Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vevey, Lausanne and Wengen, Switzerland

Voila! The last installment of pictures from our grand trip around the Alps and Piedmont this summer is now up for your viewing pleasure and it's time to recap. We did our best to be good eco-tourists:

We did take our car BUT we put it (and ourselves) on the Autozug train from Hamburg to Basel (and back again) with about a hundred other cars. They have several routes to choose from and if you must have a car at your destination then this is a brilliant way to reduce your impact while traveling around Europe.

We also followed the principles of Slow Travel which are to spend at least one week in one place on your trip, to stay in a house/cottage/apartment where you can do your own cooking rather than in a hotel, to buy local food and wine from the markets and local producers directly and make your own meals, to relax, immerse yourself into local life and see what is near your home base rather than rushing off on long day-trips to see the must-sees.

When we ate at restaurants we chose the places that honored their locally-sourced foods and wines, including the absolutely exquisite Le Torri in Castiglione Falleto (we had dinner there and loved it so much we just had to go back again for lunch the next day) and the traditional, vine-covered Osteria Murvecchia at Giacomo Ascheri's winery in the town where Slow Food was born, Bra, Italy.

We took the small roads, drove slowly and, once we were installed in our homes away from home, we used the car very little. We walked a lot, biked a little, rode a paddle-boat around Lake Annecy, took funiculars and cog-trains up the mountains and little ferries across the lakes, hopped on the free shuttle from Vevey to Montreaux for the Jazz Festival and rode the wine train through the Lavaux. And we have thus confirmed our suspicion that that traveling more ethically is more relaxing, more rewarding and just plain more fun. Bon voyage!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yvoire, Chateau de Thorens & Annecy in Savoy

Vive la France! We loved our days in Savoie and those French wines, the croissants, the cheeses, the language, the two hour (minimum) lunches with petites chiens lolling under every other table, the endless supply of free doggie-poo bags everywhere, the villages of flowers, the Alps, Lac D'Annecy, Lac Leman, the Château de Thorens where we stayed....voila!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Summer in Piedmont & Lombardy

We spent a hot, wine-soaked week in the beautiful little stone cottage 'Il Nido' (the nest) in Piedmont, Italy and finished off with a gourmet evening at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, sheltered from a magnificent thunderstorm. Magnifico!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Bon Vivant Calendar ~ August

Enjoying each day to its fullest is what bons vivants specialize in and the Bon Vivant Calendar premieres this month to inspire and enrich our days with epicurean pleasure - starting with a sweet, ripe August.

What's in season?
Eat according to the seasons and enjoy food that is fresher, more flavorful, more packed with nutrition, less expensive and more environmentally friendly.

In August feast on sweet corn, summer apples, wild mushrooms, blackberries, blueberries, currants, eggplants, zuchinni, beets, carrots, leeks, cauliflower, cucumbers, garlic, artichokes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, peaches, grapes, melons, rose petals, mint, potatoes, radishes, sorrel, spinach, cress, basil, scallions, lettuces, crayfish and lobster. I have been busy making borscht, ratatouille, pesto and a giant apple pie with an oatmeal cookie dough crust - yum!

Great excuses for celebration
August 1st the Swiss National Day and from this year on it will also be celebrated as the day I finally became a Swedish (and European) citizen! Heja Sverige! This date also marks the start of Lammas or Lughnasadh, the ancient Celtic holiday that celebrates the wheat harvest and the last warm summer nights before the onset of autumn.

August 8th was the traditional opening day of crayfish fishing season in Sweden and August in Sweden would not be complete without at least one 'Kräftskiva'. This is an all-out crayfish themed party where dozens upon dozens of crayfish are consumed along with rather a lot of Swedish snaps. If you shudder at the mere thought of downing a snaps (like I do) you will be delighted to know that a bottle of good Alsatian Gewürztraminer matches the salty sweet, dill-infused Swedish-style crayfish perfectly.

Mid-month, August 12th this year, is when the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak so plan a night of stargazing and see how many of the circa 60 shooting stars per hour you can spot.

August 21st is the 49th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood and a state holiday. Throw a luau in honor of the 50th state complete with mai tais, a pig roast, grass skirts, ukulele music, leis for all and a hula contest!

August 29th to 31st: If you happen to be in Helsingborg, Sweden in August then plan to visit Sofiero, our beautiful local castle, for the annual Sofiero Garden Show.

Fine words to sing out loudly in August
The Rigs O' Barley by Robert Burns, 1783

It was upon a Lammas night
When corn rigs are bonnie, O!
Beneath the moon's unclouded light
I held awa' to Annie, O!
The time flew by wi' tentless heed
Till 'tween the late and early, O!
Wi' smar' persuasion she agreed,
To see me thro' the barley, O!
Corn rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonnie
I'll ne'er forget that happy night
Amang the rigs wi' Annie, O!

The sky was blue, the wind was still
The moon was shining clearly, O!
I set her down wi' right good will
Amang the rigs o' barley, O!
I ken't her heart was a' my ain
I loved her most sincerely, O!
I kissed her owre and owre again
Amang the rigs o' barley, O!
Corn rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonnie
I'll ne'er forget that happy night
Amang the rigs wi' Annie, O!

I locked her in my fond embrace
Her heart was beating rarely, O!
My blessings on that happy place
Amang the rigs o' barley, O!
But by the moon and stars so bright
That shone that hour so clearly, O!
She aye shall bless that happy night
Amang the rigs o' barley, O!
Corn rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonnie
I'll ne'er forget that happy night
Amang the rigs wi' Annie, O!

I hae been blythe wi' comrades dear
I hae been merry drinkin', O!
I hae been joyful gath'rin' gear
I hae been happy thinkin', O!
But a' the pleasures e'er I saw
Tho' three times doubl'd fairly, O!
That happy night was worth them a'
Amang the rigs o' barley, O!
Corn rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonnie
I'll ne'er forget that happy night
Amang the rigs wi' Annie, O!