Tag Archives: chocolate

Happy Easter!

Already spring has begun, and the city is brimming with new life. Grey skies or blue, it’s something you can sense—from walking through the forests of Allschwil, to the new songs the birds sing in the city, or the way the Tinguely fountains seem to have wakened from a long winter just in time to stretch out their arms and catch the sun.

And with this spring comes an early Easter, and the promise of restoration that it brings. As the church bells ring this Sunday morning, you’ll find yourself waking to a brand new celebration. And don’t forget: Daylight saving time begins Easter morning!

Here’s a quick sketch of what a typical Swiss Easter might look like…

Easter Surprises

It’s traditional in Switzerland to attend church in the morning, followed by brunch or dinner and a family celebration. A typical Easter menu could include lamb with potatoes; pastetli, a meat pie with mushrooms and cream sauce; chicken in lemon thyme butter; fish with couscous and yogurt sauce; pork, or rabbit.

Most children—and adults—also look forward every year to an Easter egg hunt. Eggs are usually painted the day before, and then in the morning are hidden outside in the park or garden, in the house, even inside boots and shoes! It’s uncommon to use plastic eggs, as Switzerland in general likes to keep things eco-friendly.

And don’t forget the Easter Bunny! Many children wake up on Easter morning to a magical nest or Easter basket filled with a chocolate bunny and eggs.

Chocolate bunniesUnforgettable Edibles

Basel whips up plenty of specialties just for Easter. Here’s a quick guide to a few of the seasonal favourites:

Biskuithässli and Biskuitlämmli: Bunny-shaped and lamb-shaped almond cookies with a delicate lemon flavour. Available in chocolate too.

Ostertauben: Pastry “doves” with candied fruit, hazelnuts, and almonds.

Osterfladen or Osterflädeli: A cross between a custard tart and a cake, often filled with rice pudding, speckled with raisins, and topped with frosting or powdered sugar. It can range from a very simple custard-like filling, to something more ornate with several layers of jam, cream, and nuts. Here’s a recipe via the Swiss Club of New South Wales. You can also learn how to make a breadier version on YouTube, thanks to @cakeclassics from Germany.

Praline Eier: Oversized candy eggs with a hard praline shell, filled with chocolates and decorated with piped frosting. Each boxed individually, these gourmet and somewhat costly praline eggs are given to close family and friends…a gift that tells a loved one just how very much they mean to you!

And everyone knows, Switzerland is the place to be for chocolate. Walk into any confiserie or bakery and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the choices—chocolate bunnies, candy eggs, marzipan carrots. Migros and Coop sell plenty favourites as well, from Lindt to Cailler, to Milka and beyond!

(S)Hop Around

Easter and spring go perfectly hand in hand, bringing new life to the city that you can feel as you walk from shop to shop and from city square to city square. You’ll find extra special treats, flowers, and fashions in every shop, and in the open markets of Marktplatz and Barfüsserplatz. But don’t forget that shops keep different hours for the holidays: you may need to check opening times for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday, but in a pinch you can find almost everything you need at the SBB train station shopping center.

Easter Extras

A fun event you might want to catch this year is The 16th International Tango Festival OsterTango 2015! It will take place from 2 to 6 April, 2015 Hosted by the Basel Tango School, the event brings everyone together for a colourful weekend of music and dance, with a Tango Concert and Show, After Hours Tango, a special film presentation, DJs, and more. Don’t forget to stop by their website for tickets and more information.

There’s always something going on in Basel, and Easter brings much to do outside the ordinary. But of all it offers, maybe the best is opportunity—opportunity to be with family and friends, to relax, to party, to hike and bike, walk in the city or wander through the forest. You’re limited only by your creativity…and sometimes the weather!

What are you doing today to prepare for Easter? Are you colouring eggs with family and friends? Doing some last minute shopping for chocolate bunnies and flowers, or just relaxing at home? We’d love to hear how you’re celebrating this year!

Happy Easter from Basel Community!Frohe Ostern

Sweet Valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day! Hectic week and no time to plan? No stress! There’s plenty to do in this lovely, romantic city by the river…

Chocolate, of course.

Nothing says love like chocolate! And what better place to find it than in Switzerland. Bakeries, patisseries, confiseries…there’s so much to choose from. Sprüngli, Bachmann, Beschle, Läderach, and Schiesser are all right here. These are the ‘jewelers’ of chocolatiering, where every truffle is a work of art. Stop by to see their Valentine’s specials! You can find them online here:

Bachmann: confiserie-bachmann.ch
Beschle: www.beschle.ch
Läderach: laederach.com
Schiesser: confiserie-schiesser.ch
Sprüngli: spruengli.ch • They have two locations in Basel—Gütterstrasse 115 and Steinenberg 14.

Dinner is served.

If you find Basel’s restaurants booked up, no worries. One of the most romantic ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day is with a traditional fondue dinner at home. Here is a fun list of “Fon-dos” and “Fon-Don’ts” from world-renowned cheesemakers Emmi of Switzerland:

“Fon-Do”

Chocolate Fondue1) Variety is the spice of life! Be creative and serve a wide variety of dippables. Crusty bread, fresh fruit and veggies, boiled shrimp, marshmallows and cookies are all wonderful in fondue. Just be sure everything is prepared ahead in bite-size pieces.

2) Mix it up! Fondue is the perfect appetizer, main course or dessert. If you want to start with chocolate and end with cheese, it’s up to you!

3) Swiss Kiss! It is tradition when eating fondue, to kiss the person to your right if you drop your bread in the cheese. (It’s ok to do it on purpose…)

“Fon-Don’t”

1) Don’t forget to stir. As the night keeps moving, be sure to keep your fondue moving. Stir it up to so your cheese or chocolate fondue remains smooth.

2) Don’t double dip. Every fork- or skewer-full should contain a new, unbitten morsel. (If a piece falls in the fondue, see fon-do tip #3 above!)

3) Don’t hide any surprises. While fondue offers a lot of interactive eating enjoyment, it is not a good place to stash an engagement ring or other surprise gifts for your sweetie.

Ready-made fondue is available at Migros and Coop (along with fresh flower bouquets and wine or champagne), or you can visit a specialty cheese shop. Two other stores to check out are Manor at Schifflände and Globus in Marktplatz—specialty department stores with everything you need to create something special at home, complete with table settings, candles, and Valentine’s cards.

Away from you…

I-Heart-UOne of the unique and often challenging things about Basel is that for many it is not a permanent home — it is a stopping place for travellers, for business people and backpackers and adventurers. Many expats in Basel are on temporary work assignments, or are away from loved ones during the holidays. What do you do if you can’t be with that special someone on Valentine’s Day?

The good news is that in today’s high-tech world, it’s hard to stay disconnected. If you have apps like FaceTime on your smart phone, your sweetheart will love seeing the Rhein River and Markplatz, and all the sights and sounds around Basel. You could make it a memorable Valentine’s Day with a virtual tour of the city, or a romantic Skype dinner at home. Technology now lets us be more creative than ever before.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? We’d love to hear about it!

Image by David Sunnock // CreationSwap.com

The Basler Herbstmesse: Autumn At Last

The Fair // Flickr.com © jrodmanjr
The Fair // Flickr.com © jrodmanjr
Fall is a time like no other for everyone in Basel…the air is brisk, the shops and cafes turn cozy, everything starts to smell like cinnamon, and you get that special feeling that Christmas is just around the corner. And in this atmosphere begins the Basler Herbstmesse, the annual fall festival that draws around one million locals and visitors from all over the world. The oldest fun fair in Switzerland, this year’s 542nd messe runs from 27 October until 11 November at hotspots around the city, and until November 13 at Petersplatz. 

From the official ringing in to the ringing out at St Martinsturm, the Basel Herbstmesse (Herbschtmäss) creates a cultural rendezvous that is both artistic and fun. The fair’s unique layout stretches the festivities throughout the city, and there are plenty of stands to explore, selling all sorts of handmade crafts, clothing, toys, and more. You can find rides no matter where you go—whether the spinning, whirling “chairoplanes”, the pit-in-your-stomach drop from the sky on this year’s brand new Freefall Tower at Messeplatz, or the ‘Beach Jumper’ at Barfüsserplatz. The giant Ferris wheel at Münsterplatz (one of the biggest mobile Ferris wheels in Europe) reaches the rooftops of Basel’s historical buildings and is a Münsterplatz must (at least once!), showcasing a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the Rhein River.

Another major part of any festival in Basel is the refreshments. Baslers look forward every year to Magenbrot, a distinct Swiss chocolatey gingerbread, and hot Rosekiechli, delicious flower-shaped fried pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar. Another favourite is chocolate-dipped fruit kebabs, with pineapple, bananas, strawberries, and crunchy sesame seeds. Keep your eye out too for Jeffrey’s refreshment stand (started by the owner of the very popular Jeffrey’s Thai Restaurant in Riehenring), which sells gourmet schnitzel sandwiches, back where it all began.

More highlights this year include an expanded Hääfelimäärt at Petersplatz, which showcases all kinds of beautiful ceramics in unlimited shapes, colours, and sizes. Wine lovers won’t want to miss the Basler Weinmesse from 27 October to 4 November at the Messe Basel, featuring around 5000 wines from more than 200 producers. The Messe is also home to Basel’s Herbstwarenmesse, with special deals on products from household goods to electronics to sports. And as the Herbstmesse changes from year to year, you never know what else you might find.

Wherever you are in Basel, you’ll notice that the Herbstmesse is a magnet for bringing together people of all ages to enjoy, to experience, and to make memories. Bring your friends, make some new ones, or bundle up your kids and take your family out for two weeks of fun! 

Stop by the official website at www.basel.ch/en/kultur/jahreshighlights/basler-herbstmesse-2012.htm for a complete guide to stands, rides, maps, and more.

*As always with fairs, keep your children and other valuables close!

A Swiss Affair to Remember: Valentine’s Day in Basel

Romance, elegance, and a table set for two–whether this is your first, fifth, or fiftieth Valentine’s Day in Basel, thriving in the breath-taking romance of historic castles and cobblestones are a variety of places to celebrate life and love. Here are just a few ideas of what you can do this February 14.

Chocolate Love

Nothing says love like Swiss chocolate! In Basel you’ll find the best Switzerland has to offer, with bakeries, patisseries, and confiseries of all kinds: Lindt-Sprüngli, Bachmann, Merkur, Schiesser. These are the ‘jewelers’ of chocolatiering, crafting each truffle a gem and every treat a treasure. Confiserie Schiesser in Markplatz sells row upon row of chocolates, ranging from homemade champagne truffles, to Patoro Truffes, Pralinés, chocolate figures, and more. 

Merkur Chocolaterie next door displays a wide variety of chocolate bark with dried fruits and nuts as well as traditional truffles and chocolates in all shapes and sizes—white, milk, dark, striped, dipped in chocolate or rolled in cocoa. Konditorei Rieder on Allschwilerstrasse is famous for its original Whisky-Truffes, as well as their Champagner- and Kirsch-Truffes. And all over the city, at any Coop or Migros, you can find melt-in-your-mouth Lindt truffles, Valentine’s Day specials, and of course chocolate hearts.
 

Reservation for Two

Lady and the Tramp // © Disney // Valentine's Day
Lady and the Tramp // © Disney // Valentine's Day
If you want to go all out, the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois overlooking the Rhein River is one of the oldest city hotels in Europe and a beautiful tribute to Basel’s rich history, with origins dating back to 1681. Boasting a guest list that spans centuries and all avenues of culture and the arts, the hotel has served royalty, dignitaries, leaders, and artists including Monaco’s Prince Rainier, Queen Elisabeth II, the Dalai Lama, Charles Dickens, Pablo Picasso, Franz Liszt, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. 

This Valentine’s Day Les Trois Rois is hosting a deluxe five-course dinner for CHF 135.- per person, where you can savor the evening amidst chandeliers and candlelight. The hotel comprises 101 rooms and suites, reminiscent of the ‘Tales from 101 Nights,’ each with its own unique decor and ambience. A double room at the hotel can cost upwards of CHF 660.-, including breakfast, minibar service, and free use of the city’s public transportation. On a clear day, if the weather isn’t too cold, a cozy tram ride through the ins and outs of the city, taking breaks for a stroll by the Rhein or through the park, can become an extraordinary Valentine’s adventure. 
 
Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois
Blumenrain 8
CH-4001 Basel
Tel. +41 61 260 50 50
www.lestroisrois.com/Restaurants

Dinner at the Castle

Another romantic hideaway is the Schloss Bottmingen outside the city in Baselland—a charming ‘Wasserburg’ or Water Castle with roots in the 1300s, where a beautiful wooden bridge leads the way across a small pond to the front entrance. The castle’s restaurant began in the late 1800s and still stands today as a monument to yesterday’s heritage and today’s all-star dining. Specializing in French cuisine, the restaurant is also a popular spot for weddings with it’s beautiful gardens and terrace in the summer. 

Their unique winter menu for CHF 125.- includes a duo of salmon, marinated and tartare with lime sauce and a winter bouquet; grilled prawns and scallops on a bed of pearl barley risotto perfumed au curry; and an iced cinnamon cube with apple turnover for dessert. You can download the complete menu from their website.

Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen
Schlossgasse 9
4103 Bottmingen bei Basel
+41 (0)61 421 15 15
www.weiherschloss.ch/
Directions from city centre: www.bvb.ch/en/timetable-network/online-timetable
 
Basel has plenty more special locales for every occasion. You can check out some of our favorite restaurants for Valentine’s Day and any time of year in our Dining Section.
 
But of all the options and things to do in Basel, maybe one of the best-loved is dinner at…home.

A nice homemade fondue with fresh bread from any Basel bakery is hard to beat. You can choose a specialty mix of fondue cheeses from the fromageries located in grocery sections of Globus and Manor, or something simpler in any supermarket, like Migros and Coop. They all offer tons of choices and cuisines for even the most hard to please. Many department stores also have an in-house florist for your pick of expert bouquets and arrangements. 
 
What’s not to love? A very select table for two, far away from the madding crowds. Turn down the lights, but light the candles, with scattered rose petals or a bright bouquet in the center of the table. Bubbly or wine, your choice. Top it off with a warm chocolate fondue—some strawberries and cream, biscuits, candied ginger, dried apricots, fresh apple or orange slices—don’t forget your favorite music…and the food of love plays on