My new favourite cheese

23 01 2015

A pretty random “oo that looks interesting” purchase the other day at Canadian Superstore, and I absolutely love it.

PC Black Label Jura Montagne Hard Ripened Cheese Aged 10 Months | Loblaws.

According to the reasonably reliable Wikipedia, the Jura Mountains are in Switzerland and France. Oh – and the moon, though I suspect the former is the more likely source of the cheese.

Being an own brand cheese I didn’t have particularly high expectations, but I have to say this is a quality piece of sour milk, for sure!

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Of Feta and Pennies

25 12 2012

I really struggle with Christmas.

I used to be able to “go with the flow” when the kids were smaller, yet, ironically, longer in name. Back then they were kiddies, kidlings, sprogletts or other things longer and more intricate than mere kids. Now they’re proto-adults though, the mystique has evaporated. They’re just as materialistic now as their peers – lost to the tidal wave of marketing and consumerism we wallow in, in the West.

But every now and then, I see little peeks of the great human beings they really are (despite my hand in their parenting!). The things they unexpectedly do that bucks the accepted trend of “me, me, me”. Like First-born the devout vegetarian being more than happy to take on turkey-cooking duties to give her mum a break. (I have a sneaky suspicion that her 4-month stint in Switzerland has brought her back from the Dark Side… she ate bacon yesterday!) Like second-born giving me a hug. Rare, unexpected, but so very obviously heartfelt. And third-born. Well… at least he’s not making more mess just now while he plays his festive gave of Shoot-em-up.

Second-born shared an interesting little dish with us in that never-never time between “normal lunchtime” and “Christmas lunchtime” which can be any time up to and including 6pm, on past experience. This is created by taking  slabs of Feta cheese and baking them in olive oil in the oven for 8-10minutes, then pouring a little honey on the top and grilling them for a little while to brown slightly. Eat when hot (It’s perfect for removing the roof of your mouth before the real meal begins…) with some crackers. Très yummy.

So you may recall I mentioned a local wag leaving pennies around on the park benches yesterday. I was out in the Christmas Day snow this morning, walking the dog again. I have no idea of their motivation for placing them, but today I felt a little saddened that about half of the pennies were no longer there. Then I remembered that one potential motivation was to place them there for some poor soul to whom a mere penny or two might make a difference. If that really was the motivation, then it was totally fine for the pennies to be gone. That indeed was potentially the point. Ignoring my more base instinct that some thieving sod had simply run off with them, I chose to add the few pennies in my own pocket to the missing slots as I negotiated the pathways of our little park, occasionally engaging other people in brief exchanges of potentially sincere goodwill as I did so.

It just seemed appropriate.

Us weirdos need to support each other. Even if we don’t know why. Just because it’s different. A stand against homogeneity. And especially because ultimately, it’s Quite Irrelevant.

The clatter of serving spoons on pans and dishes is beckoning me to the annual festival of gluttony. I wish you all a healthy New Year, and commend “The Random Act of Kindness” to you. Smile at a stranger. Put a tin of food in the food bank. Whatever you feel like. Something that makes a positive difference to someone else. Unexpected. And ideally anonymous.

Bugger Christmas – we should do it every day.





Cellulite and You

29 11 2012

OK, so those of you paying attention will recall that First Born is currently on a co-op placement in Leysin, Switzerland. She’s there as the librarian for the American School (they recruit co-op students from Waterloo, Ontario – go figure!) Anyway, she was asked to write an article for their blog, and being the proud pachyderm parent that I am, I bring you, here for the first time in North America (drum-roll please…)

Tales from the StacksShort Stories from LAS Library, about LAS Library

(Don’t laugh – someone spent ages thinking of that!)

I look forward to comments from “proper” North Americans identifying the words/sentence constructs that give away that she’s (i) educated in Canada as opposed to America or (ii) she is essentially still English.

I give you, as a starting point, the suggestion that “whence” isn’t so common in these parts… Am I wrong?





Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades – Boing Boing

22 08 2012

Switzerland came up in conversation today. Well, that and IKEA. Simplistic, functional design. “What have the Swiss ever done for us?” I mentioned cuckoo clocks and banking… but forgot two of the BEST things! Chocolate (what was I thinking?!) and Swiss Army Knives. I’m quite convinced Scouting would never have lasted the 100+ years it has, had Victorinox not had such a great little plaything for boys to have accidents with (apart from the one they’re born with obviously).

Then I saw this article on Boing boing… Perfect!

Great quote from David Suhami, the designer: “the piece is made for adults who still enjoy playing with small objects.” MM – it’s all for you, my friend! 🙂

Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades – Boing Boing.





Of burnt custard and wormwood

12 08 2012

After a hard day’s touristing, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a fine meal in great company. Unfortunately, I was with the family… but we did find some great food. 🙂

Yes, yes, it was on Fort St. There are in fact several streets in Victoria, but it’s true that we did seem to spend most of our little break there along the tight confines of the one street! Anyway, Cafe Brio was our destination for dinner. We arrived early and they were just opening up. This meant we got our pick of tables and so we chose to sit outside on the patio – a lovely covered area cleverly masked from the street with grapevines and other Italianesque things.

I started with a plate of “sulami” shared with second-born. We had “Brio prosciutto” – smoked/dried pork aged for at least 12 month; “Lamb prosciutto” – aged 4 months and very finely flavoured; “Venison pate” – with hazelnuts and juniper.

Main course for me was a whole pound of local mussels in traditional garlic/white wine sauce. The current full menu can be drooled over here.

For dessert, the rest of the crew opted for a “tasting plate” consisting of chocolate truffle, biscotti, sorbet and crème brûlée (or literally “burnt cream” – actually crème anglaise (fancy custard) with a layer of caremelised sugar on top). For me though, I fancied something a little special and asked if they sold port. Indeed they did, and I was handed a menu of options. I’ve come to favour a particular brand and age of Tawny Port… and alas and alack, it was not on the list. There was however something else that tickled my “off-beat antennae”… absinthe! From the Okanagan no less! I was offered the usual water/sugar options, but opted to have it straight. I was a little non-plussed by the severe green tinge. This is introduced by infused herbs and is part of the reason absinthe gets the name  “la fée verte” (the green fairy). The name absinthe comes from the ingredient wormwood used for millennia as a medicinal preparation. It took on its current fennel/anise form in around 1792 when it was sold in Switzerland as a cure-all tonic.

Here’s a couple of BlackBerry shots, just to make your mouth water.

Totally recommend Cafe Brio if you’re anywhere near Victoria and feeling the need for good food and atmosphere.





The Maya Guesthouse Project

27 12 2011

So there I was, bumbling and Bunburying around in the virtual world on my desk, when I came across this image.

THermograph of straw bale building

Thermographic comparison between a straw bale house and a traditional building | The Maya Guesthouse Project.

It was the next stop after a site I’d checked out that was populated by images taken on a pin-hole camera. I love those things. So simple. I almost bought one in Granville Island, Vancouver the other week… made out of a coffee tin. Back at school, we made them out of shoe boxes. They can make remarkably sharp images if you have the patience… and a sheet of photographic paper. At the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK, there’s a real walk-in Camera Obscura, which projects the city skyline (upside down of course, if you remember your physics lessons) on a wall. The pinhole blog site would have been linked and part of this blog, but the owner’s About page was all arsey about copyright infringement and not re-publishing, so I left him and his camera images obscure.

The thermographic image is to illustrate the amazing insulation properties of the humble hay bale when used in construction.

According to the site: “The Maya Guesthouse will be the first hotel built with straw bales. The design is from the Swiss architect Werner Schmidt. Situated at 1300 meters in the Swiss Alps it will exceed passive house standards and will need no heating. Construction works have begun this year and will resume in summer 2012.”

Presumably all the rooms will be non-smoking…