Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Europe Day 2 – Switzerland (Thun)

Breakfast!

The entire day before, I was silently anticipating breakfast the next morning, right from the moment Angela placed that very loaf of bread in the grocery cart and told me that was her favourite. I knew I would love it. Regardless, nothing beats the sweet smell of toasted bread in the morning – a rather frigid morning might I add, because all I’m really used to the moment I wake up is humidity a slight chill (that is if I am alive and kicking before 7am).

Hell-good bread. Industrial toaster.

I wandered into the kitchen naturally, and seeing the Weizenbrot Hell (which I thought was very aptly named because it was hell-good) all wrapped up in plastic and sitting demurely atop the kitchen counter, I knew I’d be making short work of the loaf in no time. So while Angela kindly brewed me some of her mighty espresso, I cut me up some slices and stared in wonderment at the…machine…next to the cutting board.

See, the toaster I have at home is this puny thing that, without fail, burns the two slices of bread that I slot into it every single time that I forget to pop ’em out before the damned appliance vomits out coal even at it’s lowest setting. The toaster that Angela has was, by far, the most single most dominating kitchen appliance, followed up closely by the mechanized ham-slicer you see covered in the background of the picture. A toaster like that practically begs to be used. Even if I’d run out of bread to toast (because it accommodates 4 slices with ease), I’d somehow feel pressured to slot in something.

I didn’t, I didn’t.

Fruits.

What I hadn’t realised as I was gleefully toasting up my bread was that Oscar and Angela had chopped up a mixture of banana, mango, papaya, kiwi, apple and pear in a darling little bowl for me. They have fruits for breakfast. I like fruits for breakfast. Fruits, bread smeared generously with peanut butter and jam, milk and espresso…I was a very happy girl.

On the way to Thun.

Having not completely planned what we wanted to do during our stay with Angela, mommy and I were thankful that Oscar and Angela proposed that we visit the nearby town of Thun (pronounced toon), a picturesque little town with the river Aare flowing through.

Thun.

There are few things more pleasurable on a Saturday morning than walking down the streets of a Swiss town, vibrant, noisy (elegantly so), and oh so packed with goodies of every form and size displayed prettily in little stalls. This was Swiss pasar malam (a street market in Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia). But much less cluttered and congested and the chances of you having to physically wash off chunks of Ramly burger grease from your hair is nonexistent. Unless, of course, you choose to linger around the pop and sizzle of smoked wursts on the grill for the entire day. But why wouldn’t you, really? If I had four stomachs I would have.

Thun Market.

I wasn’t going to wait for Germany, and neither was there a particular reason why I should in the first place. I’d like to think of Switzerland as an amalgamation of French, German, Austrian cuisine, since it’s surrounded by those other countries. So if I see sausages smoking atop a grill, I have little reason – if any at all – to doubt that it’ll taste as authentic as any other that I’ll grab in Germany, albeit with its very own Swiss twist and flavour to it. My apologies to the meticulously wrapped cakes and pastries, because if I had picked them over those glistening sausages, that’d be the wurst mistake that I could have possibly made. So shoot me for pun-ing.

Wurst.

One of the last things that you would want to do would be to call these glorious things Hotdogs. That’s sacrilege, in my very humble opinion, because hotdogs have nothing on these. Yet that is not to say that I’d refuse a hotdog if you handed one to me with ketchup, chili sauce and mustard. You don’t get a sausage in a bun. You get the sausage and the bun. What you want to do with them is completely up to you. But whatever you do, please don’t ask for a fork or a knife. Do it like the Swiss do and conveniently forget – better yet get rid of –  those silly, dainty manners you picked up in etiquette class.

There’s nothing like the skill of grabbing a wurst with a thick slice of crusty rye bread, dipping it in zingy mustard (that was good stuff I tell you), taking a good chomp of chunky meat and then juggling and flailing about when it starts slipping out of your grasp. You should try it sometime, then maybe you wouldn’t be laughing at me. Down it with a gulp of sparkling water if you wish, just don’t offer me any. I like my water as water. Shudder.

Thun.

Thun is the stuff of postcards, posters, paintings and my current laptop wallpaper. Even if you don’t stop to buy any stinky cheeses, DVDs, biscuit presses, jewellery, trinkets and endless array of food, you’d be content to just stroll through and take in the scene, and perhaps pet the very occasional dog or two.

I would imagine that Saturday brunch would be spent sipping a bier and reclining lavishly in a cafe on a bridge under a large umbrella overlooking the gushing river Aare. And then the same thing for lunch. And then tea. And then dinner and supper. You are not obliged to lift your ass off the chair at any point in time, and neither should you expect the waiter to be at your every beck and call. Give the man ten minutes to finish off his ciggy, then maybe you’ll get the bill you asked for half an hour ago.

Flowers.

The service in Switzerland isn’t bad, oh definitely not. On the contrary, it is probably the best that you’ll get in comparison to, say, France or Italy (especially Italy, but more on that later). It’s just that, just as how they understand that you want your bill, you are also expected to understand the leisurely pace at which things function. No one’s rushing off anywhere, and no one’s urgent to receive the bill even after they’ve waved for it, and there sure as hell isn’t anyone who’s going to chug down their beer just because they have to get shoes for their kids from Bata before 6pm (yes, Bata’s in Europe. I spent a good five minutes gawking at the same store that no one bothers about in Singapore). Deal with it.

View from bridge. Biscuit presses.

I didn’t buy anything from Thun. No, the reason’s not because of the aforementioned willingness to soak in the bustling atmosphere, although admittedly a part of it could have been that. Thing is, when I shop, I don’t stop, and neither does my mom. I’d like to think of her as a more uninhibited version of myself – a Christine version 9.0.5 – when it comes to shopping. It was imperative that we constantly reminded each other that we mustn’t go ape-shit crazy on shopping not only because this was Day 2 of 21, but more significantly because we weren’t travelling with a caravan and there were no camels in sight for the remaining trip. HUMPh.

Lake Thun.

Angela and Oscar then took us to Oberhofen Castle, situated on the Lake of Thun and overlooking a majestic mountain range of the Bernese alpine panorama.

Angela and Oscar.

And there were swans, which I was very fascinated with, because they were nicer than those honking prats in the Singapore Botanical Gardens the last time I was there.

Pier. Oberhofen Castle.

And more flowers.

Inside Oberhofen Castle.

We spent a couple of good hours just roaming the castle grounds and admiring its impressive medieval architecture.

And I was intimidated.

Not by its grandeur or anything, but the carpet that I was treading on, the wooden floorboards creaking under my feet and the cordoned off sections of the rooms made me feel like I was in an episode of CSI, or at least that I shouldn’t be walking all over the pweetty patterns on the carpet (ie. not walking anywhere at all).

Bernese Furniture.

I get like this when I visit museums, which is primarily why I don’t. I’m afraid that whatever I touch, and everything else that I merely look at will disintegrate into sub-atomic particles and I’ll accidentally inhale them. Why I’m this neurotic in museums is anyone’s guess. Everything’s so delicate and protected in cases and partitions and creaky and the entire place smells like an accident waiting to happen – think of glossy, laminated wooden floorboards, freshly painted fume-y walls…and a lighter.

Over-reacting again, I know. Shrugs.

Baked vegetables. Pan-seared chicken legs.

Every holiday for me is the same, where I fidget and wait anxiously for my stomach to empty its contents into the other much less significant digestive sections because I simply cannot wait to be able to begin devouring food again. Back home, I don’t eat much. But here, yes, I am the greedy equivalent of the Juggernaut on rampage. Natural digestive rates and a limited stomach capacity are my greatest enemies. Oh yes, Average Metabolism, how could I have forgotten you?

Dinner was on my mind from the moment I finished lunch. And ever since my mom told me that Angela is a great cook…well sorry Thun, but I wanna go back to help with dinner preparations. Now. Though by the time mom and I were done showering, all that was left for us to do was to wait for the herb marinated chicken to cook and watch Angela sprinkle on a mixture of parsley, parmesan, bread crumbs and garlic atop the individual slices of vegetable before drizzling with olive oil and sliding them into the oven.

Nomnom.

Needless to say, dinner was fantastic. Rosemary, marjoram, thyme can never go wrong with chicken – free-range chicken at that. We have kampong chickens, they have free-range ones. Although now there are sakura chickens selling in NTUC…

Mommy particularly loved the succulent oven-baked vegetables and their crunchy tops. I had seconds. And I figure that strewing such a killer combination of bread crumbs, herbs and parmesan on anything would turn it magical and sparkly. I must do this sometime, somewhere in between the hellish hours I’m starting to spend in school.

Fruit Salad.

We had fruit salad afterwards, a rosy tumble of strawberries and cherries macerated with sugar and a little lemon juice, and I was thinking of breakfast, and then lunch. Definitely lunch the next day, because Angela was going to teach me how to make pasta from scratch, as in flour-and-water-and-kneading-and-cutting-and-shaping-and-boiling scratch – the stuff of a true Italian.

Which of course started with a pot of homemade ricotta cheese, made with a mixture of goat’s and cow’s milk and allowed to simmer gently while stirring constantly until the curds separated from the whey. My comment on how I’d made cottage cheese at home in a botched attempt to create Palak Paneer that one time piqued Angela’s interest, which of course made me a little flustered. It’s like Jamie Oliver asking how you made that rustic Yorkshire Pudding. Or Nigella Lawson being interested in your single-layered chocolate sponge cake without icing.

But boy did I want lunch the next day that very instant. Very badly.

I went to sleep immediately.

Homemade Ricotta.

6 responses to “Europe Day 2 – Switzerland (Thun)

  1. nattietan September 8, 2010 at 12:54 am

    OMG! Europe looks gorgeous! At least from your pictures. When I was in the UK, we had some nice weather but nothing as nice or as pretty as Switzerland – which is a country I’ve always wanted to visit so I’m doubly jealous! Looks like you had a blast babe. Now it’s time to get crunching on them textbooks though! Lol. Hope uni’s going well for you! xoxo

    • Christine Leow September 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      I heard that the UK’s pretty grey a lot of the time. I want to go there though! And yes you should visit Switzerland, it was the most beautiful of all the countries that I went to. Haha. You know, right as I’m replying now to your comment, I’ve got my stats textbook wide open beside me. Oh boo. Uni’s sucking away a lot of my time. =(

  2. Gushi September 12, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I like your postttt! The pictures are dead gorgeous!The angling and color contrast is WUNDERFULL.😄 And somehow I always end up reading your posts in the wee hours of the morning and it makes me crave for nice delicious food.
    I really want to go to Switzerland just to visit Angela hahaha.

    Your puns were damn funny btw😀 Looking forward to post 3 man!😀

  3. Gushi September 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Awwwwwwwww. But you must not let me down on our Europe tour date sometime okkkkk? It’ll break my heart if we don’t get to go ;( And to japan and to HK. Hahahahah more like my pockets will rip big holes first.

  4. stargirl September 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    i miss britain so much! switzerland looks like a lovely place to visit too. i love homestays, they really enable tourists to immerse themselves in the country’s culture (:

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