Unlauded Swiss Chocolatier Gives the Germans a Run for the Title

Looking down from the ride up in the funicular at Biel.

Inside of the span of 24 hours, we weathered a windstorm that pushed over giant trees, rain that fed the canal waters to the point where we mused about what would happen if the water spilled its banks, and then snowfall.

We almost felt as though we were back on the Canadian prairies.

All this lousy weather meant that we were honour-bound to head outside (really, we were – click here to see why).  We hit the Jura Mountains for a hike, powered by the greatest food combination known to the modern Euro-world: Knoblauchbrot. It is a half-loaf of French bread (or, should we say Swiss bread?) saturated with butter, garlic and herbs. We’re not sure of the recipe, but my guess is a half-pound of butter goes into every serving.

Then we took a funicular ride up the mountains north of our town. Yes, I said we were going hiking, but it’s steep up them thar hills, so we ride up and hike down. It was at the steeply pitched village of Evilard where we discovered a chocolate maker who just may have bumped Germany off its pedestal as best-chocolatier.

We found the chocolates at Lanz Baclerei Konditorei  (a pastry and bakery establishment) in an unassuming corner of what appeared to be a white plaster apartment building, its chief decorative element being a rolled-up orange and brown awning.  The shop gal assured us the chocolates in their display case were all made in the shop. Having discovered a true family/boutique chocolaterie, I was not about to miss out on an impromptu taste-test.

Note to the wise: When the Swiss label their liquor chocolates, they mean it. It’s not just liquor-flavoured, it’s a quarter-shot of booze in every bite. Adjust consumption levels accordingly.

We bypassed the serious liquor chocolates and had truffles instead. Their ranking: Fabulous. Maybe even better than the German chocolates but in the interest of judicial impartiality and rigour, I would have to go back to Germany for further testing. It would only be right.

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Rain, rain please do stay. I can't take another hot day.

In non-news, yesterday we watched a never-seen-anywhere-else-we’ve-lived  weather-induced phenomenon (I am trying to break a hyphenated-sentence record).

While out on our evening stroll through downtown, heavy rain started pouring, driving many shoppers to line up execution-style, their backs pressed tight against the buildings for shelter in that miniscule 18-inch ribbon of dry pavement next to the wall.

Witnessing this led me to reflect on what this unique behavior would lead to in other parts of the world.

Do this in the Pacific Northwest and you’ll be waiting for the weather to clear from November til April. Try it in Manitoba or North Dakota and soon a sheath of ice will form over you, rendering you immobile until spring.

Lining up in this fashion in a giant American metropolis will lead criminals to assume you are volunteering to be relieved of your wallet or purse, getting you mugged within two minutes. The good news is that ambulance attendants will arrive to get you out of the rain, although you will be in a prone position, likely for quite some time. If you are single, this is even better as you are about meet a lot of doctors, just as your mother always hoped. You might not look your best, but the doctors will be too busy checking your intubation tube to notice. See how a little rain can change your life?

In Victoria, British Columbia, muggers are more polite and will ask for your money instead. Many would-be robberies are aborted in this way as the prospective victim is often unaware he has a role to play. And in true Victoria form, the mugger will be too polite to point out this faux pas to the victim, and let it pass. This happens dozens of times a day there.

In Australia, line up against a wall and someone will hand you a beer. Do this in Spain’s Plaza Mayor and locals will assume you’ve had too much beer,  search you for it and take it away.

Our view: Not very attractive, but not so bad. The buildings absorb the sound of ambulances screaming down our street. I'm not joking. We rarely hear them from inside our courtyard-flat.

I did wonder how long the Swiss would stand there, but as it turned out, the locals knew what they were doing. Within a few minutes, the rain paused in an orderly polite Swiss manner (just  as it started, quickly and on time) and the crowds meandered back onto the roadway. I should point out, this area is a no-car zone, so no tremendous traffic excitement ensued.  In the meantime, the Swiss had a sociable time chattering with their fellow rain-refugees,  presumably about the weather.

In other news that matters to no one in particular, yesterday I was told twice that I speak French very well, proving that you can get by in a foreign language on only two sentences, as long as you pronounce them very well.

And finally, I’ve been told I am living a rich-lady-life, which sounds pretty glamorous, but in the interest of truth, allow me to dispel that myth by sharing the view outside of our flat.

Plants that I plan to neglect.