The main priority for this afternoon was to explore Colmar, and stuff our faces with charcuterie, cheese, and macarons. I planned a visit to the #4 listed eatery in all of Colmar, Sézanne, a place right up my alley, a sort of modern rustic specialty shop with a bistro upstairs where you can eat the most amazing charcuterie, cheese, and wine, among other limited options (no macarons though as far as I know). *Drool* So we decided to have a light breakfast of croissants, which were fresh baked at the market across the street. I was excited to have a taste of a ‘real’ croissant from France, and see how it compared to the tasties I can easily get back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped, and so much butter did NOT agree with me, which was (surprisingly) the first thing I ate on the entire trip that didn’t, so I had some dry toast leftover from Italy instead with an espresso.
After venturing out for the day, the first stop was Le Marché Couvert de Colmar, a big indoor market in Colmar that sells everything from fresh fish and meats, to local cheeses, salamis, Italian specialties, pretzels, pastries, fresh fruits and veggies, and even some Vietnamese food (they even had Pho — how bizarre! It was the last thing I expected to find. I didn’t taste it though so I can’t attest to the authenticity). We walked around the market drooling on ourselves and eyes big from all the delicacies we saw. We didn’t buy anything though, I wanted us to save our appetites for the French feast we would have in a few hours. Behold, the mysteries of Le Marché Couvert de Colmar:
After the market, we just walked all around, seeing the charming architecture and shops. It was raining on and off, which kind of stunk for photos, but we made the best of it. I was definitely more excited to be there now, but it still didn’t compare to Italy for me. We did make a stop at a bakery to pick up some fresh-baked macarons, which, like the croissant, were the first ‘authentic French’ ones I had had. Actually, they were the first ones I had ever had, I was saving myself for France my whole life I guess.
The verdict: they were absolutely sinful. So sinful that I’m going to be trying my hand at baking these for my friends when I return, because I don’t trust that the ones I can get locally will compare.
Eventually we walked to Sézanne, where I went to open the door, and pulled on it, but it didn’t open. Heartbroken, I exclaimed ‘shit it’s closed!!’ and two French guys standing next to the door said ‘no no it’s open, push’ and I got really embarrassed at my brain fart moment and pushed the door in. I keep doing stupid things like this on my trip, like fumbling with the ridiculous skeleton keys, or opening doors wrong. I’m not sure why these differences between the US and Europe evolved, but I’m convinced it was just to mess with tourists like me so everyone could get a good chuckle.
Anyway, so upon entering the shop, I had a cartoon moment where my eyes bulged out about 3 inches from my head and I immediately went into drool overdrive. I must have looked like a starving puppy dog or something, as I was in edible heaven. Sausages, cheeses, and specialty items like pickled stuffed hot peppers, mushrooms, anchovies, and other items lined the walls, shelves, and counters. Before going on a shopping spree though, I wanted to eat. Shopping on an empty stomach is a bad idea, especially when in foodie heaven.
We went upstairs to the cute bistro area, and were seated in a corner table. Everything was in French, the specials board, the menu, etc. I’m well-versed enough in French food vocabulary to be able to read most of it, but the server offered to translate for us so I happily agreed. We wound up ordering a charcuterie plate (Sausage Counter – 17 & 18), and a cheese plate with some Gewürztraminer , one of the regional specialty wines. This Gewürztraminer was slightly dry, with fruity and floral notes and paired well with the feast before us.
For a second course, we shared a plate with duck breast, fried polenta, and a mash of carrots, and some other baby vegetables. The duck was an especially red-meaty tasting specimen, and I used it to help explain what ‘umami’ is to my companion.
Oh and of course some amazing baguettes fresh baked, rounded out the meal.
After the amazing tastebud journey, we decided to finish up and buy some of the meat and cheese we had eaten upstairs. We got two sticks of the regional salami, and a wheel of the regional munster. The munster is a very strong tasting and soft cheese, this is not the same as what you find in American stores (duh). The regional salami had a gentle meaty flavour, with hints of wine and herbs, and the perfect level of saltiness. The shopkeep was kind enough to vacuum seal my treats so I could bring them back to the states fresh, and then we were off.
After lunch we had a bit of time before we had to leave for Switzerland again. It was drizzling again so it was kind of dreary.
We went to see the Church of St. Martin, a beautiful Gothic style Roman Catholic church. Built between 1234 and 1365, it has some beautiful architecture and is rich in history. There were two churches built before it on the same spot, the first in Carolingian style around 1000, and the second in the Romanesque style somewhere between then and 1200. The highlights of the exterior colored roof tiles, many tympanum (sculpted surfaces over doorways), and large supportive pillars on the facade which are rare.
My stupid camera battery died though so I only got a few images of the interior with my cell phone camera.
After the church we just walked around a little longer and then went back to the apartment to get ready for a concert.
The concert was kind of a last minute thing, that I had planned a few days earlier. I had found out Nine Inch Nails was touring, and decided to go a little out of our way (back to Switzerland in fact) to catch them. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, they are one of the most influential and important bands in my generation. A few years back they took some time off, and now they are back with a new album, so it was really cool to catch them on their first tour since the new album. I was also looking forward to seeing a show in Europe, some of my fellow concert going friends said it’s a different experience altogether.
The concert was an hour and a half away in Zurich, so we had to cross the Swiss border again. By this time we had a pretty good navigation system worked out, generally it was a little more oldschool where we had a map pulled up and the passenger would navigate for the driver. I got a kick out of our efficiency doing this, in contrast to the lousy technology we had relied on earlier.
So most of the ride was uneventful until we hit the border. There were Swiss cops doing a border check, we thought it was a typical border check where they scope you out and might check your passport if you look shady, however this was a toll check. There’s a Swiss toll to use the motorways of 40 CHF (which is about 44 USD). I had known about it but totally forgot, and most of our travelling through Switzerland had not been on the main motorways so we hadn’t been stopped until then. I was so pissed at myself for forgetting, I mean yes, 40 dollars isn’t much if we live in Switzerland and only have to pay it once a year, but if we’re just passing through it’s a bit ridiculous to me.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful and we arrived at the concert. There was a decided lack of traffic going in and parking, which was strange. I guess a lot of people use public transport there, because if this was the states, a big show like this would be a nightmare for driving.
We had bought the tickets last minute online about a week ago, and had to print them on a 100 year old printer at our host in Switzerland’s house, so the ink was pretty light. I was concerned they wouldn’t scan properly and my concerns proved true. We had to go around to the ticket sales desk and they had to look up my purchase, authorize the tickets, and then go try to explain to the Swiss doormen who didn’t speak English that it was OK the lady signed the ticket and we could get in. All in all it was quite entertaining. 🙂
Once inside we had a few beers and milled around. The opening act had started, some terribad emo industrial band, so we weren’t really interested in watching them. I used the restroom and was again amazed at how CLEAN it was. I have never in all my life been to a show without having to carefully avoid other women’s urine and other grossities.
We had arrived slightly late and I was a little concerned we wouldn’t get up front like I wanted to but there was plenty of room, which was a little alien to me as normally people would be crammed in up eachother’s butts. The politeness of the crowd was a little disconcerting to me and I found myself wondering how exactly the mosh pits went here and if there was one at all. We were about 3rd row (standing room) and a little over to the left, and once the band came on people got a little closer, but there still seemed to be about a 3″ personal zone around everyone which made me giggle. There were a LOT of girls over there. A few of them were like real stiffs, hardly seemed to be enjoying the show, and there was no inkling of a mosh pit, so I went through half the show marveling at the strangeness of it all. Eventually I realized there was in fact a pit, it was just DEAD center, so I migrated over to there and had a (slightly painfully, because of my ankle) good time for the rest of the show. The set was pretty short, only an hour and a half, and after a short encore it was over. It wound up being a fantastic set list, lots of old favorites, and some of the new stuff. Overall it was a blast, and while a bit mellow and tame compared to most of the other shows I see, still fantabulous.
After the show I had another beer (my companion was the DD, no worries), and we headed out. Again, the lack of ANY traffic really surprised me. Halfway home we stopped at a rest stop and I went on a search for interesting gas station items. I have found myself continually amused at the gas stations and highway rest stops on our road trip. They all have clean bathrooms, and most of them have really nice food there, even fresh fruits and vegetables, nice looking salads, and a good pre-packaged deli section with things like prosciutto, imported salami, and other delicacies for like 2 euros. Even the typical road snacks like ‘slim jims’ were elite German snack sausages. It was a road tripper’s heaven really. At this gas station I found a box of chocolates with a kitten on the front and what looked like turd shaped milk chocolate. I found this marketing particularly hilarious and picked myself up a box of kitten turds. I also got a few of the road sausages, upping my counter into the 20’s. (Sausage Counter – 19 & 20)
The rest of the ride home was mostly uneventful and I was half asleep walking through the door where I believe I passed out face down on the couch until morning.