When I last visited Zurich it was the height of summer. The lake shone azure, the River Limmat glowed like stirling silver and Swiss army knives burst blood red from military shop windows. Likewise sachertortes glistened brown and deliciously chocolate among pastries and cakes of every hue. Even the long white sausages tasted oh so much better than they looked.
I do remember also that the female population appeared to be descended from the Valkyries and my puny five and a halfish foot frame embarrassed me for the first time in my life. Not enought to stop eating the cakes though. Or the sausages or drinking the beer in copious amounts. I was with three guys that trip.
It was high summer as I said.
This time it snowed and I was by myself. It snowed before the leaves had fallen and trees were bowing and breaking under the unexpected weight of frozen water. I don’t like snow. Where I live it has a habit of stopping EVERYTHING – cars (roads ungritted); the trains (wrong kind of snow on tracks); planes (one de-icer for the whole of Heathrow) and my life (four daughters at home because their schools are closed trying their best to catch colds in the back garden).
It’s alright in the Alps when the sun is shining its ozone filled smile and the après ski bar is only a wide flat, blue run away. But that’s it in my book.
Because it had snowed we had to look inward for our entertainment. In a way lucky because I couldn’t fit my walking boots in the minuscule carry on bag EasyJet allowed me to travel with. For the same reason I was forced to leave my hosts’ present behind as well. I did take a photo for them to soften the blow.
Now, my friends drink tea in the morning. I drink black coffee, at least three cups, to get me going especially after an evening of reminisce and red wine. There was no coffee in the house and I was gagging, I hope quietly, for a cup.
We went to IM Viadukt for our coffee which we may not have done if a) it hadn’t been snowing and b) there was coffee in the house. And that was a good thing because
the place is fantastic. It’s Zurich’s first covered market plus over fifty shops under the arches all with design in mind. And apart from the exorbitant pricing of everything (buy some more Euros Switzerland, please) it is my kind of shopping, eating, drinking and hanging out venue.
With coffee firmly in mind we passed stalls selling cheese, bread, cured meats, honey, wine, flowers. We passed a wine bar. My eye was drawn. It was 1.00pm. We passed the biggest mushrooms I have ever seen on sale in my life. We passed a trolley of beer. We passed wonderful scents, colours and people looking happy. Nirvana.
The restaurant is at the far end of the market and open to every sensory pleasure. The coffee was very good. I had two cups and felt a lot better and more like me. I also felt hungry.
All around us people were enjoying moules and frites with goblets of wine. Moules, frites and a goblet of wine is possibly my favourite meal. My female host picked up on my appreciation and, I guess feeling pleased that she had chosen the venue so presciently, suggested lunch.
What a splendid idea. My treat. My lips had only formed the “Wh” when……….
“I want to go to Mr Wong’s,” my male companion said. “I don’t like the smell of antipasti.”
Jaw, floor, gobsmacked. That was my reaction. How are you coping? I’m just praying for a cathartic release by penning this blog.
We left and at least got to look at the shops. I bought some earrings and a couple of kitchen utensils. Obviously I was constrained by my miniature suitcase and the Swiss franc induced hole in my wallet. I did find a wonderful bookshop that, if all the books hadn’t been in German, I could happily have stayed in all afternoon and sneaked back to the market for you know what.
I loved the vibe there but we had a pressing date with destiny in the guise of Mr Wong’s wok and you cannot argue with destiny.
Mr Wong’s was across town and a ways from where we parked. Although I’m not a massive fan of Chinese food I had reconciled myself with the thought that if we were making all this effort it must be worth it. It wasn’t. Indeed it could be categorised as the ugly side of badly not worth it. Food-wise, it was terrible. And of course it wasn’t cheap. If you go, even after reading this, do not have the Thai green curry. It is not a Thai green curry. I will say nothing more. Nothing more needs saying.
So, when in Zurich my advice is simple. Don’t go to Mr Wong’s. Go to the IM Viadukt and embrace the heady smell of the antipasti. Stay, have a glass or two of wine and try the mussels for me.
In case you’re wondering I had a wonderful weekend and am writing this with my hosts’ blessing. A few glasses of wine later that night forced me to bring the antipasti moment up. I had to. It was the best food for thought I’d had all day.