German conversation and coffee – Babu’s

An advantage of InterNations is the many groups that one can join – from sporting activities, going to movies or, as recently, having a chance to practice speaking German. With the new group consul appointed recently, there’s now a chance to go to daytime convo and chat meet-ups, great for non-working folk (like me) and those who can’t get away in the evenings. Everyone at the meet-up were non-German speakers, except for one lovely Austrian lady, who we were very lucky to have join us as she answered language questions, did a few translations and kindly helped us with our grammar. I do hope she joins again, or any other native German speaker for that matter!

Yesterday’s gathering was at Babu’s Bakery and Coffeehouse in Löwenstrasse. As always, their monster sized cappuccinos were delicious and this time I tried the Lox Bagel, which I will definitely be having again!

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It’s that time of year again!!

Christmas is just around the corner, and it all kicks off on November 21!
Starting with the opening of the annual Christkindlimarkt at Zurich Main Station, 150 cabins filled with everything from tea and trinkets to handmade wooden toys and the finest of Swiss traditional foods – raclette and glühwein to keep you warm and toasty while browsing!! This year is also the 20 anniversary of the Christmas Market, so don’t miss out! It’s a chance to get unusual gifts and get your shopping done before the big rush.
As every year, I am most looking forward to seeing the Swarovski Christmas tree decoration with around 7000 dazzling crystals!IMG_7743
Thursday the 21st, is also when Christmas lights are turned on and the whole of Bahnhofstrasse looks fairy tale-like with “Lucy” twinkling all down the street.
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Late night shopping as well as December’s Sunday shopping hours have been announced. Giving us all enough time to shop, drink glühwein and fill up on the Christmas spirit!
“Lucy” Light Night – Thursday, 21.11.2013: 09:00 – 22:00
1. Sunday, 01.12.2013 10:00 – 18:00
2. Sunday, 08.12.2013: 10:00 – 18:00
3. Sunday, 22.12.2013: 10:00 – 18:00
Christmas Eve – Tuesday, 24.12.2013: 09:00 – 17:00

Zurich: Cafe Felix am Bellevue

One thing I love about the coffee group that I’ve joined is that I am getting a chance to visit cafes and restaurants I hadn’t been to yet. This week we met at Cafe Felix am Bellevue. I’ve heard about Felix but for some reason never got round to going there even though I’m in the area weekly.

My first impression was one of delight, it is bright, with high ceilings and the first thing that catches your eyes is the massive displays of roses trailing down the walls! At first its aesthetically pleasing but as you realise the roses are plastic and that they’re just about everywhere it does start to feel a bit OTT.

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The atmosphere is pleasant, if a bit noisy due to the huge room, but they gladly accommodated our group of 11, rearranging tables and chairs for us.

Their afternoon, apero menu is vast with almost too much to choose from! I loved the menu page dedicated to champagnes and prosecco which I could definitely have indulged in! Most of the ladies ordered coffee or tea with one or two having from the fresh juice selection and a variety of cakes and snacks were ordered. I tried two of the crostini on offer – one with brie and the other with smoked salmon. IMG_1001While the crostini were quite small the generous toppings made up for it and I enjoyed it.

The cafe is huge with a large outside seating area (as usual, mostly used by smokers) as well as having an upstairs dining area overlooking the rest of the cafe. IMG_0996

At Sfr24.60 for a cappuccino, the 2 crostini and a cola, it was value for money and definitely worth another visit.

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Zurich: Breakfast at Bohemia!

As a creature of habit, I always order the same food from restaurants I visit regularly – I have this theory that if its good, why have anything else? Yes, I know its a limiting and rather silly dining policy. So when I went to Bohemia with the ‘Coffee Girls’, I already knew I’d be ordering plain flapjacks with maple syrup and a side of bacon.

Instead, this time I chose the 3 cheese, egg white omelette and Oh My Goodness! It was delicious! While this means that my new standard order at Bohemia may have changed, I am really chuffed I tried something new. So go on, try that omelette – you’ll thank me later.

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In search of the perfect Fish ‘n Chips

I love traditional fish ‘n chips, a British staple dating back to the 1900’s (or earlier).

For me, there’s nothing better than a light, crispy beer batter, smothering a hot, tender piece of fish (preferably cod, as is tradition). The chips should be thick cut, a bit crisp on the outside and soft on the inside then drizzled with malt vinegar. A pickled onion would not go amiss with this lovely dish either and one cannot do without a serving of tartar sauce to dip it all in. That is just the way ‘I’ like it.

Even after living in Switzerland for close to 9 years, from time to time I still crave a hot serving of fish ‘n chips with a cold beer on a summer’s day. So, when I find myself in what is a self-labelled ‘traditional English pub’, the first thing I check is if they have my favourite on the  menu. Clearly if they don’t, there’s something very wrong in my opinion!

Today, was just such a day, when all I wanted was a taste of hot fish in light, crispy batter with a squeeze of fresh lemon and hint of malt vinegar, I made my way into Zurich city a bit earlier for my appointment and headed into The Nelson Pub in Beatengasse (“An original English pub” according to their website). The charming bar lady offered me a menu and I asked immediately if they had traditional fish and chips, I wouldn’t need the menu. My meal came in about 12 minutes – which is to be expected if it freshly prepared. This is what I was presented with:IMG_1498

Unfortunately, it didn’t look appetising from the onset. It seemed more shallow-fried than deep fried, with dark patches on the batter.

The batter, as it turned out, was undercooked and still doughy closest to the fish, it was thick and quite tasteless.IMG_1497 At the least the fish was warmed through. The chips were equally disappointing with a strange texture which led me to think they had been reheated, possibly cooked half an hour prior to my order. I didn’t finish my lunch as it was all in all very disappointing.

I know of Nelson’s to be a fun place to hang out at night, till the early hours, and if you’re new in town, here’s where you’ll meet local, English-speaking expats – it’s clearly just not the place to go looking for traditional English fare.

And so begins my ideal fish ‘n chips search, as I go from one ‘English’ pub to another in the city (perhaps the country?) to find the best!IMG_1496