Hansel and Gretel must live here…

or at least the blind witch with the saccharine-sweet candy house in grimm’s fairy tale.

Colmar, a little french town in the alsace region, is just a 1.5hr drive away from Zurich,¬†Switzerland. Last Sunday was wet and cold, and on a whim, we decided to drive to France to have lunch. That’s the beauty of living right smack in the centre of Europe, you don’t need to book a flight to experience a different culture or get cheaper toiletries and groceries from across the border.

We have been to Colmar several times and it never fails to put a smile on our faces when we see the charming little townhouses with its fairytale-like quality. The rainbow colored buildings are more beautiful in winter when the streets come alive with christmas markets and the smell of gluhwein and roasted chestnuts, and at night, the soft glow of the street lights give it a surreal feel and you really feel like you are transported into the medieval ages.

P.S: Colmar is also about 15 mins drive from the closest KFC outlet. (there are NO KFC fast food restaurants in the whole of Switzerland!!!) We were tempted to drive there for take-away but my husband didn’t want his car to smell of greasy chicken.

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how much is that piglet by the window? alsastian cuisine is influenced very much by its german roots and feature many pork dishes like roasted pork knuckles and sausages served with a huge portion of sauerkraut. 20120422-193636.jpgmany memorabilia and serving dishes feature traditional alsastian way of life


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Christmas with our surrogate family

It has been more than 6 years since we last spent Christmas with family because of my husband’s penchant for snowboarding holidays with friends and our move to Switzerland. This year is no different. Friends, especially the ones who are living overseas, have inevitably become our ‘surrogate-family’.

We flew to London for the Christmas weekend and spent a cosy festive holiday with close friends. On Christmas eve, the seven of us went to Wimbledon theatre to catch a pantonmime, Dick Whittington, with special guest appearance from Dame Edna, a famous drag queen from Australia. I was mesmerised by her candy-floss pink hair, shimmery costumes and multi-colored stockings. She made quite the entrance flying down from a furry cage ( i read somewhere it was meant to be a wombat, a tribute to her aussie roots) from the side of the theatre onto the stage. She was meant to be a fairy. Even though we were sitting right on top in the circle seats, we were still blinded by her top-to-toe bling bling.

The story has nothing to do with Christmas of course. It is a simple sketch about a man called Dick Whittington, whose cat managed to rid London of its rat infestation, Dick then marry the daughter of a rich merchant he was working for. It is filled with cheesy pop songs, dance, buffoonery, slapstick cross-dressing, a dwarf, toilet humor and mild sexual innuendo. I heard the special guest star for last year’s Christmas pantonmime was David Hasselhof from ‘Baywatch’, and the year before, ermmm, Pamela Anderson, from ‘Baywatch’ too. Don’t ask me why they were involved in British family-friendly theatre. Times are hard I guess, even for washed-out hollywood stars.

I have never tried roasting a Turkey or preparing a Christmas meal. I really admire the people who have the guts to attempt such a lofty endeavour. The thing with turkey, it’s not something you’ll cook on the other 364 days, so it’s usually a first try for most people, and there is no room for failure. If you screw up, no Tesco/Sainsbury/Marks&Spencer/nearby poultry farm or food delivery service will be able to send you a brand new one, on Christmas Day! And the stress in cooking for 20 guests!!! But our friend made such a succulent, crispy-skinned turkey and lovely roast vegetables, you almost think he’s been doing this in the last 364 days too!

We are back in Switzerland now. The whole of Zurich city has been shrouded in thick fog the past 3 days and it has only started to clear this morning. I am just weaning off my Christmas hangover and post-holiday blues. Well, just in time for another round of merry-making as we wait for 12 of our surrogate family members to fly in from London and New Zealand to count down to the new year with us!