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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

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