Tea from the Camellia sinensis plant has been a
part of Chinese culture for 5’000 years. It comes in a bewildering variety from
green tea, oolong to Pu-er. Many people claim that it has healthy properties
due to anti-oxidants. To me, it is a simply magic drink. I recently served some
good quality Chinese oolong tea in a traditional Chinese Gong-fu fashion to
several of my friends. Among them was my friend’s son who is eighteen months
old. He sat attentively while I was preparing the tea in front of his eyes. He
followed my every step and eagerly took the precious Temuku tea cup full of hot
tea. He sipped, then sipped again before emptying the cup. He eagerly returned
the empty cup to me so that I could refill it. Again he drank everything,
slowly licking his lips before asking for another cup with his eyes. Everyone
one was amazed to see a little boy enjoying a quite bitter drink. But then
again, I have seen the same reaction again and again in adults who tasted the
amazing sweetness of premium oolong tea. Even after 5’000 years premium tea
seems touches the hearts and souls of people in a way no other drink can. Tea
is truly magic.
Stefan Wiesner took over his family’s restaurant in a remote
Swiss hamlet almost thirty years ago. Ten years after the take-over he started
to experiment with his own cooking style, using stones, trees, leaves and other
natural ingredients he found in the surroundings. Today his is an acclaimed
“natural” cook with 1 Michelin star and 17 Gault Millau points. I recently had
the pleasure to enjoy one of his sumptuous and truly astonishing 5 courses meal
around the theme of the Swiss “Alphorn”, a traditional wooden instrument.
However, what makes him truly outstanding is that his restaurant is split in
two: the front part serves simple modestly priced local fair for the villagers
who are mostly farmers. At the back of his restaurant he serves his
award-winning courses to a distinguished clientele from all over Switzerland
and Europe. He mentioned that this split keeps him grounded. I also believe so
as he is a gentle, charming and approachable person.
In August our good friends from Tokyo came to visit. The
couple brought a very precious present: a handmade traditional Japanese doll
which the wife labored over for many months. The doll’s head and body is carved
out of light wood. The head then gets painted and the clothes are intricately
glued on. Everything is made from hand by scratch and it can take three months
or more to make such a doll. It is the most heart-felt gift we have ever
gotten. Thank you Hiroko Iwata very, very, very much!
How would you change the world in 31 days? The acclaimed
photographer Stefan Schacher asked this question himself. And he came up with a
simple challenge: 31 portraits of creative and cutting-edge people in 31 days.
He already did two projects, one in New York and one in Kunming, China, before
launching the project this year for Zurich. I went to an artist talk with
Stefan, inspired by the portrait of Sally Montana, a photographer who sits next
to me in Zurich. Interestingly Stefan had some truly Zen-insights while racing
through the 31 days. He said that about half of the people he knew. However,
despite careful planning not every day ran smoothly and on one day he didn’t
have a person to portrait until 8pm, before stumbling upon someone. His lesson
was that sometimes in life you have to let go and trust that it will work out.
Sometimes, it is about doing without a purpose, trusting the gut feeling.
If you want to support Stefan’s project you can do so via
Among the sweetest fruits on this planet are mangos from
India and Pakistan. They come under different labels like honey mango or
Alfonso mangos. In India and Pakistan mangos are a matter of pride. Luckily I
found some Tamil run shops in Zurich that import mangos from India and
Pakistan. They are absolutely delicious and you better not miss the short
season from beginning of May until the end of August. Yummy!
What do you do if you just got a baby and are more or less
locked in at home but still want to get back in shape? Joining a gym is out of
the question and jogging as well (let’s assume your baby doesn’t like prams too
much). I came across the perfect home fitness tool that doesn’t cost much,
takes up very little space and is highly effective. TRX was, if you want to
believe the marketing hype, developed by a former US Navy Seals guy. He was
looking for an easy and effective way to stay fit. The result is TRX, basically
a length-adjustable strap that can be attached to a door, window or a tree. It
allows for a full body work-out just using your own body weight. I love it and
so does my wife! Today TRX is used by Marines, Seals and Infantrymen in Iraq
and Afghanistan. And the best is: it will not be sitting in your basement and
gather dust! PS: It even comes in a camouflage color scheme for military guys.
Zurich prides itself for its cultural side, museums and many
galleries. This summer the city produced an open-air exhibition dubbed Art in the
City. All over Zurich one could find art by famous artists like Ai Wei Wei and
some not so famous artists. My favorite piece is by Swiss artist Alex Hanimann
I recently had the honor to drive a young Icelandic
performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson from Basel to Zurich. In return he told
me about his performance at the Migros Museum in Zürich. Over several hours he
and his fellow Icelandic opera singers performed Franz Schubert’s song “An die
Musik” in various rooms of the freshly renovated museum. It was quite a
spectacle with all the singers and piano players singing the same song at
different intervals. An amazing cacophony of sounds was pure joy!