I'm in heaven. It's a sunny early-summer morning and I'm sitting in a cobbled corner of Zurich
's Old Town in the third floor salon of the elegant Conditorei Schober. Placed just so on the table before me is the most beautiful multi-layered latte macchiato I've ever seen: creamy-caramel-colored on the bottom, a deeper brown in the middle, and a very deep dark almost chocolatey brown on top, beneath a glorious alpine crown of foam. Arranged beside it is a flaky pain au chocolat, browned to a delicate crusty-crunch on the outside, with fine flecks of chocolate oozing from the soft folds within. As I bite through the layers of croissant, I can feel each one, multi-layered like the latte but at the same time soft and yielding.
As if these perfections weren't enough, there's a French chanson in the air -- and then there's the room itself!
On the opposite side from where I sit, one entire wall, perhaps 20 feet in length, is covered in panorama wallpaper that showcases fanciful scenes of Greek and Roman columns, the Egyptian pyramids and sphinx, and assorted minarets, spires, turrets, and crenellations. All these are set in a faded, soft-hued, sunset landscape, with palms and green clumps of trees and a silver river undulating through. In the foreground, partly blocking these scenes, branches and bushes burst with bright pink and purple blooms that look as if they are about to spill out of the wall.
More romantic scenes cover the wall behind me – the remains of an amphitheater, ruined columns, and dusky peaks receding into the background, and in the foreground a luxuriant profusion of plants spilling over my shoulder. The wallpaper's palette is echoed in the upholstery on the settee where I sit and the two armchairs that flank the settee, all covered in a luxuriously soft gray-green material with a gold design motif.
Beneath the panorama opposite me, a red leather banquette runs the entire length of the wall, with eight square tables and one chair set at each. Another five tables, two round and three square, are arranged on the floor between. In the corners of the room two-foot-tall studded brass pots hold real palms. An ancient coat rack presides at the entrance to the salon, a gray-green Roman-style column commands the middle, and two cascading, beaded, candle-crowned chandeliers regally oversee the entire scene.
All in all, it's like falling into a dream.