Tasty Goods: A Half-Baked Post

01Apr10

Shopping, cooking, and eating in Lausanne has come with a fair share of adventures and surprises. I live a few minutes’ walk away from a Costco-size supermarket which has an entire section, not just for cheese from Switzerland, but for Gruyere-style cheese from Switzerland. Europe is famous for its coffee roasting skills and there is a good roaster in downtown Lausanne, and an excellent one called “Criperco/Pappy John” in Renens close to where I live (info below) where the roaster is in full sight. (Update: their 2nd location in the foody-friendly Chailly is just as excellent: av. de Chailly 10. Pictured at left, info below.)

There are some things here which are easier to find than back home in Canada. For example, most of the cinnamon sold in North America is actually cassia, a different plant from the same family. Here, maybe half of the stores I have visited sell true cinnamon and the other half cassia. A distinctive feature of true cinnamon sticks is that they are very flaky looking, as shown on the right (cassia sticks have just one thick layer). True cinnamon can also be identified by its botanical names Cinnamomum verum or C. zeylanicum, and as far as I can tell from online information, it is usually from Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, there are some things here which are much harder to find than in Canada. For example, back home it is easy to buy brown sugar (why do you taste so good!) and it usually is sold in both “light” and “dark” varieties. This was much harder to find here and typical supermarkets have only ordinary white sugar and “raw/cane sugar” (1st in the picture at left). It took me some time but I found a supermarket which had “cassonade” (2nd) which I remember as being the French title on brown sugar back home. But upon buying it seems to denote the same as raw/cane sugar; it has the same taste as white sugar (no molasses). There is exactly one store in the Lausanne area selling real brown sugar (on Place de la Palud). Or, you can make brown sugar yourself by buying molasses (which seems only available at pharmacies here!) and mixing with white sugar. Or do you instead want vergeoise, demerara, turbinado, or muscovado brown sugar? Aaaah!

Bootleg Vanilla

One other ubiquituous ingredient in my baking is vanilla extract. Having little luck finding this in stores, I decided to follow the approach espoused by various TV cooks: make my own. A little jar, 200 ml of vodka, and 3 vanilla beans later, delicious vanilla extract is safely ensconced in my pantry. The floating bits in the picture are the vanilla seeds. While reading about how to make this extract, I found that in most situations, imitation vanilla extract is as good as the real thing in blind taste-tests. (The underlying chemical, vanillin, resides in oak trees and other places.) But I have to say that a photo of the artificial stuff would not look as nice!

Criperco/Pappy John Renens
Rue de la Mèbre 1, Renens
Sat 9-16h
021 634 48 80

Criperco/Pappy John Chailly
Av de  Chailly 10, Lausanne
Tues-Sat 8h30-12h15+14h15-18h30
021 653 42 26

There is a 3rd location “Le Coffea” in Pontarlier, France: 4 rue Tissot, 00 33 381 46 47 82, 9h-18h:30 Tues-Sat except closes early at 18h Sat

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4 Responses to “Tasty Goods: A Half-Baked Post”

  1. I assume travellers have to miss something from home, that’s a rule.
    At least the chocolate should be cheaper in Europe than in Canada, no?

    • You are correct sir about the chocolate. Sara visited and brought back a suitcase full for her friends. Also in the dairy realm, premium ice cream is cheaper too, my favourite thing to grab from a convenience store is a single-serving Movenpick 🙂 Have you had any edible adventures?

  2. You left a message on my blog about the “uncooking” question. Mind that the uncooked egg should not be eaten : NaBH4 is toxic.
    The experiment was shown only because I had to answer the question “Is it possible to uncook?”

    Vive la gourmandise éclairée


  1. 1 Amazing Foodventures « Dave a.g.p.'s Blog

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