Summer solstice and Midsummer’s Day 2022 Styrsö

The Midsummer Pole at Styrsö Bratten, Swedish west coast, Sweden 2022.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2022

The summer solstice on 21 June marked the day of maximum sunlight in the northern hemisphere. In Gothenburg, Sweden, these are the days when you can see the rim of the sun lightly touch the horizon and then rise again.

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Sjømatfestivalen 2022, Tromsø, Norway

Grilled salmon at the Tromsø Seafood Festival / Sjømatfestivalen 2022, Norway.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2022

It has been some years since the Arctic City, Tromsø, saw such a great buzz of activities that appealed to people of all age groups. It seemed like the majority of city folk and its suburbs were out on the streets this morning with the Seafood Festival weekend for 2022.

There were several activities on-going simultaneously, and I was eager to catch them all in action at the same time. In Tromsø harbour, at one pier, starter guns and flares were up in the air at regular intervals for a rowboat race. The participating crowd dressed in festive costumes for the race. Two teams caught my eye, the first was a group of women who wore black t-shirts and gym tights, paired with colourful tutus, and the second team who had beautiful costumes chose the more elegant bunad or Norwegian folk dress.

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Flickorna på Färjenäs, Karl IX:s Göteborg

At Flickorna på Färjenäs Café, Karl IX:s väg 1, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2022

Karl IX:s Göteborg is the city of Gothenburg before present day Gothenburg. It was founded in 1603 by Karl IX at Färjestaden on Hisingen with the intention of creating a trading post and an enclave for Dutch naturalized foreigners to the Swedish west coast. The Danes weren’t happy about the idea of a thriving and competing trading post near Denmark, so Karl IX:s Gothenburg was burnt to the ground in 1611. What to do? Well, move the city upstream and build fortresses with as many cannons Denmark facing as possible. That new city upstream is now present day Gothenburg. Power of attorney was given to Dutchman Cornelius Corneliusson on November 9, 1603, to construct the new city of Gothenburg.

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Passau, Lower Bavaria, Germany 202205

It could have been a Prinzregententorte, a Kaiserschmarrn or an Apfelstrudel. But when in Passau, in Lower Bavaria, in Germany, I of course just had to go for a homemade chocolate gelato. I attribute this choice to identifying with the Boii tribe who technically came from northern Italy in 2 BC?
Text & Photo © Angeline Lim, CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2022

There is something about the heavy historical presence and influences of the monastery founded by Severinus of Noricum (c. 410 – 8 January 482), and the confluence of the three rivers Danube, the Inn (river from the south) and the Ilz (river from the north) that made me feel at home walking the narrow cobbled streets of the city of Passau in Lower Bavaria, Germany. I went to school in a Convent run by French missionary nuns in Singapore. The Convent was the next best choice as I understood from my parents, after failing the criteria of being a silent child and one who would do well in a life of prayer and solitude for the Carmelite order.

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New Year’s Eve 2022

New Year’s Eve 2022, postcard.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

This New Year’s Eve, I’m revisiting some pages of my own copy of Ken Wilber’s 2014 book, The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development.

I totally enjoy reading books written by Wilber. He is a brilliant mind, and a brilliant scholar with a wonderful sense of humour. He is also superb at synthesizing theories and thought models of transpersonal psychology, human knowledge and behaviour.

So instead of the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, of Everything being 42. I would just as well go for turtles.

The answer (in part and in whole) are holons. Turtles all the way up, turtles all the way down.

Sjömagasinet julbord 2021

At Sjömagasinet for a Christmas table sitting, 2021, Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Sjömagasinet has become a signature restaurant to visit for the family julbord during the yuletide season. I love family Christmas table sittings in Sweden, and I began writing about the julbord spreads at the restaurant from 2007, 2008 and 2009 when the restaurant was helmed by Guide Michelin Chef, Leif Mannerström.

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Långedrag Värdshus julbord 2021

At Långedrag Värdshus for a Christmas table sitting, 2021, Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

It was special to come back to Långedrag Värdshus for a Christmas table sitting. My absolute favourite dish from the 2020 julbord, of which I devoured a generous amount, was their honey roasted duck. Already then by New Year’s 2021, I was looking forward to my next julbord with them. I knew too, that duck would be my first dish at the 2021 julbord, breaking all Swedish julbord serving traditions that begins with the cold dishes, particularly, the preserved herrings.

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Julebord at Scandic Ishavshotel Tromsø, Northern Norway

Christmas Table at Scandic Ishavshotel Tromsø, Norway. Crisp pork ribs (ribbe) and cured lamb chops (pinnekjøtt) are the staples at Norwegian Christmas Tables.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

A PLOS ONE study on periodic human activities and high word frequency occurrences showed that we speak what we think, and what we do [1]. Language not only reflects thoughts, experiences and realities but it also helps create realities. The study methodology is not particularly ground breaking. The authors analyzed an historical corpus from American and British daily newspaper articles from between 1836 to 1922 to uncover patterns in language use that correlated with seasonal human activities. Still, what I personally found interesting was the concrete illustration over decades, that people did indeed speak their lives in the fashion of their daily, monthly, and yearly activities. Certain words were used more frequently during certain times of the year than in others, thus reflecting an underlying social reality of the people. The top 25k frequently occurring words in the historical corpus reflected activities and concerns around annual weather patterns, hunting, harvesting as well as religious and civil activities. Taking my own n-of-1 writings as a small, specialized corpus, I can see how much I love Christmas Table sittings, particularly at year’s end.

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Yuletide season 2021 at Graffi Grill Tromsø

Graffi Grill Tromsø in full festive decorations for yuletide, Norway.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

While it isn’t that often that I dine out in Tromsø, for the occasions that I do, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Graffi Grill Tromsø is one of my favourite places to dine. Located along Tromsø harbour at the port terminal at Prostneset, the restaurant is easily accessible, and for the moment, fully decked for the festive yultide season. My favourite is the grill sample platter, with a variety of grilled meats and accompanying side dishes. We went crazy this time, and settled for a medium rare entrecôte. Totally enjoyed the yuletide vibes at the restaurant, and looking forward to the next occasion to visit.

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Tanum World Heritage Site, Tanumshede, Sweden

In Tanum Municipality at the Tanum UNESCO World Heritage Site, Northern Bohuslän, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Tanum Municipality is located right between the cities of Gothenburg in Sweden, and Oslo in Norway. It was a late summer’s day driving in Northern Bohuslän that we made a stopover with the car at the Tanum World Heritage Site. The west coast of Sweden makes for very scenic drives, and the area around Sannäsfjorden, where the Tanum rock carvings can be found, is certainly a beautiful place to visit.

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Visiting Arctic Roe of Scandinavia, for a taste of sustainable luxury, Småland, Sweden 2021

Swedish black caviar by Arctic Roe of Scandinavia, AROS, Småland, Sweden. This black caviar comes from the Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser Baerii, in the family Acipenseridae.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

A two-hour drive from the city of Gothenburg took us to Strömnäsbruk in the beautiful region of Småland. I was curious to visit AROS (Arctic Roe of Scandinavia), one of two producers in Sweden of sturgeon black caviar.

Strömnäsbruk is one of many small industrial villages that would be all but forgotten today as watermills went out of fashion for powering up workshops and industries if it wasn’t for creative entrepreneurs. In this case, the robust building of a former paper mill has been repurposed towards rearing Siberian sturgeons in a humane and ecologically sustainable manner. The product is black caviar or the black gold of the Caspian sea, that has all but driven wild sturgeons to extinction.

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Oven baked chicken and farm-to-door, Swedish west coast, Sweden

Oven baked chicken, with chicken sourced from close quarters, Kött på Riktigt, a farm located in Västra Götaland, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Oven baked chicken in the making, using chicken sourced from a local farm, Kött på Riktigt, Gothenburg, Sweden.

How different can a chicken taste? I wondered as we fingered the options of meat boxes presented to us by Kött på Riktigt. We live in the southern archipelago of Gothenburg, and representatives from the farm, Kött på Riktigt were up and about, taking orders.

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Seven flowers and a Midsummer’s sirloin barbeque, Swedish west coast

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Midsummer 2021

The ritual of The Seven Flowers. Collecting flowers for the table at Midsummer’s, Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Going wild with our Midsummer’s menu with grilled ryggbiff and Béarnaise sauce instead of preserved herring.

Sweden’s classic lunch menu when celebrating Midsummer’s is singing and snaps, with a side of preserved herring topped with sour cream. So much so that occational visitors to Sweden think that Helan Går is our national anthem. It isn’t. A few weeks ago, we happily received our order of a meat box sourced from a farm that practices regenerative agriculture, Kött på Riktigt, located in Gothenburg. We could have let the beef mature slightly longer, but we couldn’t wait. So we went a little wild this year with our Midsummer’s menu with ryggbiff or sirloin steak, with a side of Béarnaise sauce.

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Örranaässjön, Nybro kommun, Småland SE May 2021

Slight drizzle in the morning at Lake Örranaässjön, Nybro kommun, Småland in south Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Örranaässjön is a popular visiting destination for exploring Swedish nature. You can walk, bike and/or canoe. Skiing is popular during the winter months here. You can also set up camp where you find comfortable. If you are in your caravan, there are designated caravan parking lots and amenities right next to the water’s edge. It will be a perfect way to wake up in the mornings while on the road in Sweden.

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Tallhöjdens Hotell, a perfect stopover in Simlångsdalen, between Gothenburg and Kosta, Sweden

A large Thai Buddhist temple deer figure, unintuitively but charmingly adorns a table at the restaurant in Tallhöjdens Hotell, Simlångsdalen, south Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

About 14 km east of Halmstad, in Simlångsdalen, there’s Tallhöjdens Hotell. We found the hotel when taking the E6 at exit 44. We did a little roadtrip between Gothenburg and south of Sweden, and were driving towards Växjö at the time. Although we were not too long on the road, a little over an hour, our morning coffee was beckoning, and we could not resist turning off the road into the inviting hotel parking lot in the early hours of the morning.

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At the Captains Table, Stenungsbaden, Swedish west coast, Sweden

At Stenungsbaden Yacht Club, Bohuslän, Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

The west coast of Sweden is a summer escape of choice for Swedes. We usually make our way up to Marstrand if we have the drive time, but a little closer to Gothenburg is the drive to Stenungsön. Both routes to either islands are scenic, with opportunities to stopover at small flea markets along the way.

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Styrsö Valborg 2021, Swedish west coast, Sweden

At the quayside at Styrsö, Valborg weekend, Gothenburg southern archipelago, Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Since the Middle Ages, Sweden has celebrated Walpurgis Night or Valborg on the last day of April. Valborg marks the quarter point in the sun-wheel between the vernal equinox and midsummer. The Nordic countries will usually switch over to summer hours and the day is celebrated by spending it outdoors, grilling, song singing and general merry making.

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A view from Långedrag Värdshus in spring, Swedish west coast


At Långedrag, Saltholmen, with a view towards the Gothenburg southern archipelago, Swedish west coast, Sweden.

Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Over the weekend, the seas had moderately high waves, but the west coast of Sweden had generally clear skies. The combination of high water and good sun made it perfect sailing weather for children who were attending a sailing course at the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club (GKSS) to go out to sea. Their small sailing boats bobbing on the ocean horizon was an exciting view to observe.

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Chèvre Figue à la Rose, Hugo Ericson Ost, Stora Saluhallen Gothenburg, Sweden

One of my favourite raw goat cheeses from France, the Chèvre Figue à la Rose.
At Hugo Ericson Ost, Stora Saluhallen, Gothenburg.

Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

In Paris in 2016 I found myself exploring the shops along Rue de Grenelle. Here, in between Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin is one of Paris’ many culinary gems, the Barthélemy cheese boutique. This shop carried more than 200 varieties of unique, hand crafted French cheeses. Stepping out of that compact and cozy shop, I had in hand, two Chèvre Figue à la Rose. This goat’s cheese is made from unpasteurised milk. Crafted in the shape of a fig as it contains a fig within, this cheese is produced in the French region of Provence. The two I bought in Paris, I had those for breakfast the next morning, and fell in love with that cheese since.

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Trollhättan Fall and Locks area, west Sweden

Trollhättan valley of Gamle Dal, spring 2021.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

The Trollhättan Fall and Locks area is about an hour’s drive from the city of Gothenburg. We had warm spring/summer weather over the weekend, so we decided to take a drive to visit the city and take in some of the dramatic landscape. I have never visited the city of Trollhättan before, so this was pretty exciting for me. I was looking forward to exploring the city as well as the surrounding nature in the valley of Gamle Dal (Old valley).

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Spring garden play in Aztec print

In an Aztec print and harem pants, Swedish west coast, spring 2021.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

It has been some very nice weather along the Swedish west coast in the past week. The morning temperatures begin at about 6°C but quickly rise to about 15°C. In terms of dressing for the weather, I remember spring as a somewhat confusing season in the early 2000s. As a tropical individual newly arrived in Sweden, spring was the couple of weeks when you left your home in winter temperatures, with warm hat and gloves on, but have lunch in just about summer temperatures. So the jacket and gloves come on and off throughout the day, depending on whether you are in the shade or in the sun.

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From the week of the Spring equinox 2021

In celebration of the spring equinox week 2021, with some cake and Lent lilies on the table.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

There´s been a flurry of small activities in the week following this year´s spring equinox. From making a chocolate banana fudge cake to a sausage and bacon frittata for breakfast, I´ve been celebrating the start of spring in a variety of ways.

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Laxbutiken Ljungskile, Sweden

Getting that squeeze of lemon juice over a plate of warm smoked salmon at Laxbutiken Ljungskile, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Laxbutiken Ljungskile, Sweden.

The Swedish west coast makes for beautiful and scenic long drives. Along route E6, headed towards Oslo from Gothenburg, you´ll come to the neighbourhood of Ljungskile. Lungskile has about 3300 inhabitants, and it is located in the municipality of Uddevalla. As you turn off at exit 93 of E6, you’ll find a gem of a place called Laxbutiken, or “the salmon boutique”. Laxbutiken is a combined restaurant and shop where besides dining, you can buy and take home fresh salmon and a wide selection of salmon products.

As soon as I stepped into Laxbutiken, I became excited about dining at the restaurant, because of their appetizing display of a wide variety of delicious looking salmon bakes and dishes.

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Early spring, Tromsø, Northern Norway

A neighbourhood that is close to the city centre of Tromsø, in Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

There was intermittent snow whilst I was on my walk, with little speckles of light reflecting from the falling snowflakes.

The spring equinox on 20 March 2021 marked the beginning of some very long summer days in the city of Tromsø, in Northern Norway. I´ve spent slightly more than two and a half years here in this cozy and compact city, moving here in the summer of 2018 to work and live. When I first arrived, my first impressions of this Arctic city was that it was quaint, and a little magic. Those first impressions of Tromsø hasn´t as yet faded with me.

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Neighbourhood weekend walk, Tromsø, Norway

Daylength today on 24 Jan. is about 3:38 hrs. Here, the sun casts a warm glow over the coastline of Tromsø, in Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Short compilation of video and photos of the day´s walk.

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Zen ensō 2021

New Year´s 2021 along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

In Zen, ensō is a circle that is hand-drawn in minimal uninhibited brushstrokes. The circle can be drawn complete, or incomplete. More important, is that it expresses a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The transition from the last hours of 2020 to the first hours of 2021 in my view, is much like ensō in Time. All things in transition, endings into beginnings.

A medley of moments towards Zen ensō, the tail end of a circle, to begin a new. Moments of New Year´s Eve, weaving into the early hours of New Year´s Day, 2021.

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New Year´s Eve 2021 and dragonfly vision

New Year´s Eve, along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

While humans have a trichromatic vision, seeing colours in combination of red, blue and green because of light-sensitive proteins in our eyes called opsins, the remarkable dragonfly has no fewer than eleven different visual opsins. Some species of dragonflies have 30 visual opsins [1]. Dragonflies and damselflies are colourful, diurnal insects that depend strongly on their keen sense of vision for an array of activities, from catching small prey in the air to forming territories. The compound eyes of dragonflies contain three to five classes of photoreceptors, with distinct spectral sensitivities covering the UV to red spectral range. These photoreceptors combine to produce a mosaic of images for the dragonfly, although how this visual mosaic is integrated in the insect brain remains uncertain.

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Saffranssemla

A saffranssemla. Like a semla, only with saffron added, along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

I did a post-Christmas grocery store run yesterday in Sweden. To my horror, I saw trays of semlor being brought out from the bakery department. I took a double take on the trays, to see they were not actually large cream puffs, because, why not? But, there were no cream puffs. The trays were filled with luscious marzipan and cream filled semlor, headed to the bakery shelves. A lovely sight, but a little early, I thought.

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Långedrag Värdshus, a Christmas table sitting by the sea

At Långedrag Värdshus for a Christmas table sitting, 2020, Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Julbord 2020, SE.

Långedrags Värdshus is a cozy restaurant by the ocean along the Swedish west coast, neatly tucked away in a corner near the Saltholmen ferry terminal. Saltholmen is the connecting point between mainland Gothenburg and the southern archipelago where we live. So while being proximate to Saltholmen, I think I’ve dined at this restaurant maybe three times in the past twenty years of living in Sweden.

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Sugee cake, Styrsö julbord 2020

The Eurasian sugee cake.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

A short compilation of photos and videos of sugee cake making at Styrsö, Sweden for Christmas 2020.

I learnt to bake semolina cake or sugee cake from my father. I began with cracking of the eggs for him, and separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. No shells or yellows in the whites allowed.

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Janssons frestelse, Mannerström´s Christmas recipe

Traditionally known as a dish for a quick supper fix, Janssons frestelse is a family favourite, and not to be missed at a Swedish Christmas table.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Janssons frestelse, using Leif Mannerström´s Christmas recipe.

One of the first dishes introduced to me when I landed in Sweden is the classic Janssons frestelse. With heavy cream and potatoes with slivers of anchovies, this dish makes a substantial meal for that after party downtime, if you´re still awake.

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Gravad lax, Styrsö julbord 2020

Making gravad lax or cured salmon, is an annual tradition in our household. Salmon in itself is an extremely flavourful fish, the reason for as little herbs and spices used as possible for curing. As with years past, what you´ll need to find is an excellent piece of salmon.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

The Nordic oceans are renowned to produce meaty, flavourful fish such as cod, monkfish, saithe and salmon. These fish are delicious mostly on their own, and need very little herbs and spices to bring out their flavours. I like to pan-fry or lightly grill cod and salmon in a bit of butter, with salt and pepper to taste. But at year´s end, we often go with historical Nordic culinary traditions, where fish and meat are preserved by drying, salting or smoking.

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Styrsö Christmas 2020

Christmas table sitting at home at Styrsö, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

One of the more difficult things to manage is the process of change. For many years (could it have been more than a decade?) from when I was six to sixteen years old, the days of Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day, ran like clockwork routine. Mass at midnight at a designated church on the Eve of Christmas. Relatives, my mother´s side, would visit on the day of Christmas, marked 25th December. And Boxing day would be a round of visiting older relatives on my father´s side. As a child, I would even know what to expect at each relative´s place. A piano performance and Christmas caroling with my Granduncle Oz. At his place, we would always be served tea, and some of his generously proportioned (palm sized) homemade pineapple tarts. The visit to my Grandaunt Ruth would mean I would come home with something from Japan. A short round of gin rummy with my Aunt Mary, saving the real rounds of gin rummy and sherry, for New Year´s Eve when my father´s side, “the Cordeiros”, would gather at my parents´place. And then, as day turned into evening, it would be quieter sessions for Boxing Day, with older aunts and uncles to visit on my mother´s side. There, we would have cashew cookies, peanut cookies and pineapple tarts. We would keep ourselves entertained by peering into aquarium tanks where they kept little rotund goldfish.

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Sjöporten

A little buffet of pepparkakor. At Sjöporten, a restaurant located right next to Erikbergshallen, in the same building as Hotel Villa, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Sjöporten is a small, cozy restaurant located in the building adjacent to the events hall, Erikbergshallen. If you´re coming from Oscarsleden on the side of the city of Gothenburg, you can reach the restaurant by ferry from Klippan Färjeläge to Erikbergs Färjeläge. The ferry ride is about five minutes, and the ferry stop, Erikbergs Färjeläge, lands you at the doorstep of Sjöporten.

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Pineapple tarts and pirate coins Pieces of Eight

Making pineapple tarts in semblance of Spanish ‘Pieces of Eight’ colonial ‘pirate money’ or cob coins, to the value of eight reals, along the west coast of Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Pineapple tarts, the making.

I last wrote about making pineapple tarts in March 2010. My thoughts then were focused on the method of making pineapple tarts. The open-faced tarts with a cross over the top was something I grew up learning to make in the Eurasian household. As a child, I remember that there were many more rules from my mother about how to make pineapple tarts. It had to be shaped in a certain manner, crossed over the top and pinched over the crosses in a certain manner. I thought these were rules of good, and proper baking. I was never told why we made tarts in the semblance of a coin with a cross on top. I always thought it was a show of kitchen craftsmanship and that you tried to make the tart as pretty as possible.

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The little chocolate shop, Kronhusgården, Göteborg 2020

“Just browsing” is a non-concept in this little chocolate shop, Göteborgs choklad och karamellfabrik. It took discipline to not walk away with half of what was available for sale in this shop, for the home Christmas chocolate basket.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

It was four years ago that I stepped into this little chocolate shop around the corner. I call it “the shop around the corner” because it´s located in a corner of Kronhusgården at Kronhuset in Gothenburg, Sweden. Built between 1643 and 1654, Kronhuset is Gothenburg´s oldest secular building designed by royal architect Simon de la Vallée. This shop has always had an air of magic around it. Small, cozy and candlelit warm, you find your way around it in an instant, marveling at the wonderful sweet creations lining its shop shelves.

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Norsk ribbe and reflections on environment adaptation

Norsk ribbe, oven grilled pork belly with crackling over the top. The signature feature of the Norwegian style grilled pork belly is its thick layer of ultra crispy crackling.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

This festive season, my personal reflections are on questions of personal adaptation to new environments, and new living conditions. Adapting to a new environment and culture can be challenging. In my case, I´ve found myself adapting to being in new places and living conditions elastically, meaning to say, some fittings are easier done in some contexts than others. Taking the example of local food appreciation, it took me several years of living in Sweden before I stopped shopping at local Asian grocery shops. Food is closely connected to personal childhood experiences, the reason why from Proust, madeleines can have their moments that draw you into another world that once was yours. And there were so many petite madeleines that made up my personal Singapore narrative that it would have been a point of decision to live forward. So it took me a few years before I began to genuinely enjoy Nordic foods, from where they were cultivated at local farms, to how they were processed (salting, drying, smoking etc.) and how they were served. So while even some Swedes would disagree with semla hettvägg, I am for one, loving it.

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Saffron brioche

Saffron brioche, a Lussekatter variation.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of brioche to be found in the baked confections section of Swedish grocery shops. These new bakes were certainly Instagram worthy, sitting in neat rows on the display counter. I loved how they looked and most of all, the confectionary section of the shop drew crowds from the dofting aromas of combined caramelized sugar and butter.

Cafés got around into producing brioche bakes too. Popular variations of brioche that can be found in Swedish cafés include kanelbullar brioche, and chocolate pull-apart loaves. Sold on the idea of brioche, one advantage of starting Christmas bakes early is that you get to experiment with variations of recipes and styles to the confection. In this case, my interest for Lussekatter haven´t waned, so I tried a brioche version of these saffron buns.

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A revbensspjäll winter medley

A revbensspjäll winter medley.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Jultide along the Swedish west coast city of Gothenburg is characterized by long winter nights, the warm glow of street lamps over cobbled stone streets and its markets.

From about the second week into December every year, the city comes alive with julbord events or Christmas table sittings. The julbord or Christmas smörgåsbord is something to experience because it contains quintessential Swedish traditional foods that you can try in one sitting. From various flavours of preserved herring, warm prinskorvar snipped at each end to resemble tiny pig trotters, Swedish meatballs served with lingonberry jam, lutfisk served with green peas, winter spices and a copious amount of melted butter, to Ris à la Malta with the hope of finding that one almond in the entire pot for dessert, the julbord is a feast for the palate and a culinary narrative in itself. And yes, I wouldn´t forget, the neat display of double chocolate fudges at the dessert table.

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Nordic julstämning 2020

Nordic julstämning in November, 2020.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

I walked into the stores just about end of October and saw a curious sight of a juxtaposition of Halloween and Christmas decorations. At the meat counters, Christmas sausages and pâte were out for the buying, right after you´ve walked past the large orange pumpkins at the fresh vegetables counter for the Jack-o’-Lantern carvings.

So it seemed a little bit of a close call for festive seasons in the Nordic region when Christmas threatened for a minute or two to swallow up Halloween. But on second thought, in Sleepy Hollow spirit, I don´t think Halloween would mind it at all.

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Pirog

Pirog with a Saison 1858, Brasserie Du Bocq.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

My first encounter with a pirog (a meat filled bun) was in a summer in Sweden at the ferry terminal called Saltholmen. Located along the Swedish west coast, Saltholmen is the gateway terminal to the southern archipelago summer bathing places of Gothenburg. The breezy boat ride, the scenic routes and the occasional street food sellers that bring with them pastries, ice-creams, sweet and savoury buns and summer fruits all make for pleasant trips out to the southern archipelago along the Swedish west coast. Although quieter this year over the summer, there were enough local and international visitors to the southern archipelago for the ferry terminal to set up specific queues for each incoming and outgoing ferry to the islands.

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Autumn ragout, a recipe from the Netherlands

An autumn ragout of veal, puff pastry and roasted vegetable sides.
Text & Photo © JW van Hal, CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Personally, I think it’s fun to share recipes with family and friends, particularly if they live in a different part of the world and have different culinary traditions and heritage. The current global pandemic also seems to have the effect of bringing out that home cook in us. With digital video conferencing tools that enable shared cooking and culinary experiences online, I know of a couple of friends who cook and dine together in the virtual realm in real-time, generally having a good time with interesting conversations.

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Festive egg halves

Egg halves topped with skagenröra, trout roe and dill.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

One of my favourite appetizers is the Swedish style egg halves. I love the festive and luxurious look of them sitting polite and snug on the plate, patiently waiting for you to pick them up and savour them. They are no doubt, a staple at the Swedish julbord (Christmas table), where restaurants and homes will each have their favourite versions.

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