The Haunt of My Heroes, Café Odeon in Zürich, Switzerland

July 27th, 2013
Odeon Café art (Image courtesy of Odeon)

Odeon Café art (Image courtesy of Odeon)

My favorite places in the world are those which transport me to eras of history that I am inspired by or curious about — in the case of Café Odeon, where my artistic heroes spun great works and rulers caffeinated their power. Odeon has seen the faces and heard the voices of history’s famed intellectuals, political revolutionaries, world leaders from the 20th century; writers, musicians, artists… to be a fly on that wall might make it worth getting swatted by a few newspapers.

I sat at a street-side table on Limmatquai with my writing book before me and files from art school parading through my brain — then I started to imagine those artists, my heroes, walking through the door, one by one. First the Dadaists — the kings of absurdity who challenged conformity and class – painter Hans Richter, writer Tristan Tzara who penned the second DADA manifesto, playwright Hugo Ball. The intellectuals, the musicians, the wordsmiths — Albert Einstein, Franz Lehar, and James Joyce who lived in Zurich while in exile. My heroes!

Vladmir Lenin frequented Odeon prior to WWI — somewhat of an odd choice for a man that didn’t smoke or drink and didn’t like to listen to music. ‘I cannot listen to music too often … it makes me want to say kind, stupid things, and pat the heads of people. But now you have to beat them on the head, beat them without mercy.” Mussolini favored Odeon prior to WWII — he also didn’t drink. Surely they went for the conversation and moderately priced coffee that Odeon is so famous for. (For the record, I wouldn’t exactly call Lenin and Mussolini my heroes.) Heroes or not, I had the opportunity to share a glass of rosé with each of them.

Raclette – Traditional Swiss ‘Peasant’ Food

July 26th, 2013
Swiss 'peasant' food: Raclette (shown here: melted cheese, herbs, cherry tomato, bacon and onion.)

Swiss ‘peasant’ food: Raclette (shown here: melted cheese, herbs, cherry tomato, bacon and onion.)

Switzerland’s most beloved dish is Raclette. A hearty and inexpensive meal perfected for centuries in the Swiss Alps. Traditionally, this hobo-style meal was meant to satisfy big appetites in cold winter weather and was made out of just cheese, potatoes and vegetables—all ingredients grown in the mountains. Adding meat became popular when the dish hit populated areas, and now it is open to many interpretations. Because it is served family style, table-side, it is ideal to share among family and in group settings.

The Grill:  While Raclette can be made in the kitchen, it is more festive when prepared table-side, and to do that, you will need Raclette grill (about $100). While you are at it, order up some Raclette cheese and seasoning as well.

Raclette cheese is more pungent and softer than Swiss cheese (the Swiss know Tilsiter as “Swiss” cheese, Americans know Emmenthaler as “Swiss” cheese.)  It is made from leftover scraps—the stuff that doesn’t “make the cut” to become Swiss/Tilsiter/Emmenthaler cheese.

Got the grill? Fire up the sterno! Got the cheese? Slice it up! Place it on the table and get started with the rest of the ingredients:

  • Small white potatoes

Boiled and cooled, then drizzled with a small bit of olive oil and sea salt.

  • Baguette

Sliced, toasted and served warm. 

  • Sliced beef and/or chicken

Grill meat in a sauté pan on your stove top, transfer to a dish, and bring to the table.

  • Veggies

Sliced peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, grilled. Transfer to a dish and bring to the table.  

  • Pickled items

Cornichon (petite dill pickles), pickled onions, baby pickled corns.

  • Seasonings

Go simple: Raclette seasoning, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. 




World on a Fork


San Diego Scene: Opening Day at the Del Mar Races

July 15th, 2013

L’Auberge Opening Day Credit L’Auberge Del Mar.Siegel Thurston

by Merilee Kern

Opening Day at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on July 17th is no quiet affair. It’s a thrilling event that attracts more than 45,000 race fans, socialites and those who simply love to see and be seen—in the scene. These folks flock to the racetrack for a kinetic atmosphere filled with fabulosity, fashion, and fun amid one of Southern California’s most revered social events of the year.

Beyond the horse racing and betting excitement that reaches a fever pitch—the style and tradition of Del Mar’s “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest” is, alone, worth the price of admission. Here, participants are judged on the creativity and look of their painstakingly custom-crafted chapeaus. Every year, there are some stunning designs and over-the-top styles worn by women with equally colorful personalities. Even if not participating in the contest, the racetrack is filled with haute hat-wearing ladies as well as gents who dawn their daytime best.

In addition to the fashion event aspect of the affair, Opening Day festivities also include a wide range of activities to ensure a good time for all. There is on site dining and a variety of bars that quickly become standing room only. It’s worthwhile to buy a ticket to the annual Coors Light party, held in a separate private tent, which features a live band, DJs, private trackside area with tent featuring food and beverages, a microbrew beer garden with more than 50 types of beer, and prizes and gift bag giveaways.  For those seeking to bet and win a buck or two, there’s also a newcomer seminar to help anyone who is not sure about the terminology and needs

Credit: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

to learn how to place the varied type of bets available on the races.

HOT TIP: If you want to elevate your Opening Day experience once the racetrack revelry is done, do not miss the exclusive L’Auberge Del Mar Opening Day After Party also on July 17th, which kicks off at 5 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Now in its fifth year, this 21 and over luxe party is considered the hottest ticket in San Diego on the racetrack’s opening day.

For $100 per person, you’ll rub elbows with a veritable who’s who while savoring gourmet delights from the on-site KITCHEN 1540 and swaying to tunes by DJ FishFonics and award-winning DJ Gabe Vega. All this amid striking ocean views from L’Auberge Del Mar’s Pacific, Sunset and Ocean Terraces, as well as the pool deck and lobby where the event is held.

Make the experience that much more luxurious and personal by booking a chic cabana or private table, which are centrally located to the action as well as the ocean-side scenery. These boast a dedicated staff so there’s no waiting and wanting amid the crowd.  Here you can enjoy good eats and bottle service for your group, or you can order up some of the horse race-inspired cocktails.

You simply must try L’Auberge Del Mar’s signature summer Vodka Julep, which pays homage to the Kentucky Derby’s signature Mint Julep cocktail. The SoCal-inspired spin on this lovely libation consists of Grey Goose Vodka, Pernod Absinthe, mint leaves and simple syrup that are muddled and then served on the rocks. Simply the perfect refreshment to cap an exhilarating day under the San Diego sun.


• Gates at the Del Mar Racetrack open at 11:30 a.m. on Opening Day with the first post at 2 p.m. The rest of the season features horse racing on Wednesdays through Sundays up until September 4, 2013.  Del Mar Opening Day Stretch Run Admission: $10; Clubhouse Admission: $20; Coors Light party tickets: $30. More information is available at

• Tickets to the L’Auberge Del Mar Opening Day After Party are $100 through its e-store located at


“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at Follow her on Twitter here: and Facebook here:

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Page 3 of 15912345...102030...Last »