Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blog Post No. 10, 11/6/11 -- Swiss Miss

Me with my cousin Christian
As if that early November Friday night was not busy enough, what with the Gutierrez Studio’s "First Friday" open house to attend, dinner out, then Afro Beat Society’s annual commemorative gig, the next day was equally fun-filled and full. On Saturday afternoon I attended a "volunteer appreciation picnic" hosted by the Maryland Park Service, at which I was awarded an honorary state park guest pass for having donated over 100 hours of volunteer service to the parks in the past year, and I also accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc., the friends group of which I am vice president, for "dedicated and enthusiastic support" provided by SDCI to Maryland state parks in the past year.

I got back from the picnic just in time to doll myself up for a gala evening at the Swiss embassy in Washington DC where the Swiss Club, of which I am a longtime member, was hosting its autumn "Raclette Evening" in honor of those of us in the U.S. who are also citizens of Switzerland. For those who don’t know, Raclette is a special cheese which is traditionally shaped into giant rectangular logs and laid upon an iron plate, which is then swiveled against an open flame and kept there until the top half-inch layer or so of cheese has melted and turned bubbly and nicely browned in spots. Then the cheese is pulled away from the flame and the bubbly melted layer is scraped off the log and onto boiled potatoes which have been mashed and spread upon one’s waiting plate. Add to the plate some tiny cornichons, cocktail onions, warm caramelized onions and a heap of thinly-sliced curls of Swiss dried beef and you have the makings of a traditional Swiss raclette meal. Washed down with some splendid Swiss wine and followed by a traditional dessert of ice cream, chocolate sauce and a chunk of crusty meringue, and I was ready for a long winter’s nap!

My cousin Christian, a retired senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health and president of the Swiss Club, and his wife Chang Ting, a scientist at the Food & Drug Administration, are always very happy to see me at these events. Christian kept the evening, and the food, humming along at a leisurely but efficient pace.

It is customary to wear some form of red, if possible, since red and white are the colors of our Swiss flag. So for the evening I donned my favorite sweater, a densely knit red turtleneck with soutache trim made by Meister (a venerable ski-apparel maker) which was a gift almost fifteen years ago from my best friend Kari’s parents, Joyce and Lyle, of Spokane, Washington. Paired with the same black-beaded leggings by B.Allen for JCPenney and JCPenney Call It Spring platform pumps that I’d worn the night before and I was ready to rock in an outfit that would still be comfortable once I’d eaten my fill of Swiss raclette. Since this was a slightly more formal event than Friday’s venues, I chose a matched ensemble of garnet and citrine necklace, earrings and tennis bracelet from Fire & Ice Jewelers in Baltimore, and added a rhinestone cocktail ring from BCBG in Dallas, a goldtone bracelet watch with rhinestones from Chico’s, a black and gold Dea Dread hair accessory by Thea Osato of Baltimore ( and, of course, my Swiss-American flag pin!

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