Vacations that Broaden our Horizons Part 3

wine pairing pazaz bakeware

After a two hour drive from Nyon Switzerland we ended up meandering around the hills of Luzern with our destination being the Royal Luzern Hotel. Even the locals didn’t know the hotel was open as it had apparently been closed for the last few years.

Negotiating the curvy roads with construction obstacles made our destination even more desirable. When you work for something it makes the prize that much more worth while. The GPS  led us to the front side of the hotel and a convenient parking place less than a block away. I suggested we leave our luggage in the car until we figured out how far we had to drag those suitcases and of course the wine.

The guest services person was very kind but wanted to put us on the first floor, which wasn’t going to fly. She ended up putting us on the third floor with a room that had a balcony overlooking Lake Luzern. The view was spectacular and the hotel ended up being in a very convenient location for us to walk to town.

We meandered around the town looking for a good lunch place.  With our GPS leading us through back allies and eventually to a little Pizzeria we finally landed. I didn’t know we were on a tourist main thorough fair. We did enjoy seeing the hordes of tourists being dropped off and following the guides down the street literally feet from our table.

As we looked at the menu (which also included pastas), we ordered wine and beer. I remembered that a pizza maker once told me that water was the key ingredient to making great pizza. Well, that person was correct as the water in Luzern is considered the best in the country and possible the world.

The combination vegetable pizza was out of this world. This was the perfect introduction to the cuisine of Luzern. After the lunch, which was very filling, we simply drank a bottle of wine on our balcony and called it a day.

The next day I scheduled a one hour tour of Luzern to give us a better idea of the history behind this beautiful spot nestled in the alps of Switzerland. We started the tour at the convention center on a sort of motorized rickshaw that took us through the cobblestone streets. Our destination was the stone walls the Romans built surrounding about a quarter of the city of Luzern. The stone walls also had turrets you could climb for a better look-out point to appreciate the expansive view.

Dotted around the city of Luzern are over two hundred water fountains. The water is so fresh and delicious it really adds to the interactive experience. The guide then took us to the wooden bridge (the oldest in all of Europe) dating back to the fourteen hundreds. Stepping back in time in Europe is such a wonderful feeling, and there certainly isn’t a more beautiful place to feel this than the town of Luzern.

The guide took us to the street we had seen all the tourists gather and walk. At the end of the street was a reflective pond with lily pads and large boulders surrounding a cliff which had the most beautiful carving of a lion. This was the “Lion of Luzern” representing soldiers that never gave up and fought to the death. What a spectacular tribute finished in the eighteen hundreds to honor the Swiss Guard that was massacred in the seventeen hundreds. We never would have seen this incredible work of art without a guide taking us to this magical place.

For lunch we had a beautiful meal at a small Italian restaurant that looked out to Lake Luzern, the waterfalls, and the reflections of Gothic churches. Next we were off to explore the streets of Luzern on our own.

It just so happened that this was market day. All the vendors were out in full force with the goods and goodies that promoted the spirit of the town. Nancy and I were excited to purchase a hundred grams of Fontina cheese (a locally made cheese). The Fontina cheese is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese exhibiting nuanced flavors of hazelnut and creamy butter. Perfect with chardonnay.

We hoofed it back to our room to eat Fontina cheese and drink our Meursault (chardonnay). After that incredible sensory experience, soaking in the landscape on a perfectly sunny day, I was ready for a nap.

The restaurant I had made reservations for was called “The Old Swiss House”. So, that night we followed a path to The Old Swiss House which was  located near the pizza restaurant we had eaten at the previous day. We had a clear path in mind as we set out for this wonderful restaurant.

The Old Swiss House features an all female staff dressed in traditional Swiss garb adding to the ambience. Our table was decorated with rose pedals and hearts for our anniversary. Silver show plates and crystal glasses adorned the white table cloth in a booth I had requested.

The champagne was a perfect compliment to our food choices as we enjoyed a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.  For our appetizer course Nancy had a pumpkin soup and I had a salad with a home-made vinaigrette. Our entrees included a veal with a mushroom marsala sauce and potato pancake while Nancy had the braised beef with cream spinach and boiled potatoes.

The dessert was prepared tableside. The Crepe Suzette was expertly assembled and flambeed by our server. The dish echoed essences of lemon peel and orange peel, Triple Sec, and Grand Marnier.

I knew this would be a great restaurant when on my way to the bathroom I saw on the wall an autographed picture of the 3 Stooges. What better judges of cuisine than the 3 Stooges?

Next stop in this series of vacation memories is the small Swiss town of Laufenburg.