Chocolate and Wine

Lausanne, Switzerland


Another very full day! Its not easy having these freebie trips 🙂 Started with breakfast in our hotel lakeside. An absolutely beautiful morning, warm and sunny and a pleasure to sit there and look at the scenery as we ate. Just a light bit of scrambled egg and smoke lake fish with coffee. Still pretty full from last night.
Took the train up the mountain to the old town and visited the weekly market. It is massive and spreads through all the streets, stalls mainly selling fruit, vegetables, flowers and cheese. All local produce and for locals. No tourist rubbish or (that I saw) other goods. We had a good mooch about and also went into some of the delis and food stores that are in this part of town.
Then we walked across town to the Durig Chocolatiers, an artisan store that has been in business since the 1980s. The smell hit you as you came through the door and wrapped around you like a box of Black Magic. Chocolate! We were having a chocolate making workshop, just the two of us. They were so nice. The main chocolatier who is Swiss is married to an English lady and he’d just come back from a holiday in Scarborough of all places. Felt a bit guilty about this :).. Anyway, he was so interesting and showed us the whole process from bean and nibs (bits of chocolate) through to the final products. They were making all sorts: salted caramels, ordinary caramels, chocolate covered apricots….. It was quite a small place. They had vats of milk, dark and white chocolate and they made darker chocolate from a base of 68% by adding extra chocolate powder.
Firstly he helped us to make two molded animals. I made a bear and Lucy made a crocodile. We made it from dark chocolate and decorated it with white chocolate. What a job, ladelling the molten chocolate into the molds and then hammering them to drive out the air and then pouring it out again to make a shell. After making our animals we then made salted caramels by a molding method. By now the smell and the utter chocolatelyness of the whole experience was making me slightly sick!!!!!! You had to keep trying them. Now this might sound a pleasure but I haven’t got a very sweet tooth, I was still pretty full from yesterday and I was conscious that we were booked in for a lunch at 1230 🙂 This chap was so enthusiastic though that we had to soldier on. He sent us off with our animals, a bag of salted caramels that we’d made and some blocks of amazing Cuban chocolate.
We staggered out and on to lunch. Did I mention the hilly terrain??? This is the saving grace with all the food. Its so steep here. I had achieved my daily Fitbit target by the time we got to the lunchstop. This was a lovely café specialising in brunch. We didn’t go for that because in all honesty it was too much. I had a plate of salmon tartare mixed with avocado and coriander, Lucy had a beef tartare and we shared a plate of king prawns and calamari salad. It was great to sit down and relax for an hour. Although it wasn’t very relaxing because we were trying to deal with a domestic at home: Lucy’s Airbnb guests who were leaving today had disobeyed her written instructions and opened the sash window in their bedroom (which is faulty) and the top sash had dropped right down and come out of the frame. This would be awkward anytime but was made worse by the fact that the next Airbnb guests are arriving tomorrow, so somewhat urgent to get the window fixed. Bob and Daisy were out and in central London and were incommunicado and Lucy was trying to ring her insurers. In the end we got Bob and he went back and made a temporary fix till the insurers take over on Monday.
After lunch, we headed to the rail station and got a train about 20 minutes along the lake shore to a winery. What a fantastic area! The lakeside hills are cloaked in vines both red and white grapes and little wineries. We had a private tasting at a small winery overlooking the lake — just amazing views of the Jura mountains and distant alps. We tried 4 wines and they were all delicious.
After the tasting we had to walk down the mountain to the lake shore to get the wine train for a tour of the vineyards. The vineyard owner at the tasting suggested we walked down through the vineyards using the locals’ path. This was possibly a mistake as it was almost vertical for many sections which was – for me – nerve-wracking. There were some handrails but they had been positioned for either dwarves or children or people with ape like long arms but they didn’t work for normal human beings being far too low. Somehow we got down, taking about 30 minutes and sweating a lot.
Anyway, got to the wine train – the Varoux Express – just in time. Its a motorised train that runs along through the vineyards and along the hillsides, takes about an hour. We wound up through the most picturesque villages with fabulous views across the lake to the mountains. One was still snowcovered. About 20 minutes in, the weather changed. Clouds came scudding along and the rain came down. The lake almost disappeared!!!! What a shame. It would be a stunning ride in bright sunshine.
The train took us back to the lakeside at Cully where we boarded an historic paddle steamer to journey back to Lausanne. By now it was absolutely hammering it down and the scenery was virtually impossible to see. Another great shame because the boat itself was delightful and we very much enjoyed the trip.
Had about 45 minutes in the hotel when we got back. Just enough time to get a hot shower and change. Then up to Lausanne town for dinner, this time at a place called Eat Me. In all honesty, if it had been on my dime, I’d have been in bed with a glass of alka seltzer by now, but needs must. So, Eat Me was a rather trendy establishment, very buzzy with a bar–like atmosphere. There was an open kitchen where we could watch the chefs work. The idea of the place was small plates of food taken from around the world and you ordered a selection to share. We had about 8 small plates between us and a cocktail each. Some of the dishes were very very good and others were much less so. One that was weird and didn’t work for us was a piece of sashimi tuna with some herbs and onions on top and right on top of these was a fragment of Szechuan flower. You had to eat the flower and hold it in your mouth for about 10 seconds then eat the sashimi. The flower has a strange analgaesic/tingling property that makes your mouth tingle and then when you put in the sashimi it is supposed to make an explosive taste. It was just rather unpleasant. The effect took ages to wear off and also had an odd menthol sort of taste that did nothing for the tuna. Not to be repeated.
Crawled back to the hotel room at about 10pm. A lovely day full of activities. We are certainly seeing a fair offering of what Lausanne has to offer. Its an excellent spot for a weekend away. Plenty of things for all tastes to keep busy with.

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