Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day-trippin': part 2, Carouge; Review: Wolfisburg

The day after our sixteen-hour trek to Lausanne and Vevey, we slept in. Which was fine, because I had, with five hours of sleep, doubled Erin's sleepless evening, and also because virtually nothing is open on Sundays in Geneva. So, what to do at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, besides creep on people in the park?

We decided to creep on people in the town of Carouge instead. A little context: Carouge, often referred to as a Genevan suburb, was founded by Victor Amadeus III, the King of Sardinia, in hopes of snatching trade and people from its rival Geneva. (Fail?) As a result, Carouge is supposed to be architectually distinct from Geneva; despite its non-lakeside location, it has Mediterranean-style buildings.

Moreover, because Carouge is further from the center of Geneva, local Michelin-starred restaurants' entrees are CHF 10 cheaper. But they are closed on Sundays, and so Erin and I settled for a lazy panini-search (we had eaten the last of the food in our room - potato chips - earlier that morning). We first ended up at GelatoMania and concluded our backwards meal with a debate between Chinese food and a cafe, Wolfisburg. Wolfisburg won out, partially because its entrees were under CHF 20 and because after two scoops of gelato, we weren't that hungry anyway.

Although we missed out on Peking duck, we also had a lot of fun at Wolfisberg...except Erin was missing tomatoes on her panini (CHF 9), which she described to me as "just okay." Wolfisburg was more about the experience of being rushed in and out of the cafe than about the food, though. (I swear, I'm not being sarcastic.) Upon swinging open the door, we were greeted by a row of customers and a chocolate bar, flanked by the bakery on the right.
I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but Erin - the enabler - suggested I get a traditional macaron (CHF 2.90). Two words: good call! I'm starting to be able to use my taste buds to parce the differences between amaretti and macarons. (German Wikipedia claims that amaretti are basically Italian macarons, while English Wikipedia doesn't link the two cookies. Both use eggwhites and sugar and almond paste, but macarons are a little less gritty, smaller, and in their modern form, have the cream sandwiched between two cookies. When you see them, they usually don't have a peaked top like amaretti do. Traditional macaron, like this one, are bigger and only have one cookie, no cream.) This particular macaron used hazelnut powder, instead of almond powder - it was a creative idea, but a strong hazelnut flavor does not beat a strong almond flavor in my book, as the hazelnut demolished every other taste in the cookie. The texture, though, was perfect for a amaretti. A chewy, nutty challenge without being jaw-crushingly nougaty, and when I bit it, it didn't have the styrofoam "crunch," either.
I've saved the best part for last. The real reason why we loved Wolfisberg? Its gift section, which made us hang out for fifteen extra minutes at the counter and why the people surrounding us shot dirty looks. Swiss chocolate knifes? Check. Gift-wrapped truffle boxes? Gourmet syrups from France? CHECK. We couldn't resist the brightly colored bottles, some with flavors that are rarely found in the States (especially when you're not buying in bulk). There were the brown food flavors, and then the neon food flavors:

If you look at the bottles, you can see what we mean. Acerola, in the top photo, is known as the Barbados cherry and is commonly used in Switzerland to garnish desserts. It's a small spheric jewel-colored berry -- think translucent crabapple -- and is super-tangy. In the bottom photo, pomme d'amour (aka tomato), chewing gum (yeah, because I totes want chewing gum moccachino -- but I guess bubble gum is a common ice cream flavor) and cactus. For kiddie flavors, like chewing gum and blue raspberry, they have smaller pump bottles (that I mistook for hand soap, my bad). Erin and I ended up with a bottle of strawberry and of lavender, respectively -- I had to have the lavender; I'm going to make easy lavender honey ice cream soon, I hope!

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