Yesterday, quite out of the blue, I was confronted on Instagram with a photo I had posted years ago. Years! A fantastic little object of fine Swiss patisserie on one of my Royal Copenhagen plates. Obviously, I was still living in Zurich at that time, a time I was deeply and ever so hopelessly in love with everything the Swiss do to raspberries. At Vollenweider’s, for example, they sprinkle them with tiny pistaccio crumbs, des pistaches hachées ever so menues, just to enhance their aroma, just like what a glass of cool Sauternes does to strawberries, at least if we trust Sebastian Flyte, which I do, but I digress and on top, I’m quoting from Brideshead Revisited again, but any of Evelyn Waugh’s novels are forever stuck in my mind, so I have to ask for your forgiveness and to reread them all. Anyway, this delicious post had just gotten a new like after all these years, and by whom? By none other than the Vollenweider people themselves! I was most honoured to be reminded of what I’ve been missing in my life ever since I left Zurich… Damn!
It was not a typical day to be spent outside, the weather forecast for that day had insisted on us staying in, it was really rainy and windy, puddles all over the place, leaves everywhere, but we felt like catching some air in the garden, it was neither the perfect place to have crêpes, the table was ever so wet and quite dirty, too, nor the perfect time, it was way too close to dinner, we’ve had tea hours ago and so we were about to ruin our appetite, but however more of a hindrance than an invitation the moment did appear to us, we couldn’t help ourselves and have crêpes, drenched in sugary Cointreau, right that moment, right then and there… Boy, were they yummy!
We’re experiencing the hottest April ever, today we reached a priorly unimaginable 27 degrees Celsius, I can remember colder days in August when I had to take out the winter jacket I had just bought and put it on because I was still sitting outside a café after sunset, but I digress. Anyway, today it was so hot that my crème glacée de chocolat aux prunes à l’Armagnac (aka chocolate icecream with brandy prunes) was melting in the sun! It was a mesmerizing effect, seeing the creamy chocolate blend with the brandy while I took this photo, I waved perfection goodbye, realizing that one should never ever shoot icecream in the roasting midday sun—if you aren’t completely satisfied with it, please take into account that I could not take any more and/or better pictures, as I wanted to try my dessert before its total meltdown, otherwise call toll free 0800-ICECREAM-FAILURE.
The best thing about Switzerland is the food. And the best thing about the food is a Luxemburgerli from Sprüngli’s. You might think it’s a macaron but it’s not, believe you me. I’ve had macarons, plenty, even those hysterically cherished ones from Ladurée, and I had them from Ladurée in Paris, on rue Bonaparte, so don’t tell me the taste was probably just affected by transportation, say a long-distance flight to Sydney, Cape Cod or Kyoto or where ever you picture me misjudging Ladurée’s famous delights, no, even those iconic French macarons are nothing in comparison. Nothing compares to a Luxemburgerli. Nothing. Actually, it makes macarons obsolete. Sad excuses for a sweet. You better take the next flight to Zurich and make it to Paradeplatz as quickly as you possibly can. If only I could do the same, but I promised to show up at my parents’ place this Easter weekend…
One day, it must have been spring, I decided to lose some weight. You have to be slim for slim cut shirts. So, I had to find a way to eat less, at least for dessert, I had tried to have no dessert at all, but this didn’t work out well, it just made me cranky, and so, in order to keep some of my friends, I tried to eat just half of my crème brûlée or my panna cotta or whatever I was having for dessert, but this didn’t work out either. You cannot stop in the middle of something, can you? What idiotic concept is this? I then tried tiny portions. For instance, these ridiculously small things from Sprüngli. They made me burst out into tears. They seemed to mock me. So I gave up desserts altogether. Cold turkey. Now, I’m unbearably cranky, but quite slim.
Yoghurt is said to be responsible for the long lives of the Greek, and it’s recommended after taking antibiotics, so obviously it has a lot of healthy qualities, but eaten pure it lacks a bit of, well, a lot. It’s a bit dreary. Yoghurt needs something special to bring out its flavour, some contrast, some refinement, just like Cinderella needed all that glitter to make that prince fall in love with her. I like yoghurt best with raspberries, lots of raspberries, the frozen ones are suited best, because they develop a beautiful red juice when defrosting that compliments the whiteness of the yoghurt—by the way, the richer, thicker and creamier a yoghurt, the better. Sugar, some minced apples and a generous serving of calvados, all mixed together are great, too. I invented that dessert when I was eleven but wasn’t allowed to eat it until I turned eighteen. And then, there is yoghurt with walnuts and honey, which brings us back to the Greek and their long lives filled with great desserts. Having said that, I’m really glad about the grexit no longer being an issue.
If I were a raspberry, I would hope to end up on a tiny little cake by Sprüngli. You don’t live long when you’re born a berry, you grow, you get plucked, you get devoured. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to achieve some importance, to make yourself heard, to be recognized as the wonderful individual that you are and make yourself unforgettable. You have to rise from the raspberry fields and seize culinary power in Zurich, if you play it right, you end up on Sprüngli’s Himbeertorte before you get eaten by some self-styled gourmet, just like Napoleon rose through the ranks of the military, seized political power and crowned himself emperor of France before he was devoured by Europe.