Even as I write this, I can hear the laughter and music coming from several neighbouring parties, the sounds of people chatting from near and far made possible only because the islands to the southern Swedish west coast archipelago allows no vehicles save bicycles, mopeds and electric golf carts.
Swedish Midsummer’s Eve celebrations run like clockwork, come rain or shine. This year’s rain was intermittent, giving just enough sunshine and time to the children to have their dance around the Midsummer pole.
My favorite souvenir to bring back from places I have visited is actually the food.
Not only all the local specialties I can fit into my luggage and hope will survive the trip back, but the smell, the flavours and that particular piece of memory and history they contain, that could so easily be revived over and over again at the stove back home.
This weekend I was thinking about Barcelona, that will always have a special place in my heart.
If you walk down La Rambla from the Placa de Catalunya and resist the temptation to turn left into the Barri Gótic just for once, to get lost in the myriads of picturesque back alleys and squares that endlessly lead you round and around in the search for the perfect xocolata you had yesterday, just somewhere around here … and instead carry on, down past the familiar facade of La Boqueria wet market, and turn right, about there, you will soon find yourself inside the bohemian turned pretty posh quarters of El Raval.
There, immediately before you hit the open area of Rambla del Raval, you will find Casa Leopoldo.
It was an article in the New York Times that I came across Pizza Rustica. I’ve always been a fan of quiche, so I could not stop myself from trying my hands at creating a version of this typical Italian Easter dish. There are so many things that seem more fun when the sun finally arrives back after a long cold winter up here in the North of Europe. Cooking is one of them.
This is long time favourite of mine. It is quick and easy to make, not that expensive, and can make up a the main course of a really nice home cooked dinner for quite a number of guests with no big effort.
Water for the pasta
All in all it takes about half an hour to make, provided that you have the ingredients prepared and at home of course. If so, the first thing to do is to get the water for the pasta started.
Getting the sauce going
Next is actually the sauce since it will need a little while to mature. This will take about thirty minutes, so we estimate the time on this. Basically you just make a white sauce with butter, wheat flour, milk and a few tbs of full cream for flavour. Add freshly ground white pepper and stir in a teaspoon (tsp) of sea salt flakes. Now stir and slow cook this for at least a quarter of an hour while adding milk and cream as needed so that you arrive at the thickness you want. Then add about a cup of loosely ground parmaggiano cheese and melt in while stirring.
It was with great expectations that I went to visit the Geely headquarters in Hangzhou, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd, as part of a Swedish delegation from the University of Gothenburg. Geely’s acquisition of the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo with their headquarters in Gothenburg was announced on Monday the 2 August 2010 and with that, the Zhejiang Geely corporation had concluded the largest ever acquisition of a foreign car company in the history of China.
A warm sign at the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group headquarters that welcomed the visit by the Swedish delegation.
Just inside the Geely headquarters entrance.
Having followed the Ford and Geely negotiations as well as could be done in the press, I expected this acquisition to be an important opportunity to study the process of top management knowledge transfer between modern China and the West.
In preparation of the upcoming Culinary World Cup held in Luxembourg in November 2010, the Gothenburg Culinary Team was doing a ‘dry run’ of the competition dishes. As luck would have it I was invited to take a sneak preview of their efforts if I could make it to Uddevalla, just north of Gothenburg, Sweden and of course I’d love to.
Meeting with the whole team.
At this point in time, the team is already in the later stages in their preparation for the international competition and had set up a complete display table that resembled the one to be judged in Luxembourg. This entire exhibition was a team exercise that acted as a show-case plus brainstorm session for the team members, showing in detail how things right now would look like when put together.
Even if their food display already looked thoroughly breathtaking and appetizing, the fact was that all dishes would still be improved upon before the final design that would go into the competition was set.
This event was rather nondescript for their efforts, a showing mainly for themselves, friends and colleagues. It was hysterical to observe that all visitors to the display table were frustrated that entire set meals, plus breads and desserts were strictly for display only. There would be no touching, no tasting, no licking, no eating of any crumb on the table as the crumbs would most likely be part of the dish display and most carefully placed where they should be.
Strangely enough the most common meat dinner in Sweden – at least in the mind of the Swedes themselves – would be a French slice of beef or an entrecôte, with fries on the side. But how did it come to be like this in the land of elks and the Midnight Sun?
Well contrary to Singapore, Sweden does not really have a tradition of eating out on a daily basis. In Singapore one would eat out three times in a day (and then some inbetween) without thinking about it, but in Sweden eating out has always been a little bit of an event where people are more likely than not to dress up a bit and expect something out of the ordinary. The up side of this is that this attitude from bygone days until now had helped create a ready market for gourmet cooking and fine dining, which in turn, had helped skyrocket Swedish culinary art to world fame.
However in 1954 the ‘French Bistro’ was introduced into the Swedish food scene by Chef Yves Fitoussy at the newly opened restaurant Cassi in Stockholm. Here the open bar kitchen was introduced where steaks could be fried very quickly in front of the guests and served instantly over the counter, and with French Fries – also a novelty at the time – on the side. The impact was tremendous.
For some years now, I have observed that Swedes have several forms of folk dresses and a National Costume, that they use on special, festive ocassions such as Midsummer’s. Sverigedrakten lends a good history of the folk dress, where the dresses displayed the wearer’s province of origin, their distinct style of clothing, their culture and history. Folkdresses went out of fashion around the mid-1800s, where these days, they can fetch enormous prices at auction houses due to that the textile to the dress was usually hand-loomed and then the dress hand-sewn. An approximate cost to a folkdress today would be around 15,000 kr to 20,000 kr, which is about USD $2,500 – $3,000 or SGD $4,000 – $4,500.
Cufflinks in gold and white gold, set with mother of pearl and 2 brilliant cut diamonds, c. 0.10 cts. Stamped GD & Co (G Dahlgren & Co.), Malmö 1940, Sweden. These are to be auctioned this coming weekend, at W.A. Bolin.
In a crowded room to any formal event, one could well sweep over the hall and indulge in the general sight of people well dressed. But as the evening draws on and conversations are engaged, it is most often that one cannot help but notice details in a person’s dress. Women for example, might notice details in men’s dressing such as the colour of his tie as in contrast to his shirt, the cut of his jacket or the pockets on his coat, his tie pin if he’s wearing one and then most interestingly, his cufflinks. Every bit of clothing on a person contains information about personality, and a pair of cufflinks might just well tell if he has a sense of humour.
Today we went to the great Swedish Book Fair, held at Svenska Mässan i Göteborg. There among about one million visitors were indeed a few highlights. At the Kartago Publishing Company’s booth we met with the well known Swedish cartoonist Jan Berglin. He is one of the driest, most academic authors to have ever drawn a comic cartoon. Here is a picture of Jan Berglin at the Kartago Publishing house booth, signing his latest book.
Funnily enough I think he looks like what he draws.
JE in queue to meet Jan Berglin. A bright, happy kid is all I see! Pretty much as any eight year old kid queing up to hand over his wishing list to Santa. David, JE’s son who is standing behind JE was also there.
We couldn’t really help asking about his style, of mixing philosophy and quotations from our traditional literary heritage, with humor. As expected he just smiled and explained
I guess that’s me. I try to put a lid on it but I can’t really help who I am.
I figure that’s the way to do it. Just be yourself.
18k white gold, diamond and amethyst ear pendants with ca. 2.2 ct total diamond weight. At the bottom, two larger facet cut, pear shaped amethysts surrounded by smaller brilliant cut diamonds. Claw set. Pierced. Length, ca. 3.25 cm.
There’s been a hot debate about size zero models and underweight models for some months now. A topic that heated up again with London’s fashion week kicking off earlier this month, as reported in London’s Daily Mail.
Lily Cole is one of the size zero models today. Picture from London’s Daily Mail.
While I think this debate has done good, I think it’s important for people not to simply jump onto the band wagon with this thought altogether and swing too far out with the pendulum on this debate, without considering the other perspective – those who are genetically thin and underweight, with BMI lower than 18.5.
I say this because I myself speak from a 1.65m frame with a 17 BMI, which is considered way underweight. A search on the internet for “Kate Moss + BMI” will render everything from 15 BMI to 17 BMI. Point is, she is still underweight. But since my BMI is 17, would that not put me in that range and thus under scrutiny and criticism since I do now and again, appear in the media and that would mean that I’m a poor / negative role model for young teenage girls?
Well, I’ve actually put on weight since I was 16 where I was 1.65m and weighed 41 kg. An improvement I would say.
And looking at things from my point of view, I would say this entire debate is unfair to persons such as myself. It lands us in hot water for something that is genetic and it gives society something easy to blame, rather than do that research and publish more on genetic thinness. Now that would cost some institutions a lot of time and money wouldn’t it? So it’s much easier to point to a few prominent research already done and a few models who have died on the catwalks and say – out with size zero, out with being thin!
Besides which, research that goes against the grain most often escape funding. I can imagine the answer and gaffaws from the board of directors of some research institute if I said I had a proposal to prove that being thin is not necessarily unhealthy when every other research points in the opposite direction.
But do I have any health problems? Not thus far. Cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels were healthy at my last annual checkup.
So what’s missing in this debate? I think the word local.
The post war years of the 1950s presented an opportunity for women to get out of the factories and back to their domain of family and home. It was an era that celebrated the woman and her femininity, affording her time and luxury to be beautiful again. One can expect this exhibition to showcase some excellent collections from leading designers of the time and should therefore not be missed.
A light yellow, old cushion cut diamond with a large culet, weighing ca. 1.9 cts.
When I first got interested in diamonds, I started like everyone else on the 5Cs of a diamond – its cut, clarity, colour, carat weight and certificate.
Questions like, which of these Cs are more important if you’re working on a budget was also part of the learning process and a practical question to consider when buying a diamond. And for the longest time, I could not weigh the importance of either of the Cs with each other. I wanted all of them in my stone ranked as high as possible, meaning I wanted best colour, best cut, best clarity, biggest carat and most definitely certified, in the budget!
In the previous post, where I was wearing the Grey Miu Miu coat, I wore these shoes.
There’s a pair of shoes that you can see in the previous picture that I’m trying out with the grey coat – a red and black patent leather and snake skin heeled shoe.
There are many interesting details in this shoe – almost overwhelming in detail actually from:
the petal open toe front
the black patent
the contrast red patent
the snake skin print along the sides
the duo tone fading from red to black and black to red
the studded heel
the shape of the heel from thick to thin, not like a standard stiletto or a chunky stacked heel.
I was almost considering going for this pair of shoes but after some more thinking some I decided there is such a things as too overwhelming by details and struck it off the list to my husband’s dismay. He loved these shoes!
Check out the Miu Miu flats in the background, worn by the very helpful and patient sales girl. Now those ballerinas are CUTE!
My third and last try at a Miu Miu Autumn 2007 coat in grey. Not a colour I want – I have too many dark coloured coats in my wardrobe already. But I thought heck, I’m there, I can actually have my hands on something and it might, just might work on me.
This coat was double breasted and very warm. But again, too boxy at the shoulders, that gave me a very “square” look from the front.
There were pockets in the front to keep the hands warm and I did like the way the skirted part of the coat moved when I walked.
Still, I thought the material was too heavy for my frame, so I passed on that based on colour and design actually!
Here’s another shot of the coat…
In this picture, you can see what I mean when I say that the coat is too heavy for my frame and too boxy in the front.
The pleated details of the skirted part is great though. And I do again, like the girlie look of this coat. But at that price, as all Miu Miu coats are, I think I’d expect more from this coat. It needs to make me look better!
It did however, look gorgeous if I wore it open. On the other hand again, I won’t be able to walk around with an open coat in the Swedish winter. So it was a sad departure for me from the Miu Miu store in London.
(Photos taken with a Sony Ericsson 810i mobile phone)
I spotted Miu Miu just across the street, somewhere down from Pringle of Scotland. I’ve been looking for a red coat FOREVER – literally, a few years now. And I’ve been eyeing THIS schoolgirl kickpleat red coat from Miu Miu.
The entire Miu Miu autumn collection was inspired by school uniforms and I thought it ideal! I love girly lolita style clothes and school uniform inspired items suited me perfect!
I donned this coat with enthusiasm, only to find that again, it was too large. It was in size IT 38! Which was indeed the smallest they had.
I began to realize that this was not my day indeed. I was truly disappointed here too because first, I love Italian made clothes and second, Italian sizes are what actually FIT ME in Europe. They are all I ever go for when shopping in Sweden because all other cuttings are just that wee bit too large. I think you can see my disappointment in my eyes in the mirror.
A practical consideration. I noticed that the sleeves on this coat did not cover my wrists. This means that it’ll be a cold coat. I do like coats that have a longer sleeve length because I can just pull it that extra bit over my gloves during winter for that extra bit of needed warmth.
And I thought I could’ve worn them with these Miu Mius I have. Disappointing.
A picture here from my London trip about two weeks ago. By the way, all pictures from my London trip were taken by a mobile phone, the Sony Ericsson 810i. Here, I’m at Pringle of Scotland along Bond Street. I was totally blown away by the baby down softness of this white, plush cardigan.
Me with the cardigan ON! What I like about it is that the design doesn’t overwhelm my small frame – an important feature when choosing clothes for a tiny framed person. I like how it’s bubbly sleeves or lantern sleeves falls out and creates an interesting silhouette but doesn’t take too much attention away from the person wearing it. I dislike clothes who wear the person.
I also like that the mohair doesn’t itch like cheaper versions. Speaking about prices, what I’m wearing costs a cool £800.
Got cash? Then this would be a splendid way to pamper yourself this autumn!