Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bits of Basel

I thought life would quieten down slightly when moving to Basel but it seems to be the opposite! Whilst trying to settle into a new flat, the project at work has taken full flight and the Christmas deadline is approaching (far to) rapidly. Apart from that there are trips to Ikea, second hand shops and more to get the flat sorted and work left over from Dundee as the comments for my paper have come back (luckily they were fairly positive but I do need to go back to Dundee briefly for more work).

However, I thought I’d share some more impressions and food with you. Last weekend we had a celebratory dinner in our new flat to christen the kitchen. Along with a batch of appeljam, chilli ginger and lemongrass jam and quince jelly I also produced two lovely dishes that I’ve wanted to make. I saw the scallop with chanterelle risotto and pumpkin recipe recently and it seemed very suitable as there are lots of these mushrooms around at the moment. The fig rosemary tarts with lemon mascarpone I noticed ages ago and have been keeping the recipe for a special occasion which this definitely was. Both were surprisingly easy to assemble as lot could be done beforehand and it really turned into a feast. I will definitely be making these again

Then yesterday the Basel hebst messe has started. On several spots in the city there are fairgrounds, food stalls and markets. The one closest to us on the Peterplatz is mainly filled with stalls. I had to keep myself from buying lots of jummy food, pottery and wool but got lots of things I’ve got an eye on and will be returning often in the next few weeks to purchase them. They are also a great place for picking up Christmas presents at there are only 8 weeks left (yikes!).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Goodbye Dundee and hello Basel!

About 5 weeks ago I got a phone call from my new boss telling me that he finally had funding for me to work for him in Basel. I was taken totally by surprise but accepted quickly as I’ve wanted to work for him for the last two years. So after weeks of frantic packing, cleaning and saying goodbyes I’ve left Dundee after 5 great years here! I just want to thank the many people who have made my stay there so amazing and showed me the country, mountains, pubs, sessions, took me climbing, walking and sailing, knitting and weaving and are such good friend! We’ll meet again soon!

And now I’m in Basel where I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, being put straight to work but that’s ok, cause I like working that way. I’ve been very lucky to be able to stay with a colleague who is very nice and we’ve discovered a common love for cooking and mountains. Barry and I have also found a flat (!), which we will move into this weekend, and I’ve bought myself a bicycle with a pannier for all my food shopping.

I’ve already had some lovely food in the 1.5 week that I’ve been here including a real Swiss fondue (thanks to Simone and Raphaela), the most simple but delicious fettucini with Chantrelle and Steinpilz and finally Vermicelles. This is seasonal dessert made of a mountain of slightly sweetened chestnut puree, shaped like spaghetti, served with wiped cream topped with a piece of marron glace and in our case with a hidden light meringue inside. I’d had a variation of this dessert in Japan last year where it is known as Mont Blanc. The Swiss version appears less sweet, which I like, although the portions are a lot bigger, which is not so good as it’s heavy stuff. Last Saturday we enjoyed a very nice one in Schliesser, a gorgeous old patisserie with tearoom upstairs. I can foresee spending many a rainy day in there (if I’m not to busy cooking in my nice new kitchen with pull-out, floor to ceiling, pharmacy-like cupboard!! only slightly excited about this).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Malaysian moon cake and more

Another post long overdue…Stephanie organized Blogging By Mail recently and I’ve still not posted about this. Friday the 15th I came back from an exhausting conference to find a package on my desk. At first I didn’t twig but then realized that it was my BBM package, and so early! So I managed to keep myself from opening it right there and then and after posting my own package on the way home I opened it when I came home.

I was sooo lucky that I was assigned Viviene! She sent me the most amazing package full of Malaysian goodies. I’ve never had the chance to go to Malaysia, but did stop over in Singapore once for 14 hours and spent a month travelling in Thailand so I’ve had some of the food and absolutely loved it! this package was a lovely reminders of the flavours I’d tasted before and it contained:

Lobster snacks beautiful little snacks which I expected to be fishy but tasted of peanuts and kept me going during the weekend I spent packing my belongings for the removal people

Peanut brittle one of my favourites! It didn’t last very long I’m afraid to say as it was just too delicious!

Durian sweet I’d seen and smelt the durian fruit when I was in Thailand and it was pretty foul but when you taste it, its really nice. So these sweets were a real treat.

Moon cake a beautiful round cake filled with real lotus paste in honour of the moon festival, which was eaten with my parents whilst cleaning the flat on my last weekend here (they were stars!). I’ve had these types of pastries filled with bean paste but never lotus paste which was very yummie, she also sent me some information about the history and legend behind the Chinese Moon Festival.

Curry paste and sticky rib sauce both looked lovely, but haven’t had time to make them so they are in a box travelling to Basel at the moment as I decided to share them with Barry as he loves sticky ribs.

Ginger honey coffee I’m normally not a big fan of flavoured coffee but these were really nice! Not to sweet and overpowering and kept me going on my late evenings cleaning up the office and finishing all the work I had to do.

Finally last but not least, a letter explaining the contents and a cookbook on Malaysian desserts, which I’m sure will be very well used as soon as we’ve found a kitchen (and flat to go with it).

So all in all, a wonderful package that has made the last whirlwind weeks a lot easier to deal with….thank you very much Viviene!

PS apologies for the bad quality of the pictures but I had to make due with the camera on my laptop as my digital camera was off getting fixed by Sony. Not impressed with them at all as first my camera broke within 6 months and then they made me pay for it even though it was still under warranty. They claimed there was nothing wrong with it but the guy on the phone explained to me (kindly) that sometimes opening and closing them solves the problem when something is jammed (like the lens in this case) yet then they still made me fork out £30!! Unbelievable.