Life in Zurich, chocolate aside, was a pretty sweet experience. Clean lakes and rivers, phenomenal public transportation, charming historic city centers. Yes, ’twas a good life, but it was not the culinary dream that one could imagine in Italy or India. That said, there are some foods that I really miss. Proper raclette can be prohibitively expensive, and no cheese counter seems to understand the idea of making a fondue mix* on request. However, contrary to what one might think, Germanic food can be easily found in Boston.
Take the Laugengifeli**. Literally, Swiss German for lye croissant, a laugengipfeli is a Swiss-style butter croissant dipped in pretzel lye. A bakery staple throughout Zurich, it was my go-to treat whenever we had the rare breakfast out. (Going out to the breakfast, now that’s one of the pleasures that come with being in the US. There obviously is a reason why the word brunch has been adopted in other languages throughout the world. But I digress.) In Boston, however, I don’t need to return to Switzerland to get my favorite type of croissant. We have Swissbäkers, our own local Swiss bakery who makes proper “Pretzel Croissants”, a name that sounds more appealing than the literal translation. We always order a bunch whenever we have a party, and they are always a big hit.
As good as they are, Laugengpifelis do not really make a full-on meal. Not a problem in Somerville. One of the hottest restaurants in town is Bronwyn, a Central-European, Germanic Weinstube in Union Square. Mr Mad Cow and I finally had a meal there this past weekend. (Date nights often are not our highest priority.) The beer menu, in particular the German beer selection, was extensive. I ordered an Augustiner from Munich for nostalgia’s sake. Then Mr. MC and I shared cucumber salad, pickled eggs, latke-esqe placky and, quite possibly, the best cheese Spätzle we’ve ever eaten. The restaurant claims to change its menu seasonally, which is a good thing. Spätzle is much to heavy for a hot summer day. But, my goodness was that Spätzle divine on a chilly winter evening.
* In San Francisco, there was a fancy cheese store in my neighborhood on 24th Street. One time I went in there and asked for a fondue mix, and they pointed me to a ready-made processed Cheese-Whiz like package. I then explained I meant something like a Fonduemischung like I would get in a comparable cheese store in Switzerland. The staff could not be ruder as they said I did not know what I was talking about. As if. Needless to say they did not get my business.
**In Swiss German, a croissant is called a “Gipfeli” which means “little summit”, like the high point of a mountain.