15 April 2014

Paris Hotel Humor

I suppose 5-star hotels are quite nice in their own way. But they are not known for their sense of humor.

I prefer a hotel with humor. Like Hotel Fabric in Paris.

This cool little hotel does not ask for stars, it makes them.

No surprise Hotel Fabric is in quatier Oberkampf.

08 April 2014


suspendu entre les vents froids et forts
des nuages des vagues et son Dieu
il est resté
et gelé

04 April 2014

A Little in Love with Lausanne

Just back from another exploratory expedition to one of Switzerland's most intriguing cities.

This beautiful passage is one of the few flat places in this city built on three hills.
Inclined to like Lausanne living.
A weekday market on Rue de Bourg, one of the city's oldest streets.

At the cathedral. The dark side ...
And the light side ...

And my new favorite neighborhood in all of Switzerland: Flon.

31 March 2014

Getting Reconciled

“It’s the kind of soup your mother gives you when you’re sick -- and then you’re reconciled with civilization.” ~ Marie-France, Mezdi Restaurant, St. Moritz.

06 March 2014

Switzerland to Create New Canton?

Today I “Liked” the Facebook page for Canton Marittimo even though all the other posts are in Italian, which I don’ta speaka. I “liked” the page because I “love” their cause: to convince Switzerland to buy the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia.

The creators of this page have persuasive reasons for their proposal: The sale would put a dent in the Italian national debt, and enable Sardinians to convert to the world’s most coveted currency. And even though they don’t say this out loud, obviously, if Sardinia becomes part of CH, their air force could work shorter hours.

All molto buono for them, but what’s in it for Switzerland? First of all, at last we’d have our own Swiss beaches sprinkled with seashells and gorgeous olive-skinned formerly Italian babes and boys splashing in a real ocean full of calamari ready for the grill.

Also, we could suddenly brag that the heady, delicious Sardinian wines are “Swiss.”

But the best reason for CH to buy this idyllic Italian isle (where Mafia dons go mostly to molt, not to murder), is that we could thumb our nose at the European Union. They think that just because a miniscule majority of ill-informed Swiss voters recently decided in favor of quotas on immigrants, that we’ll no longer have access to the many thousands of cross-border workers who keep our economy well oiled every day. Possibly true, but guess what EU, with Canton Sardinia joining Svizzera, we’ll have a generous supply of eager, able, gorgeous workers – and calamari.

Seriously, it’s a complicated question we should consider carefully: Should Switzerland actually purchase Sardinia? Maybe Mykonos would be a better buy.

21 February 2014

Artisanal Olive Oil in Emilia-Romagna

We are seated at a long wood table beautifully scarred and burnished from many years of use. Contrasting with the old table, we have before us tiny plastic cups half-filled with olive oil. The oil is slightly greenish and holds a surprise we're about to discover.

"What do you taste?" asks Signore Gianluca Tumidei, proprietor of Tenuta Pennita, an olive oil (and wine) producer in Brisighella in Emilia-Romagna.

After our first sip of oil, a woman in our group starts coughing. No wonder. "It's spicy!" she says. She's right, spicy in a way I've never tasted before in olive oil.

We taste another of his oils made from a different type of olive. (There are 740 kinds of olive trees in Italy, says Signore.) It's a beautiful pale yellow-green, with a more blended taste. Signore suggests the taste of green tomato. Another oil tastes of artichoke, but citricy. We sip the oil straight from the tiny cups. Signore Tumidei is adamant that one should never try to taste the delicate nuances of a fine olive oil when it's drizzled on bread, any more than you would taste a fine wine this way.

There's an understated air of ritual as we taste, even from tiny plastic cups. (Professional olive oil tasters always drink from a blue glass so they can't see the color of the oil, which seems a shame.)

Signore Tumidei tells of the time when an olive oil producer in New Zealand sent him a gift of olive oil. He and friends spread the oil on bread. Other pieces of bread were drizzled with his own oil. Suddenly, everyone was called away with only the dogs left in the room. When they returned, all the bread with Italian oil was gone, but the bread with N.Z. olive oil was untouched by the dogs.

We go outside and take in the farm and countryside. Olive oil will never taste the same.