I did for the brisket but for the quiche I quickly sauteed them on a high heat, set them aside then slowly caramelized an onion. The mushrooms, onions and some cubed fresh vacherin were added to eggs along with a bit of milk, salt and pepper. I've never cooked fresh vacherin so we'll see how that works. I've actually never had fresh vacherin until this trip. Though vacherines are some of my favorite cheeses I didn't know they were eaten in their fresh state. The texture is somewhat like tofu and the taste is very mild, almost like cream cheese but without the slight tartness.

Once I cleaned up the kitchen Jenny and I headed to Vevey to meet a group of her friends for a pizza dinner. There were about 12 or 14 of us (all ex-pats from various countries) and we had a great evening.

Today Jenny had a morning appointment with her midwife and while she was there I had a quick visit to the brocante that I like. After I picked her up from the midwife's we made a stop to get some art supplies for Nico then went to the Hermitage museum in Lausanne to see an Edward Hopper exhibit. I thought it would be neat to see his work in a European exibition and it was though I wasn't thrilled with the way the show was hung. The Hermitage has gallery rooms on four floors. Some of the notable pieces that I think strongly exemplify Hopper's esthetic of portaying that something about America in the 30's and 40's in that sparse, pared down way, were hung in the basement while the first floor had a room and a half of his works from Paris which are somewhat impressionistic and not strong (IMO) relative to all his other works. I thought it was interesting that these paintings hung on the main floor.

After the museum we headed back to Vevey and had massages: Jenny a back massage (while laying on her side) and me a foot and leg massage. I love foot massages and wish we had a place in Cleveland that understood the reflexology and foot massage. The foot massage was wonderful and one of the most relaxing massages I've had. I really went to another place and floated around in peacfulness for about an hour. Jenny treated me as a thank you for the party I had for her when she was home in the spring. That was a nice treat and a nice thank you! I am still hoping to get to Geneva before I leave for a repeat of the foot massage I had last year. It was different from today's massage in that it was more intense work on the foot muscles and pressure points. After being on my feet all summer for often 12-14 hours a day I have wayyyyyy been looking forward to having this particular foot massage again.

We came home and had the roasted brisket for dinner. I was pleased with how it turned out and Jenny and Nico were too. I love cooking for them as they are always very appreciative of my cooking.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching videos on the computer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day One and Two

I landed in Geneva around 9 AM Sunday and took the train to Montreux. Jenny met me at the station in Montreux and I cried and cried when I saw her pregnant belly. It's hard to describe how it feels to see my sister pregnant. I never really imagined either of us having kids and now that she is on the way to that it's kind of strange to see her pregnant. I am so excited for her and she looks incredibly beautiful.

She was adorable getting in and out of the car.

I got to feel the baby move. I thought I wouldn't be able to stop touching her belly but really what it is is that I can't stop staring at her.

Yesterday we hung out around the house for a while. I fought taking a nap. I didn't sleep on the plane as I usually do so I was way having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

We ran out and got a nightie for her for when she delivers and then went to a little Thai place for dinner. When we got home we watched an episode of Weeds on my computer and I went to bed before we could start the next one.

Today I got up at 9 and went to the market in Vevey to get lake perch for a fish fry. They had no lake perch and there were far fewer vendors there today than there are on Saturday so I headed home without any goodies.

I cleaned out the fridge and defrosted the freezer as I usually do when I come visit. After that I went to the farms to get meat for the week and veggies and milk. I adore the milk we get from one of the farms here. The milk comes from Simmental cows, a variety commonly used for dairy in Switzerland. I would say the milk is similar in taste to the Holstein milk but while I don't love Holstein milk I love Simmental milk. The raw Simmental milk from this farm seems a bit sweeter than the raw Holstein milk I've had from a few different farms around the Cleveland area. That difference may in large part be from what they cows are fed (these are all pasture) but I think it is also just a difference between the cows.

For dinner I made simple pork chops that I browned in a pan then finished in the oven and sauteed red cabbage with onions and sauteed pumpkin.

Jenny and I watched two more episodes of Weeds after dinner and are now eagerly awaiting the next available downloads for the upcoming episodes.