Midnight sun, Tromsø, Northern Norway

This was filmed at ca. 0130 in the morning. Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

“It must be so romantic, to experience the Arctic midnight sun!” She said.
“Yes, it is.” the Other She replied. “But you can´t sleep either.”

The prosaic quips above reflect but only a partial reality of what I find unique about living in this compact Arctic city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Special on this part of the globe is the shifting polar light from spring/summer to autumn/winter. Most travel brochures speak of the spectacular Northern Lights that appear when the skies darken over the winter months, and when the sun hardly rises above the horizon. At this time of year however, it is the opposite. The sun hardly ever sets. From 18 May to 25 July 2020, the sun does not go below horizon in Tromsø. The midnight sun is not much advertised in travel brochures as an experience to be lived for long because for those who are sunlight sensitive with functioning circadian rhythms, this might mean a whole lot of lack of sleep days. It is not unusual to observe nightlong parties and people out on the streets of Tromsø at 0200 hrs, as if it were late afternoon in southern Europe.

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20200523 Weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway

Outdoor gym and meeting seagulls on a weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It´s been some frustrating weeks for everyone with the current global health pandemic that has led to disrupted lifestyles and socioeconomic consequences. In Northern Norway, society is cautiously opening.

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Nordic style oven baked fish gratin

Nordic style oven baked fish gratin.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

One of the absolute easiest Nordic dishes to put together when expecting friends for dinner is a fish gratin. It’s like an all-in-one recipe. You take a freshly caught cod, have it filleted, put it in a glass or ceramic tin, add some butter, salt and white pepper. Add a cover of white bechamel sauce, stir in some dill. Wait for the magic to happen in the oven and dribble some newly peeled shrimps on top just ahead of serving. A slice of lemon and a fresh piece of dill adds merriness to the eyes. Freshly boiled potatoes – or why not surround the fish with a generous surrounding wall of mashed potatoes, or Pommes duchesse; great either ways as long as you are generous with the butter – and bake the whole thing together. Wine paring is easy as long as it is Chardonnay but admittedly now when the spring is approaching, I’d consider a rosé while the gratin is taking care of itself.

Upon arriving in Northern Norway slightly more than a year ago, a main curiosity was to find out what the region had to offer for traditional dishes. Tromsø’s main historic economic activities were being base to arctic hunting and whaling. It is today well known for landing some of the world’s freshest, highest quality fish. It is thus not surprising (or I might have well guessed, but didn’t) that fish pie or fish gratin served with mashed potatoes on the side is one such traditional dish. As testament to its popularity in households, you can find ready made fish gratin sold in individually packed boxes at the local grocers in Tromsø.

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Marta’s (Swedish) Chocolate Slices and a walk down culinary memory lane, Singapore

Märtas skurna chokladkakor or Marta’s Chocolate Slices are the quintessential Swedish chocolate cookies that are a staple at cafés in Sweden. When I got to Sweden in the early 2000s, I found these chocolate cookies in large boxes sold in grocery stores. These distinctive looking chocolate cookies are also available at grocery shops in some Nordic countries.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the past weeks, I’ve taken a culinary walk down memory lane to when I was growing up in Singapore. I’ve been revisiting in my mind, bakeries and coffeeshops of where I’ve eaten and spent time for afternoon tea with my parents and father’s mother from when I was five or six years old. Katong and Marine Parade were favourite areas to spend Sunday afternoons. Katong is the predominant living quarters of Eurasians and there were many confectionaries and bakeries that sold pastries and cakes liked by the Eurasian community. Two places I frequented as a child with my parents, and with my father’s parents were Katong Red House, at 75 East Coast Road, and Chin Mee Chin Confectionary at 204 East Coast Road. Chin Mee Chin was located at the corner of Chapel Road where the Holy Family Church is still located. They opened in the 1920s and was famous for cream horns and chocolate éclairs, the favourite pastries of my father’s father, and my father. I grew up eating plenty of those, together with Portuguese egg tarts.

Labelled as “old school” pastries and biscuits in today’s context in Singapore, some of my absolute favourites were the basic mix and bake of flour, butter/ghee and sugar (lots). Chocolate biscuits or cookies were certainly on the list but they hardly came plain. Most chocolate biscuits in cookie jars at home were made to sandwich lemon or coffee cream frosting. The vanilla cream frosting filled chocolate Oreo cookie, was a much later addition to my cookie repertoire even if it was launched in the early 1900s in the USA. In a seeming quantum moving of Time backwards, it has also been interesting to observe the 2012 limited edition Lemon Twist Oreos (a variation of their original lemon Oreo in 1920s) because that flavour combination took me back to when I was five or six years old, eating lemon cream frosting filled cookies from Singapore neighbourhood heartland bakeries.

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Drömmar och havreflarn

Drömmar / Dreams, the Swedish version of sugee / shortbread cookies. On the side, chocolate truffles and a glass of chocolate-coffee yoghurt parfait.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Shortbread is one of my mother’s favourite cookies. Growing up in Singapore, you could find the Singapore version called sugee cookies in the smaller covenience stores in the neighbourhood heartlands. They were sold in plastic cookie jars and you could buy one for about ten cents a piece. From the 1980s onwards, as Singapore developed, the smaller convenience stores gave way to larger grocery stores. Favourite places of mine to visit, food shops and streets changed. Available consumption developed too, the shortbread consumer market segmented and grew more sophisticated. You could now find luxury versions of shortbread, as well as neighbourhood heartland versions.

For a few years after I had left Singapore in the early 2000s to live in Scandinavia and upon my return trips, I found it increasingly difficult to find heartland neighbourhood baked sugee cookies. There was of course Bengawan Solo sugee cookies, but there were some variations I felt I missed. One afternoon, my mother thought it nice to roam Chinatown. She wanted to buy some cotton threads with which she could crochet a new blouse. As we walked the inner alleys and streets of Chinatown Singapore, I chanced upon a shop that sold traditional, old school biscuits. I identified the biscuit tins immediately and could not help but pull my mother inside the shop with me in swift motion.

“Mommy! Look!” I cried, “They have these traditional biscuit tins!” I was excited and beyond disbelief. It’s been some years since I even laid eyes on such biscuit tins! My mother smiled and nodded. “I haven’t seen these in the longest time – what, since I was a child?” I said, exploring the biscuit tins that seemed to stand from floor to shophouse ceiling of the shop. The biscuit tins were designed each with a see-through panel on the front, so that you could always tell exactly which type of biscuit it housed.

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Tembok-tembok

Partial ingredients to a ground spice paste (rempah), commonly used in Nonya cooking in Singapore.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

“Suzie! Come in here! I want you to watch, we’re going to do the rempah for buah keluak so next time you know how to do for yourself!”

Susan’s mother, Li, waited for a response from her daughter. Not a sound from little Suzie. Li glanced sideways at her own mother, Cecilia, who already head a firm grip of hand on the batu lesung. Cecilia called the stone mortar and pestle tembok-tembok, so named because of the material, but also the empty hollow of the sound made when using the stone mortar and pestle. Once, a housing and development board (HDB) surveyor visited Cecilia in her newly built Queenstown 2-bedroom apartment. The train track ran just behind that block between Malaysia and Keppel Road Railway Station in Singapore [1]. The surveyor wanted to know if Cecilia and family were doing well, and if it was overly disturbing with the noise whenever the train passed, “So Aunty, how is it you find living in this new block? Is the train very noisy and disturbing?” Li sat on the modest sofa in the tiny living room with her mother, translating into Baba Malay for Cecilia, the English questions posed by the surveyor. “Yah, whenever train pass, you can feel so strong kejung-kejung! kejung-kejung! But otherwise, this place nice la.” Cecilia replied. Li kept a straight face throughout the interview visit from the surveyor, but could not help but blurt in Suzie’s direction the minute the little girl was old enough to string two words together, “Your grandmother, don’t talk about her la. When you ask her about the train, you know what she said, the train goes kejung-kejung, kejung-kejung. Ah, that’s your grandmother for you.” At age two, Suzie’s wide eyes spanned the face of her mother. It was a beautiful face that Suzie had the privilege of peering at everyday.

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Oxtail soup, Asian light

Oxtail soup, Asian light.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

When you´ve lived almost an equal number of years in one part of the globe (Asia) as another (Scandinavia), it comes a point in time when you realize – right, I´ve managed to get some oxtails from the nearby farm, super! Now what and how to do with them? And that question is legit because I found myself standing over the kitchen counter, staring at the oxtails unwrapped from their paper package, with at least 3 recipes in mind. Coupled with recipe juggling, I wondered who in the family was going to enjoy which version the most. The go-to recipe in Scandinavia is based on the classic French style, using tomato puree, root vegetables such as carrots, celery and herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, parsley, then topping it off with some port/sherry. You have the Eastern European recipe sans tomato puree but using chopped tomatoes, potatoes, leeks and ground allspice. “I’m bored with my cooking. You come up with something.” was the feedback. When in Scandinavia, that meant, go as Far East as your recipe books take you, and see what inspiration you can find.

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Telegrafbukta, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Telegrafbukta / Telegraph Bay, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Telegrafbukta was one of the first places I visited when I landed in Tromsø. Known as Northern Norway´s Gran Canaria, Telegrafbukta is the choice location of the annual Tromsø Bay Festival, one of Northern Norway´s most popular music festivals. It has also been the case that every time it´s been decided to gather at Telegrafbukta, the weather decided otherwise. Windy and icy-cold, it gets difficult to hold a coherent conversation when your teeth literally chatter.

Short walk by the beach at Telegrafbukta. Beautiful when warm, but when it gets clouded over and it´s windy, it is cold.

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Lapis lazuli to steel grey, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Spring in Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

When I moved to Tromsø just over a year ago, it challenged the notion I had that tropical Singapore was the only place where you could have rain in your backyard and sunshine in your front yard. This Arctic island city has minute shifting weather. Clear blue skies one minute and in another, clouded over, threatening ice-cold rain against a background of steel grey.

But I´ll take the moments in time. It´s spring. The lapis lazuli of the ocean hypnotizes.

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20200419 Sunday inspiration in synopsis

Pärlhyacinter or Grape Hyacinth, currently blooming in the garden along the Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Sights and sounds from the west coast of Sweden inspire me. The calm and still of the ocean in the early hours of the day, the call of the sea gulls and the smell sea water lightly salted. While Tromsø is slowly thawing into spring, the west coast of Sweden at the southern archipelago of Gothenburg is in spring bloom. These flowers, the purple pärlhyacinter and the Russian blue star are in full flourish in archipelago home gardens. They´re beautiful. In Sweden, a signature sight in early spring are park gardens carpeted in these little blue flowers. Tromsø will have its flowers in bloom too, albeit just a little later.

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20200413 April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway

In April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

From the pages of Ken Wilber´s One Taste [1]:

“As the Witness, I-I do not move through time, time moves through me. Just as clouds float through the sky, time floats through the open space of my primordial awareness, and I-I remain untouched by time and space and their complaints. Eternity does not mean living forever in time—a rather horrible notion—but living in the timeless moment, prior to time and its turmoils altogether. Likewise, infinity does not mean a really big space, it means completely spaceless. As the Witness, I-I am spaceless; as the Witness, I-I am timeless. I-I live in eternity and inhabit infinity, simply because the Witness is free of time and space. And that is why I can drink vodka in New York and get drunk in L.A.

So this morning I went jogging, and nothing moved at all, except the scenery in the movie of my life. (p.68)

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Eggshell blue and spring florals in a dress, Easter 2020

In a pencil dress by Zara. Loving the eggshell blue and light florals that reflect spring in this dress. Violet sunglasses are Gucci. The velvet purple belt is a vintage purchase from a second hand boutique here in Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the early 2000s, I was obsessed with all things fashion and fashionable. From nail polish colours (only Chanel) to skirts, dresses, shoes and bags (only Louis Vuitton), I wanted to know and own the latest. It was a period in my life where I thought next week´s store items were outdated, and there is no such thing as one too many pairs of stilettos. I mean, nude doesn´t go with everything right? Reading some comments to my fashion blog posts from the early 2000s, “bimbotic” didn´t even bother me for the reason, I liked it.

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Hemgjord leverpastej and pâté de campagne

A Swedish hemgjord leverpastej [1] is a rich spreadable pâté that complements most festive tables in Sweden from Christmas to Easter. Here, it´s served with cumberland sauce and French cornichons.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the midst of my 2019 Christmas marketing in Gothenburg city´s oldest market place, Saluhallen, I picked up by chance, the most wonderful rustic/country pâté made with the livers of duck, chicken and pork. The terrine that sat on the market counter simply read “3 Confit – Duck, Chicken, Pork” and it looked like a fine spreadable pâté. We bought some, took it home for our Christmas table and it was such a treat that I went back to Saluhallen, determined to wrap some to bring with me to Northern Norway for after the New Year´s. But there was none to be had, with the reason given by the charcuterie, “That is a very special dish, we only order it for Christmas.”

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The colour of Easter: Seafood custard

Easter treat: Seafood custard made with duck eggs and topped with crème fraîche.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Following nature´s seasonal cycles, eggs are plentiful during this time of year, the reason for Easter food recipes filled with eggs, from rustic pies to custards and braided breads baked with the use of whole eggs. Apart from eggs, seafood and shellfish feature prominently in Easter food traditions in Swedish west coast fare, as well as in Northern Norway. Some familiar dishes are smoked salmon and/or mackerel, gravad lax, variety flavours of preserved herring to egg halves topped with shrimp and caviar.

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Marina in early April 2020, Tromsø, Northern Norway

April weather in the Arctic. Snow dusted over a thin layer of ice in this marina along the coast of Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Different from the Swedish west coast marinas and Tromsø marinas is how the boats remain moored through the winter season. On my walk this morning, I found several people tending to their boats, doing spring cleaning of sorts on the inside. Temperature outdoors this day is around -3°C with alternating snow and sunshine. Along the Swedish west coast, no one would consider tending to their boats if temperatures were in the minus outdoors.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 marked the spring/vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere. In Tromsø, you can feel daylight stretching to cover more hours over the day. There´s still snow outside but there´s much more sunlight too, which cheers people up some. I wonder if the neighbour´s heavy dragging of metal over the balcony floors meant they were readying the barbeque grills for the summer? Here in the Arctic, seasons don´t really languidly morph from one to another. Overly long winters means that summer rather rushes up at you as a concrete floor to your face when you´re in free fall, so best to bring out those summer things already now.

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20200328 A different bruktbokhandel in Tromsø, Northern Norway

A Saturday used books haul, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the past week, I´ve returned to reading some of Ken Wilber´s works that appear in scientific journal articles. In particular, my favourite paragraph thus far is from an article of his that appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 1982, when Wilber unpacks structural analysis and deep structure in cognitive development:

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Saturday morning 14Mar2020. Thoughts on the Nordic Food Lab testings with animal blood in Nordic cuisine

This dish of slow cooked beef tongue, animal blood and eggs takes on a dark burgundy, dark chocolate colour after cooking. On top, a dollop of setertype smør, a Norwegian butter with 4% salt.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

I was in Gothenburg, Sweden, the past weekend, and with Europe now being the epicenter of Covid-19, I´m currently sitting at home in quarantine for 14 days. This weekend, I thought I´d research a familiar but marginalised ingredient in Nordic cuisine – animal blood.

This morning´s food adventure is around the marginalized and forgotten food, animal blood, in Nordic cuisine. Animal blood has a long culinary use in Nordic and European food. Blodpudding / Black Sausage / Sanguinaccio or Biroldo / Blodpølseare all variations of blood sausages that you can find across Europe. In Sweden, blodpudding is eaten fried, with a side of boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam. This dish is absolutely delicious, particularly when fried in lard or butter.

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Semla of the Year 2020 at Ahlströms Konditori, Gothenburg, Sweden

Settling in at Ahlströms Konditori in Gothenburg, Sweden, for that semla fika.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It’s been a number of years since I stepped into Ahlströms Konditori, one of Gothenburg city’s oldest confectionaries. Here, you’ll find that the late morning crowd consists mostly retired elderly individuals. They sit, absorbed in their own worlds, and read the news in a scene that could come from any early 1900 Paris café postcard. It´s a beautiful scene to observe. The atmosphere at Ahlströms is languid but very much cheerful. The city’s local newspapers have done their annual semlor best-in-test for 2020, and Ahlströms won top-3 for serving up the city’s best semlor.

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Duck eggs from Lofoten. Sunday breakfast, Tromsø, Norway, Mar.2020

Duck eggs from Aimee´s Farm in Lofoten, each dated on the day they were picked.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Last Friday (28/02) was farmer´s market evening at Tromsdalen in northern Norway. Farmers from the surrounding region, from Balsfjord to a little farther south, Moskenes, gather in Tromsø to sell and distribute their products. At this small make-shift market, you´ll find traditional Norwegian smoked salmon, farm made yoghurt, eggs and various cuts of meats from lamb, sheep, cow and pigs. I noted that one farm, Aimee´s Farm (located in Lofoten), had duck eggs for sale. My eyes lit at the information.

In Singapore, salted duck eggs are served together with Teochew porridge and salted duck egg yolks are used in custard to fill soft steamed buns as well as the mid-autumn festival staple, mooncakes. The last I remember eating a duck egg was when I was a little girl back in Singapore. So I could not help but jump at the opportunity to purchase 30 of them. I was totally curious about the flavour profile of duck eggs compared to chicken eggs.

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Experiential dining onboard the M/S Bjørnvåg, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Standing with the M/S Bjørnvåg co-owner and Chef de Cuisine, Eivind M. E. Austad.
Text & Photo © F. Boije af Gennäs, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

The clear night sky was a velvet obsidian, and the air was winter crisp. Standing dockside in Tromsø harbour whilst waiting for the taxi to arrive, I marveled at how Tromsø night sky shades could range from variations of deep blues to vantablack, depending on the time of year. That the seasonal mørketid is all dark is not true. Experiencing a winter´s night such as this in January and February (just past mørketid), when the region records its lowest annual temperatures, releases in you a feeling of the intense magic associated with living in a city located in the Arctic.

As my taxi left the Tromsø harbour for the main road, I watched how the light from the street lamps lining the Tromsø bridge were mirrored in the water below. I said to the taxi driver, that it was a beautiful winter’s night. “Yes” he replied, keeping his eye on the road. “It is a nice night. But too much snow.” Not hearing any reply, he added with a slight touch of cynicism, “We are near the North Pole you know.” Still looking out through the window, I noted how the boats moored at the quay swayed with the wind. One of them was a beautifully restored wood hulled passenger boat from the 1950s. Its name is M/S Bjørnvåg.

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The lunar new year sequin dress dance 2020

Dancing to Súbeme La Radio by Enrique Iglesias. The song was released 24 February 2017 by the label RCA‎ Sony Latin.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

This weekend marks one of several Lunar New Year celebrations across the Far East and Southeast-Asia. The Chinese Spring Festival was celebrated this year on 25 Jan., ushering in the Year of the Rat, with 15 days of celebrations in China. In Singapore, it is most likely one of the rare times of year where Chinese food stalls at hawker-centres and food courts are closed.

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New Year’s Eve 2020, Styrsö, Sweden

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

My reads of interest have for some years now, revolved around unified theories, amongst which are Integral Theory by Ken Wilber, the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology, UTAUT by Viswanath Venkatesh et al. and general systems theory, GST from Ludwig von Bertalanffy, whose ideas were carried forward, amongst others, by Fritjof Capra. The turning point of curiosity on this new year’s eve is the realization that systems theories are too, inherently axiomatic and as such, need a system or unified foundation of their own.

This evening’s read and reflection comes from a 2015 paper written by Cabrera et al. [1] A unifying theory of systems thinking with psychosocial applications in which the authors address the very challenge of how the field of systems thinking is intrinsically methodologically plural. Pluralism is the result of the processes of diversification, specailization and differentiation in scientific innovation over time. In this context, plurality of methods and plurality of interpretations both create and perpetuate each other, emerging and growing as fractals. How then to reconcile universalism and pluralism?

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Christmas magic at MR Cake, Gothenburg, Sweden 2019

At MR Cake bakery and café in Gothenburg, Sweden. Offering some of the city’s most visually appealing and innovative desserts, MR Cake is located across Stenpiren at the corner of Comfort Hotel.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Some things in life are meant to be. For example, serendipitously finding my way during lunch hour on the eve of the eve of Christmas, to MR Cake in Gothenburg.

I had been away from Gothenburg for a while, but that was enough given time for some substantial changes to be made in the city centre, with new bridges and roads constructed, and more delightfully, new cafés, eateries and restaurants lining the city’s harbour front.

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Christmas marketing in Gothenburg, Sweden 2019

At Gothenburg’s Saluhallen located at Kungstorget, central Gothenburg. Saluhallen is an old-fashioned wet market cum food hall that offers customers direct contact with regional agri-food producers, as well as importers of produce such as cheeses, vegetables and meats.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was a little bit of a shouting match at the Christmas market this year at the heart of Gothenburg city, only because there were so many people in an enclosed market hall that the arena resembled more like a stock exchange floor. People used sign language to get their orders across to the counters, and the traders signalled right back, which cashier counter had the shortest waiting queue. There was no shortest waiting queue to any one cashier.

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100% Dark hot chocolate at Hotel Chocolat, Narita, Tokyo, Japan 2019

Our hot chocolates are served, made with Hotel Chocolat´s “100% dark”, no syrups, no powder, just chocolate.
Text & Photo © K. Aprilia, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

This would be my second visit to Tokyo, Japan, but it´s a first experience walking into Hotel Chocolat for a warm cup of hot chocolate and a delicious browse of their products.

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Mururin – The St. Magnus Cathedral at the Færoe Islands, 2019

About an hour´s drive to the south west of Tórshavn, the capital of the Færoe Islands is the village of Kirkjubøur. The road there is mystic when swept in the mist, giving you a strange feeling of traveling in time as well as place. Here, a surreal encounter with some Færoese geese, who seem to actively contemplate their options/chances with the oncoming truck. No geese were harmed in this incident. The Færoese goose is likely to be the oldest form of tame goose in Europe, brought by Icelandic people during the Medieval period.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

St. Magnus Cathedral is a cathedral ruin located in the village of Kirkjubøur on the island of Streymoy in the Færoe Islands. The ruins are the largest medieval building in the Færoe Islands.

The building was initiated by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300. The building appears as never having been completed but it is unclear how close to completion the project come. During recent investigation pieces of a roof vault and some fragments of paint have been found. It also appears as if details of the interior might have migrated between various churches on the Islands making it difficult to tell what was actually intended to be where.

What is interesting is naturally to which extent the material ruin can help us understand the earliest history of the Færoe Islands and thus, the earliest history of all North Atlantic tribes and cultures.

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Roykstovan at Kirkjubøur, Færoe Islands 2019

On our way to Kirkjubøur, or ‘The Church Village’, about an hours drive to the south west of Tórshavn, the capital of the Færoe Islands.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The small village had its largest economical importance in the Middle Ages. At that time it was the episcopal residence for the Diocese of the Færoe Islands and as such, was the spiritual centre of the society. In those days the village is said to have had around 50 houses that unfortunately were washed away by a fierce storm in the 16th century. This storm traditionally created an islet that contains ruins from that time. It is speculated that the church located the diocese here to establish a christian stronghold to block off the nearby heathens up the coast to the north west.

This area holds three main ancient memorial points. The oldest is the white Saint Olav’s Church. It is now rebuilt and renovated to some kind of mid 19th century style but its origin date to the 12th century, which makes it the oldest still used church of the Færoese people.

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Evening by the window

Chewie
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

He does this sometimes. Sits by the window, watches the evening go by. He´s a very tall, long limbed Maine Coon, born in Northern Norway, 8 years old, almost 9 years old now, and weighs in ca. 8 kgs. He now lives along the Swedish west coast at Styrsö. He´s darling.

The Tarv, Tórshavn, Færoe Islands

The Tarv is a steak house that serves traditional Faroese cuisine together with en eclectic selection of barbecued specialties. It is newly established in the former premises of Poul Hansens Heilsøla in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. The white façades, to the left in the row.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Some of best restaurants in the Faroe Islands are clustered around its oldest center, the Tinganes, which has served as the governing center of the islands as long as written history can tell. Around this peninsula are the two harbours of Tórshavn. If given the opportunity to return to the Faroe Islands, I will definitely revisit The Tarv.

The Tarv is located at the corner of the larger of the two harbours of Tórshavn. It´s a restaurant that serves some of the best of Faroese raw produce, fish and meat, in one of my preferred methods of cooking, grilled. The essential list of side dishes that accompanied grilled meats included Béarnaise sauce and pepper sauce were enough to make my evening.

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Etika, Japanese cuisine with a Færoese twist, Færoe Islands

Etika, the only sushi restaurant in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, serving a fusion of Japanese cuisine with raw produce sourced from the Faroe Islands.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

With Japanese sushi restaurants being found everywhere on earth it was a given first thing to do to see what a sushi restaurant could do on the Faroe Islands, where access to fresh seafood – whitefish, salmon, shrimp, mussels, whale – are abound. Etika opened in July of 2009 and in 2019 seems to remain the only sushi restaurant on the Faroe Islands. Etika serves classic Japanese cuisine with a Faroe twist. Its modern and cozy interiors extends to its flavour innovations reflected in their dishes served. Just the tiniest hint of orange made the salmon maki intriguing.

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West coast shrimp sandwich à la Tromsø

West coast shrimp sandwich, with shrimps from Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

I’m often amused when coming across shrimp at the local grocery store in Tromsø, the shrimps being at least twice the size of the ones found at the stores in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Shrimps are probably one of the fastest means to meal that needs little time in preparation if you’re in a hurry and/or haven’t got the time to sit and cook/plan all meals. Haul a kilo or so of shrimps home and you have the main ingredient to some ready-to-go-meals. Peeled shrimps can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and we love to have it over bread in a traditional Swedish west coast räkmacka with egg and mayonnaise.

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Dinner at Skarven

At Biffhuset, Skarven, Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

While Tromsø is known for its fresh seafood, in particular, its varieties of fish, sometimes it is that you just crave meat for dinner.

A restaurant that I’ve returned to several times is Vertshuset Skarven. A multi-culinary themed bar and restaurant, Skarven is known for its excellent ambience and friendly customer service. The dim lit and warm interiors of this restaurant are furnished in dark wood, in a colour scheme reminiscent of a different era, such as the use of a deep forest green for their menu hardcovers.

Dinner was fairly simple. An order of beef steak served with sides of potatoes and greens, and a draft beer. It was good.

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Sunday morning breakfast and Tromsø harbour walkabout

Having a morning single shot espresso Capuccino at Scandic Ishavshotel, located along Fredrik Langes gate 2, Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Weekend mornings are a fairly quiet affair at the heart of the city of Tromsø. Visitors from the larger cruise ships are most likely asleep onboard, and around the city centre hotels, there might be one or two tour groups headed off farther inland. On days of fine weather, exploring the surrounding fjords and sightseeing along the coastal regions can render some picturesque postcards for keeps.

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Black sesame seed bread

Black sesame seed bread.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

A few years ago when in Singapore, I came across a café that served hamburgers with black buns. It was a novelty at the time. I asked the kitchen to the café how the buns were made, and they said they used food colouring. I searched both online and in bakeries where I spotted black loaves of bread, for various means to bake black buns. My search returned several alternatives. Some recipes used squid ink, others used charcoal. One of my absolute favourites used black sesame seeds.

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Zucchero Guantanamera (Guajira)

Some people think that the summer’s polar light, when there is sunshine the whole day – and night – is great. But me, I look forward to the winter’s polar light, where you can get a proper night’s sleep, when no sunlight is peeping in anywhere during the night – or day – and it is feeling just like Christmas all the time. It is not completely dark, the sky lit in a magic blue. If something, the colour of the night sky between November and January reminds me of the Grotta Azzurra in Capri, Italy. In Tromsø where I currently live and work the winter polar light is called Mörkertid. It begins this year on November 28 and the sun will not rise over the horizon before January 15 next year. Yay!

Pickled cucumber Swedish style

Inlagd gurka / pickled cucumber, Swedish style.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The crown dill and Västerås cucumbers get ripe for the picking at almost the same time in the garden. This harvest timing is probably what makes them a perfect pairing for the cucumber pickling. There are variations to pickling the cucumber that can be found online. The pickling used here includes mustard seeds, horseradish and chili. The pickling is done in two stages. First is the overnight soaking of the cucumber slices in salted water. The next day’s work is to concoct the vinegar, sugar and salt bath that will keep the cucumber slices happy and flavourful till time to serve. Best served with a favourite pâté .

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Postcards of late autumn, Styrsö, Sweden

On the grill in late summer, along the Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Spring is often the more colourful season, with trees coming back to life and flowers blossoming. Bees are a delight to sit and watch as they make their rounds around the garden flowers. Come late summer and early autumn, the garden tends to take on a more varied hue of green. We’ve managed to change that some over the past few years by growing different types of garden friendly vegetables. Or at least, Swedish west coast garden friendly vegetables. The Swedish west coast has relatively shallow soil with rocky soil beds that need clearing out before planting. So we built a few sand boxes and experimented some to see which vegetables felt at home in them. Carrots were a hit a few years ago. This year’s harvest is also interesting with garden sweet peas, Västerås cucumbers (great for pickling) and different types of lettuce. A small harvest of tomatoes also seems on the way. Most delightful are the herring wood barrels filled with rainwater. We use them to water the plants, “indoors-outdoors, can-can”.

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Farmer’s autumn market, Haga, Gothenburg

Saturday morning marketing in Haga, Gothenburg. Picking up autumn harvests for sale from farms in the surrounding region of the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was a dark and stormy night…

Well, no. Not quite. But yesterday morning was a little wet and windy to do some proper marketing. Still, the charming cobbled streets of Haga in Gothenburg is always inviting, rain or shine.

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Oxtail soup

Oxtail soup.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was during the 1980s that Singapore saw a number of restaurants that served European styled food using recipes from France and Germany that I was introduced to a tomato based oxtail soup. My mother at the time was working for a German company with its Asia-Pacific headquarters located in Singapore. It was those years that we had the opportunity to try classic German goulash served with large chunks of meat, as well as oxtail soup. Soups in the restaurants were served together with heavy grained breads, and that’s how I have oxtail soup today as well.

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European food fair, Tromsø, Norway

My absolute favourite moment on the Saturday city walkabout. When the perfect song begins to play when you’re at the perfect food stall at the summer food fair in Tromsø. “Sugar, ah honey honey”, The Archies from their album Everything Archie’s. (1969)
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Tromsø is a little city that sparkles. Almost every other weekend sees some kind of exciting event. This weekend, 1-3 Aug. the Tromsø Skyrace was complemented by more grounded activities such as this petite European food fair held in the small square located adjacent to the city centre’s main shopping mall, Nerstranda. At Torgcentret, some couple of hundred meters from Nerstranda, was an ongoing Saturday farmer’s market and flea market.

This European food fair was exciting. Condensed into a small space, you could literally taste several of Europe’s most famous produce and dishes, from fudge, Belgium waffles served with raw, farm produced honey, to candied dried fruits.

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Art Café Tromsø: A passionate combination of art and food

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ivonne Wilken, Art Café, Tromsø, Norway 2019

At Art Café with Ivonne Wilken in Tromsø, Norway. Ivonne is a writer and artist. Her sculpture exhibition titled “Connections” is currently on display at Art Café, Richard Withs plass 2, 9008 Tromsø, through the months of August and September 2019.
Text & Photo © Art Café, T. Altintzoglou, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The summer months of Tromsø is warm, languid and beautiful. The university is closed for the summer holiday and this makes a marked difference to the atmosphere of this city, that has as its core activities, education, medical expertise and tourism. Tourists still dock off from the majestic looking cruise ships that pass by, but the crowds are fleeting and transient. What is, are the long hours of summer sun, to be enjoyed at one’s own pace if you’re spending your summer here.

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At Art Café Tromsø: Connections by Ivonne Wilken

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ivonne Wilken, Art Café, Tromsø, Norway 2019

At Art Café with Ivonne Wilken in Tromsø, Norway. Ivonne is a writer and artist. Her sculpture exhibition titled “Connections” is currently on display at Art Café, Richard Withs plass 2, 9008 Tromsø, through the months of August and September 2019.
Text & Photo © Art Café, T. Altintzoglou, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

I met Ivonne Wilken about a year ago, not long after I moved to Tromsø. Born in Emmen, Netherlands, Ivonne studied journalism in Zwolle and anthropology/criminology in Utrecht. She’s a writer, writing in both Dutch and English. You can find her book published in English titled VIS-A-VIS available in Kindle version. She’s also an artist. Her sculpture collection currently on display at Art Café is titled Connections, and it’s a personal exploration and expression of relationships.

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Skärhamn, Swedish west coast, summer 2019

At Skärhamn, about an hour’s drive upcoast from Gothenburg, sitting with a docked fleet of Norwegian wood boats, built in the late 1800s. These boats were part of the Hurum Trebåtsfestival 2019 that took place between 31 May and 2 June 2019 in Sætre, near Oslo, Norway. They are here for the Swedish Träbåtsfestival in Skärhamn.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It felt like an exchange of realities when we stepped off the ferry that took us from Strysö to Saltholmen. Saltholmen is the gateway ferry terminal that leads to the southern archipelago islands of Gothenburg city. We met with large numbers of people, most were crowds of tourists intent on a summer day’s visit the southern archipelago. The southern archipelago islands are exotic. With beautiful bathing spots and large yachts docked strategically around the islands, in front of equally beautifull coastal houses, the southern archipelago of Gothenburg is Sweden’s Côte d’Azur. So it felt surreal that we would escape this reality (if only for a few hours), and head in the opposite direction of the general Saltholmen crowd. We were taking a drive further upcoast to a small fishing village called Skärhamn, located at Tjörn. It’s one of my favourite summer-dos.

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Pear and double cream chia pudding

Chia pudding made with pears and double cream.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

In the canteen of the convent in which I grew up, CHIJ Katong Primary in Singapore, there was a corner stall that sold drinks in bright colours of green, purple, yellow and rose pink. The last drink was called bandung, a drink made with evaporated or condensed milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup. A lot of these large plastic drink tanks had in them chia seeds, that complemented the colours of the drinks, and which would draw the attention of the little ones, including myself. I used to call the chia seeds, frogs eggs. We had tadpoles and frogs in the school ponds when its monsoon season, so I thought they really were frogs eggs served in those drinks. It was gelatinous and tastes pretty much like smaller versions of tapioca pearls that go into the much loved bubble tea found in most Southeast-Asian countries.

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