For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 2 in Switzerland

Rolle, Switzerland
Another cloudy, rainy day. But even the gloomy weather didn't stop my weary, jetlagged body from exploring my remarkable surroundings (as well as picking up some new, useful colloquial French). Late morning, a family errand whisked me from the towering hillsides and vineyards that hover over the city of Rolle, to the nearby town of Gland—which is supposedly inhabited by Phil Collins and is also the butt of many jokes in French movies and television shows. Gland has two meanings: acorn and the tip of a p---- (you can fill in the blanks). Gland is not far from the towns of Aubonne and Gimel, and strung together, Aubonne Gimel Gland, creates a play on words. To all the girls, I put my gland inside. Useful to know. 

Food converted to energy is also helpful. When we headed back to Rolle, our growling stomachs led us to the charming downtown restaurant, "Le Cap Breton" (the Breton Cape). This savory crêperie, owned and operated by a Frenchman from Brittany, offers a variety of crêpes and appetizers set amidst a rustic, nautical-themed setting. Adorned with antique chairs and tables, seafaring trinkets and baubets as far as the eye can see (such as seashell-shaped candelabra and bright yellow napkins folded in the shape of boats), this comfortable yet busy maritime atmosphere creates a funky oceanic environment for patrons.

We ordered Kerisac to accompany our meal—a tasty dry apple-based French hard cider with a unique musty flavor (my brother picked up notes of "mushroom or fungus"). This drink fared well with the vigorous first course, fish soup served in a ceramic boat with chunks of red mullet fish (rouget), petite slender mussels, and stems of lemon thyme that swam in a rich brown broth (which we easily mopped up with toasted slices of baguette topped with housemade mayonnaise-tartar sauce and grated gruyère cheese). Tasty, warm and satisfying on this cool, overcast day.

Next up: the main course. I ordered the "Galette de l'Atlantique." This large crêpe, served folded and topped with smoked salmon, sautéed onions, capers, lemon, lettuce, and a citrus cream dressing, ended my aquatic meal on a rich, hearty note.

On the way out, I couldn't resist stopping at the bar for a picture as I learned yet another play on words. La Criée du Bar (bar = sea bass). Translation: The fish is screaming...or...You are screaming at the bar for a drink.

Even after this oceanic feast, several hours later we found ourselves eating again. This time, Papet Vaudois, a traditional Swiss dish typically served during the cold winter months in the canton of Vaud (Rolle belongs to this canton, which is the equivalent of a state in the U.S.), ended up on my plate, lovingly made by my sister-in-law and her sister. Consisting of potato, leek and cream stew served alongside local sausages (we bought saucisse aux choux—pork sausage with cabbage), this tangy, creamy, time-honored, warm meal was a treat.                  
And for the wine? What else? I wanted to reciprocate and retrieved from my suitcase a bottle of 2005 Sinor-LaVallee Pinot Noir, Aubaine Vineyards, San Luis Obispo County. A smooth, pleasant, fruity hit. Our dinner party was surprised at the bold fruitiness of this wine and was even more flabbergasted to learn that San Luis Obispo produces even bigger fruit-forward wines. They declared this wine a "pleasure to drink" and later I heard they wanted to know how they could order this wine and have it shipped over.

And for dessert? A light strawberry mousse cake. Delicious (délicieux). No double meaning intended.

Day 2: Good food. Good company. Learned something new.

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 1 in Switzerland

From my travelogue...

It’s Day 2, actually—around 4:00am—and the only noise I hear is the sound of a clock ticking away tirelessly in the night. The nearby hills are silent; the plump grapes are finishing their final days of ripening in the cool night, soon to be plucked for the annual harvest. Yesterday’s long, arduous journey from California rewards me with this idealic setting—smack in the heart of gorgeous Swiss wine country. My current locale is the ville of Rolle, nestled in the canton of Vaud, a French-speaking region of glorious Switzerland. Huddled in the major wine-producing terrain of the La Côte Region, Rolle is bordered by the blue swell of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) to one side, and the lush green Jura Mountains to the other. Varietals such as Pinot Noir, Chasseslas, and Gamay thrive. Lucky me.

Yesterday my sister-in-law and nephew greeted me at the Geneva airport on a drizzly, rainy day, their bright smiles welcoming. My adventure begins. Driving to Rolle, the landscape is flanked by rising green landscapes and misty air, the symmetrical vineyards cover the intriguing majestic hills as far as I can see. We drive a bit closer and I am delighted to see the rich dark grapes fattening on the vines. Overcome with travel fatigue and not yet able to explore my new surroundings, I settle into my brother’s apartment and find enchantment in watching my nephew explore his home and toys. Now a toddler, a little cherub with curly blond-reddish locks and plump dimpled cheeks, he is ever the curiosity seeker. He warms up to me—his American aunt whom I hope he will see often over the years. I gladly pick him up whenever he throws up his arms.

Two naps later in the day, the clouds have cleared enough for me to revel in the stunning view of the lake and the sparkling French Alps from the patio. I am again reminded where I am: in a different kind of paradise. My brother comes home from work and I am ecstatic to seem him. I bring out gifts from the States. A monkey Halloween costume for my nephew, American candy, shirts from Pismo Beach, and other reminders from home.

We order pizza for dinner—authentic Italian-style according to my brother. It is delicious and satisfying. They present me with an unexpected gift for my upcoming 40th birthday, a generous gift certificate for a spa treatment at the luxurious Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne (a posh hotel that sits near the shores of Lac Léman). How lovely to travel halfway across the world and be pampered in style. I have no idea what’s in store for me over the next few weeks. Novel experiences. Unusual wines and cuisine. Remarkable sites.

I am in a new place…with familiar family…ready for unfamiliar adventure.

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.
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