Monday, June 7, 2010

Sweet Switzerland

(Bassin d'Argenteuil by Claude Monet)

Bob's maternal grandfather was born in Salenstein, Switzerland.

Because of this familial fact, it was our great pleasure to travel to this beautiful part of the world awhile ago.

To put it simply, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the land of Albert's birth.

On the morning of our arrival, Salenstein was bathed in a gray and misty fog.

I was bummed to the max!

My mind had pictured a sparkling sun swirling around Switzerland's skies.

The words "gray", "misty" and "fog" were not supposed to be part of the script.

As I soon discovered, the day's inclement weather would have nothing to do with my feelings about Salenstein.


What could I possibly say that would do justice to this place?

Salenstein is picture post-card perfect.

It is a small rural community built on towering hills overlooking a placid lake.

Apple orchards and dairy cows pepper Salenstein's land.

It just so happens that Bob and Gretchen are world class apple eaters.

The minute they saw the lush, crimson fruit hanging from the trees, they began salivating.

In anticipation of a taste test, Bob declared: "I'll bet those apples are good."

(To the uninformed, the word "good" in Bob-ese means: delicious, scrumptious, perfectly perfect.)

Gretch was right behind him, her eyes surveying the multiplicity of just- ripened apple trees.

Were Seth and I apple lovers as well?

Not so much.

Soon, the Bobster and Gretch could wait no longer.

They each bit into a ruby red orb.

Ahhhhh - this was, indeed, food for the gods!

They exclaimed in near unison: "These are the sweetest, crunchiest apples we have ever tasted!"

Seth and I were delighted that our mates had been able to enjoy such gustatory pleasures.

But my eyes were riveted on the nearby dairy cows.

I was mesmerized by their taupe-colored hides which looked strikingly beautiful next to the emerald green grass.

Please believe me, I can find art anywhere - even in a Swiss pasture.

And to top it all off, my gorgeous cows were bejeweled with - what else? - the requisite Swiss cow bells.

Be still, my beating heart!


Leaving the beauty of Salenstein behind, we drove through hilly, country roads until we found a village that looked like a promising place to find lunch.

We parked outside a busy grocery and I wasted no time entering the shop.

I was on a serious mission to hunt and gather my two favorite culinary C's - cheese and chocolate.

Without delay, I purchased four kinds of cheese and four varieties of chocolate.

I couldn't resist a loaf of bread that looked simply mouthwatering so I threw that into the mix as well.

Starving, we unwrapped our goodies in the car and quickly consumed our repast.

Perhaps the reason was raw hunger, but everything tasted fabulous.

Each cheese had its own distinctive flavor but we awarded the grand prize in the taste category to a stunningly beautiful flower-shaped concoction.

The razor thin slices had been rolled into petal form - complete with curly edges.

The "flower" looked and tasted divine.

The bread was sweet, moist and supremely cheese compatible.

The Swiss chocolates were much too milky for my taste.

(I'm hard-core, people. Only the darkest of the dark chocolates ever pass my puckering lips.)

Fortunately, the milk chocolate fans in my merry little band were more than willing to relieve me of the burden of having to consume it.


Later in the afternoon, we came to a lake side restaurant that advertised hot apple strudel on their overhead sign.

I said to my captive audience, "We are not going to miss this!"

The amiable waiter showed us to an outdoor table on the roof of the restaurant.

We looked out on a shimmering lake immediately to our left.

After several minutes of pleasant chit-chat, the waiter returned with our strudel.

One glance and I knew this sweet piece of heaven would be melt-in-my-mouth perfect.

Tiny berries tumbled down the sides of the warm apple slices.

Vanilla ice cream puddled at the sides of the flaky crust.

An abundance of whipped cream covered everything.

Surely this fruity confection would be found on heaven's menu, wouldn't it?

As we slowly paced our way through the lovely strudel, the sun returned in it's full glory.

Sailboats - their white masts gleaming in the light - rippled along the blue-green water.

I wanted to hold this picturesque scene in my mind forever.

I'm well on my way to doing just that.


1. Absolutely no apples were stolen from unsuspecting orchard owners in the creation of these true-to-life scenes. They were legally purchased at a village market and then consumed on sight.

2. Although no cow bells can be seen in the accompanying photo, cow bells were indeed found on several of the photographed cows' closest friends. Unfortunately, for reasons which we can not fully figure out, the cow bell cows were not deemed photo worthy by our group photographer.

3. Claude Monet's brilliant sailboat painting was created in France - not Switzerland. Who cares? It could have been created in Switzerland and that's all that matters.

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