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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Trave Lübeck, Germany 2019

Crossing a bridge, on the way to Marktplatz, Lübeck, Germany, July 2019.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It’s been about a decade since we last visited the market square in Lübeck city in Germany. In 2009, our visit to Lübeck coincided with the Harley Weekend 2009. The market square was absolutely packed with a crowd enthusiastic for both metal rock music and Harley Davidson motorcycles. I preferred the Harleys on display. A similar model to the Harley Davidson V Rod “Denim Black” custom by German company 69Customs caught my eye in 2009. A visit to the 69Customs website shows up some extremely drool worthy photos of tailored Harleys. I still remember in 2009, I met a woman who owned a Harley, who was there for the festival weekend. She totally rocked a black leather pants and high heeled boots with leather jacket look. She was almost 60 years old and shared that one of her great loves of life is to be on her bike, on the road. It beats normal retirement plans of old folks homes for her.

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Schweriner Schloss Localitäten, Schwerin Palace, Germany 2019

At Schwerin Palace, Germany, July 2019.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

We were headed to Lübeck, Germany, as one of Sweden’s favourite summer things to do. A visit to Lübeck for hypermart grocery shopping is practical for when you’re catering for large parties, summer or otherwise. Else, it is for anyone with food insecurities and believe that enough food to fill 3 family pantries for 2 years on any average day of the year is perfectly normal.

Since we’ll be in Lübeck, I googled the map to find places of interest to visit that was in driving distance from Lübeck. It was a Tromsö moment for me when I clicked on Schwerin and a gorgeous fairytale castle [1] appeared on screen as the feature of Schwerin. I fell in love with what I saw onscreen. It looked magic! I could not not visit this castle, especially when docked at Lübeck for a day or two.

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Styrsö festival weekend. 5-6 July 2019.

Styrsö, Swedish west coast, July 2019.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Tourism is certainly in full swing this summer at the southern archipelago of Gothenburg. 5-6 July 2019 marks the much awaited Styrsö Festival 2019 (styrsofestival.se) with 20 music artists performing over Friday and Saturday. By noon, the ferries were packed with visitors on their way to the islands, ready to party! With slight winds and clear skies, we’ll be expecting an electric evening with good music at Styrsö Bratten.

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Vaniljbullar the Swedish pastéis de nata

Vaniljbullar, the Swedish variant of the Portuguese pastéis de nata.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

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A souvenir I often bring home after travelling to a new country, with the opportunity to sample their local fare, is to try to recreate a version of what I love and have experienced, right back at home. In this case, it was not much of a challenge, but rather, something nice to do on a summer’s afternoon in Sweden – to bake vaniljbullar (custard tarts), which is the Swedish version of the Portuguese pastéis de nata.

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TOPO Belém, Lisbon, Portugal

At TOPO Belém, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Dining at TOPO Belém, on the 3rd floor of the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) is surreal. This bar and restaurant was a serendipitous find. The intention was to visit the modern art collections in the Museu Coleção Berardo museum, but thought to have a coffee just before the walkabout. We asked the information counter where we could find coffee, and maybe some food. We were told, “There’s a restaurant, you go to the 3rd floor.”

The CCB is both spacious, and built to accommodate a sense of space. It sprawls 140,000 m², catering for exhibitions, conferences and other activities/events. And you certainly got this sense of vast sprawl when looking for TOPO Belém. It was quite a walk to the third floor of the CCB getting to the restaurant. For a moment, it looked more like we were entering a different wing of another modern art collection. But restaurant it was.

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Convento da Ordem do Carmo, Lisbon, Portugal

Contemplating, at the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Lisbon, Portugal.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was suggested from a very young age, that I become a nun of the Carmelite Order. For the simple reason that my father was once in the brotherhood and it was a sort of tradition.

There were more questions that came to my mind even as a child. Was I to stay a Carmelite forever? Or could I leave the Order if I wanted to marry? Could I listen to music with ear phones under the habit whilst keeping my vow of silence? How was I going to meet a man if I was technically holed up in the Convent all day? Would I marry a Priest who would similarly leave Priesthood? That seemed the only option since circumstance and environment would make that the monastary grounds as most likely the best dating realm/scene. It was also understood that nuns of the Carmelite Order did not speak unless spoken to, in which case, if it was during certain hours of the day, they might not reply, but redirect the query instead. To whom would they redict the query if everyone in the Convent kept their vow of silence?

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Breads and pastries in Lisbon, Portugal

Padaria do Bairro, Rua da Misericórdia, Lisbon, Portugal
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

I could eat cake for breakfast. But when in Lisbon, I discovered that this eating cake for breakfast could well be epigenetics at play, because in Lisbon, a lot of people eat a lot of cake for breakfast. It felt very much like home when upon entering the morning breakfast spread at the hotel, where I was greeted with what seemed like two-thirds of the total breakfast spread dedicated to various breads, cakes and pastries. Breakfast could take some time in Lisbon, I thought.

The Portuguese do pastries so well that they simply did away with the cumbersome Danish (pastry), and the bread around the Norwegian Skolebrod to produce one of their conconctions of greatest repute, the custard egg tart, pastel de nata or in Lisbon, also known as Pastéis de Belém. There are variations of this around the globe, such as the Cantonese or Hong Kong egg tart, or in Macau, known also as pastel de nata. But pastel de nata is but one sweet temptation. Walk into any bakery or pasteleria in Lisbon, and you’ll find an array of gorgeously prepared pastries that even if you didn’t have a love of sweet bakes, would encourage you to sit and sample. And this, one could do almost anytime of the day, beginning at breakfast.

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Stalking Louis Vuitton since 2006

Lisbon, Portugal 2019

Along Avenida da Liberdade at 190A, Lisbon, Portugal.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The city of Lisbon has just about 3 million inhabitants, although on an average summer’s day on the streets, the crowd feels much thicker to meander through due to the number of visiting tourists. In 2017, Lisbon saw 3.2 million visitors explore its music, food and culture. There are various means of navigating the city’s smoothened cobbled streets, on foot, by bus, trams, tuk-tuks and not the least, by taxis that make for an affordable, more private option.

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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

Looking on from the church yard, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin was founded in 1191. This was just after the Viking period (800 to 1066) and in parallel with the Chinese Song Dynasty era (960-1279). My system was trying to recover from this step through of a time warp from 2019 into an arena that was built about 1000 years ago, when not a few meters from entering the cathedral, I turned right and was accosted by a cast of the skull of writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels written in 1726.

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Liffey around Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Coffee around River Liffey, in a sailing jacket and beach hat. Very Dublin.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was a typical tourist thing to do. Read up on the top ten things to do when in Dublin, Ireland, and then make a to-do list. Most reviews recommended pub crawling at Temple Bar. I’m personally drawn to waterways and the ocean, so walking along River Liffey was certainly on my list. That, in combination with some kind of Irish scone with raspberry jam and cream in hand, would’ve made an ideal evening activity. So it was mostly a matter of logistics of how to have scone in hand, tea or coffee in another, and stroll down River Liffey without knowing much about how to navigate Dublin. As the evening turned out, it was that the city navigated me. My antennas were out for something sweet, something rich, something… chocolate. And where I found that, would be the starting point of my evening’s activity. That happened to be Dollard House, along River Liffey, at Gratten Bridge.

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Baum und Pferdgarten

It’s Friday! In Baum und Pferdgarten.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2019

What first captured my attention about Baum und Pferdgarten designs was their combination of sweet flirty designs. The label is a Copenhagen-based fashion house founded in 1999 by creative duo Rikke Baumgarten and Helle Hestehave. It’s been a few years since I was last in Baum und Pferdgarten, more than a decade actually. It’s been more than a decade’s love affair – I still love their designs, even if I tend towards the Swedish flair for todos colores.

Cat in April sun, 2019

Some call him Twix, others have named him Bruno.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Nice guy, this one. First summer as a young outdoor cat. Finding a sunny spot on a complementary coloured rug, he sits and waits patiently until someone opens the main door to let him into summer playtime.

Spanish orange almond cake to Easter, Styrsö, Sweden

Spanish orange almond cake, with orange crème anglaise, a variation of the Eurasian almond sugee cake. Topped with meringue.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

One of my favourite things to do when back in Sweden is to bake, and oddly enough, go back to cooking Straits Chinese / Peranakan dishes. Easter culinary traditions (as with Christmas, weddings etc.) however, are most often influenced from my Portuguese / Spanish heritage. This year, I thought to bake a variation of my father’s mother’s Eurasian sugee cake, a Spanish orange almond cake [1], layered with orange crème anglaise and topped with meringue. David Lebovitz has a brilliant recipe to orange crème anglaise to which anyone can refer/use [2].

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Lilla Askerön, Tjörn, Sweden

Browsing the grocery shelves at Pergolia Heavenly Italian, a boutique located at Lilla Askerön, Tjörn, along the Swedish west coast.
The boutique specialises in importing hand crafted Italian products, from accessories to food.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It’s a spring/summer thing to do. To drive along the Swedish west coast. Sometimes we head north, sometimes we head south. Once, we headed south and kept going way past Germany to land in Rome, Italy. We walked around some, had an ice-cream at Vacanze Romane at Piazza Navona, and made an about turn back to Sweden again. This time, we thought to head towards Tjörn and Orust, twin islands that contain some of Bohuslän’s most beautiful summer sailing and bathing spots that’s only about an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg city. The intention was to scout for small local grocers and antique shops along the way.

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A walk through scenic Kuanzhaixiangzi Alley, Chengdu, China 2019

At Kuanzhaixiangzi Alley, Chengdu, China.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2019

I was expecting a Yuyuan street experience like that of Shanghai 2011, when I thought to visit Kuanzhaixiangzi Alley in Chengdu, China. But this was a different adventure of sorts. Cozy yet vibrant, visitors are greeted with beautiful architecture throughout the alleys. Located in proximity to Tianfu Square and Renmin Park a taxi ride will take just about ten minutes to Kuanzhaixiangzi Alley and what I think is one of the more scenic (historic-) urban areas in Chengdu.

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