Category: Sweden

Tjörn and Orust, Swedish west coast

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The Tjörn Bridge is the landmark bridge that connects mainland Stenungsund
with the northern archipelago islands of Tjörn and Orust along the Swedish west coast.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2014

Sweden is a large and not very densely populated country. Summers are as made for long drives and long conversations following the sun to see it touch the horizon before rising again.

Where increasingly, time is considered a personal luxury, Swedish summer months seemingly uninterrupted by nights are when you can truly feel the endless stretch of time ahead of you. Today we decided that we’d go barrel hunting. And for that, we headed towards the northern west coast archipelago of Tjörn and Orust, driving across Tjörnbron.

The modern bridge replaces the original Almöbron, built in 1960. In 1980, the bulk carrier MS Star Clipper hampered by heavy fog during the night, collided with the span of Almöbron. That night, several vehicles plunged into the sea before they were able to close the bridge. The foundations of Almöbron, can still be seen sitting directly under Tjörnbron. These foundations now seem to provide the perfect angling spot and in the nearby park, an Erik Nordström’s memorial was built to acknowledge his initiative for building Almöbron. Continue reading “Tjörn and Orust, Swedish west coast”

Food market at Järntorget, Gothenburg

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No overcast sky would discourage the long queue for this warm lunch
served at the most popular stall at this food market.

Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2014

I love marketing. And what better way to market than to chance upon these tented food stalls at Järntorget in Gothenburg during lunch hour?

Despite the overcast sky that threatened a tropical rainstorm, it was a decision to head towards Järntorget for lunch that landed this serendipitous find of a food market, courtesy of Tentazioni of London. Continue reading “Food market at Järntorget, Gothenburg”

Eriksbergshallen in ultramarine

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Eriksbergshallen, at Quality Hotel 11.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2014

Summer is here and I don’t think any form of soft or coercive persuasion would keep Swedes on office grounds unless absolutely necessary. My years working in executive education also taught me that holding organisational seminars outside of office grounds could prove more productive for project work. The change of environment provides a welcome break in everyday routine that encourages the workings of the creative. It was for this reason that I found myself standing in the lobby of Quality Hotel 11 at Eriksbergshallen this morning, looking to congregate with the rest of my colleagues whose main focus is research in the European context. Continue reading “Eriksbergshallen in ultramarine”

“Rose Rose I Love You”

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The First of May 2014.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2014

The symbolic flower for the month of May is the Rosa Chinensis or the China Rose, which shares the same name / title to one of my paternal grandfather’s favourite songs, “Rose Rose I Love You”.

That song was first recorded in 1940 by Yao Lee and then by Frankie Laine in 1951 with the lyrics of the latter unrelated to the original.

What I found interesting in Laine’s version is that the song references a girl, possibly named Rose, as a “flower of Malaya”. This reference brought me back to the origins of Clifford Pier in Singapore, built between 1927 and 1933 and named after Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Straits Settlements at the time. The pier was one of the busiest embarkation and disembarkation points in Singapore that belonged to the Straits Settlements Crown Colony during the early 1900s, from immigrants to the trading of goods. That Customs House at Collyer Quay stands in close proximity to what was once Clifford Pier today is testament to its history.
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Gothenburg in jultide, 2013

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Sjömagasinet
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Since being in Sweden from the early 2000s and with a little variation in weather conditions from cold and windy to very cold and windy, December in Gothenburg has always been a medley of small events that come together to form what I would today associate with the Swedish jultide season. The shortening of days gives every household here good reason, some as early as late October, to hang in place their Christmas lights on their windows that in turn make festive the walking paths of surrounding neighborhoods. Continue reading “Gothenburg in jultide, 2013”

A Christmas dinner 2013

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JE Nilsson, who has researched and written about 1700s Swedish food,
was happy to play Santa ‘Chef de Cuisine’.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

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Selecting first class produce is the key to all good cooking.
Here, we were planning a new orange and honey glazed spare ribs dish,
looking at blood oranges flown in from Italy.

By December every year as the days grow shorter and shorter, it is fun to spend time in the kitchen, planning and cooking Scandinavian classics, trying to recreate inherited recipes from days long gone past. The old fashioned dishes and the manners in which they are prepared, usually involve a lot of time consuming manual work, but nonetheless worth the effort in terms of rediscovering what has been and making it current again.

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Gravad lax is maybe one of the oldest dishes on the traditional Swedish Christmas table.
Today it is pickled with a mixture of salt, sugar, pepper and a generous helping of freshly cut dill.

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Once done, it is ideally eaten with a honey mustard sauce.

Continue reading “A Christmas dinner 2013”

Reverberations of Royal summer parties at a Swedish 14th century castle

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A copper engraving of the castle.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

North of Stockholm sits a grand and picturesque castle that was the residence of Princess Sophia of Sweden from 1578-1611. It is today in fact the only privately owned Royal castle in Sweden. It has a rich history that is best associated with Sweden’s King Gustaf III and his young Danish consort Sophia Magdalena. They lived in the castle during the 1700s enjoying a mostly carefree and happy life. From the 1300s the castle belonged to a succession of Swedish royalty that included Gustav Vasa, John III, King Gustav II Adolf and HSH Hereditary Prince Frederick, who eventually became Frederick I of Sweden and reigned at the time of the foundation of the Swedish East India company (1731-1813) who had their first ship ever sailing to China named after him i.e. – Fredericus Rex Svecia.

In 1917 the castle was acquired by a Swedish industrialist who eventually took a great interest in Chinese porcelain collecting in a circle of friends that included the then reigning King Gustaf VI Adolf and the then young arts historian professor Bo Gyllensvärd. The castle and its substantial porcelain collection was subsequently inherited by his children in 1967. The family settled in the castle trying the best they could turning it into a home. Today, the castle has been passed on to new owners and theatrical performances, weddings and other large banquets continue to be held at the location.

The castle and its grounds, having seen its fair share of social parties and crowds moving through its rooms, reverberated such energies that waxed and waned with time of day and seasons of the year. As with most castle grounds in Sweden, as night falls, the silence that encompasses those grounds become so deafening that the drop of a pin on a polished tabletop might come as a relief. But the castle grounds were seldom quiet, especially at night.

A while back when the castle was still a home and its grandeur silently lingering in private hands, after a long day and night of pleasant conversation on our common interest in Chinese porcelain, the topic eventually ventured over into the supernatural and the possibilities of this huge building housing some uninvited guests. “Well not really”, the hostess answered, “we don’t really think of any of it much. It is just kind of part of the house but incidentally, I hosted you all on our guest floor and was just curious if any of you experienced anything unusual this night?”
Continue reading “Reverberations of Royal summer parties at a Swedish 14th century castle”

Chokladkalaset 2013, Göteborg

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At the annual Gothenburg chocolate festival.
Rule Forty-two.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

I didn’t think I would meet Douglas Adams’ thoughts in this context, but this was an event of forty-two. In Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979:181), in answer to the ultimate question of life, the super computer, Deep Thought, was adamant forty-two was the answer.

“Forty-two!… Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

“But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.. .. ”
“Yes,” said Deep Thought with the air of one who suffers fools gladly, “but what actually is it?”

Thing is, Adams was not alone, for Lewis Carroll might have known the same.
Continue reading “Chokladkalaset 2013, Göteborg”

Bok & Bibliotek, Göteborg Book Fair 2013

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At the Göteborg Book Fair 2013.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

It’s been a few years, since 2008, that I’ve found myself at the annual Gothenburg Book Fair, one of the Nordic regions largest market place for the book trade that began as a trading platform for teachers and librarians. Since opening their doors in 1985 with just 5,000 visitors, the book fair has today, more than 101,000 visitors over four days, with three parallel running sessions of conferences, seminars and events, alongside sales stands and an International Rights Centre for agents and publishers. The book fair celebrates their 29th anniversary this year at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre.
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Stora Känsö, Swedish west coast archipelago

Känsö’s ship observations tower at the island’s high point,
offers a splendid view over the neighbouring islands of Gothenburg’s southern archipelago
and is well worth the effort making it up there.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Känsö synopsis

Känsö is a small island in the Southern Archipelago of Gothenburg. The name refers to its use by the people of the nearby island of Brannö, who let their cows grass on it over the summer.

In the early 19th century, science medical theories had made enough progress to suggest that becoming ill could be avoided by insulation. The island’s location immediately south of the Gothenburg port entry made it ideal to be used as a quarantine to try to protect Gothenburg and Sweden from any number of contagious deceases that at the time, plagued continental Europe and Asia.

The theories and practices developed here were advanced, though as time moved on, the progress and knowledge in hygiene standards that was made through the use of this facility eventually disseminated to the mainland hospitals. The consequence was that the island was gradually made available for other purposes and it is today, a military naval base and training camp.

The first quarantine manager, Jacob Forsell and chief surgeon of this facility had plenty of free time on his hands, some of which he devoted to developing the island’s meagre flora. Being mostly rocky and barren he created space for an apple orchard of 150 trees and planted the remaining island with more than 5,000 other trees of which quite a few appears to have been pine, considering what is still standing on this restricted access island.

Continue reading “Stora Känsö, Swedish west coast archipelago”

Summer perennials

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Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

A noticeable feature of the houses found in the Swedish west coast archipelago are the picturesque gardens that look unkempt. Seemingly forgotten and left wild, it is this visual feature that I find gives the gardens their defining, core beauty.

Since settling in Sweden more than a decade ago, I have now had ample opportunity to admire these grounds whether it is via seasonal garden parties or from long evening strolls around the neighbourhood.

The garden closest to my heart, was once under the care of a professor in botany. To that extent, set in an undulating landscape, this garden has some interesting varieties of plants from Iceland Poppies (papaver nudicaule) that every year shed red petals after only a week of intense efforts of drawing attention to themselves from the local bee population, to sprawling crawlers such as the Grape Ivy (parthenocissus tricuspidata), that come autumn covers nearby branches and facades in a fiery red and green.
Continue reading “Summer perennials”

Swedish west coast Harbour Festival, Donsö 2013

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Donsö hamnfest 2013. The harbour festival draws a large crowd,
both from the local community and from farther away.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Late in the summer every year, a harbour festival is held at Donsö, an island situated at the southern archipelago of Gothenburg. Events to this festival go on for two days that includes a marathon around the two islands of Styrsö and Donsö. The route is marked by deep blue and yellow tapes tied to street lamps, branches of trees and fences to help the runners find their way. Come evening of the harbour festival, the air fills with the sounds of live bands, the guests fed with fresh grilled seafood sandwiches, under tents and eaten right by the waterfront.

So it’s no surprise that the harbour festival draws a large crowd, both from the local community and from farther away. The natural means of communication is by sea, and the harbour at this event is fully packed with rows upon rows of pristinely polished boats and yachts in various sizes. Occasional product tankers and trawlers owned by the islander families are also pulled home and docked for greetings at the quay side.

All in all, the elements and atmosphere make for a glorious cocktail of fun and hanging out the next few days.

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Marstrand

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Carlstens Fortress at Marstrand as seen from Koön
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro, 2013

About an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg lies an old stone fortress called Carlstens Fortress. Huddled around its imposing stone wall is the old town of Marstand. The town is located on two islands, the one outermost and housing the fortress is called Marstandsön while the inner one is the Koön – the Cow’s island.

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Ideally, one would arrive by boat to dock alongside other seafaring adventurers, a natural thing to do since during the summer, Marstrand hosts an endless number of sailing competitions. The winter season is somewhat of a lull while most activities try to hibernate the best they can.

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By the quayside, having spotted some über lush princess yachts flagged Norwegian (not pictured), christened “Rojoto” and “Fru Nilsen” (Mrs. Nilsen).

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Swedish west coast summer party

One of the things in life to be grateful for, is to have friends. And that they sometimes have garden parties during the summer. Another thing to be grateful for, is that they invite you. I would consider time spent with friends, one of life’s luxuries. Thank you! for a wonderful day and evening.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, NK8V8459a 598

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro, 2013

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Seven flowers from seven fields – Midsummer’s Eve along the Swedish west coast 2013

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“Seven flowers from seven fields”.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

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.
Continue reading “Seven flowers from seven fields – Midsummer’s Eve along the Swedish west coast 2013”

Straw hat weather in Sweden

In weather that calls for a straw hat and a pareu,
by the dandelions, along the Swedish west coast.

Text © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Summer and straw hat weather in Sweden arrived with express speed – if you blinked you missed the spring – and it is already time for outdoor activities such as a visit to the beach front, coupled with gardening and grass cutting.

One of my personal favourite sights in the garden is the slightly obnoxious and always seemingly happy dandelions. Considered weeds, however threatened they are to become one head shorter in the process of clipping and pruning, they continue to beam like small suns in the grass.
Continue reading “Straw hat weather in Sweden”

The Gothenburg International Science Festival 2013

Per-Olof Arnäs on “Terminator, TinTin and Teleportation”, an variation of his lecture on “The digitization of transportation” at Vetenskapsfestivalen 2013.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2013

The 25th of April was the second day of the Gothenburg International Science Festival 2013, where in the public arena of Nordstan in Gothenburg, a lively presentation on the topic of transportation for the future was ongoing by Per-Olof Arnäs of Chalmers University of Technology in the morning. Colleagues from the University of Gothenburg would also be giving some presentations through the day, regarding the various aspects of the crisis in Europe and how that might have rippling effects on issues such as European state leadership and workforce migrations between countries in Europe.

This year’s theme at the science festival is Cruise and Control. In a multi-dimensional and multi-levelled approach, the event aims to address questions pertaining to the Individual such as personal health and fitness, to security controls by use (or abuse) of technology in Society, to larger Environmental issues such as finding balance between consumption and sustainable living.

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A European wine odyssey at Passion för Mat 2013

With Zdenka and Martino (pictured) Oliboni of Italian Wine Bar.
When I asked which Amarone they thought should I have for the evening, the bottle I had in hand was politely removed and replaced with this bottle of Villa Crine Amarone Classico 2008.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Sunday 3 March was the last day of the Gothenburg Passion for Food Festival 2013. The winding down hours, or the final rush, depending on your disposition, found me at the Italian Wine Bar with Martino, his wife Zdenka and their colleagues. Trade fairs, as much as they are for marketing and doing business is for me a meeting point to catch up with old friends and make new ones. In these closing hours I had just one thing left on my wish list, a glass of Amarone.

Seeing that Zdenka and Martino were busy, I began browsing their assortment of red wines. But I didn’t have long to ponder my choice since as soon as they spotted me, various bottles were promptly brought forward and just as long lost friends, we picked up chatting from where we left off last year.

The Italian Wine Bar

The Italian Wine Bar they represent is an Italian company they own jointly with the purpose of introducing a little piece of Italy to Sweden. They source wine, beer, grappa and various delicatessen (such as panforte from Antica Pasticceria Masoni) from their local friends and neighbours in Tuscany, just in-between Florence and Siena which is a pretty significant place in the regional history. In fact Eva and Gino Vettese live within viewing distance from San Gimignano, which I had the pleasure to visit just a few years ago. Their own olive oil is also sold via the Italian Wine Bar. It is fun to notice that what I was looking at today was specifically that kind of olive oil I was advocating already by then:

When it comes to olive oil, there are different qualities beyond “virgin” and “cold pressed” oils. What you want is something better than extra virgin olive oil in flavour. The oil to look out for is from those that hand pick their olives and have them pressed on a daily basis. Although this kind of quality olive oil is difficult to source

With their minuscule yearly harvest, it was no hard decision to pick up a few bottles at once.
Continue reading “A European wine odyssey at Passion för Mat 2013”

Lesvos olive oil: from the Aegean Islands to the Swedish west coast

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Lambriní Theodossious (right)
at the
Passion for Food Festival 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

What I love about traveling is the adventures and the new experiences that come with it. My favourite souvenirs are new food ideas, and where possible, I love bringing home local produce of the region coupled with recipes of places I’ve visited and of dishes I loved. Eventually I will also synthesize the experience, mix and match with things I already know and make the experience my own.

Meeting with Lambriní Theodossious who owns her own olive plantation on the islands of Lesvos in Greece at the Passion for Food Festival 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, was another one of those wonderfully unexpected experiences. She brings her efforts of love in the form of dark bottles of unadulterated olive oil which she produces herself with some help of local farm hands, from Greece to Sweden. Its called the Todora Olive Oil, named after her grandmother Theodora.
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“Enjoying good food with open senses” – a Fredrikssons approach to marmalades

“[A]tt nyfiket njuta av god mat”. With Christer and Mona Fredriksson of Fredrikssons Marmalde, who have their base on the east coast of Sweden, at Öland.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Naturally there are different things that people say they ‘cannot live without’, but one of the first things I do at these Food Festivals, is to walk right up to Mona and Christer Fredriksson and their stand with quality marmalades from Öland, and bag a generous helping of jars to last – if not till next year – so at least a couple of months into the summer.

It was also fun but not entirely unexpected to hear that the jams and chutneys from Fredrikssons made it to the recent Nobel festivities, the Nobel Night Cap 2012 in Stockholm.

Business processes are sustainable with use of the highest grade raw produce available.

An absolute favourite, the Apple and Calvados marmalade.

Their home and plant is in Kalmar County, at the island of Öland, located almost directly across Sweden, from Gothenburg at the Swedish east coast.

Standing at this fair with the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg, resting at the quay just outside, I can’t help thinking of how connected things are in this world. It was just a few years ago since I visited the Kalmar Nyckel ship replica that docks in Wilmington, USA. The Kalmar Nyckel was a pioneering emigrant ship that left from this very place to the New World in 1638, leaving its passengers there to establish the first permanent European settlement, the Colony of New Sweden in present-day Wilmington, Delaware.

A somewhat unrelated jump in thoughts perhaps, but now marmalade from Kalmar is nevertheless delivered to the quay side, where the Götheborg III Ship lays bundled prior to high summer season, for us to pick up at will with no complicated sailing involved at all. See here the wonders of modern trade.

A nice bottle of wine, some good cheese and my favourite choice of marmalade and I think I’m pretty much set for a perfect evening with friends, or a good book.

Link: Kalmar Nyckel ships replica, Wilmington

Highlights from Passion för Mat 2013, March 1-3, Gothenburg, Sweden

Finally the long awaited Gothenburg food festival Passion för Mat (Passion for Food Festival) has opened and is currently ongoing from 1-3 March 2013 at Eriksbergshallen, Gothenburg.

Being invited to bypass the crowds on the opening day, we had the pleasure of joining the exhibitors in the early morning hours as they put in the last touches at their stands. As with previous years, we completely enjoyed strolling around the market area on our own, making new culinary discoveries and meeting with old, as well as new friends.

Last year, in 2012 Sweden’s Minister of Agriculture, Eskil Erlandsson, named Gothenburg the Culinary Capital of Sweden 2012 in recognition of its rich natural produce, not the least because of its long time focus in various seafood, but also because of the many new various food companies specializing in high quality and gourmet food from all over the world setting up businesses here. Being an internationally small city, its culinary footprint is quite large with several Guide Michelin star chefs and quite some significant prize winnings and notifications at global food events (ref. Gothenburg Culinary Team).

Below, some picture highlights from the first day of this food festival.

At Eriksberg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Having a relaxed morning coffee at Hotel 11, to the sounds of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, Op. 3, Concerto No. 8 in A minor for two violins and strings, RV 522.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Jonas Wickstrand of Öckero Fisk explaining the flavours of this tray of smoked salmon paté hors d’oeuvres or tapas.

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The Cordero | Cordeiro affinity to islands

Do You Sleep?
Text and Photo © A Neikter Nilsson, JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Judging from the numerous books launched by Eurasian authors on their heritage and family history, it seems that the Eurasian community in Singapore has a general strong interest in research on genealogy, which in itself makes for interesting study due to a mixture of cultures, ethnicities and even traditions in cuisine.

The Portuguese with their sense of inherent adventure, had close ties to the East India trades already in the early 1600s. It is probably these factors in combination that landed the Cordero / Cordeiro family in East Asia in the first place. The genealogy of the Cordeiros can be traced from the highlands of Andalusia in Spain during the Medieval times, to the autonomous archipelago of the Azores of Portugal (ca. 1600ff), right through to Macau (ca. 1800ff) and then to Singapore during the early 1900s. To that extent, one could argue that the Cordeiros have flown flags of many colours, the most prominent (for the older generations of the family) being the vibrant colours of Portugal.
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A Walden moment

My Walden moment, of “home-cosmography”.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

It’s just a few days before Christmas, the Christmas weekend in fact upcoming. It is also that time of year when my mailbox gets filled with greetings alike from friends and relatives, many of whom send out a year-end summary of activities gone by as a tradition of keeping in touch – I delight in reading all narratives on how everyone is getting on in their lives no matter how large or small those changes are, from the feeling of accomplishment from a job well done at school / work to moving into that dream home of theirs and starting a family. Many updates also contain New Year’s resolutions, of goal setting for that constant strive to improve on life, on themselves, lending insight into what motivates each and every individual around us.

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Yuletide in Sweden

Yuletide red.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

Every year this time of the season, yuletide invites pour in to spend time with family and friends, so there’s every opportunity abound to get dressed in something warm, go Christmas marketing all over the city and then to dinner.

Most years at the Christmas markets, you’ll meet familiar faces, who delight in showing you their handmade wares and new decorations in festive red, tinsel silver and gold.

This year, a note of more candles than electric lamps lighting up the interiors of the market places, all creating a warm feeling that contrasts so nicely against the frosty Nordic nights. Outside on a clear moonlit market evening, the stars stand crisp against a black velvet cloak of night, dim voices that float through the air and what you hear most is the soft crunch of snow under leather soles.
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A Christmas table at the old Swedish East India wharf, 2012

In the old Swedish East India Company wharf that is today, Sjömagasinet.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, D Neikter Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

This spacious wooden log house that today houses the restaurant, Sjömagasinet, was once a wharf belonging to the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813). The restaurant has in the past years seen a change of hands between Guide Michelin Chefs, from Leif Mannerström to Ulf Wagner, where no doubt, the personalities of each at the helm comes right through to the dining experience.

What Wagner has done with this Christmas table is to challenge the very idea of which traditional Swedish foods make it to the julbord and how those dishes were presented, up to and including making a symphonic combination of tastes in sections of food. So as long as you stayed within the same general area at the table, any dish within arm’s reach would complement each other in flavour. As such, self-serving guests would not ruin their own meals unsuspectingly by adding something out of the place to their selection. How the complementing and sophisticated flavours from the various dishes could be blended over from one dish to another within reach was one of the remarkable features of this Christmas Table.
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Santa Lucia saffron bread, Sweden

Santa Lucia saffron bread / buns or as the Swedes call them, Lussekatter.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In Sweden the 13th of december is called the night of Lucia. The name is connected to the Sicilian saint of St Lucia through the Catholic past of Sweden however the actual celebration itself is that of the longest night of the year, the antipode of the Midsummer Night celebration.

In its Nordic context it was thought that this, the longest and darkest night of the year was filled with so many spirits and generally unholy workings that one had better stay awake. And to this end, till this day the night is often spent partying and in the morning, white clad girls with candles in their hair with friends visit teachers and elderly relatives. The girls with the candles in their hair signify the coming of light and the lengthening of the days again till Midsummer’s.

Today, Swedes around the world delight in celebrating Lucia on 13th December with song and dance, much like Christmas caroling in churches of the Roman Catholic faith. A beauty contest of sorts to find the year’s “Santa Lucia” queen often begins in early December across various regions of Sweden, a girl who heads the choir specifically for this celebration, crowned with a ring of lit candles on her head.

On the culinary front, a golden yellow saffron bread with the most delicate of aromas, made out in various shapes familiar to Nordic folklore is baked for this occasion, one where I find difficult to resist not in the least because of its aroma or colour, but in its lightest of texture of breads dotted with raisins.
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Weekend dawn, Swedish west coast marina

A weekend morning at the Strysö yacht marina – ’twas the time before breakfast, when all through the lull, not a creature was stirring, not even a gull… (freely after C. C. Moore)
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

The summer has been unusually rainy they say. But for me, it has felt like each summer’s day thus far has had something interesting to share or show. Perhaps it was the growing up in Singapore, in the midst of warm tropical rainstorms that hits you one minute just to be replaced by sunshine from a clear blue sky the next minute that makes it impossible to think anything bad about rain, especially the warm kinds. Perhaps it is the fresh Nordic air, the complete silence or the deep sapphire blue waters lined with green, softly waving gossamers of seaweed that touches the primordial in you. The sense of serenity that greets you in the early mornings of the southern archipelago of Gothenburg is priceless.

In the land of the Midnight Sun, where the nights are short during summer, the stillness of the early weekend morning goes uninterrupted with nothing much stirring. It’s difficult to tell if the occasional persons are early risers or just on their way home from a yesterday’s come-together.

As I sit at pier side contemplating the breaking colours of a seaside dawn on the late summer days of 2012, I overlook the narrow waterway that leads the occasional boating tourist to this place that is also an important coastal route for commercial trawlers and bunker boats servicing containers ships en route to the Gothenburg harbour. I think it marvelous too that the same waters would come in rich shades of azure when lapping off the shores of the Swedish west coast archipelago that turns various shades of mangrove green when curled around the granite littered shores of Pulau Ubin in the archipelago of Singapore. Sitting here at dawn, that one force that swirls around the two entities that are continents apart in different climate zones reverberates at your core.
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Swedish west coast Harbour Festival, Donsö 2012

On an island vintage transport moped, with an Emilio Pucci beach shopper bag.
Sail preppy in nautical red and blue at this year’s Donsö Harbour Festival organized by the local sports club.

Photos JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro © 2012

As is the tradition the first Saturday in August, it was festival day at the island of Donsö in the Swedish west coast archipelago just outside of Gothenburg.

The crowd filled up fast along the Market Street as soon as the festival began. Compared to the Donsö Harbour Festival of 2011, where an enormous Skandia engine from the 1950s caught everybody’s attention with its comforting low key chug of a ship’s heartbeat, there was no real crowd stopper around this year.

The narrow street between the small red storage huts for shipping goods huddling near the seafront soon filled up with stands carrying all kinds of items. Everything from Swedish homemade marmalades and candy to hand knitted woolen scarves that one would always need up here in the Nordic countries, to high style cruising outfits.

Besides being something of a tourist summer’s paradise, Donsö island is also a functioning suburb to Gothenburg with the extra feature of having more ship owners and freight companies per square meter located here than anywhere else on the planet. Nothing much hints of this though except than that the number of luxury yachts and motor cruisers that are docked here side by side, reminds you more of Cannes at the Cote d’Azur than a Swedish fishing village.

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A summer wedding, Tjolöholm Castle, Sweden

At Tjolöholm Castle for a Swedish summer wedding, 2012.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2012

Even in secular Sweden, the magic and stardust of a fairytale wedding never fades. This wedding was appropriately set in the last castles ever to be built in Sweden, Tjolöholm Slott, built between 1898 to 1904.

The relatively modern castle, located on the grounds of an older one that dates back into medieval times and beyond, is as romantic as could be. Though heartbreakingly enough the original owners, Blanche and James Fredrik Dickson never got to enjoy it together, since her husband James Dickson passed away when the building was just about to begin and only the facade had been decided on.

How apt too, that just two years ago in 2010, the Danish film director Lars Von Trier shot the exterior scenes just here, for his film Melancholia at this castle.

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Weekday chill at Mälar Paviljongen, Stockholm

Mälar Paviljongen, the café and bar, has also its own cozy flower garden filled with various pots of herbs that lightly scent the air.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

Just about 20 minutes walk from Stockholm’s T-Centralen or central station, along Norr Mälarstrand is this cozy, part floating on water café, restaurant and bar that lets you enjoy the sunset in Stockholm to the sounds of cool lounge.
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Kokaihop Lounge, Passion för Mat 2012

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro with Anders Jacobsson of Mat.se and Kokaihop.se, the lounge at Passion för Mat 2012.

In as much fun and excitement any trade fair entails, there comes a time in the hours spent when you’d rather find yourself away from the masses, gathered to your own, if even for just a moment.

This year at Passion för Mat 2012, that place would be the Kokaihop Lounge at Hotel 11 that is just across the street from Erikbergshallen where the main fair is ongoing.

Set in a different premise altogether, this private lounge area is a relief of quiet and serenity from the humid and crowded indoors of Erikbergshallen, especially at mid-day.
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Passion för Mat 2012 – Highlights

L-R: Ronny Spetz, Team Leader of the Gothenburg Culinary Team that took home the Silver Medal for Sweden in the Culinary World Cup 2010 (ref i and ii); Dan Berntsson (ref i and ii), Sweden’s leading expert on Potatoes; Leo Sieradzki, Publicity Consultant for Passion för Mat and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

It’s hard to tell what I like the most with Passion för Mat 2012 (Passion for Food) at Eriksbergshallen in Gothenburg, but is has certainly made its way into my calendar as one of those must do events of the year.

Perhaps ultimately it is the socializing and meeting with all these people who love what they do, that cumulates in the air to a warmth and electric feeling of warmth and happiness that you rarely experience otherwise.
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All out Italian passion at Passion för Mat 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden

The Burrata experience from Aldardo in Gothenburg, at Passion för Mat 2012.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

There are no words to describe the sensuous experience of cutting into the buttery softness of a genuine Italian burrata cheese – seemingly made in heaven on earth, that is Andria in Murgia in southern Italy.

Made from cow’s milk, rennet and cream, the burrata was first made in the early 1900s. After a hundred years of finding its way around the globe outside of southern Italy, it is still considered an artisan cheese because of its contradictory status of being a popular rarity that it is best consumed within 24 hours after its production. Something that adds to its air of an exclusive invitations only experience.

After having tried it in Singapore for the first time, just about two years ago with the Iannone family (ref. La Braceria i and ii), I have personally in vain searched for the burrata in Sweden. In Singapore, the popularity of the burrata has increased considerably. The fine dining restaurant No Menu for example sells 40 kgs of it a week.

And while Singapore has Giorgio Ferrari to thank for bringing in the first import of burrata (together of course with other Italian fineries of food and wine) into a country with an utmost challenging climate nonetheless, Gothenburg now finally has Aldardo.
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Gothenburg Food Capital of Sweden 2012

Spices such as these that are a staple in Swedish homecooking today, were once brought back to Sweden from the Far East on the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III during the 1700s that sailed from Gothenburg to Canton, China.
Text and Photo © Ted Olsson, JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In the past five years, the height of the food scene in Gothenburg Sweden, apart from the more glamour filled annual prize giving ceremony and gala dinners held by the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy (2010, 2008) is the Passion for Food (Passion för Mat) tradefair held in the city at Erikbergshallen, that is right next to the docks of the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III.
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Soon summer along the Swedish west coast

A little Southeast-Asia in Sweden – Swedish sampans in winter adjourn.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In as many times as I have mentioned that I would love to be in a warmer climate…have I told too, that Sweden can be beautiful?

In this winter’s coda with the high pressure and cold, Scandinavia brings with it, azure skies clear as far as the eye brings you into the horizon. The deep blue-green gem coloured Nordic waters, undulating as music through time are now frosted with ice, broken into beautiful patterns by the hourly ploughing of the hull of the ferries that run to the minute on schedule in rhythm with the waters underneath.
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A magical evening with Ulf Wagner at Sjömagasinet, in Gothenburg 2011

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro with house elves at jultide, Sjömagasinet 2011

Restaurant decoration at Sjömagasinet. In Swedish folklore well managed farm houses was looked after by their own house elf or elves. They were quiet and mostly invisible but kept themselves informed from the animals if everything was done right and proper. The house cat was their eyes and ears during daytime. If the people were good, the elves would help take care of the house and the family that lived there. Eventually these elves merged in Swedish lore with the later idea of a Juletide Tomte that brings the Christmas gifts.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson and T Eliasson, 2011

In the past years, we’ve dined enough at Sjömagasinet in Gothenburg (2009a, 2009b, 2008, 2007) to feel quite at home at what was once the old outfitting warehouse for the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813). In the 18th century their ships made round trips from Gothenburg to China and back where each trade voyage took about two years, bringing back immense fortunes for the participants.

During their many voyages these ships would dock at various ports around the world including Cadiz in Spain, to pick up silver and Batavia in Indonesia for spices, before reaching Canton in China. Besides tea, silk and spices they contributed significantly to the cultural exchange of knowledge between Sweden and Asia and brought back many important influences, not the least within the medical and culinary field that is so intriguingly interconnected. In this wharf equipment were stored such as sails, masts, spars and all things you might imagine being needed on a wooden ship about 50 meters long. The spirit of these adventures is still felt in the very walls of this building.
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Christmas Eve morning at Saluhallen in Gothenburg at 09:01 hrs

Going to the market, is just … going to the market, isn’t it? So mundane a task that it’s hardly a concept to be discussed by most. But come Christmas in Sweden, and come the darkest days of the year, the Swedish Christmas markets that glow a warm orange and red whether they be outdoors or indoors become central gathering nodes for the people of the city.

Christmas Eve morning at Saluhallen 2011, chairs.

And all was apparently still on Christmas Eve morning as the doors to the marketing heart of Gothenburg that is Saluhallen was opened.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro and JE Nilsson 2011

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, in the morning at Saluhallen in Gothenburg, Christmas market 2011

The early morning calm didn’t quite stop me gushing in haste when my eye caught a table decoration I so wanted at home at our Christmas table!

Everyone has a Christmas foodlist for their own Julbord to tend to, making Christmas Eve marketing all the more festive. And amidst waiting in queue for your number to be served, you can hear the hearty exchange of Christmas recipes amongst those waiting in line for baked ham, pickled herring and roasted spare ribs that gives a heartwarming preview of what others are about to have this evening at home.

In my number of years in Sweden, I’ve visited these Christmas markets year after year, with Saluhallen and Haga in 2010; 2009a, 2009b; Kronhuset in 2009; a compilation of Saluhallen and Haga in 2008; Haga in 2007, to which I’ve always found something new in my explorations and visits.

This year’s visit is a slight variation, an authentic visit to a market on Christmas Eve for some Christmas marketing, instead of visiting a ‘Christmas Market’.

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Jultide traditions in Sweden

GUSEE Julbord 2011 - Sandra Lam-Carlsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Jenny Yu.

An office Julbord 2011, Sweden.
L-R: Sandra Lam-Carlsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Jenny Yu.

Text and Photo © PO Larsson, CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2011

In line with the underlying ideals and innovative thoughts in the culinary field from this year’s Prins Bertil Seminar 2011 at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, that raised the level of consciousness about food in general, from farm to restaurant table and how the best dishes can be had from simply using the freshest ingredients and not necessarily the most fancy and exclusive of raw produce, we thought we’d put a little bit of rustic into the jultide table traditions at work, in Sweden.
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Tångbröd, from Grebbestad, Sweden

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ola Dahlman of Tångbrödsspecialisten, Grebbestad Bageri AB, Sweden.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, with Ola Dahlman of Grebbestad Bageri in Sweden.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

It was back in the early 1990s that I was first introduced to Nordic hard-breads or crispbreads in Singapore, where I found them most unpalatable, having had no clue what those crispbreads could be good for if not as complement to soups or generously lathed with butter (not margarine) before biting into.
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Cushions on the ceiling

Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg

Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Photos © CM Cordeiro 2011

I confess, I love space and clean, free straight lines that invite your eyes to peruse and absorb the dimensions of the room the minute you step into it. At Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg, it was more a full-stop when entering the door, where you are almost forced to halt your senses the minute you step in, cautious, else you bump into someone immediately in front at the bar, situated just as you enter the restaurant at after five on a Friday.
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Facets of Gothenburg to L*O*V*E …

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A favourite day tour for most visitors is the former health resort and summer paradise in the southern archipelago of Gothenburg.
Photos © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson and Kevin Cordeiro

This post is coming to you in the early autumn of 2011. The first weeks of September brings a certain cooling of the climate even in southern Sweden, where the light in the days get more mellow, casting long shadows as you walk the streets in the evenings. You might still find warm days to come but days with fully brilliant sunshine tinted crystal blue and gold is something that is typical in Sweden in high summer.
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Swedish west coast Harbour Festival, Donsö 2011

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Donsö Hamnfest 2011.

The perfect weekend thing to do – picking up both old and new finds at the annual Donsö Harbour Festival in the Swedish west coast archipelago of Gothenburg.
Photos JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro Nilsson © 2011

There’s a distinct feel in the air in the past week that the summer that has lingered through the months of July and now August, is beginning to wind down. Though the air is still warm, there’s a chill in the evening breeze that indicate the cold weather that is to come from end of November, carrying on with the months thereafter.

So what better time of the year than right now to celebrate with a little Harbour Festival at Donsö, in the Southern Archipelago of Gothenburg?

Just about 16 km south of the city of Gothenburg, Donsö is one of the larger islands. With its about 1,500 inhabitants, Donsö is a lively community with a bustling business of shipping and ship owning and whatever services else needed to keep a modern business community going. While it is today a part of the Gothenburg municipality of Sweden, until 1974 it was a municipality of its own together with Styrsö and the neighboring islands in the archipelago.
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Swedish west coast inspirations in ceramic form

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro Vävra Keramik II 098

Sitting with some of my favourite items made by Helen Kainert at her boutique studio, Vävra Keramik that is located just before Marstrand along the Swedish westcoast.
JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro Nilsson © 2011

Driving along the Swedish westcoast in the area of Kungälv towards Marstrand from Gothenburg, a red house with two flags at its door post with a friendly sign that said ‘pottery works’ loomed large, and we couldn’t help but pull into its sand filled driveway to check-out the creative assortment of ceramic pottery works inside, meeting with owner and artist herself, Helen Kainert.
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Långedrag Värdshus at Talatta

Långedrag Värdshus

Beautiful dining even on a grey day…Långedrag Värdshus, Talattagatan, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Photo: C M Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2011

There’s something about lunch dining in the middle of a busy week at Långedrag Värdshus that puts a spring in your step regardless of the weather or the agenda for the day you have to deal with.

The location is one of the most significant in the history of the industrialized Gothenburg, being the location of the most famous of all pleasure sailing societies of the late 19th century where the rich burghers sought to gain some of the sun and fresh air that was not found inside of their dark, stale city offices.

The idyllic seaside location of the restaurant and the meandering drive from the city center of Gothenburg, out to the tip of land that connects land with the southern archipelago, literally relaxes both spirit and mind. Greeted by sea breeze on your cheeks as soon as you’re out of the car, the smell of the sea, warm coloured wooden panels of the building and billowing white and cream coloured chiffon curtains, for a brief hour or so, you’re transported to a Nordic Tiamo and can disconnect from your hectic day’s schedule. Here, you can mentally cast loose and set sail out in the open sea, trading in your daily chores towards the fierce competition of a sailing regatta of days gone by.
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