Today, I’m reminiscing about Geneva. My friend and I traipsed around Switzerland & the south of France for an entire week. Geneva itself is such a picturesque city. It’s clean and calm and modern, a haven for expats and a home to various international agencies. Lake Geneva is just big enough that you gaze at every lapping wave in awe, but just small enough where you stand that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed.
There are endless marinas and sculptures with very literal names (“boy with horse”), well manicured lawns that invite you to sit and stay as long as you want. The lake feels like it has a personality of its own. We started out at a section that felt uncharted and rugged…a little deserted, pebble beaches and shades of grey/green water. As we walked on though, the world started to become more vibrant, like someone took pencil crayons and coloured everything just a little bit brighter. The sun emerged from behind clouds, the boats in the marinas became whiter, bunches of flowers appeared and became brighter, the grass was greener, the water glittered with the rays of the sun.
There are cafes with platforms right over the water, strings of lights casually hung over the walls, families of ducks minding their own business in the water, the occasional bicycle resting against a railing, benches scattered about, and random telescopes dot the walkway in case the mood to see the town over the lake strikes you.
Every day I somehow managed to cross activities off of the Bucket List that I didn’t even know I wanted to do. We pretended to be drunkards passed out in front of Lake Geneva (photographic evidence available upon request) with a wine bottle that we discovered behind a bench, breakfasted with some birds, went exploring behind a random church, fell asleep on public transportation, ate an entire pizza at an almost empty bus stop at 11 p.m., and created an intensely wonderful “welcome to Geneva” Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing while cooking dinner in her apartment.
Another bucket list item? It all started in one of the most unique bars I’ve ever been in. Among it’s quirks, there was a piano in the bathroom and the walls were sponsored by Post-it. There were blank post-its around the place so you could write whatever you want and stick it to the wall. It felt like old school drunk texting. Make your professions of love, heartbreak, disappointment, jealousy, etc now people! Stick it on the wall! Hope that the object of your affection walks in and sees your brave revelation! Ah bar bathrooms. Where life happens. I of course professed my love for my friends because cocktails make me love everyone.
I’ve been told by many people that my singing voice borders on the offensive, so I tend not to participate in any karaoke type activities. However, my friend Nadine seems to be the kryptonite to my “no karaoke” will of steel. I’ve sung karaoke twice in my life and both times have been with her…the first was a few years ago when we killed a Taylor Swift song, and then again in Geneva. Sing karaoke in a Bar in Geneva with friends? Check.
One of my private moments of zen was on our way to the airport. We had to get two buses to make it and the stops were a short walk from each other. We jumped off Bus #1, practically ran uphill with our luggage, hoping that we wouldn’t see the Bus #2 fly by. To my right, there was an enormous fenced off grassy field, an unnaturally simple and beautiful expanse. From where I was standing, all I could see was green, light brown, and the bright blue of the sky and the cottony white of the clouds. As we were struggling up the incline, I glanced down and saw a single vibrantly red wild poppy growing on the little line of grass along the curb. Despite being born on Remembrance Day, I had never seen an actual poppy in real life. My poppy knowledge was limited to the felt & plastic pin distributed by the Red Cross, and to the tehnicolour field in Oz where Dorothy and her buddies take a power nap. To be honest, I never thought about the real flower, and it was never in the running as my favourite.
However, I never knew that the petals looked like tissue paper and is an interrupted shade of fiery red. I’ve found my new favourite flower, which is funny because it should have been all along. Finding zen at the side of the road. I feel like a 90s song.
So. I almost forgot about the food. I really wanted to try Fondue in the most irrational way. When I got there I found out that Fondue season was over. There’s a fondue SEASON?! These people limit your cheese intake!?! Unacceptable. I learned that Fondue, while delicious, is more about the social aspect of it. As my friend so realistically put it, “at the end of the day, it’s just cheese and bread” Lol I love her and all, but that kind of thinking can really damage a friendship 🙂
I adapted this recipe from the Nugget Market Gouda Fondue recipe, and also omitted the crostini and decided to go all out and bake it in a bowl of bread.
Smoked Gouda & White Wine Fondue
1lb round loaf crusty Bread of choice
1/2 lb Smoked Gouda, cubed
1 clove Garlic
1/2 cup White Wine
2 tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. dried Basil
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1 Pear, sliced
1 Apple, sliced
Cubed Bread from loaf
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp serrated edge knife, carefully slice off the top of the bread (about 1/4 inch) and cut a hole / circle around the inside of the loaf, leaving about a 3/4 – 1 inch border on each side. Use your hands to pull out the middle bits of the bread, hollowing out the loaf and creating a “bowl”. Cube the removed bread and set aside for later. Place the bread on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for about 10-15 minutes
Smash the garlic and rub on the inside of a saucepan. Use a spoon to break it up as much as possible. Warm the skillet on medium heat and add wine. Stir to incorporate garlic bits and wine. Toss the Gouda cubes with the cornstarch and add the cheese to the saucepan and stir constantly for about a minute to encourage melting and prevent scorching. Add basil, black pepper, salt, nutmeg & tomatoes. Keep stirring to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated and that cheese is melted. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Carefully pour mixture into bread bowl.
Serve with desired dipping instruments.
Note: I liked the crackers the most while Rabin thought the pears were the best. We both agreed that the bread bowl is the winner because it stays crispy, is already covered with melted cheese, and feels like round two when you finish eating all the rest. Ahh, compromise.