Looking for the recipe for cranberry and cheese stuffed chicken? Well who wouldn’t be, it’s bloody marvellous, but in the meantime we’ve got some housekeeping and some more Swiss nonsense to chat about! Housekeeping is simple: we’ve updated our recipe page to include every single recipe we’ve ever done (we hadn’t updated since September, oops) so if you’re planning for a new you in the new year, what better place to start? You can find them all by clicking here (don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window). Now…
part one | part two | part three
Christ, we’re never going to get to the end of our Switzerland nonsense if I don’t speed it up a bit – so here on out, I’m just going to recount events rather than a chronological timeline. Of course, I said that on the last entry, so…let’s at least try to get to Bern in this entry, shall we?
The first thing we did on the second morning was one of those Live Escape rooms that we love so much. You may have heard of them? You get sealed into a room and you have an hour to escape, solving clues and puzzles in order to find your way out. This particular room received excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and even better, it was literally next door to the hotel, thus meaning minimum locomotion on our behalf. We were greeted by Lisa Stansfield herself, fresh from going around the world to try and find her baby, who led us down to the ‘serial killer’ room. Conscious that Switzerland isn’t too far from Austria I kept my eyes open for Josef Fritzl (well we were being sealed in an underground room, we’d have been daft not to be cautious) but all was well. Lisa Stansfield switched characters from welcoming host to scary police-chief in a matter of seconds, bellowing at Paul for ‘not reading the evidence file’ and shouting that we ‘have to catch the killer NOW’. She was terrifying – an excellent actress – and Paul told me afterwards that he’d only soiled his trousers to add to the atmosphere.
The room itself was fantastic. Really good fun, not least because the room opened up to reveal another four rooms, involving traps with magnets, hidden buttons, a fishing game, guns and one of those dentist chairs where you get strapped down. We managed to ‘solve the case’ with two minutes to go – wahey – and the killer was apprehended. Lisa Stansfield was astonished we’d finished so quickly (I’m still young) and I tried to explain to her in broken French that I’m from the part of the world where legendary policewoman Vera Stanhope does her rounds, pet. Flower. I’m going to write to Northumbria Police now and offer them my services. Get me a battered Land Rover and a shite Geordie accent, I can be Vera’s son! Lisa took a picture of us to put on facebook, and I’m sure if anyone was so inclined they could easily find it. I’ll give you a clue – most of the photos are of groups of stylish, Swiss people. The photo of Paul and I look like a band reunion no-one wants to see happen. (We ate the) Pet Shop Boys.
Buoyed with the success of making Lisa Stansfield’s day, we decided to tackle something that we’d been putting off thinking it would be an awful chore – sorting out our train tickets for travelling to Bern. We caught a tram back down to the Genève-Cornavin station and found our way into their well-appointed help centre. You know how our railway help centres seem to consist of ladies with a five-o-clock shadow and a face that could stop a clock? Couldn’t have been more different in Geneva. Firstly, there were sixteen helpful, cheery folk peering out from their desks, all of whom looked keen to assist in any possible way. We took a ticket, Argos-style, and sat down next to someone who had clearly shit himself. We sat down somewhere else instead and awaited our turn. I caught the eye of a handsome young thing who had clearly been trying to grow a moustache for seven years and failed miserably. It looked like an eyebrow on his top lip. I knew then that we couldn’t possibly get him to deal with us as it was all I’d be able to focus on, but of course, number 714 led us straight to his desk.
Now, listen, I don’t know if it was my fabulous beard or startling good looks, but he simply couldn’t have been better. He answered all my inane questions about transfers and classes and timetables in perfect, crisp English, and did so with a smile. Paul was so swept up in the moment that he leaned on the little ‘how am I doing’ board with those smiling/frowning faces you press to register your feedback. Luckily, his elbow was planted on the ‘very happy’ face and it wasn’t until it started beeping furiously that we realised what had happened. The poor lad probably thought we were coming onto him in some haphazard, clumsy style. Anyway, he booked all of our tickets, assuaged all of our fears about connections and then, once he had taken £500 off my American Express card, gave us our first class tickets AND a Toblerone each. Not a shitty British Toblerone mind you (where it now looks like a broken fence) but a good honest Swiss one. I had to pull Paul away – he was on the cusp of vaulting the desk and fellating the poor bloke. I adore good customer service, I truly do.
Toblerone in hand, we wandered over the road to the nearby Notre Dame Basilica, a smart little church just over the road. Crossing the road is always a treat in Geneva given everyone seems hellbent in crashing everything they have into your legs. You think you’re safe and then eight trams come whistling around the corner just waiting to spread you across the road. I felt like Rita Sullivan in Blackpool just trying to get to the church. We sat on the steps for a bit before remembering all churches are open, so we let ourselves inside.
Boy, was it beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of churches – I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously that I only went to our village church at Easter and Christmas for the free sweets (it was worth getting fingered just for the Smarties Easter Egg with free cup alone) but a tiny part of me is always hopeful that I’ll walk into church and be flooded with the love of the lord. I’ve had something similar happen in my adult life but that’s not one for the blog, save to say that was one man of the cloth who hadn’t taken a vow of celibacy. It wasn’t just Jesus getting nailed that Easter, I can assure you.
God forgive me.
Anyway, there were no sudden revelations and nor did I fall to my knees screaming as the sin of sodomy left me. It was, however, stunning. They had the most intricate, detailed stained glass windows I’d ever seen, and whether it was the winter light or the late morning sun I don’t know, but they seemed to absolutely glow. So many colours. I felt like a toffee penny in a Quality Street tin. We sat in the pews, doing our best to look sombre and respectful whilst quietly trying to unwrap our Toblerone (have you ever heard the noise a large Toblerone makes when you snap it in an echoey church? It sounded like the vicar was self-flagellating round the back). I lit a candle for my nana (it’s what she would have wanted, though I could have set fire to the entire church and she’d still have complained she was too cold) and did a wee curtsy in front of Jesus. There was a lady wailing on the floor in front of him who I took to be quite demented. This is a church my love, not a One Direction concert. I popped a triangle of Toblerone down next to her and moved on. Oh of course I didn’t, like I’d spare the chocolate.
We drifted around the shops for a bit, looking at very expensive things being bought by very expensive people. It must be nice to shop without having to think, but then, do you ever truly appreciate it? Pfft, if anyone wants to hand me a few million to try it out, they can. We saw a sign for lunch in a rooftop restaurant and although it was atop the equivalent of our John Lewis, it was great – we sat outside and gazed down at all the people bustling past with presents and christmas stuff. I had a slice of quiche bigger than an aeroplane chock and Paul had something fishy followed by something chocolatey. Eee, it’s like reading Jay Rayner himself, isn’t it? Sorry, but writing about food bores me, not least because it automatically makes me hungry too.
We attempted to do some shopping but thanks to our rash decision to only bring hand luggage, we were a bit stuck. I spotted a giant glass pair of cherries which I immediately fell in love with, but Paul held me back, explaining that we couldn’t justify spending 400 Swiss Francs on a massive inconvenience. Poor sport. I had my revenge by forbidding him from buying a Swiss Christmas card. I think that’s fair. There were shops full of luxurious, high-end watches which begged to be bought. There were cigar shops every other street which I could lose myself in. A spirits shop that I’d have cheerfully died in. Sigh. The sum total of our shopping was a small bottle of kirsch and, inexplicably, a Professor Layton plushie. Of course!
We decided that as we were so close, it would be remiss of us not to visit CERN. so that’s exactly what we did. We had hoped to visit the Large Hadron Collider (I had a load of file notes from work that I wanted to throw in) but sadly, they were closed. CERN was interesting, though I’m sure it’ll be more interest to someone who, unlike me, hadn’t spent physics lessons looking moonily at their bearded and very fit teacher. Damn it. I still can’t hear someone explaining the theory of heliocentrism without getting a stiffy. CERN consisted of a large auditorium filled with facts about antimatter and particles and there were plenty of comfortable pod-chairs to sit in. However, I no sooner fell into one of these chairs before Paul stood right in front of me and farted, leaving me spluttering and dry-heaving well into the flashy presentation. The fucker. We wandered around all of the other presentations, joining all the other tourists who were pretending to understand what it was all about, and then made for the exit. It was all very well done, if not a little dry.
We finished our day by wandering back through Geneva, heading down to the lake and climbing on board the passenger boat that skims you across the water back to the other side of the lake. It was just us in the boat so we sat at the back, cuddling and cooing as all the christmas lights came on across the bay. With our combined weight the boat was canted at a 60 degree angle but hey, romance. We spent the evening drinking gin in the fancy hotel bar – eight gins costing us nearly £170, I might add – then went to bed to prepare for our switch to Bern the next morning.
We awoke the next day a little rough from all that gin and hastily packed everything away, dashing to the train station for our 7am train with only a few minutes to spare. I was all for calling it a day and just staying in Geneva but Paul cajoled me along. Good man. The first train to Montreux was a commuter train full of chattering businessmen in steaming coats and we both dozed for the hour or so it took to get us to Montreux. Here, we were to join the Golden Pass Panoramic Tour Train which would take us up into the mountains and onto Interlaken, a lovely two hours or so. The first class carriage was made up of massive glass windows affording us the most beautiful views of first the mountains then the lakes and the fields of Switzerland. It truly was something else and I’d recommend in a heartbeat to anyone who fancied it.
The best part? We were almost alone in the carriage save for a little old lady who spent all of her time chin down in a crossword book. I wanted to dash it out of her hands and tell her to admire the view then I realised this was ‘normal’ to her – wow! Our conductor, Javert from Les Mis, stamped our tickets, brought us a coffee and let us crack on the journey. I know it’s an easy thing to moan about but if the Swiss can have a train climb a mountain in the ice and snow, and still run exactly to timetable, why can’t we cope with a cold snap? It’s truly embarrassing. At some point we had to swap onto a smaller train where we had our own little compartment with a lockable door. No sooner had I hung my coat up and started admiring the lake as we pulled away then Paul had his knob out with the romantic ‘do you want to nosh me off, we never get a chance on a train’. After ten years the formalities are gone. Who says romance is dead?
At Interlaken we switched trains for another that would take us to Lucern, with this journey winding around so many Swiss villages and chocolate-box scenes that we were captivated the whole way. Now on this train there was the facility to order food from your table using a mobile app and so it was that we ordered a cheese and meat platter (we hadn’t eaten all day, don’t judge us). Twenty minutes later the most furious man to ever wear a pinny came storming up to the front of the train with our tray and crashed it down on the table. I’m not sure what we had done wrong – perhaps he was cross that he had to walk all the way along the train – but that’s hardly our fault. He was acting as though I’d shit in his hat. The only negative point to the whole journey, and that was sharp forgotten when we were both lost in the reverie of buttering the bread and dividing up the cheese.
At Lucern we switched to the express train to Bern, joined again by a bustling group of businessmen, and within an hour we were speeding towards Bern. There was an exciting moment in one of the many tunnels when the train came to a very sudden and abrupt stop, as though someone had pulled the emergency brake cord. The stench of burning brakes filled the train and it was all I could do to carry on eating my Opal Fruits with a face full of concern. A conductor came running through with a first aid box and then we were back on our way. It kills me, simply kills me, that I don’t know what happened. I think it should be mandatory for the driver to come over the intercom and say something like ‘for the benefit of the nosy bastard in first class, I spilled my hot chocolate on the controls and hence the stop’. It’s just the decent thing to do.
We had arrived in Bern, and good god, let’s stop this entry right here. Two more to go! No wonder people’s eyes glaze over when I tell them a story, it takes me forever to get there and we end us taking eight diversions and a sex-story along the way. Apologies! This recipe for cranberry and cheese stuffed chicken is a piece of piss to make but it looks fancy, just like Paul does in his training bra. WE had this with some broccoli and roast potatoes, hence the gravy. If you’re having something completely different, feel free to leave off the gravy.
to make cranberry and cheese stuffed chicken you will need:
for the gravy:
- 2 oxo chicken stock pots
- 25g flour (4 syns)
- 600ml water (if you’re having veg, use the water from that!)
Hey, added bonus with this dinner: cranberries are good if your minnie-moo is aflame with something other than desire! Beats spreading a Muller yoghurt on it, anyway.
to make cranberry and cheese stuffed chicken you should:
- preheat the oven to 200°c
- slice all four chicken breasts from the side, but don’t cut all the way through – you want to be able to open it up like a book later on
- place all four opened-up chicken breasts on a chopping board and cover with clingfilm
- bash with the bottom of a saucepan (or a rolling pin) until they’re about ½cm thick
- mix together the philadelphia and cranberries in a bowl and spread a quarter of the mixture onto one-half of each chicken breast
- roll the chicken up from the long-end and roll – it doesn’t need to be dead neat (all comes out the same way, eh)
- head a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a splash of oil
- once hot, place each rolled-up breast in the pan, seal-side down and cook four about a minute, then turn over and cook for another minute
- remove from the pan and onto a baking tray – keep any juices or cheese that might’ve dribbled out!
- place the chicken int eh oven and bake for 25 minutes
- when the chicken is nearly done, add the flour to the frying pan and stir until it’s mixed into a thick paste – add a bit of water if you need to
- heat the pan to medium-high, add the chicken stock pots and then gradually stir in 600ml of hot water, stirring until thick and smooth, simmer for a few more minutes if it’s too thick
that’s it! easy eh? if you’re after some more inspiration, just click one of the buttons below to find all the recipes you need!