Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day-trippin': part 1, Lausanne and Vevey

On Saturday, Erin and I woke up after five hours of sleep - we had to catch our early train from Geneva to Lausanne (protip: Supersaver tix at, the Swiss railway system, will cost 60% off if you buy tickets for a specific train). After leaving our room a half-hour late (I knew we needed buffer time), we managed to get a pain au chocolat, an apple croissant, a custard bun and a Nestea at the train station for CHF 12, and get to our line twenty minutes early. Skills, I tell you.

Once we got to Lausanne, we went immediately to its major landmark, the Cathedrale Lausanne. And when I say immediately I mean we got somewhat lost on the way up...until we saw a cluster of buildings that resembled old-school Fantasyland.
This is not the cathedral, but this is:

(As I mentioned before, the curry-flavored gelato was in this area too. Proof!)

And then, of course, we navigated our way down to the market near Lausanne's Palais, which houses more than ten museums.
The market, through the gates of the Palais.

As it was Saturday, the market, like in any other city, was sprawling: bakery booths, produce, stationary, used clothes, Anonymous...

For CHF 3, we bought the best baguette I've had so far (and that's saying something; I became a bread snob three days in. There must be a crusty outside on every good baguette), and then for centimes short of CHF 6, we got two small slabs of local Gruyere totaling about 200g.

Because we couldn't find sliced salami - just raw meat - in the market, we headed to the Coop (one of the major grocery chains here, along with Migros and Metro) for peppered salami and drinks. I managed to get organic lychee pop (worth it at CHF 2, but not as sweet as I liked -- tasted like fruity ginger ale) and Haribo gummies (sour, obvs) for the ride.

My lychee soda, chillin' on the Lake Geneva shore 'cause it's so crisp.

(A note on Coop pronounciation: at Harvard, we call it the Coop, one syllable (as in "chicken coop"), and accuse MIT students of saying it normally, like Co-op. They, in turn, accuse us of pronouncing it Co-op, too. In Switzerland, it is pronounced one syllable, but like "cope." Not having realized this and tragically having appropriated Coop as an wholly Harvardian word, I walked around for a half hour on my first day in Geneva and wasn't able to get an answer for where the Coop was...until I finally had the brilliant idea of spelling it out.)

So we ate on the train to Vevey. Remember how I mentioned Erin's claim that this was a "pseudo-food tour"? This is because the particular half-day trip from Lausanne I chose, Vevey, is where Nestle headquarters is (it's the birthplace of Henri Nestle, the founder). Not that you can enter there, since headquarters equal corporate offices and not fun factories that may or may not give you cookie dough. However, Nestle established a food museum, the Alimentarium, in the 1980s to talk about food and its relationship to culture and history. (That visit requires a whole post, probably the next.)

Other Vevey claims to fame: according to Wikipedia, "Vevey is one of two locations that comprise the setting of Henry James' novella Daisy Miller." Also, according to the town map, Rousseau's muse lived here.

Anyways, Vevey was ridiculously beautiful. Lakeside town (with "cute town" status amped up more than Wayzata - because really, you can't compete with Lake Geneva on that one). As mentioned, we stopped by for caramel de sel gelato, and since it was still Saturday, we caught the Marches Folkloriques (i.e., the big market).

More handmade jewelry, spices, produces and best of all, jams and jellies - with samples. I've never heard of kiwi jelly in the States, but it looked good - green with speckles of seeds, just like the corresponding gelato. (Again, why is that people eat so much kiwi and cassis flavored items here?) I went less adventurous this time, and settled for the caramel-soaked pineapple and nectarine jam, while Erin went for the triple berry; a 200g jar went for $9 - pricey, but there is whole fruit inside and we got raffia-newspaper gift bags, too. The jam came from Montreux, 7km away; Montreux is known for its jazz festival the first two weeks of July (DMB and Black Eyed Peas are on the line-up this year).

So that's part 1. The Alimentarium is next, and it's going to be a beast of a post (documenting a place that documents food? Yeah.)

for jam: La Cuisine du bonheur, 1820 Montreux, 021.963.0908

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