Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Idea of Heaven

We always talk about moving upstate, and taking over the bar on the corner of our sleepy road, and turning into a sweet little restaurant. A couple of years ago we were calling that a gastropub, but now that's so overused. Anyway, we never take the leap, but I'm always happy when I get to visit someone who has. On this trip, we were turned on to this restaurant, Casa da Luzi , in the middle of nowhere in the Alps, close to Vals, opened by a former hot-shot Swiss chef, Beat, who moved to the country to get away from traffic and noise, and to open a small restaurant in his home, with four guest rooms above.  It was such a perfect lunch. There was no menu--he just offered us deer liver (his friend had gone hunting the day before) and the most delicious rosti (like hash browns but better--more butter!)...wild mushrooms...and a lovely soup that we started with. For wine he told us to go pick out whatever we wanted from the cellar. A nice example of what we could do in our golden years...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Therme Vals, Switzerland

I know I was MIA for the last week, and I have a very good excuse. Even though I back everything up, somehow there was a perfect storm involving my computer, my husband's, and my digital camera. For about 5 days I thought I lost all of my Austria and Switzerland digital pics. I'm only going on about this because I want you to know there is great recovery software out there--so I got it all back.  Moving on, here is one of the most beautiful places ever. Vals, at the end of a box canyon, has one of the most perfectly designed spas (and hotel) ever, called Therme Vals , designed by Peter Zumthor. We were only there one night, which was enough--because we had our fill of soaking after an evening and a morning of it and it was expensive. Still it's one of those places that is worth going to once in your life, if you happen to be in the area. Clara loved it and declared it 'better than Disneyland'. 
this is where you can sip the water from the source..not too sulphur-y
 this is the view from our room
 Our room was one of the Peter Zumthor designed rooms-pretty straightforward.
 View from our room...
 The local products they use in the spa.
 Delicious cheese cart after dinner.
An amazing tea selection at breakfast.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heidiland

As we drove through Heidiland (in Switzerland near Austrian border) we knew we had to go to the touristy Heidi Museum since Clara would love it, but we also wanted to find a place for lunch that was not a tourist trap. I asked Matt to drive up this mountain, just to see where the road took us. Turned out to be a good move, because we ended up in this little tiny town called St. Margarethen, which had maybe 10 houses, and lots of cows, and crazy views of the mountains. Talk about a real Heidi experience. All you could hear was the jingle of the cows' and goats' bells, and the views were amazing. We found a farmhouse that made the most perfect homemade lunch, and sold their own cheeses, butters, jams, and stuffed fur toy rabbits.  Then we headed down the hill to the town of Maienfeld, the official 'Heidiland', but also home to some of the best pinot noir we've ever tasted. If you get to this area, make sure you buy some to try, and some to bring back, because finding Swiss pinot noir in the States is not easy, and it's way more expensive...And the Heidi Museum and gift shop were actually pretty cute--goats wandering around (some of them butt the tourists, Clara included), nice Edelweiss cotton scarfs in the gift shop, and a pretty walk to and from the parking lot.
Above pictures all from the Buura Beizli farmhouse lunch stop.
All those inside shots are of the Heidi Museum, and were taken by Clara.