About one month ago I moved cities within Switzerland. Exciting! Not such a biggie though as a trip to my old “home” is only one hour by train. But, nonetheless, new city (which I love!) = new traditions, or lack thereof. First lack: Herbstmesse. That’s right, there is no Herbstmesse where I now live (SO SAD!!).
For those of you who don’t know Herbstmesse, it’s the Basel autumn fair which last for 2 weeks, spreads across the whole city and is well-known for rides, games and most importantly food. Lots of exciting edible things to indulge in are unique to the Herbstmesse, eg. Beggeschmutz (something like a chocolate covered giant marshmallow), Mässmogge (sugar-candy), Brennti Mandle (caramelised almonds), Biberli (gingerbread like heaven filled with almond paste), Rosekiechli (a thin kind of waffle), Maagebrot (cinnamony/clove/chocolatey bread bites coated in a chocolate/sugar glaze), the list goes on. My personal favorite: Maagebrot. Directly translated it would be called stomach bread…. doesn’t sound too appetising. Honestly, it also doesn’t look appetising. But the combination of the cocoa, cinnamon and cloves in the bread with a thin chocolatey glaze is irresistible.
In an attempt to bring a bit of the autumn fair feeling into my new home I decided to make Maagebrot. To my surprise, it wasn’t even that difficult. As mentioned before, its appearance really isn’t that appetising so sorry for the picture. Try to imagine a christmassy smell, recreate at home and dig in alongside a cup of hot chocolate!
I hope you all spent a fabulous Easter with your family, ate delicious roasted lamb, drank some fruity wine and indulged in things you gave up for Lent. Our Easter felt a bit more like Christmas, waking up to at least 15cm of fresh snow each morning. Great for everyone who can ski – spring skiing is the best. Not so fun for people like moi who are one-armed and banned from all winter sports. I did make good use of my ski pass though and soaked up some sun on the top of mountains. Wonderful.
Need an idea of what to do with some left over chocolate bunnies? How about trying this classic, adapted from an Italian chef – Gennaro Contaldo. It’s one of the last desserts I made for my father and to my (and his) surprise he declared it better than his beloved Stalden chocolate crème (a Nestlé dessert classic for the true Swiss). Now, my friends, trust me when I say that is a compliment. See for yourself.
Happy Saint Nicholas’ Day, a.k.a another one of my favorite days of the year. I hope your stockings were filled with exciting presents and delicious chocolates. Today is one of the few days where people actually queue for something in Switzerland. Queueing for restaurants, bakerys, theatres, etc. isn’t a thing here unlike in London, Manhattan, Sydney, you name it. My most recent queuing failure in London was an attempt to eat at the new Thai place in town – Som Saa. We arrived at 18:30, the wait would have been 2.5 hours… I then inquired at what time one would have to realistically come to grab a table for “normal dinner times”. The answer: 17:00. Seriously?? Who has time for that?!?
Anyways, one thing the Swiss have understood is the uselessness and inefficiency of queuing. Apart from today – my next queuing failure. On Saint Nicholas’ day, Swiss tradition is to eat a Grättimaa – sweet brioche-like bread heaven shaped like a man, the Grättimaa. If you don’t want to make them yourself, thego to bakery to buy these in town is Gilgen. Naively, I went by early afternoon thinking the rest of the world must be working – my was I taken by surprise – there were 2 queues going right out the door past the next shop! And what’s the magic of queues? They attract more and more people, because whatever is at the end must be good. The beauty of it all – some queuers didn’t even know what they were in line for! By the time I finally managed to order, I whipped out my debit card (having just returned from ‘merica where everything is paid for by card) only to hear the words: “Sorry, our card machine is broken today”. MAJOR FAIL. So I queued for nothing…. at least I know how to make them myself and I can decide on the appropriate sugar to bread ratio ;-).