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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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 equinox barbeque 2020

Autumn equinox BBQ 2020 along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © D Neikter Nilsson; JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Our family had the most amazing Bistecca alla Fiorentina experience in 2008 when in Florence, Italy, courtesy of a good friend who had recommended and booked a table for us at the restaurant 4Leoni. Located between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, in one of the historical pizzas of the region´s capital city, Piazza della Passera, the interior of the restaurant is fairly small, but utterly cozy. It was a double birthday celebration night, and it seemed the full moon was out to greet and celebrate with us in Florence, standing perfectly centre over Ponte Vecchio as we walked by. I remember the food and service at 4Leoni to have been excellent. Our steak arrived grilled to perfection, carved and served with skilled hands. The recommended accompanying wine was just heavenly.

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Pickled cucumber Swedish style 2020

The Swedish Västeråsgurka is a late summer harvest. Often turned into a delicious pickle for sandwiches, we hope this year´s harvest will make enough jars to find their way to the Christmas table.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It´s rewarding to see your spring planting efforts bloom and fruit. This year´s growing was alright. There was a short strawberry season, literally lasting about a month when we could get strawberries from the garden. But the tomatoes and Västeråsgurka (a variety of cucumbers known to grow in Västerås, Sweden) are still growing, and we get small harvests now and again.

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Summer BBQ, Styrsö, Sweden 2020

Fava bean burger with ketchup, tzatziki and mayonnaise, Styrsö, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Swedish summers are marked by numerous BBQ-parties. Sometimes, it can feel as if you´re in an implicit neighbourhood race to fill the air with the aromas of BBQ grilled foods. I was in fact, introduced to the Swedish BBQ-party on my very first trip to Sweden when I was still in my university days. It was mid-May and a warm 10 degress celcius outdoors. I met with a group of young men with beer in hand. They lounged in nothing but shorts in beach chairs pulled up close to the smoking BBQ pit. I wore an orange knitted turtleneck sweater and thought I should really have brought a light jacket with me. I was promptly introduced to the group of BBQ party-goers, some of whom looked at me as if they had questions to ask. My introduction was then followed by “she´s from Singapore”, to which there was an acknowledged round of nods. Even if the smell of meat on the BBQ grill was fantastic, after ten minutes, I politely asked if I could go indoors to warm my hands on the oven stove.

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Black turtle beans with Herbs de Provence marinara sauce

Black turtle beans or svarta böner as they are known in Sweden, baked in the shape of spheres, served atop fresh tagliatelle. The baked black turtle beans are smothered in a marinara sauce infused with Herbs de Provence and parmesan. The delicate green leaf-stems on top of the dish is Olivenurt (Santolina Viridis). This herb is native to the Mediterranean and in this case, was imported from a cultivator from Denmark. It is highly aromatic of olives and popular uses include pasta, pizza, salads, meat / fish cooking.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

An pan (Japanese red bean bun), Dou Sha Bao (Chinese sweet, steamed, red bean buns), Penang Tau Sar Piah made with savoury green bean filling and Ling Yong Bao (sweet lotus seed paste steamed buns) are some identifiable warm aromas of the Singapore morning hawker centres, usually located adjacent to wet markets. These sweet and savoury food items were also some of my early childhood favourite eats.

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A walk around Marstrand island, Sweden

Onboard a ferry, going across to Marstrand island, Marstrand harbour, Sweden. The ferry ride is about 5 minutes, crossing the channel.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

The high cirrus clouds signalled fair weather for the day and it looked perfect for a drive up along the Swedish west coast. We headed for Marstrand, a pearl of an island for summer visits located in the Kungälv Municipality of Sweden. This island is a well loved tourist destination. We too, love this place and this day’s drive would be the second sweep around Marstrand to see if we would make it out to Marstrand island this summer.

Under the global circumstances of uncertain international travel and increased domestic travel in 2020, an indication that it was a good day to hop across to Marstrand island was the short and quick moving queue of people waiting to board the ferry. There are 2 ferries that run consecutively, which allows for fewer passengers onboard, without the sacrifice of travel time to Marstrand island. In the summer of last year, the ferry queue snaked around the ticketing house and up into the lanes where the nearest grocery store is located. On this visit, the ferry queue was short, going about less than 20m from ferry terminal to where the fruit stand was located. For sale at the fruit stand were locally grown, organic strawberries. Lovely and delicious reds in boxes if you wanted to bring some with you to Marstrand island.

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Sinnenas Trädgård, Marstrand, Sweden

At Sinnenas Trädgård, Marstrand, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

After completing the morning’s errands of some grocery shopping, the brilliant Swedish west coast weather beckoned us in taking a slightly longer drive up the length of the coast. We decided to head to Marstrand, which was a comfortable distance from our grocery shopping place of the day. Driving up into the roundabout of the ferry terminal to Marstrand, we noted that it was not overly crowded. Perfect indication to buy two ferry tickets to cross over to Marstrand.

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Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser, Kongahälla Shopping Center, Swedish west coast 2020

Shrimp, salmon and cheese salad at Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser, Kungälv, Swedish west coast.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Although culinarily fairly homogeneous (take for example, varieties of preserved herring and boiled potatoes and/or meatballs with lingonberry jam), the food in Sweden does carry regional variations and characteristics. Seafood and fish tend to distinctly characterise west coast Swedish regional food, not only in terms of the variety of food types but how they are prepared, plated and eaten.

There is little chance at getting bored with the vareity of pescatarian food creations in the Swedish west coast region. This year’s new find is Kungälvsröra and the Kungälvsbakelse from Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser. Kungälvsröra is a creamy mixture of shrimp and mayonnaise with red onion and dill. Kungälvsbakelse, is Kungälvsröra served on top of seeded dark rye bread and topped with savoury lemon gel. These delicious mirror glazed lemony confections are sold in neat squares that on quick glance over the counter, resemble a sweet lemon curd dessert.

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Styrsö Bratten, Styrsö, Sweden

Text & Photo / Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

A morning view from a ferry from Styrsö Bratten. Styrsö is a southern archipelago island to the city of Gothenburg, located along the Swedish west coast with about 1400 inhabitants. The island has several popular summer bathing spots that include Uttervik (north-west of Styrsö), Sandvik (north) and small sandy beach pockets right at Styrsö Bratten (north-east of Styrsö) where the boats dock.

Tjörn and Restaurang Tjörnbron, Sweden

Along the Swedish west coast across the islands of Tjörn and Orust, Sweden, Summer 2020.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

If you take the E6 expressway from the city of Gothenburg by car, you’ll get to the islands of Tjörn and Orust in about 45 mins. The twin islands are perfectly charming places to visit particularly during the summer months, with many antique shops for browing, and cafés to serve as rest stops.

It was just about lunch time when we drove across the Tjörn bridge, so we thought to try lunch at Restaurang Tjörnbron. Known for its excellent menu and friendly service, Restaurang Tjörnbron is located at one of west coast Sweden’s most scenic spots, at the top of a lookout point into the waters of Tjörn, right at the corner of the bridge.

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Creel caught Scampi (Langoustine): A Swedish west coast delicacy

Scampi (Nephrops norvegicus) is a stable population European crustacean that live primarily in the Nordic oceans. Differing from sweet water crayfishes, this crustacean is available all year round only depending on demand and weather. These scampi are KRAV-certified [1]. KRAV is a sustainability standard for the labelling of fish that has been farmed / harvested ecologically in Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

While food quality has always been a topic of discussion, food sustainability has in the past decades become a subject of increasing interest for consumers [2-4]. Consumers today are more educated on food ecology and the impact of food production on the environment and climate. They often inquire at the shops after product origin and methods of harvest / farming. They also want to know about plant (how much use of pesticides?) and animal (how humane were the animals treated?) welfare. In the Nordic countries, even prior to Covid-19 travel and trade restrictions, short food supply chains (SFSC) were in the early 2000s, being discussed and implemented as means to sustainable food consumption and food safety [5]. In Sweden, “närodlat” (regionally produced) and in Norway, “kortreist” are selling arguments that allow for agri-products and food services to command higher prices.

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Midsummer’s reflections 2020

Pickings from the garden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

On Saturday, 20 June 2020, Sweden celebrated Midsummer’s Day. A celebration that traditionally coincides with the summer solstice. Usually the inevitable – How’s your Midsummer this year? question, would be answered with the similarly inevitable reply; – As usual. Plus 10 degrees, and rain. – Ah, same as New Year’s eve then, – Yep.

It might sound sarcastic but really, I can’t think of a sunny Midsummer’s Day since I first landed in Sweden in 2002. I remember when I first landed that I wrote home to my parents and told, “Sweden got only two seasons leh”. They had winter, which was cold and wet, with possibility of some snow, and summer, which was cold and wet, with no snow. This year was certainly different. There’s been as much sun as you could wish for, in Sweden. I can only assume that this, in some kind of quantum entanglement of weather, is dependent on me having relocated to Tromsø, the very arctic part of Norway. Living in Tromsø by the way, has given me a completely new understanding of winter, and summer. Tromsø also has only two seasons. Winter, without daylight, and summer, with daylight. Endless dayligt. Sunrise in February and sunset basically in November. This said, to be fair to Sweden, I have over the years managed to get some nice midsummer pictures in my album labelled “Sweden”.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Passion för Mat 2019, a focus on seafood

Skrei (wild captured cod), as presented in Sweden at Sweden’s most prominent gourmet food fair, Passion för mat 2019. The event (1 to 3 March, 2019) was held at Åbymässan, an conference and exhibition venue located in Mölndal, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Sweden’s most prominent gourmet food fair, Passion för Mat 2019 took place between 1 to 3 March 2019 in a new conference and exhibition venue, Åbymässan, located in Mölndal in the outskirts of the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. An upside to this location is certainly, more parking spaces for visitors. Stepping into the exhibition space, the atmosphere was electric, as it always is for food enthusiasts, with a pleasant mix of people of the trade whom you’ve gotten to know over the decade and some new exhibitors with whom we can spend time with getting acquainted in their trade and product.

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Fractal organizing on the eve of 2019, Styrsö Gothenburg, SE

In the moment of a Walden read. Although this article post is mostly about Taleb’s 2004 incerto meta-framework of writing.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

I received this year as part of the Christmas presents exchange, one of my favourite books written by Henry David Thoreau, Walden1. What’s special about this Pan Macmillan Collector’s Library 2016 edition is that it is petite, and bound most decoratively in floral print, in the colours of the planets Saturn (pale gold) and Uranus (pale blue)2. Another book received was written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness3 (2004).

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Good morning Sunshine! Styrsö, Gothenburg, SE

A winter’s sunrise along the Swedish west coast, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

Out at the Gothenburg southern archipelago, it seemed a perfectly mundane winter’s morning, albeit a little warm hovering between 5 to 6 degrees celcius. The big family gatherings on 24 and 25 Dec. is done, the quayside this morning was parked full of shopper bags and luggages of varying sizes, with varying goods belonging to individuals moving between points of interest. Christmas was warm and cozy, now it’s time to prepare for a sparkly new year’s!

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Christmas at Styrsö Gothenburg, Sweden 2018

Christmas market tranquil at Saluhallen in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

Even if the markets are not as populous in Scandinavia as they are in Southeast-Asia where I grew up, there’s always a certain sense of panic with last minute shopping, especially during festive seasons, like Christmas. I was however, pleasantly surprised to find the main market hall Saluhallen in Gothenburg, in complete calm during the late afternoon on the eve of the eve of Christmas, Christmas eve being the big family meal for most families in Sweden.

So it was thoroughly enjoyable doing this year’s Christmas marketing, picking up a bit of liver pâté, an assortment of cheese and some more preserved herring to add to our existing collection of flavoured herrings for the home Christmas table. Since Gothenburg is a coastal city, our own Christmas table very much reflects the culinary traditions of the region with an emphasis on piscatorial dishes. A favourite this year seemed to be smoked rainbow trout. That, and there’s always room for dessert. This year’s favourite was caramelized baked apples with vanilla cream. The vanilla cream was made the old-fashioned way with lots of egg yolks, and vanilla beans.

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Äggboden, a boutique farm shop in Halland, west coast Sweden

Standing outside of a gårdsbutik/farm shop called Äggboden, where a variety of woven goods for sale are displayed. This shop is located along Sandövägen in Vallda, Halland country, along the west coast of Sweden. At fifty percent summer sale discount this basket, I thought, would be nice for a bushel of apples that are just coming becoming ripe for the season.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

One thing I love doing during summers in Sweden is to drive along the west coast of Sweden and visit small farms and flea markets along the way. Halland county is about a 2 hour drive south of the city of Gothenburg. We counted about four flea markets situated around the area of Lerkil and Smarholmen that we found by driving around some.

The region is full of small farms and private markets of whatever those who live there can think up to entertain tourists and temporary guests. One that has stuck in my memory was a place where they had combined an outdoor café, a barnyard flea market with a small farm animal zoo. On our comments about a particularly cute shaggy little pony, the managing lady said, “We love to have visitors over to give our animals something to look at.”

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Passion för Mat 2018 walkabout

Trying out a bite bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, at Passion för Mat 2018, 2 to 4 March, Erikbergshallen, Gothenburg.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

Gothenburg’s largest annual foodfair, Passion för Mat is back for 2018! It runs from 2 to 4 March 2018 at Eriksbergshallen event hall located on Hisingen island. The event gathers food exhibitors from different industry sectors, who literally span the globe in food sourcing and production. Some new entrants include Varberg of Halland County, who are in Gothenburg to market not just their destination brand but their food products. Halland Country lies directly south of Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden. Visitors can find for example, Källsjö A-fil from Källsjö Mejeri AB, a locally produced yoghurt whose smooth and creamy consistency makes a perfect accompaniment to fresh fruits and cereal for breakfast, as well as cheeses from Skrea Ost (Kattegatt white and Kattegatt blue cheeses). Visitors can also find some exciting new food products and concepts such as Mjölby’s Food for Progress’s award winning brands Oumph! and Beat that give noone an excuse to never eat their vegetables again, ever.

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Passion för Mat 2018, Fredrikssons Smakglädje

Mona and Christer Fredriksson of Fredrikssons Smakglädje (fredrikssons.eu) at Passion för Mat 2018, 2 to 4 March, Erikbergshallen, Gothenburg.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

I think it’s wonderful to catch-up with people with whom you share a passion for artisan culinary craftwork and the exchange of food/life experiences but don’t often get a chance to meet with. I spent some happy minutes visiting Mona and Christer Fredriksson foodstall at Passion för Mat 2018. Fredrikssons Smakglädje began in 2012 in southern Sweden (near Kalmar), with a focus on handcrafted, quality marmalades. Their key marmalade philosophy is to focus on the type of taste experience they wanted people to have when eating their marmalades. They also wanted to craft new marmalade flavours, choosing their ingredients carefully for each batch created. The intense flavours and luxurious textures of their marmalades are reflected likewise in the jeweltoned bottles lit on the display stand. Fredrikssons’s efforts on craftsmanship have not gone unnoticed in the Swedish culinary circles. Their products have since 2014, consistently won awards in the grand Swedish artisan culinary mastership (SM i mathantverk). Of notable mention is their 2017 Mona sauce, chosen for its excellent summer feel to a perfect grill sauce. Fredriksson’s Juleglögg (Swedish Christmas mulled wine) won silver medal in the 2015 SM i mathantverk and they took home both gold and silver medals in SM i mathantverk 2014 for their Hot Apple and Apricot Chutney, and Honeypear and Ginger Marmelade. The bit of news that made me happy was that Fredrikssons has a webshop and now deliver to your doorstep.

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Passion för Mat 2018, Flavours of Halland County

A white chocolate and caramel cheesecake from Halland County to be sampled at Passion för Mat 2018.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

Passion för Mat 2018 draws a network of small medium enterprises in not just food and beverage as product, but rather, food and beverage in connection to a specific destination experience. This year, Halland County took centrestage at this event, marketing products of the region that lies just south of Gothenburg city. In 2011, the city authority of Varberg embarked on Varberg 2025 with the ambition to be the creative centre of Sweden’s west coast region. Varberg lies in the region of Halland County, to which several booths at this food event enticed visitors to sample the produce and flavours of Halland County.

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Passion för Mat 2018, Beriksson

Spending time product browsing at Beriksson’s foodstall, at Passion för Mat 2018, 2 to 4 March, Erikbergshallen, Gothenburg.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

I met Benny Eriksson, owner and founder of trading company Berikssson at Passion för Mat 2009 [1]. I was all over the Italian chocolate and candy imports, Cuneesi al liquore by Dulcioliva, not being able to carry home enough quantities to secure a full year’s supply to myself. Some things just don’t change. I came across Beriksson’s food stall at Passion för Mat 2018, and by far, this was my absolute favourite food stall to spend time product browsing, still not being able to carry home quantities enough for the upcoming year’s supply. The non-acquisition made more wanting by the sheer variety of chocolate bars that now span the globe in cacao sourcing and chocolate production.

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