einen blog

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

San Francisco Bay wine

saw this in the grocery store and was dumbfounded....

I've been wine tasting in the Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valleys of California, but never in the San Francisco Bay...and why is Livermore considered San Francisco Bay and not Central Valley?

the dungeon

in my former berkeley life, I had an office on the first floor of the building and the lab was one the 4th floor which always seemed inconvenient....little did I know that it could be worse. in my new zurich working life, my office is in a different building than the labs, and 5 floors apart (my office is on the 2nd floor and the labs on the 3rd sub-basement). which brings me to one of my favorite swiss-isms: the floor numbering scheme is by letter instead of numerals

in this case, "A" is the bottom floor, "E" is the ground floor and "K" is the top, but this is non-standard, sometimes "D" is the bottom floor, "F" is the ground floor and "O" is the top. But two things are always true, (1) there is no "I" floor, kind of like sometimes there isn't a 13th floor and (2) you can never have more than a 25 story building because there aren't enough letters.

anyway, back to the dungeon, which is made more appealing by the decor, in particular, these doors

I live in a Yellow Submarine everyday....

Monday, January 08, 2007

how to make fondue

the last month has been incredibly hectic - finishing off papers, holidays with the family, and getting data together for a conference deadline - so I'll try to catch up on my posts...

I decided to make fondue for my family when they came here for the holidays just to prove that I have learned some swiss customs. My friend Agnes just got her swiss citizenship a couple of years ago and one of the tests you have to pass is in "traditional swiss cooking", so I decided she was the perfect person to teach me.

First, the fondue pot is important, the best is heavy cast iron with porcelain enamel (like Le Creuset, but they have many brands here).

Second, the ingredients, this is the Swiss-French recipe with two cheeses in equal proportion:

100 g Gruyere (aged and salty, NOT mild) per person, grated
100 g Vacherin Fribourgeois (soft) per person, chopped into small pieces
100 mL dry (not sweet) white wine per person
2-4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cornstarch per person
1/2 loaf of crusty baguette-style bread per person cut into 1 inch slices

Onto the cooking

cut the garlic cloves in half and rub all over the inside of the pot, covering the whole surface (even up the sides) with garlic juice. Chop cloves and put into bottom of pot.

add wine, turn heat on to low-medium

gently warm wine, when almost boiling add cornstarch and dissolve into wine

add both cheeses and stir in figure 8 pattern

continue stirring until all of the cheese is melted, do not over heat or the cheese will separate and be gross.

Transfer pot to fondue rack with heating element (gel packs are best), serve to family and start eating immediately. The Swiss-german way has people using pre-chopped bite-sized bread cubes, but the Swiss-french just slice the bread and people tear it themselves so they can self-determine a bit sized piece.