Year: 2014

girl sewing

Me and my Bernina: A sewing love affair made in Switzerland. Plus, where to buy your sewing supplies!

The chances of my being interviewed for a Proust Questionnaire–those Q&As so popular in trendy magazines wherein the celebrity being profiled dishes on their likes and dislikes, favorite quotes, the contents of their handbag and most tellingly, their most prized possession–are small to nil, yet I can’t help but ponder what my responses might be if asked. This reflection never lasts very long because other than remembering my favorite movie (To Kill a Mockingbird) on other questions I largely go blank. I console myself by saying I’m too busy living life to keep mental notes on it…and frankly, opinions are so changeable…but I admit it nags at me a little. The other day though, I had a bit of an ‘aha’ moment when I realized there is one thing at least that, if not quite my most prized possession, is certainly my most hardwearing, longstanding and loyal one (if inanimate objects can be considered loyal). That would be my Bernina 1005 sewing machine, the most basic model available in December 1988 when my husband bought it for me …

Geneva decks its halls for Christmas with inspired works of visual poetry

When it comes to decking its halls for Christmas, Geneva commissions artistic installations that never fail to distinguish the city as one that celebrates this special time of year in an original and often inspired way. Again this year, the city has decorated its squares, streets, and bridges with the same magical installations that so captivated its citizens in 2014, but with a few changes. The physallis lamps previously found at Place Longemalle are now nestled amongst the majestic trees in the Jardin Anglais where they’ll no doubt cast a very mysterious spell over the surroundings. There’s also a new, eye-popping installation in Place Cornavin above the small wooden chalets that make up that area’s modest outdoor Christmas market (there are other noteworthy Christmas markets elsewhere in the city, particularly the lovely outdoor market in Carouge). To find out more about the illuminations and to see a video of the Geneva Lux Christmas Festival of Lights, please read my last year’s blog post and follow the links below: Geneva Lux Festival of Lights For 2014, the “Geneva Lux” Festival of Lights, as this annual event …

swiss cheese

Chilly evenings are just right for a Vacherin Mont-d’Or mini fondue

On cold, damp evenings such as we’re having now, one of my winter favourites, baked Vacherin Mon-d’Or served as a luscious mini fondue, makes for a warm, flavourful meal that’s great to share with family and friends (individual and double-sized portions are sold at most stockists)–or as a cosy meal à deux–along with some crisp Swiss white wine. Here’s a little information about this wonderful, seasonal cheese that literally needs to be scooped up during its limited availability in the shops: Vacherin Mont-d’Or AOC is made from September to April by a small group of dedicated Swiss affineurs in the Jura Mountains. It’s one of only six Swiss cheeses to carry the prestigious certified label of origin (AOC) awarded by Swiss PDO-PGI Association. To merit this certification, each stage of production must take place within the region of origin thus guaranteeing its distinct character and unmistakable identity. The cheese comes courtesy of cows brought down from high pasture to spend the cold winter months in stables, meaning it’s not available for very long. Like all good things that too …

Discover Geneva’s outdoor markets with help from a handy online guide

Outdoor markets have existed in the city for hundreds of years and many of the market gardeners (maraîchers) who ply their trade are but the latest generation in their family to do so. Likewise, over the years shopping habits have been passed down within families, so faces are familiar and greetings are often on a first name basis with warm handshakes attached. New faces are welcomed warmly and equally efficiently, with a brisk touch for all during peak hours (though there’s always time to share cooking advice). While supermarkets do their best to compete, nothing compares to the familial and familiar ambience of an outdoor market. To this add a lovely locale in one of the city’s leafy, cobblestoned town squares, in the shadow of a quaint church or nestled by a medieval fountain. The result is as much a rich social and historically-tinged experience as a satisfying culinary one. Most of all its about encouraging community, where people of all ages mingle, chat and sample. It’s not all about food, though. Geneva hosts some excellent flea markets offering antique books, porcelain, …

Prepare to be delighted by Geneva Boutique “La 5e”

Recently as I crisscrossed my way from Cornavin to Plainpalais I cut down a little street off my usual beaten path and as a result discovered one of the most enchanting shops I’ve come across in Geneva. At Boutique “La 5e” (La Cinquième) proprietress Estelle Ganguillet has assiduously collected antique and decorative items with a keen and knowing eye for beauty, heritage, quality and, in her selection of children’s toys, no small measure of whimsy. Estelle opened “La 5e” some thirty years ago and aside of a two-year hiatus during recent buiding renovations the shop has remained a favorite haunt for in-the-know shoppers ever since. Her instinct for sussing out the beautiful antiques — furniture, porcelain, fine china, glass, jewellery, and delightful nic nacs — at flea markets, garage sales and antique shops has been passed on to her daughters Alice and Marie, who also collect items on the store’s behalf and manage it on Estelle’s days off. A penchant for good taste and a sense of calm has also enriched the store’s decor, one half of which resembles an 18th-century boudoir complete with chandeliers, rich carpeting and soft furnishings as well as wonderful carved boiserie (woodwork) panels …