Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where to eat and drink in Lausanne: La Couronne d'Or

Among Lausanne’s cafés cachés, this charming spot wears the gold crown. Tucked away behind the Place de la Riponne, La Couronne d’Or is the kind of secret you want to keep all to yourself. Lucky for you, we are going to let you in on it.
You wouldn’t know it from the surrounding shopping centers and concrete parking garages, but the café on Rue des Deux-Marchés is steeped in history. In the 1800s, the street served as a liaison between the vegetable market at Riponne and the meat market at Tunnel. In 1895, a petite brasserie opened at number 13 and served as a no-frills pub for locals who couldn’t afford the neighboring Moudon.

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, it was a popular lunch joint and the kind of place where local workers stopped in for a pick-me-up. When the current owners rescued the spot from demolition in 2006, they uncovered an interior full of remnants from the past, much of which is still part of the décor. The wall tiles are original and the linoleum floor and tables date from the 1960s. And despite the advice of several contractors to tear it down, the owners even managed to preserve the old wooden bar counter.
This love and respect for history is what makes the Couronne d’Or so charming today. It’s a cozy place for an apero before dinner at one of the restaurants in La Cité. The terrasse doesn’t boast the best view in town, but with the right crowd, it’s a great spot for a locally-brewed Gab’s beer. We hear that every once in a while there is live music. In the morning or mid-afternoon, you can also camp out at the community table. WiFi is free, but for goodness sakes, stash your smartphone! There are plenty of newspapers and other reading material to go with your cappuccino.
Sunday brunch is hopping and reservations are strongly recommended. The simple brunch menu is delicious and changes along with the market fare. Go for the classic Crunchy-- a pretty glass of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and real maple syrup! Prices are a little high for the size of the plates, but what you pay for is the nostalgic ambiance.

La Couronne d’Or is a real gem of a café and a quaint reminder of the past. Now that we’ve let you in on it, share it with only your best friends.

By Kristen Gehrman

La Couronne d’Or
Rue des Deux-Marchés 13
1005 Lausanne
+41 21 311 38 17

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photo of the Week: Springtime Longing

Photo by Gabriel Garcia

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a
 painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, 
looking at the leaves or grass, 
and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”

-John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

Monday, April 7, 2014

Where to eat in Lausanne: Chez Xu

It's not an exaggeration when we say that our thoughts are still consumed with last week's dinner; visions of fried dumplings, crispy honey chicken, and Szechuan beef are dancing in our heads. In fact, as we write these words, we are salivating and wondering how soon would be too soon to pay them another visit.
Mr and Mrs Xu moved here to Lausanne from China ten years ago, when they opened up the first and original Chez Xu in Place du Tunnel (the second location on Rue Petit-Chene is the newest of the two). Mrs Xu was a vegetable farmer and Mr Xu was in the restaurant business when they decided to make the move. And we are so glad they did.
With pages and pages in their menu, it is really difficult to choose just one dish--which is why we recommend going with friends so you can share plates and try a bit of everything (because sharing is caring, amiright?). We decided to ask for recommendations, but also found that looking at the plates pass by and inhaling the sweet aroma of garlic and spices was another effective method of making our decisions. Let's make one thing clear: at Chez Xu there are no bad decisions.
Based on our experience and having conversations with other Chez Xu enthusiasts, we can wholly recommend the fried dumplings and garlic cucumber salad to start (the seaweed salad is also a popular favorite); the spicy Szechuan beef is out of this world, alongside the crunchy sesame bœuf croustillant and sweetly coated honey lemon chicken. There are also Chez Xu Favorites on the menu, which includes its popular soup dish. Bear in mind the portions are quite generous, so be prepared to buckle down (and unbuckle your belt) or take some home (which we found most of our dishes tasted great the following day!).
The restaurant itself is on the smaller scale--make sure to reserve a table regardless of whether you are eating there for lunch or dinner. Also, bring cash as they don't accept credit or bank cards.

We are so glad to have found authentic, delicious, and affordable Chinese food in Lausanne! Thank you to all of our readers who urged us to review this restaurant--it has rightfully earned its place on our 'Favorite Restaurants' list.

Until next time, Chez Xu...and the time after that...and after that...


Have you eaten at Chez Xu? Which dish should we add to our list for our next visit?

Chez Xu
Rue du Tunnel 10, Lausanne, 1005 
021 312 40 87

Rue du Petit-Chene 27, Lausanne 1003
021 320 72 68

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Something for the weekend: Cully Jazz 2014

OH boy… The music festival that manages to get us both in trouble year after year is here again. We can’t be sure what it is about Cully Jazz, but it likely has to do with the intimate wine cellar settings of the OFF festival, the chilly springtime evenings, and the local wine – yes, probably it has something to do with the local wine. Before we know it, we’re grooving like a couple of beat poets to the rhythm of jazz bands from around the world. This year we can thank a baby and graduate school for keeping us well-behaved...we hope.

Although the Cully festival has grown in popularity over the years, meaning that cellars are crowded and parking is scarce, we still love watching this charming Lavaux village come to life around a passionate art form. All you need to do is show up with some good company and the festival will take care of the good vibes and the good wine.

Cully always boasts an interesting lineup of IN concerts (for a price), but we consider ourselves OFF festival enthusiasts. We like the crowded cellars – yes, they’re a little bit hot, a little bit sweaty, but there is something extraordinary about experiencing the music up close. It’s intimate and intoxicating – just like jazz should be.

Cellars open at 20h during the week and at 18h on the weekends. And we have two tips for making your experience as enjoyable as possible 1) TAKE THE TRAIN (only fools try to park…) 2) Show up at least 30 minutes before the cellars open to be sure that you can get a place near the front of the room. Part of the beauty of jazz is watching the musicians enjoy their craft. Snag a spot at the front and hold your ground as the room fills up…

Have you ever been to the Cully festival before? Do you have any additional tips for our readers?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Time to get out and smell the tulips: Morges Tulip Festival 2014

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the trees are shifting their tones from grey to light green - it's springtime in Switzerland!

Every year about this time we start to get that little flutter of exciting in our hearts; soon it will be time for lakeside picnics, warm weather hiking and music festivals galore!

But before all that, there is the Morges Tulip Festival, a springtime ritual in these parts. From April to mid-May, you can stroll through the lakeside Parc de l'Indépendance and enjoy the more than 120,000 tulips on display from 300 different varieties.

In other years, we would advise to wait until mid- or late-April for the tulips to begin to reach their peak; however, Winter 2014 was anything but usual and Mother Nature seems to be in a hurry. In any case, it's better not to wait until the end of the festival to make your visit, as many of the blooms will already be in decline...

This is one of our top picks for a family outing this time of year. Not to be missed for a relaxing afternoon with your kids or grandparents!

Morges Tulip Festival 2014
Parc de l'Indépendance 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Meet Ashlee: Zumba Fitness in Lausanne

Exercise in disguise. That's how Ashlee describes her Zumba fitness classes, and we couldn't agree more. One hour of booty-shaking tunes, it honestly felt like we were at a dance party with a bunch of our friends. It also didn't hurt that Ashlee genuinely loves what she does; it is evident in her warm demeanor and her infectious smile. She has an energy that radiates throughout the room, and encourages you to dip a bit lower, lift your leg a bit higher, or put a little bit more shake in your salsa moves.
For those who are encountering Zumba for the first time (like ourselves), it was originally started by a Colombian dancer and choreographer in the 1990s. Each class begins with basic easy-to-follow steps, all set to popular dance music (from hip hop and r&b, to meringue and samba). Ashlee leads each routine with repetitive motions and dance steps that allow beginners to learn without compromising the work out. As you attend more classes, the routines begin to become like second-nature (as we witnessed with the other women who attended the session).

So if you're wanting to 'liven up' your exercise routine, we highly recommend attending Ashlee's Zumba class. We can say in all honesty, we didn't want the hour to end...and who says that about working out?

Ashlee's course offerings:
Monday 18:00 and Tuesday at 19:00 Studio Annexe 36- rue se Genève 103 in Lausanne. It's in the Cargo Domicile building (platform 18 on the 2nd floor)
Tuesday and Friday at 12:30 Centre Igokat- rue Centrale 31 (just underneath Pont Bessière in town)

For more information, visit Ashlee's Facebook page here or her Zumba page here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where to eat in Lausanne: Brasserie Lausanne-Moudon

The morning before my soirée at Brasserie Lausanne-Moudon, a local friend told me to start fasting, “You will eat heavy, and you will eat well.” Moudon is known for hearty French brasserie fare like tender beef medallions sautéed in foie gras and all-day roasted veal knuckle. It’s the cuisine of red wine lovers and carne connoisseurs, the kind of people who like their meat falling off the bone and don’t care if their vegetables are cut à la julienne. While equally chic as other trendy restaurants around town, we found Moudon’s down-to-earth vibe and delicious but not-so-delicate food to be a refreshing change.

It’s no surprise that Moudon knows what its doing. Situated in the heart of the old city, in the Place du Tunnel, the brasserie has been around since 1896 and was an obligatory stop for travelers from the north of the canton. As the city has modernized, so has the restaurant, but its menu has stayed true to the authentic tastes of the Suisse Romande.

 My date and I found it hard to decide what we wanted. La blanquette de veau, le sauté de veau, le jarret de veau? Or perhaps le tartare de boeuf, les minutes de boeuf, le filet de coeur boeuf? Oh là là, comment choisir ? With large plates paired with country-style vegetables and frites, it’s not the type of place where you can nibble on a little bit of everything. You commit to your plate (and to its price tag) and savor every bite. For those who prefer something smaller, the menu also offers “petite faim” options for several of its classic dishes. We ordered the petite version of the salade de chevre chaud to share and found it to be enough of an appetizer for both of us. The hot goat cheese glazed in fig preserves is to die for!

In my opinion, the elegance of the Moudon interior merits something chic n’ easy from your closet—comme ça, you will fit right in at the swanky bar. It’s a great spot to try a few Swiss wines: the house selections are straightforward and glasses are reasonably priced. Happy Hour is from 17:30-18:30 and dinner guests start showing up around 19:00. If you prefer table chat, we suggest going a little earlier. If you wait until 21:00, you will have to shout to be heard.

Without even trying too hard, Moudon is just downright classy--the perfect place to take a sophisticated guest with a taste for the heartier side of local cuisine.

By Kristen Gehrman
Lausanne Moudon
Restaurant Brasserie
Rue du Tunnel 20
CH-1005 Lausanne
+41 21 329 04 71

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