February 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So we didn’t steamboat during CNY.
But we made do with a carbfest.
Food for 6 girls. Took us more than 1.5 hours to prepare, and about 20 minutes to completely devour.
2 huge plates of fried rice, 3 packets of boiled instant noodles, and a pot full of chicken curry with loads of potatoes. And a terribly hard baguette. Srsly it wasn’t bread, it was biscuit. Bread here dries up and turns hard very quickly.
A scary colored yu-sheng that Becky’s parents brought up for us.
It was quite funny cause none of us know enough ‘four letter words’ to say while lou-ing. And we all basically ate very little of that stuff and chucked it aside. (We all agreed that normally in Singapore, some male relative or another is usually responsible for vacuuming up the yu-sheng which none of us were prepared to do.)
So we tried to get rid of it by offering it to an Indian neighbour, who became pretty enthusiastic about his new strange and wondrous discovery of strange Chinese food and proceeded to have seconds.
But the rest of the time we mostly have rather normal meals.
Okay, like I’ve mentioned we’re on shoestring budgets.
So all the rooms basically cook the same stuff in different permutations every day:
Potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic.
Almost every dish we cook has the above 4 items.
Me and my roommate also indulge in mushrooms.
But every room has it’s own idiosyncratic indulgences, we’ve realized.
Meat comes as a whole chicken (cheapest at 7.05CHF), or 0.5kg of minced beef at 6.95CHF.
Carb choices revolve around pasta (we will aim to try more than just Conchiglie [seashell shaped] and Spaghetti), rice (which we generally either overcook or put too much water), instant noodles and potatoes.
We’ve had soup for the past 3 days (forgot to take picture) made from the usual suspects: carrots, potatoes, lots of garlic and onion, and a whole chopped up chicken. With a mountain of fried shallots that my Momma sent up. Life is good.
But I think our kitchen ski||z are getting a little better. Tonight we had sauteed shrooms with minced beef, steamed broccoli and cheese omelette for dinner!
And I remembered to put enough salt for once. We used a good quality block of cheese I bought but wasn’t as flavorful as my cheapo Brie chunk.
Can’t read any of the names here since everything’s italian so I figure I may have purchased a cheese that was more suited for cooking, because it tasted real good with the omelette.
But Brie (and I will buy a block of Camembert to try next!) still remains my preferred selection for bread/crackers.
Okay, maybe more photos of food next time (must remember to take photos). But you can see the rest on facebook.
Will upload again soon on next week’s adventures in Bern and Lucern.
Doubt there’ll be much to say in the next couple of days since we’d actually be having them 8 hour classes. @_@
Shall have to sleep now!
February 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
Alright, so today I will talk about food (nothing else to talk about, we’ve run out of things to do in little Lugano).
We’ll be travelling out to Luzern and Bern next week, we largely have very little class to attend. Yes we only have about 35 days of school in total, shocking ain’t it? Most modules are cleared in about 5 days, BUT each day’s seminar is 8 hours. 8.30am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 5.30pm. Give and take la huh?
So we’ve been here 2 weeks and haven’t even eaten out yet. (Expensive. Duh.)
We told ourselves we’d eat out once a month somewhere nice. Haven’t done that yet, but fortunately we have loads of instant noodles and curry powder to keep us sane.
But we’ve been having loads of pasta and bread and such as well. And cheese. Even the cheapest cut of Brie here is yumyum. And cheap.
So being cheapo students on exchange trying to spend as little as we can, sniffing out good bargains in our favourite place (the supermarkets, which we have never spend so much time in Singapore as we do now) is an important activity we engage in every other day.
Here’s one of us being very proud to find a twin pack of ham discounted.
Meat here is expensive, but being Singaporeans who really cannot just eat pasta for every meal (as we have noted some neighbours doing), we need the carb/meat/veggie balance met.
Veggies in this country are quite inedible in soup. Being Chinese and all, obviously we boil everything. But most of the veggies here taste terrible boiled (as we have experimented). So far the most familiar and palatable is broccoli. There’s spinach here too but people mostly eat it ON pizza so they sell it in these expensive little packets ready for pizza. The only other roll of veggie we’ve found that doesn’t taste terrible after boiling is iceberg lettuce. So we’ve settled on that.
Funnily it’s like an inversion here. Veggies are kinda expensive, we saw ginger that cost 9CHF just now. Crazy seriously.
But stuff like cheese is really cheap. And hazelnut flour.
There are hoards of hazelnut products here. There’s nutella and about a zillion other nutella substitutes that taste practically like nutella, just waterier. (But of course there’s also ovomaltine, my love.)
I really love my ovomaltine spread. (The bottled stuff on the right hand side.) Haven’t bought any other Ovomaltine products because they’re not really cheap and none of the other girls are particularly enthusiastic about Ovomaltine so I can’t share with anyone.
Ovamaltine spread is like a cross between nutella and ovaltine with rice krispys in it. *_*
And these Italian-speaking Swiss folk really love their pasta. Should’ve taken proper shots to do a panorama with but since I didn’t here’s 8 pictures of the same shelf in the supermarket featuring the pasta collection.
Tadaaa. This isn’t even counting the need-to-be-refrigerated type of pasta like ravioli and gnocchi that are on a different shelf!
Anyway with easter coming there are shelvessss of chocolate bunnies all over the supermarkets. And since chocolate is so cheap here, some of the big hollow choco bunnies are already only $4.95. Wonder how much they’ll go for once the Easter slashing starts?
(Behind is a woman walking two ridiculously tiny dogs that don’t look like they should even be let out of the house to walk. They were seriously, smaller than my rabbits.)
They also sell colorful, sprayed eggs during the Easter period.
Which is kinda pretty, and cool, but also kinda gross. These are the metallic ones. The prospect of you accidentally eating is just rather ick.
Alrights, more in the next entry about what we’ve been eating per se here.
February 15, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So we trained into the neighbouring town of Bellinzona. Our first adventure out of the little, and increasingly nothing-to-do town of Lugano. Train tickets were 5.90CHF after using the half-card. We paid 249CHF for the Swiss Half Card + Track 7 which allows us to buy tickets at half price and travel for free between 7pm and 5am. It’s a yearly card, but we decided we’d have to make it worth it and travel around Switz more then.
The main town areas in this part are small but the landscape is just ridiculously pretty every way you look. I haven’t NOT seen a mountain anywhere.
There’s a carnival going on in Bellinzona this week called Rabadan (sounds like Ramadan hor?). Everyone from the teeny little kids to the old folks dress up in costumes and there are loads of bands and parades and stuff. But unlike Ramadan, the festivities include a lot of drinking (at night) and these hilariously hungover sunflowers were one of the first sights that greeted us upon entering the city center.
There were cute little tots EVERYWHERE.
Small, chubby, wide-eyed, pink cheeked European babies are just too adorable.
Then we visited one of the three castles in Bellinzona – Castlegrande. We were too busy being trigger happy and enjoying the sun and lovely grass to bother cheong-ing all the castles.
We didn’t bother paying 5CHF to enter the castle museum, but you’re free to wander around in the outer courts. The castles of Bellinzona aren’t really castles in a sense but more of defense forts.
And here’s the view from the castle. Beautiful ain’t it?
And this is my first Swiss cat! My favourite subjects are a rare find in this country. Generally there are as many dogs here as there are babies. Every other person you meet owns a dog and generally spend lots of time walking them.
After enjoying the castle we strolled back down into town to walk straight into the ongoing parade. Really enjoyable and makes me miss playing the saxophone. These people really know how to have fun.
Friendly t-bonist smiling at me from across the courtyard as his bands heads out to play.
Okay a couple more pics from the castle.
Today we’re going to Ikea, I think. If we ever make it out. We’re all just nuaing in our rooms on this Monday morning because we have no school.
February 14, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Hello. It’s been a while I know, but the weeks leading up to my departure was predictably busy.
Been living in Lugano for a week now. It’s a beautiful place. I’m not sick of mountains yet. But they are well and truly, everywhere. I’m surrounded and literally dwarfed by these beauties.
First view of the mountains when leaving Malpensa Airport in Milano.
We took a direct shuttle bus from Milan airport into Lugano.
The sky in Europe, of course, always far more beautiful than back in sunny Singapore.
This is the view from my hall room window. Mountains everywhere, like I’ve mentioned.
Famous Lake Lugano on a good day. It’s a beauty ain’t it?
The water’s always sparkly in the bright European sun. Anyway the sun in these parts is a lot more glaring than it is back in Singapore so sunglasses are more than fashion accessories here. They’re pretty mandatory when it’s sunny.
My university. USI or Università della Svizzera Italiana. The main building that is. The campus is actually really tiny.
The central bus station at night. Becky (my roommate) says it’s supposed to be an architectural piece. It’s quite glowy and pretty in the evenings.
The view from somewhere upslope near the train station. The main city center part of Lugano is downslope, as is our university which is fortunately really close to the city center and to Migros (cheapest grocery option available, very important).
We’ve indulged in little since we came and the bulk of our money goes to very basic food needs. We mostly cook carrots, potatoes, onions and carrots with everything because it’s the cheapest we can manage here.
We also walk almost everywhere, even to the train station (upslope and quite a distance), to save money. Bus fares are not cheap. Some of us went to a church further up this morning and it costs 1.60CHF one way just to get up there. The distance is not that far, but it’s a very windy upslope road that we would have to be slightly mad to decide to walk up.
Here is the lake and the nearby mountains in the setting sun. No lens can do it justice, maybe a panorama will but I haven’t got about to shooting any of those yet.
Just know that I’m surrounded by mountains on all fronts.
Alright here are some other pictures of Lugano so far, enjoy.
Will update with Bellinzona as soon as I can. Bellinzona is sort of the main town in the Tincino region, although Lugano is a little more famous.
We paid 249CHF for the Half Card + Track 7, which allows you to take the swiss railway at half price and completely free between 7pm and 5am. So we will probably plan some excursions to the further parts of Switzerland.
More on Bellinzona later on. Still going through the 900 over pictures I took there! (Carnival+castles = lots of pictures, yeah.)