Monday, 20 August 2018

A superb night out in Sion

A few weeks ago, during my holidays in Heidi’s Country, we went for dinner at L’Enclos de Valère in Sion.

This restaurant has been on my bucket list for a while and now that I have been, I urge you to try it, because everything was perfect.

But before that, let me take you for a little tour through the centre and the old town of Sion. We arrived in the afternoon and we wandered lazily around the city. For the “things to do in Sion” I invite you to take a look at my post last year. You will certainly fall in love with this medieval town, so full of charm.

Et voilà, the stroll over, now I present to you this wonderful restaurant in the heart of Sion “L’Enclos de Valère”.

We arrived for dinner at 7pm, and we were installed at a table in the pretty shady garden, a haven of peace in the middle of the old streets of the city.

The menu was excellent, the dishes very well presented and the cooking perfect; simply the best!

We chose a menu which consisted of several dishes. Small appetisers (amuses-bouche) to start the feast. The starters were excellent and beautifully presented. The main course and the dessert were superb.

Our Menu:

Les délices de l'Enclos "terrine de foie gras de canard en fine gelée d'abricots, tartare de veau aux perles de jus de truffes, cannelloni au sérac du Valais et coppa en manteau d'orties, tomate et mozzarella de bufflonne au basilic"

Racks d'agneau en croûte aux herbes et à la moutarde, jus parfumé, trio de pommes de terre et jardinière de légumes

Steak de bœuf, beurre café de Paris, pommes frites et salade mêlée

Tarte Tatin avec double crème et glace

Duo de fraises et framboises, double crème de la Gruyère, meringue et glace vanille

What more can be said? We found the welcome warm, the staff friendly and professional, the setting at the foot of the castles just beautiful!!

L’Enclos de Valère Restaurant
Rue des Châteaux 18
Sion 1950
Tél.: +4127 323 32 30

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Interpretation of Murder - Jed Rubenfeld (2006)

Author: Jed Rubenfeld is a Professor of Law at Yale University. He has been described as “one of the most elegant legal writers of his generation”. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and two daughters. The Interpretation of Murder is his first book. This novel was a huge bestseller and published in thirty-six countries. Since then he has published his second novel “The Death Instinct”.

My thoughts: I remember very well why I bought this book among so many other novels displayed on the shelf of the bestsellers in the Portuguese bookstore Bertrand. What seduced me in this book was the first lines of the novel. Immediately, I knew that I would like to read it.

« THERE IS NO mystery to happiness. Unhappy men are alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wish denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put out by scorn--or worse, indifference--cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn’t look ahead. He lives in the present. But there’s the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning--the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life--a man must re-inhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them. »

This story is set in Manhattan in 1909. It is about solving a murder mystery using psychoanalysis with the help of Dr Sigmund Freud, who happens to be in America for one week with a group of colleagues, Sándor Ferenczi and Carl Jung, all followers of Freud’s psychoanalysis theories in Europe.

Dr. Freud is invited to lecture at Clark University, in New York. During this visit he is welcomed and escorted by Dr Stratham Younger, a professor at Clark University.

This story is narrated by Dr Stratham Younger.  A woman, Miss Riverford, is killed by strangulation and soon after, the beautiful 18 year-old Nora Acton, of a reputable family, is attacked. She shows similar wounds to those of Miss Riverford and theories abound that Miss Nora Acton’s attacker is the same person who killed the rich Miss Riverford. The arrest of the killer is complicated by the fact that Miss Nora Acton is unable to remember her attack, claiming amnesia. Hence, Dr Stratham Younger is given the job of analysing Miss Nora Acton and, with the help of Dr Freud, sets out to solve the mystery and help cure her.

As the story unfolds we feel the intrigue grow and start wondering who the villain is. Is it the wealthy entrepreneur George Banwell? Is it the mysterious William Leon of Chinatown, in whose room one of the corpses is found? Or is it Harry Thaw, the notorious murderer of Stanford White, who may have slipped out from the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane?

I loved this intriguing plot. I also loved the fact that Jed Rubenfeld has done a tremendous amount of research in order to use true facts and events in this intelligent fictional story. This suspense story is different compared to other crime novels that I have read. There is much more focus on psychiatry, but it is still easy to understand and I must say the reader learns a lot, while being entertained at the same time. A masterpiece that I invite you to read this summer!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Crispy bread and butter pudding with rum currants

Today I share with you a favourite old-fashioned English recipe that goes perfectly at any brunch.

I suggest that you use day-old bread because it works best for this recipe. Add rum currants to give an incredible flavour to the bread pudding.

I slightly adapted this recipe to make it crispy and moist at the same time. I made a smaller portion but here is the regular recipe that serves 4 people.

30g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
250g of very thin slices of white bread – don’t remove the crusts
50g rum currants (dried raisins)
2 tsp cinnamon powder
350ml whole milk
50ml double cream
2 free-range eggs
30g granulated sugar

1. Grease a 1 litre pie dish with butter.

2. Cut the bread in very thin slices keeping the crusts. Spread each slice on one side with butter.

3. Arrange a layer of bread, buttered-side up, in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of currants. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, then repeat the layers of bread and currants, sprinkling with cinnamon, until you have used up all of the bread. Finish with a layer of bread, then set aside.

3. Gently warm the milk and cream in a pan over a low heat to scalding point. Don’t let it boil.

4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add three quarters of the sugar and lightly whisk until pale.

5. Add the warm milk and cream mixture and stir well, then strain the custard into a bowl.

6. Pour the custard over the prepared bread layers and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

8. Place the dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top is golden brown.

Cut the bread in very thin slices keeping the crusts

Rum currants

How to prepare rum currants
Place the dark currants in a jar. Pour the rum (I used Bacardi Black Rum) over the currants - enough to cover them. Give them a shake and close up the jar. Let it sit in your cupboard for a few days, inverting the jar occasionally to make sure all the currants are getting coated.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Summertime in the Valais

I have been waiting for this day for weeks…the time has finally come to share this post!  We travelled to “Heidi’s Country” (this is how I nickname this secluded place) to spend the summer holidays in the mountain countryside.

Although I have posted our visits previously, each trip we experience is quite a bit different from the previous ones.

We had such a special time and it is my hope that some of the magic we experienced translates into this post.  At the very least, I hope that, by the time you are through viewing it, you will consider adding the Swiss Alps to your bucket list, because it is a region that truly deserves a visit.

I never experienced a morning here when I woke up and was not happy. It is for this reason that I take so many photos so whenever I look at them, I catch myself smiling and I am imagining I am there. It is wonderful to smell nature, feel the cool breeze, listen to the sound of the cow bells and play with the wild cat.

The tastiest fruits come from this region: a plate of raspberries.

Ask a Valaisan foodie to name the most popular dessert in the Valais and inevitably the response from many will be fresh apricot tart. For me, this is also one of the best and tastiest tarts that I have ever tried!

Lots of time to make comforting food, like this traditional British dessert - bread and butter pudding - which I slightly adapted to make it crispy and moist at the same time. Check out the upcoming recipe.

I read two books and will soon be back with my book reviews.  I’m a huge fan of the Portuguese author Eça de Queirós. “O Primo Basílio” (English title: Cousin Bazilio) is an exceptional and fun novel published in 1878 and translated around the world.
Eugenie Fraser’s moving account “The House by the Dvina” is a really beautiful read and I’d highly recommend it!

The nearby village...

One of my favourite things about the Swiss Alps is the absolutely stunning natural beauty.    Scenery doesn’t come more dramatic and more beautiful than in the Valais.

Lavey-les-Bains thermal baths are nearby and we often went to spend a fabulous pampering moment ar these thermal baths surrounded by mountains and greenery. As photos are forbidden there, these are snapshots taken with my smartphone.

The last day of my holidays we took the Tortin chairlift from Siviez to visit the Japanese Garden which is a source of delight to walkers. This magnificent natural site is situated at the end of the small valley of Tortin, at the summit of a beautiful glacial moraine, the view over the region is superb and the water that runs down the numerous meanders makes it special.