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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Passionate about food, a walk through Passion för Mat 2011, iGothenburg, Sweden

Leif Mannerström testing homemade ice-cream.

The Grand Old Man of Western Swedish Gastronomy and Guide Micheline star Chef Leif Mannerström gives the thumbs up of one of the new flavours at the Österhagens ice-cream stall. No surprise perhaps. Stig’s and Inger’s efforts are well known, and recognized by Diplomas of Execellence awarded by the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy in 2008 and by the Swedish Academy of Gastronomy in 2010.

Adding the last touches, ahead of opening

Vintage 1960 van crowd puller, used for serving coffee.

Early Friday morning the staff at the Swedish Coffee house Löfbergs Lila were adding the last touches to their stall. Besides coffee, they feature a vintage 1960 French delivery truck with forward opening “girl catching” doors, painted in their corporate colors and rebuilt into a coffee van. Together with the smell of freshly brewed coffee samples, nothing beats this as a crowd puller.
Photo © JE Nilsson for CMC 2011

Yesterday, Friday the 25th of February, 2011 – the forth installment of the food fair Passion för Mat 2011 at Eriksbergshallen in Gothenburg opened its gates for the expectant crowds.

This particular food fair is a crowd pleaser in that its exhibitors are overwhelmingly generous with giving out samples of most everything displayed to be sold.

I had arrived well ahead of opening hours this first day, since I had planned to help some at the booth of the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy friends organization. The steady paced group of exhibitors – bright, friendly and enthusiastic – are so passionate about what they do that it’s a joy to be there. Taking my time, I strolled around the expansive hall to say hello to friendly faces who like me, were adding a last few touches to their stalls.

One of the trends today in upscale dining is that the food comes with a story. The produce should be grown as close to the consumption as possible. Both in time and geography. The fish should ideally be alive when it goes into the pot and as one Chef puts it, if we push this just a little bit further, people will need to bite into the cow in the barnyard. So, people here know what they are selling. If they hadn’t baked, cooked or canned everything themselves, they at least knew those who did.

After grabbing a coffee from the remarkably attention grabbing purple vintage 1960 van at the Löfbergs Lila stand, I wandered on.
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Meet-up with old friends in Stockholm

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson at Stockholm's östasiatiska Museet, the East Asian Museum, Stockholm.

At the Östasiatiska Museet, Stockholm.
Photo © JE Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2011

The Terracotta Army Exhibition currently ongoing at the Östasiatiska Museet in Stockholm plus girlfriends in town and a love for long drives all provided excellent reasons for a cross country weekend getaway from Gothenburg to Stockholm. Whichever way you choose to travel between the two largest cities of Sweden, the time needed is about half a day. If you can flash the corporate plastic and use a cab for the transfers, travelling by air is of course the best.

If you have plans to visit a number of places as we did, and like the freedom, a car ride is worth considering.

There is surprisingly enough, no expressways between Gothenburg and Stockholm but rather three choices of roads. One pretty much okay in terms of speed (E4), one decent (E20) and one, lets be polite and say – scenic – road (E45/E18). Being in no particular hurry we of course chose the last one for the leg up, while the return trip home was made on the E4. The former being an interesting route through a snow blanketed provincial Swedish landscape and the E4 with a few exceptions around the Lake Vättern, pretty much one long stretch of asphalt.

We made it to the Östasiatiska Museet early on Sunday to avoid the mid-day crowds. This exhibition which shows a number of pieces never before exhibited outside of China has so far turned out to be a great success, not in the least because of the fact that the museum managed to make accessible and use some formerly secret military caverns just under it for this exhibition, but the sensation of actually meeting with these lifesized figures – underground – where they were actually meant to be, gives an eerie aspect to the entire experience of it all, where you now and again catch yourself making sure that the figures are actually standing still.
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A winter’s day at noon, in Sweden

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson mink fur and pleated skirt, both made in Canada.

Sweden’s position near the arctic polar circle makes the days short during winter and the sun just barely makes it above the horizon. Soaking up some sun beams in our garden. A useful outfit in this weather, a Canadian mink jacket and pleated red wool skirt.
Photo © JE Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2011

I first visited Sweden during some winter months about a decade ago – imagine how time passes – and my first observation was that walking on water was not by far as difficult as that of my Catholic upbringing had led me to believe. You just needed to wait until it was frozen. Today work and travel make it difficult to find much time to spend in the nature during daytime. A few moments of crystal clear sky and crisp winter air just a few degrees below zero centigrade, was some of the more enjoyable moments of this weekend.

Sweden’s position near the arctic polar circle makes the days short during winter and the sun just barely makes it above the horizon, before it apparently a bit sleepy, drops back down again and leaves us with a long arctic night. No wonder the Vikings felt a mid-winter sacrifice – and a party – were needed to cheer things up.

Even in Asia, at the end of January, the East celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year some shops in Singapore will even go the length of closing their doors a few days to welcome the festive echoes of Lion Dances rippling across the country in celebration of the Year of the Rabbit. Also a ‘sacrifice’ of some sort.
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Swedish Lucia in Singapore

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson, SBAS julbord in Singapore.

Choice of dress for the evening, a gold champagne gown by my good friend and favourite designer Francis Louis Ler of Amor Meus, 36 Purvis Street in Singapore.
J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2010

The one thing that strikes you when you land coming into Singapore from the Swedish west coast which is right now experiencing one of its coldest winters in a century at -11 C and several inches of snow, is the wall of humidity and the tropical warmth that surrounds your very being. I was instantly relieved and even reveled in the tropical thunderstorm that greeted me when touching down in Singapore.

But as events go, I was not going to miss Sweden this Christmas because I was just in time for the Swedish Business Association of Singapore (SBAS) to host their annual Julbord and celebration of Saint Lucia.
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Christmas Table at Råda Säteri 2010

Krister Dahl, executive chef of Råda Säteri.

With the Swedish Olympic Culinary Team Captain, Krister Dahl, presenting his version of a traditional Swedish Christmas Table at Råda Säteri.
J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2010

Previous years we had chosen to have our traditional Swedish Julbord 2007, 2008 and 2009 at Leif Mannerströms Sjömagasinet focusing very much on the produce of the sea, but this year we were looking for something different.

Admittedly it was the persistent recommendation from friends, and our own curiosity of how one of the greatest names we have in the Swedish food competitive world would deal with something as traditional as a Swedish Christmas table, that this year made us make way out to the old mansion of Råda Säteri, just outside of Gothenburg.

The Säteri itself is a large manor that dates back to 1772 while the history of the place as such dates back to Medieval times. Enlivened with expectations, we made our way there through the thick snowfall, that cloaked the lands creating a pristinely white Christmas landscape.
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Second Advent – Visiting Christmas Markets in Gothenburg, Sweden 2010

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson, Christmas Marketing at Haga, 2010.

Standing in the cobbled streets of the Haga district
Christmas market in Gothenburg, Sweden.

J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2010

During the whole of December many streets and squares in Gothenburg are turned into Christmas markets with numerous small food and handicrafts fairs, where the emphasis is on the old-fashioned, the homemade and the genuine.

The opportunity is also taken by many historical societies to show off their gear.

Since Sweden is a very secular country, traditional Christian nativity scenes are almost conspicuously absent while the emphasis is on memories of times – and Christmases – long gone.
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An evening with the Gothenburg Culinary Team West of Sweden

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro at Trubaduren with the Gothenburg Culinary Team, 2010.

At dinner, presented by the Gothenburg Culinary Team at the restaurant Trubaduren, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Photo © J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

With the upcoming Culinary World Cup in November 2010, in Luxembourg in mind the Gothenburg Culinary Team invited friends and members of two culinary interest groups to a three course dinner event during this last weekend.

Mingle session, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Manager of the Gothenburg Culinary Team, Ronny Spetz.

Ronny Spetz, Team Manager, welcoming guests to the mingle session.

The atmosphere at the mingle session was as usual relaxed and friendly. The autumn air outside with its light drizzle coupled with a chilled white Champagne prior to dinner heightened our expectations of an upcoming display of culinary artistry.

Members of the Swedish Chefs Association, and members of the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy, Trubaduren, Gothenburg.

Mingle session before dinner

It was during the mingle session prior to dinner that guests got to meet two managers of the Gothenburg Culinary Team, various board members of their own mother organization that is the Western Swedish Chefs Association (SKF), and members and friends of the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy (VGAK). The discussions bounced lightheartedly and passionately between topics about what’s current and coming in the culinary world, and not the least what was to be served for dinner that evening.
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Swedish west coast autumn plums and crab fishing

Early autumn, we had the pleasure to see as our guests, a group of Singaporean students, who were out to explore our nook of the western Swedish archipelago. Some were to stay in Gothenburg within their exchange program, some were to leave for their stay in Italy.

The group met for lunch, after which we all went out in the garden to have our dessert straight from our trees and bushes. Autumn is the ideal harvest time for most fruits and berries in Sweden and pleasantly enough, we had plenty to offer of red currants and plums. The plums, being big, sweet and juicy, turned out to be something of a favourite!

Red currant picking, Swedish west coast.

Before taking a walk to the beach, some red currant picking in the garden and eaten straight from a branch without being packaged and wrapped in plastic first. A nice alternative to city-living.
Photo © Ryan Chung, J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

Plum picking, Swedish west coast.

Plum picking and enjoying the harvest.

Matt with plums, Cheryl and Ryan in background.

Matt with a handful (or two) of plum picks.

plums

Plums.

Crab fishing, Swedish west coast.

Learning to crab fish.

Near our place is a neat and well protected bathing beach with a solid, rocky pier to break the waves. This beachside haven creates a shelter for small children and accompanying adults, who prefer warm and shallow to deep and cold water.

Along this pier is a favourite crab fish spot for both children and grown-ups alike. All it takes is a string and an opened clam in the end of the string, and most any crab will climb on board and refusing to let go, will follow the string up. Usually the “catch” is just toppled back into the sea at the end of the day since the crabs are considered too small for eating anyway. Somehow it appears as if there’s developed an established agreement on how to run this show. The crabs get to eat ready opened clams, and in return they agree on being lifted in and out of the water during the day by small children. All parties seem to be ok with this arrangement.
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A Swedish late summer BBQ

singlepit

Swedish west coast late summer BBQ. Kebabs on the grill, cubes of marinated meat with cut up vegetables on skewers.
Photo © J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

For as long as I can remember, my life has been punctuated with barbeque events as something to look forward to and a weekend thing to do in Singapore. Needless to say, it’s one of those events that I so desperately miss when not in Singapore, especially the East Coast beachside barbeque where friends and family would toss on the grill, a variety of marinated meats and seafood.

In Singapore, barbeques are most often causal events with everyone in standard shorts and tees or alternatively, swimwear and wrapped around beach towels. Paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic forks and knives (if we even bothered using these and not eat with our fingers instead!) are the norm at these events. And of course, paper towels to clean up.

Then in most of my Singaporean experience, there’s always the general chaos of who’s mending the grill pits. In my family, it was more or less ‘to each their own’, so like the steamboat around the table, you look after whatever you’ve put on the grill yourself and there isn’t one grill master to see that things don’t burn. And things eventually always end up burnt, but we’ve all come to expect this and it would hardly be a heartwarming barbeque event without charred food. In fact, it was only when I arrived in Sweden that I realized that barbequed food is not synonymous with burnt food, but there were techniques to apply that would render succulently grilled meats served to the table.

Satay making, Sweden.

Amused in the midst of chit-chat, making Singaporean style satay sticks to go with the warmed and waiting peanut sauce.

The Swedish barbeque is casual by Swedish norms but compared to Singapore, it would come across as slightly more formal, with proper designated seating places for everyone, and the use of porcelain plates, with proper glasses and coffee mugs. Serving the grilled food with red or white wine is not uncommon and there’s generally less movement of people between the grill pits and the dining table. There’s indeed a grill master, and no chaos whatsoever.
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Windy!

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, highpoint, Swedish west coast.

Battling the wind!
Photo © J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, high point, Swedish west coast hp1.

One of our favourite things to do, is to go out taking pictures when the weather turns really dramatic. There was no real storm today as there can sometimes be along the Swedish west coast, but it was certainly WINDY! Us picking the highest available viewpoint of course brought out some extra shows of temperament among the local pagan weather gods.
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Swedish westcoast archipelago

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Swedish westcoast 1

In a moss green maxi halter dress along the Swedish westcoast archipelago.
Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

I was greeted by a tepid tropical rainstorm when I landed, the weather being unusually warm and playful even as Swedish summers go. It felt surreal that I didn’t need to put on any cardigan on my way home.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Swedish westcoast 2

After the hectic weeks spent in Singapore at the heart of Asia, where everything seemed to move at double speed, being back in Sweden offered an instant breather. For one thing, you can sit and watch the sail boats go by without having a need to know where they’re off to or when they’ll return.
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Swedish Midsummer’s dessert

Fresh strawberries and ice cream dessert, the ideal midsummers party dessert. No preparation time at all leaves plenty of time for your friends.

Fresh strawberries and ice cream dessert, the ideal Midsummer’s party dessert. No preparation time at all leaves plenty of time for your friends.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for CMC 2010

The upcoming weekend is the traditional celebration in Sweden of the absolute longest day during the whole year and consequently the shortest night. Originally a pagan tradition, it is still celebrated with dancing around the midsummer’s pole – symbolizing fertilization of the soil – and in anticipation of bountiful harvest.

Nowadays the harvest is not so much the issue as a splendid opportunity to have a barbecue party in the garden and meet friends. With this in mind I would like to share one of the simplest ideas of the whole year as a perfect dessert – plain vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries.

The strawberries however, not travel well and should be had ideally directly from the field.

All things considered this might actually be on of the few occasions where Scandinavia have an advantage over tropical Singapore. They might not have ripe mango, rambutan or lychee but – they do have sun ripened strawberries.

The Swedish West Coast, mid-spring 2010.

Swedish west coast in mid-spring 2010, Sweden.

Swedish west coast in mid-spring.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for Cheryl Marie Cordeiro 2010

The weather in Sweden, one of the most discussed non-academic topics at work, where even so, we end up trying to theorize why it is that we’re so fascinated with talking about the weather.

Academics can’t help but even in their spare time, seek out truth, certainty and burn to create foundations for abstract concepts. The weather is something that completely escapes us. Even the met station gets their forecasts wrong, a lot, which leaves us at work grappling with it. Too funny to observe.

Swedish west coast in mid-spring 2010, sailboat, Sweden.

Sailboat.

Here are pictures from an clear skied mid-spring day along the Swedish west coast. It’s the time of year where layered clothing works best because it’s warm in the sun and cold in the shades, and a gust of wind can still run chilly. The day before these pictures were taken, rainy. The day after, rainy.
Continue reading “The Swedish West Coast, mid-spring 2010.”

Nowruz at the Rösska museum in Gothenburg Sweden: in celebration of spring and the Persian New Year’s

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro in Karen Millen and Cartier at the Rösska museum Gothenburg, Göteborg Sweden

One in the crowd, listening to Tina & Ice Band’s rendition of Persian songs at Rösska’s Now Rooz exhibition .
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Cheryl Cordeiro-Nilsson for Cheryl Marie Cordeiro 2010

Nowruz signals the first day of spring in Persia and the Persian New Year’s. In celebration of this event that begins tomorrow, the Rösska museum of Gothenburg has set up Now Rooz, a 3 week long exhibition (13 March to 18 April 2010) of the fashion and design of the Persian culture during their New Year’s celebration (also featured in GP).
Continue reading “Nowruz at the Rösska museum in Gothenburg Sweden: in celebration of spring and the Persian New Year’s”

Perfect Polar Bear swimming weather!

Swedish westcoast, iced seas, January 2010

After several weeks of snowfall and -15 C along the Swedish westcoast.
Photo C M Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2009

It has been several weeks of snowfall and a constant -15 C in Sweden, though this week has warmed to a -8 C. Nonetheless, the temperatures have resulted in a blanket of white on land and an ice capped sea that is currently perfect for the Scandinavian sauna tradition that comes with winter swimming.
Continue reading “Perfect Polar Bear swimming weather!”

January Epiphany in Frost

Frosted windowpanes, Sweden, January 2010, Epiphany

Frosted windowpanes, for real.
Photo Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2009

Here are two postcards from the westcoast of Sweden today. Epiphany in Sweden is a public holiday, where most would by now, take down their Christmas decorations after 12 days of Christmas. The difference this year is that Epiphany arrived along with snow drift and gorgeous frosted windowpanes!

Snow weathered, Sweden January 2010, Epiphany

Weathered.

Growing up in Singapore, it was always spray painted snow on windowpanes that I saw come Christmas in the department stores. While the decorations were pretty, it failed to convey the real meaning of frost to one so tropical as I.

The windowpanes frost over when the outside is minus degrees and the inside gets from plus to a subsequent minus in temperature, thereby allowing the moisture on the glass panes to crystallize – it all sounds so technically simple. Of course. But fact is, it’s as cold indoors as it is outdoors!

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro reading Anthony Robbins

Some quiet reading with Anthony Robbins.

It being a public holiday and snowy outside, it gives perfect opportunity for me to fold up in front of a fireplace in warm woollen clothes and catch up on some of my favourite reads.

A Swedish westcoast New Year’s 2010

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Swedish westcoast New Year's 2010

Ushering in 2010 along the Swedish westcoast.
Photo Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009

New Year’s Eve 2010 was greeted along the Swedish westcoast by a bluemoon (a second full moon this month that happens once every 20 years) that hung low and glowed luminously. Beautiful sight!

Swedish westcoast New Year's 2010

Fireworks in the neighbourhood, Swedish westcoast.

In Sweden, it’s customary that people buy their own fireworks to set alight in their gardens. About fifteen minutes to midnight, people were already setting off their fireworks!

New Year's fireworks, Swedish westcoast 2010

A burst of purple and gold for 2010!

This year, our neighbours had a riot of a time with fireworks, with their children filling the air with excitable screams and shouts as each rocket took off.

1 am into the night and the odd set of fireworks box was still going off. Surreal.

Hönsafest i juletid 2009: homecoming party aboard the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III ship

Jan-Erik Nilsson, Anders and Berit Wästfelt, founders of the Gotheborg III ship project, Sweden

Founders of the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III ship project: Jan-Erik Nilsson (right), Anders and Berit Wästfelt (left). They’re standing with Stefan Andersson (in 18th century attire), who provided the main entertainment for the ship’s homecoming party.
Photo JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2009

Definition of Hönsafest by Västsverige

It was with their lives that sailors put out when they set sail to China during the 1700s aboard the Swedish East India Company vessels from the port of Gothenburg. Crew members had to endure storms, pirates, shipwrecks and sudden death. The attraction for them were money, adventure, the smell of warm spices and the possibility of a romp or two with exotic women from distant lands. All crew had to pay a mandatory hösapengen or homecoming money once the vessel reached the Equator. This money went into a big party when they came home again. Perhaps it was the idea of this feast, which lasted for three weeks, that kept up the spirits for the sailors when their teeth fell out in the aftermath of scurvy.

It couldn’t have a been better time to throw a staged homecoming party for the Swedish East Indiaman vessel Gotheborg III than in the wintry months of Sweden, when the ship is safely tarpaulined and docked.

Looking like a large white Christmas package at dockside, guests to the Hönsafest i juletid event that began in late November and continues through December 2009 in Gothenburg, were first invited for refreshments at the main warehouse before boarding the ship.

Continue reading “Hönsafest i juletid 2009: homecoming party aboard the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III ship”

Swedish Christmas tradition in its julbord: Sjömagasinet 2009

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro Nilsson, Sjömagasinet 2009, julbord, Christmas table

Dining at Sjömagasinet’s Christmas table or julbord.
Outfit is a Karen Millen tartan dress.

Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

It’s funny how impressions of festivities change with time the longer you’ve been in the place. When I first arrived in Sweden, slightly more than 7 years ago, I thought it strange that Swedes did not celebrate Christmas with quite the same pomp as Singapore. I rationalized that Singapore, as a multi-racial society, took pride in celebrating all festivities of its races with splendour, lighting up various parts of the city country, Geylang during Hari Raya and Orchard Road during Christmas for example, depending on the festivities, while Sweden being rather secular, played down Christmas as such.

Sjömagasinet, Christmas decoration, hanging tree, Gothenburg Sweden 2009

A silver and white Christmas tree suspended from the ceiling of the restaurant, Sjömagasinet.

I’ve found over the years though that contrary to what I believed at first, Sweden did indeed celebrate Christmas as much as Singapore, but in a manner that needed much observation and understanding of its people and culture – an aspect that one, with a quick visit to the country over a few days might wont to miss.

Sjömagasinet Christmas decoration, Gothenburg, Sweden, julbord

Christmas wreath and candles alongside the julbord.

Sweden celebrates Christmas with profound rootedness in the Swedish tradition with hand crafted frocks, decorations and not the least in the cooking of Swedish festive food.
Continue reading “Swedish Christmas tradition in its julbord: Sjömagasinet 2009”

Handcrafted, at Kronhuset’s Christmas market, Gothenburg 2009

Cushioned hearts, Kronhuset, Göteborg julmarknad 2009

Cushioned hearts, reflecting a theme in Christmas decorations in Sweden.
Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

Kronhuset in the true middle of the old City of Gothenburg, being a 17th century armory, is in itself a place-of-interest for most tourists. Built in Dutch style this was where all artillery and other military supplies was kept for the defense of the City of Gothenburg. Eventually it occasionally did came in handy, but that is a different story. Today, Kronhuset is both museum and a concert hall, owing to its pillar free groundfloor construction that lends ample space for it to be used for most any event.

Cushion heart hanging, Kronhuset Christmas market Gothenburg 2009

The Christmas Heart, hanging cushion.

There are several year-round tenants of the place, everything from a glass workshop, a café, an interior design company, to a chocolate store that sells handmade candy and chocolate truffles. So come Christmas season, this place is transformed into a bustling Christmas market, with all activities taking place within its compounds of the East and West wings of the main building.
Continue reading “Handcrafted, at Kronhuset’s Christmas market, Gothenburg 2009”

Jultomte variations

Wise men, Haga julmarknad 2009

My favourite rendition of the tomte this year, with hat pulled down low over the eyes, so they go around incognito, in the true spirit of giving this season.
Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

What I find refreshing when spending Christmas in Scandinavia is the appearance of the jultomte or nisse, a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore believed to help take care of the house, the animals on the farm and the family of the house, preventing any misfortune.

Having grown up in Singapore, with its Anglo-Saxon influence in terms of movies from the USA to British fruit pudding at the Christmas table and Santa Claus dressed in red and white, I find myself almost jumping in glee when greeting these woollen handmade elves that make their appearance just once a year at the shops.

In this post are several variants of the Swedish tomte that you can bring home this season or give away to a friend.

Continue reading “Jultomte variations”

Gift ideas from Haga, 2009

Stainless steel jewellery, Haga Christmas market 2009 Sweden julmarknad

A piece of stainless steel jewellery.
Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

Scandinavian jewellery (particularly Georg Jensen) has always been an attraction to me, even before I arrived in Sweden. So I became quite engrossed with what I saw at one stall at the Haga Christmas market that displayed stainless steel jewellery bound together with leather bands, and glass art rings and pendants.

What I appreciate about Scandinavian jewellery is that it’s often elegant with thick clean lines sweeping through the piece. If heavy, glossy and statement is what you wish to convey, then Scandinavian designed jewellery is perhaps an avenue you might wish to explore. Silversmith Wiwen Nilsson for example, whose designs are perhaps highly influenced by Japanese aesthetics in the early 1900s even though he trained in Germany, Denmark and France, has had a strong influence on Scandinavian jewellery design in general. Vintage pieces from him are still highly coveted because of his modernist take on shapes in relation to function of the item, which render them timeless.

Café treats at the Haga Christmas market, 2009

Haga Christmas market, 2009 Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Gothenburg Sweden

Café assortments are quite fantastic at the Haga Christmas market, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

We were much earlier this year to the Haga Christmas market than previous years, where it seems too, that I favour strolling the old streets of Haga in the same furry hat!

I believe most Christmas markets begin in western Sweden thereabouts on the 28th of November, and I generally appreciated just a smidgen more daylight time than if we were to go Christmas marketing just three weeks on in December.

Chocolate at Haga julmarknad 2009

Handmade chocolates and liquour chocolate balls.

Walking down the street, it became apparent that this year at Haga was mostly about café treats! Even before the extensive renovations to this area during the 1970s, Haga was known for its restaurants. Today, the entire street is punctuated with good coffee places, where I personally bear one or two cafés in mind when headed this way.
Continue reading “Café treats at the Haga Christmas market, 2009”

Gothenburg’s Chocolate and Délicatesse Festival, 2009

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Chocolate Fair 2009, Gothenburg, Sweden

At the chocolate fair, with some of the best nougat in hand.
Photo for CMC © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson 2009

If there was anything that could make me get out of bed early on a rainy Saturday morning, this would be it – Gothenburg’s Chocolate and Délicatesse Festival 2009!

It was not just the thought of free chocolate samples at this event that spurred me into action on this soggy morning, but of living and breathing the life and sharing the space of chocolate connoisseurs, even for a few hours, made my day.

Upon arrival at the Göteborgs City Museum, where the event was held, I realized that Swedes loved their chocolates. Almost half of the city of Gothenburg thought the same as I – to get in first – where not even wind and rain would keep them away from this divine manna. The queue to the entrance ran almost 200m, right past Tyska Kyrkan, the German Church that stood beside this museum, touching the tip of Gustaf Adolfs Torg along Norra Hamngatan.

Göteborgs choklad och delikatess festival 2009

The crowd.

The event hall that spanned one and a half floors of the museum, seemed stiflingly inadequate and compact for this event. Cold and near freezing outdoors, the crowd turned warm very quickly when indoors. Still, having grown up tropical, I was surprised to see some people literally turning to ice-cream eating to keep cool, the queue to the lone ice-cream vendor rivaling the queues of the more attractive chocolate stalls.

Baileys truffle, Gothenburg chocolate and delicatess festival 2009

Truffles in all forms imaginable. Anyone for a Bailey’s?
at Jeanna Kanold who together with her four daughters are Flickorna Kanold (The Kanold Girls)

The most spectacular view at the event was the vast exhibit of chocolate truffles. The stalls had bite-sized morsels so colourful, the candied sight simply took your breath away! I found myself standing in front of Kanolds for example, just absorbing the artistry of work, and whatever fillings of the truffle seemed secondary; after all, truffles have been around since 1895 (created by M. Dufour in France) and are more or less made with a ganache center coated in chocolate or cocoa powder that is usually spherical, conical, square or curved shape. But soon, the taste test came along and the perspective is shifted when you begin to decide which of these precious heaven-filled small packages you’d like to bring home, the ones with cream, caramel, nuts, berries, nougat, fudge, toffee, mint, liquor etc. The choice to make was mind-boggling!
Continue reading “Gothenburg’s Chocolate and Délicatesse Festival, 2009”

Kanelbullens Dag, Cinnamon Rolls Day 2009

Cinnamon rolls, kanelbullar, with custard and sugar pearls

Two different sorts from the batch this year – with and without custard.
Photos © Jan-Erik Nilsson for CMC, 2009

This year, Kanelbullens Dag that falls every 4th of October in Sweden, is proving to be extremely windy and rainy along the Swedish West Coast – which makes it the perfect weather to snuggle up to the warmth of some cinnamon rolls to celebrate its day.

Custard filled cinnamon rolls, kanelbulle

The custard filled cinnamon rolls, sitting in the corner of the baking tin before baking.

We decided in this batch, to make custard filled cinnamon rolls, which added a little variation to the standard pearl sugar drizzled version. I’ve always been fond of cinnamon rolls, having first been introduced to them in Singapore actually. About a decade ago, Singapore had a chain of small bakeries selling cinnamon rolls, filled with caramelized almonds, pecans, walnuts and even ones that were chocolate glazed! It was a fantastic variety of cinnamon rolls! I was quite saddened to find that they’ve all but disappeared these days, because I did have my favourite cinnamon rolls from their outlets and would buy a few whenever I came across their bakery down town.

Continue reading “Kanelbullens Dag, Cinnamon Rolls Day 2009”

Pickings by the sea, the Swedish west coast

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, wild apples, Swedish west coast

Wild apple picks along the beach, the Swedish west coast.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for CMC, 2009

Some early autumn leaves are already hitting the ground, hinting at the upcoming fall. The weather however, is still warm for an explorative outing to the beach along the Swedish west coast – and I took the opportunity to enjoy the seabreeze, coming upon some surprise finds!

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, landscape Swedish west coast

Against some dramatic rocks by the beach. I’m wearing a purple knit top purchased from Liang Court in Singapore, more than a decade ago. Bay Trading white shorts and a brown knit shrug from DKNY, New York, strewn and camouflaged on the rocks to the right.

As a first time visitor to Sweden a few years ago, I found it surprising that there are very few white sandy beaches, ones that stretched for miles. What characterises the Swedish west coast rather, are large boulders that create a dramatic sand coloured landscape, moulded by weathering in time.

Rock formation, Swedish west coast

An example of a dramatic rock formation found along the Swedish west coast. How much time will pass before the little one gives in to the weight of the larger, if ever? The formation was assembled here for us to ponder, by a melting glacier at the end if the last ice age some 10,000 years ago.

Instead of dismay, I found myself embracing the unmistakable rocky shores of the Swedish west coast! A most wonderful sight in summer is people laying down their blankets atop a boulder and enjoying the sun. At high summer, you’ll witness these sturdy and a lot of times grey boulders come into a burst of life and colours, with people wearing striking beach wear and swimwear, carrying with them their sunglasses, floats for children and wicker baskets that contain the simplest but what looks like the most enjoyable picnic meal.

The Best Western Mornington Hotel Bromma, a Designer Hotel on a Budget, Stockholm, Sweden

Breakfast oatmeal at the Mornington Hotel Bromma, Stockholm, Sweden 2009. Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC, 2009

What stuck in my mind was a comment in an online hotel review page on this hotel, a former guest said, – It was shocking at first…- Well, I kind of agree. You don’t think much of airfields since they are mostly located way out of sight and earshot, but this hotel, is right next to one. But, if you’re a heavy sleeper and can sleep past flight landings at 10 minute intervals after 7 am, then this hotel could just be for you.

The beds are crisply lined and this standard double, was fitted with by a large axel ball.

The hotel has wonderfully clean lines in its design. The large impeccably neat rooms and the pleasant staff soon make you forget any occasional noise during the daytime if you are even there, and not out exploring. This hotel is located in Bromma, just outside of the city of Stockholm. It is reasonably priced and asks a fraction of what for example the Sanderson in London charges for a night’s stay. Choosing this hotel actually leaves enough space in the shopping budget for a spree around Stockholm.

Public transportation is available nearby and the car parking spaces are for free. The globe trotter might want to take note of that taxi fares in Sweden are fairly steep. If you expect that a modestly priced hotel would need to have those 1970s brown interior, smelling of old dust and stale coffee and in dire need of an overhaul, I’m happy to report that this is not it.

Clean and simple, In the corner opposite the double beds, is a settee with an armchair and a coffee table.

The Zen-like interior rooms have lots of space, pine wood floors and curtains in block colours of grey, green and yellow to both relax and revitalise depending on which colours you like. The high ceilings and white walls are what I appreciated most in the designs. A standard double room comes equipped with a small coffee table with an electric boiler, tea, coffee and cups on the house. The sizes of the rooms are generous and offers all the storage space you need, comparable in size to the more luxurious rooms at the Majestic Barrière in Cannes.

Some flowers along the western coast of Sweden

Poppy

Orange poppy
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC, 2009

Summer lends itself to a burst of colours in nature in Sweden and the pictures in this blog show some flowers you’re likely to meet when visiting the Swedish westcoast during spring and summer.

Poppies

Different from above, a more vibrant vermillion poppy, towards the end of their period of bloom.

White flowers

Cerastium tomentosum, or Snow-in-Summer, white flowers

These delicate white flowers are almost a standard garden feature along the Swedish westcoast. Soft, abundant and beautiful, they sway to the lightest breeze, helping define the core of summer romance in setting.

Summer along the Swedish west coast

Swedish westcoast 1

An inviting view of the sea at the southern archipelago of Gothenburg.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for CMC 2009

If you’re headed to Gothenburg this summer, consider putting aside a day or two for exploring the southern archipelago that lies just outside of the city. It takes about half an hour by tram to the ferry terminal and another half an hour by ferry from the mainland to the islands. The rewards of being on the islands on a warm clear skied summer’s day are without limits, where you can experience the pleasures of the islands first hand.

Swedish westcoast 2

Small wooden piers line the water’s edge, dotted with red painted wharves.

Being out on the islands along the Swedish west coast is as close to kampong you would ever get when visiting Sweden. Located about 15 km from the city of Gothenburg, the southern archipelago even has slightly different weather conditions than from the mainland. Coupled with the deep sapphire blues of the surrounding seas, it wouldn’t be difficult to believe that you’re in Viking paradise.

Swedish westcoast 3

The many piers around the islands offer people a place to sit, relax and enjoy a view of the ocean.

On the islands, the water’s edge is lined tangent with wooden planked piers, most of which are private docking areas for boats belonging to the houses not far from shore. The houses in themselves are a beautiful, rustic sight. Most of the houses that look like cozy cottages are constructed with heavy interlocking logs and are painted red, red and blue or yellow. I especially love the tone of the deep red used on these houses, as I’ve come to identify them as a Swedish-red, associated with Swedish culture, design and style.
Continue reading “Summer along the Swedish west coast”

When things are different

The following article was first published in Swedish on 16th April 2007 in the University of Gothenburg’s Journal. This post brings you the English translation of the article, followed by the article in Swedish. The article in Swedish can also be accessed via GU Journalen.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro. Photo by Steven Grindrod

Photo: Steven Grindrod.

I’m a Singapore citizen and a research student with the department of Linguistics at Gothenburg Univeristy. When I arrived a few years ago, it was no small cultural shock that I experienced. While I generally found Swedes to be a warm, helpful and friendly bunch, it didn’t help that I still felt completely isolated. I didn’t understand the language and the various social activities I attended inherently contained values and codes that were unlike my own and what I was used to.

Compared to Sweden, Singapore is fairly conservative. It was only a generation ago that arranged marriages were the norm and the concept of sambo or living together without getting married for all practical purposes is still unheard of. A Chinese girlfriend of mine had a magistrate marriage ceremony in Singapore and thereafter, both husband and wife returned to their respective parents’ place to live. They only moved in together after the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony was conducted a year later.

Graffiti is unthinkable. The competition between organizations and individuals is also tougher in Singapore. Delivery is calculated within the hour rather than days in between and it is not unusual to call after office hours and still get excellent customer service. The public transport system is clean and efficient, with trains arriving every three minutes during peak hours.

About a week ago, I was invited to an international student / researcher reception held at City Hall with the Mayor of Gothenburg as host. It was interesting to have met so many people who were like myself, non-natives of Sweden and who came from various cultural backgrounds.

A French researcher I met that evening said that on his part, he would rather not get to know a country, its culture and its people prior to working / living in that country. This is so that he doesn’t get a coloured vision of the country and he could begin getting to know the different culture without bias.

That was an interesting point of view. In part because it didn’t quite par with my experiences on getting to and living in Sweden and in part, it was my area of research interest. I research Swedish leaders of Swedish owned organizations in Singapore and how thier experiences with the local culture influences / affects their leadership style.

In the way that fish are quite unaware of the water in which it swims, I believe Swedes in general don’t seem aware of Swedish idiosyncracies from the eyes of a foreigner and I’m not talking about snaps, hard bread and small little pigs that run around the Midsummer Pole come Midsummer. It’s much more subtle than that, such as implicit status symbols, hidden hierarchies, politally correct feminism, consensus seeking behaviour etc.

But look at it however, from a Swede who is now in a new culture, in some part of the world away from Sweden. It would be someone deemed to have leadership skills, whose job is to establish and steer a Swedish based organization abroad. They would have the pressing job of performing from day one and thier appointment in the foreign country is costing the organization in terms of salary and benefits. They are the best man for the job and the fate of the organization overseas is in their hands.

If that place were to be Singapore for example, everything would have been clean and tidy. Any season other than warm weather with or without rain, does not occur. The people are effective and friendly but the laws, social, family and organizationnal orientations are different. A congregation of over ten persons in public is forbidden and nobody laughs about the chewing gum ban. The land is multi-religious and religion is taken seriously. You can’t seem to order food from the local hawker center and people might be horrified at your table manners. There are social taboos not to be spoken of or referred to. Status symbols are a mystery. Everyone seems polite enough and they smile a lot but at the same time, you wonder why it is that what you want done just doesn’t get done even when the answer was yes when you asked.

My point with this not that we should stay home and not venture overseas and not even try to understand the different cultures abroad, but rather to point out that it is important for us to recognize the different nuances between cultures, which is much more than theatre, song and dance. There are institutions, the law, the passions of the people and fundamental values and beliefs in which we, with all our hearts, are convinced that is Truth, given by God, Allah, Brahma, Hunab Ku, Viracocha or Tom Cruise.

As a tourist, we perhaps can afford to explore unbiased and call the reception when we need help, but if the aim is to work with others in a different culture, we’ll need to be aware that there exist different understandings of what is real for others, what makes their morals, their truths and what is right for Them and understand their ambitions.

I believe if more resources were allocated to the study, understanding and respect of different cultures, there is much to be gained for all involved.

My hope is that my research will be a small contribution to this end and that it will help towards a deeper understanding of cultural differences.

Continue reading “When things are different”

De Fyra Kungliga Klubbarnas Fest 2009, a Swedish Royal event at the Grand Hôtel, Stockholm

In a sea of tailcoats, in the Hall of Mirrors, Spegelsalen. I am wearing a red silk dress with pearl appliqués, designed by Francis Cheong in Singapore. The purse; a Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis Sunset Boulevard in Amarante, from the LV shop in Stockholm. Kungliga Klubbarnas Fest, Grand Hôtel, Stockholm 2009.
Photo for CMC © J-E Nilsson and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, 2009.

On Friday the 13th, March 2009, the bi-annual event of the Fyra Kungliga Klubbarnas Fest was held at the Grand Hôtel in Stockholm. Grand Hôtel is situated in the very heart of Stockholm beautifully overlooking the River Strömmen, which is such a defining feature of the city. Just opposite, on the other side of Strömmen, is the Royal Palace and Gamla stan (the Old Town) of Stockholm.

The event was hosted by the Royal Swedish Motorboat Club and co-hosted by the Nation of Italy, and was most notably graced by the presence of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Jan-Erik Nilsson at the Fyra Kungliga Klubbarnas Fest at the Grand Hôtel, Stockholm 2009.

Champagne reception in the Hall of Mirrors

The evening began most pleasantly with a Champagne reception in the Hall of Mirrors (Spegelsalen), a magnificent ballroom decorated in gold, white and red. Ever since its opening in 1899 it has been the scene of countless conferences and brilliant parties. This evening was no exception as it held all the splendour of a White Tie event, a modern ball filled with a touch of magic! Ladies arrived dressed in their best fur coats only to reveal even more beautiful ballgowns in jewel toned fabrics. The men came dressed in full evening dress, some even with a top hat, and some in their mess dress. Continue reading “De Fyra Kungliga Klubbarnas Fest 2009, a Swedish Royal event at the Grand Hôtel, Stockholm”

Visiting the Polkagris town of Gränna, Sweden 2009

Isn’t visiting a candy factory something we have always dreamt about? Well, yesterday that dream came true for me!
All photos for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

Although I need to admit that chocolate would have been my preferred choice of candy, the chance to visit a polkagris or striped candy cane factory in the small-town of Gränna is a dream come true!

Gränna with its adjacent island of Visingsö in Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden, is a tourist paradise and located only a few hours of driving from either of the cities of Gothenburg or Stockholm. Its narrow cobbled streets and old fashioned houses reminds me of Arrow Town in New Zealand.

A street in Gränna, lined with polkagris factory shop fronts displaying their trade. This street was the R1 national highway until the 1970s. Today the new highway runs outside of the city, not too far off.

Through Gränna runs the former “R1” which was once the main road between the Swedish West and East coast, connecting the two major cities of Gothenburg and Stockholm. By the 1970s the new E4 highway was built outside of Gränna. Today, during the summer, this old main road becomes completely blocked with tourists. Continue reading “Visiting the Polkagris town of Gränna, Sweden 2009”

Snowfall in march, on the west coast of Sweden 2009

By a Juniper tree with a cerise cashmere scarf and wonderful vintage mink fur coat.
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

In march in Sweden the weather is temperamental and just when you think that spring is on its way and that the snow has all but melted and gone, comes a sudden gush of snow so thick that you think you are in mid-December again, waiting for a white Christmas.
Continue reading “Snowfall in march, on the west coast of Sweden 2009”

Sjömagasinet’s team proves their metier beyond all things piscatorial. Gothenburg, Sweden 2009

Restaurant Sjömagasinet in Gothenburg, Sweden in early spring 2009, housed in a building, originally an 18th century ship’s furnishing storage.
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

The restaurant Sjömagasinet in Gothenburg, Sweden, is well known, as is its iconic owner and Chef de Cuisine Leif Mannerström.

What might be less known is that the restaurant’s odd looking building at the immediate waterfront of the Göta River was originally an 18th century magazine, built by the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813) to house spare equipment for the huge sailing “East Indiamen” ships.

These frigates went on their yearly voyages to China and back for tea, silk, spices and porcelain during the best part of the 18th century, departing from just outside this building around February each year. They usually arrived back in the late summer after a voyage that took almost two years for each round-trip, if everything went well. If not, the arrival could be delayed. As a matter of fact, there are cargoes that still haven’t arrived as yet, but that’s a different story. Today we were just here to eat.

Luckily our careers give us the opportunity and occasion to travel quite some. Valentine’s Day last year was spent at the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok, overlooking some fantastic fireworks reflecting to double effects in the black waters of the Chao Phraya River. This year we visited Sjömagasinet in Gothenburg, Sweden, immediately overlooking the near frozen Göta River. The differences in climate and temperatures could not have been greater.

Gothenburg is located at 57°43′ North latitude and 11°59′ East latitude meaning about three hours of flight northeast of London and much too far north for comfort for anyone preferring the tropical climate of Singapore. Luckily there are things here to compensate the endeavours.

The gourmet restaurant Sjömagasinet is one of them.

The history of the restaurant’s building is somewhat reflected in the menu but most of all, it shows to tell of Leif Mannerström’s great interest in gourmet preparation and serving of various piscatorial delights. What we chose for our Valentine’s day dinner was of course only a sample of what could be had at the restaurant.

The menu for the day is set on the day itself with not much advance notice. The availability of first class ingredients settles what the Mannerström team will work with for the day, so you can simply pop in and enjoy. If you like, you can discuss with the forthcoming staff, anything you’d like to have served from what is available in the kitchen for the day.

On the menu you can expect to find weever, plaice, pollack, halibut and herring served in classic and creative conconctions. During the Christmas season, the julbord or Christmas smorgasbord, serves up to more than sixteen types of herring.

The dishes we decided upon were what we felt right for the day. As we sat down at our table ready to enjoy ourselves, we brought with us three distinct impressions: that of the ice-cold weather of the Nordic climate, the ever present Göta River that flows just outside this restaurant and the warmth from the burning log fire that greeted us at the entrance of the restaurant, when we first came in.

Today I initially felt like the Fish Classic, a deep fried cod tail with sauce verte, lemon, asparagus and boiled potatoes. But while settling in and warming up to the mood of the place I started to feel somewhat more adventurous.

Contrary to my expectations the meat dishes seemed just as interesting as the fish and my curiosity was really aroused when I found elk among Mannerström’s Husmanskost.

I have only ever encountered a live elk once in my life, in a national park here in Sweden. These large creatures wander the vast forests of Sweden and are freely hunted for food. About 100 000 elks are shot in Sweden every year and at an average weight of about half a tonne (1000 lbs) each, it’s a lot of meat. With elk meat, the inherent problem I find is how to cook them. Apart from that they don’t exactly fit neatly into the oven, the meat is usually tough and gamey. My previous experiences of eating elk were not encouraging. But if there ever was going to be a chance I’d eat elk again then this would be the place. So elk, it was.

Fried, salted brisket of elk with potatoes and cream

Fried, salted brisket of elk served with beet roots, capers and potatoes cooked in cream.

The elk briskets were tender, warm, juicy and inviting on a bed of beetroots and potatoes cooked in cream sprinkled with parsley leaves. The flavours combined and blended splendidly with one another to give a robustly warm and accommodating meal. The dish was also testament to what could be produced with basic ingredients that were none too fancy. Continue reading “Sjömagasinet’s team proves their metier beyond all things piscatorial. Gothenburg, Sweden 2009”

New Year’s 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden!

At the Gothenburg Opera House greeting the New Year, 2009, with a glass of champagne!

No New Year’s party in Sweden is complete without a massive display of fireworks so this year, we made it a point to go see the annual fireworks in Gothenburg, Sweden, sponsored by the local newspaper, Göteborgs Posten (GP). Continue reading “New Year’s 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden!”