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!”

Christmas day in the Swedish west coast archipelago

A nippy Christmas day, at -5 deg C outdoors. In the background, a gliding ferry coming to a controlled and steady halt at the jetty.

It was perfect weather with clear blue skies in the Swedish west coast archipelago today. The sea was perfectly still with not a wave in sight, save the ones created by this ferry that ferries passengers to and from the islands. Continue reading “Christmas day in the Swedish west coast archipelago”

Christmas marketing in Gothenburg

Homemade candy is an irresistible draw at most Christmas markets. This candy stand was at the Saluhallen Christmas market. Saluhallen is a marketing hall famous for good cuts of meat and specialty cheeses, year round.

One of my most favourite things to do during the Christmas season in Sweden is to explore the various Christmas markets around the city center. Gothenburg city has about five or six major markets to explore, all within walking distance from each other, and you can spend an entire day hopping from one Christmas market or julmarknad to the other in exploration. Continue reading “Christmas marketing in Gothenburg”

Christmas dinner at Sjömagasinet, 2008

Tucking in at the ‘julbord’ or Christmas buffet at Sjömagasinet, Gothenburg. This restaurant serves a wonderful variety of Scandinavian delicacies during the Christmas season and it’s a recommended restaurant to visit at any time of the year, when in Gothenburg.

Sjömagasinet is somewhat of a tradition, and this year, we made our way back to the restaurant for our Christmas dinner. It’s all things familiar, such as the warm fireplace at its entrance and its golden candle lit interior, that makes you feel at home when you step in. A gazing sweep over the buffet spread and you begin to look forward to trying out your favourite dishes, the ones you can recall from last year.
Continue reading “Christmas dinner at Sjömagasinet, 2008”

Christmas tranquil in Gothenburg, Sweden

In the middle of the city of Gothenburg, which was once a fortress, you’ll find the quiet waters of the old harbour, casting a scenic glow through the city.

Almost every year, the local Swedish newspapers report how Swedes feel absolutely stressed during the year-end festive season. But for someone who’s just back from the all too humid bustle of Southeast-Asia, I couldn’t help but feel an inner serenity when looking at the dim twilight glow of the Gothenburg sky coupled with the chilly breeze of the winter air in the northern hemisphere. Continue reading “Christmas tranquil in Gothenburg, Sweden”

Swedish apples in late autumn

Apple picking in late autumn.

The end of autumn brings about all things Apple, because it is during the late autumn that Swedish apples ripen. Walking in an apple tree garden that is ripe for the picking is so dreamy that one can’t help but spontaneously pull out all old family recipes of apple pies, apple cakes and apple buns you got.

As it happened a neighbour of ours had an unexpected abundant crop of Gravenstein this year invited us over to basically help ourselves to as much as we wanted. It sounded like too much fun to miss out on, so we of course brought home as many apples that we felt we could possibly use over the winter.

Gravenstein apples ripe for the picking.

The Gravenstein variety of apples has been around in Sweden for about 300 years. It has a wonderfully round personality, being fantastically fragrant, very juicy and of a size that fits generously into the palm of your hand. The Swedes consider this the Rolls Royce of Swedish apples and is ideal for cider but works well for pretty much anything you can do with apples.

Continue reading “Swedish apples in late autumn”

Cross-Cultural Dating in Singapore

Regardless of how westernized the Asian societies might appear today, dating someone from a different culture is dating more than just that one person, it’s an entirely different ball game.
Model: Carol Chin. Photo © by Kevin D. Cordeiro.

In this none too scientific post, my target audience is primarily western / Scandinavian males who are going to work or are working in Singapore. Since the scientific research I have been doing over the past few years has been mostly about Scandinavian top managers working in Asia, the point of view and perspective reflected will with few exceptions come from those with whom I’ve spoken. To this, I have added my own point of view as a woman and individual who has grown up in Singapore.

The dating scene in Singapore is lively
The pubs and restaurants and the social life in general encourages all kinds of human interaction in public places at all times. You are out meeting people more often than not. Most events from having breakfast at the local kopitiam (coffee-shop) to having coffee, lunch, dinner or anything in-between is a reason to meet. Technically speaking “dating” is not a problem while eventually everything around it might be.

Singapore, an easy place to blend into
A poignant surrounding factor that can cause problems when dating a girl from an Asian society is, culture. With that, comes a host of other related issues within the web of culture such as language, tradition, beliefs, religion and – food.

A spread of traditional Nonya food by the Straits Chinese. The customs and traditions of the people are as intricate and detailed as the wrappings and presentation of the food. Picture by King’s Hotel, Singapore (Khoo, 1998:130).

The culture in Singapore as well as in most of Asia is collectivistic in that sense that families are close, tightly bound, large – in some cases amounting to clans – and run by patriarchal values supported by a large, often gossipy bunch of aunties (and almost all elderly women in Singapore are called ‘aunty’) with opinions on everything and everybody.

Yet Singapore, as Asia goes, is an easier place than most other Asian societies to blend into due to its immigrant beginnings. More or less everybody came from somewhere else just a few generations ago however, well into the 20th century marriages were arranged between suitable parties, as most Asian cultures from the Indians to the Chinese, had arranged marriages as their tradition.

Today, the Singapore society at large bothers little about cross-cultural relations and interracial marriages, being currently more concerned with its falling birth-rates since 2004 (see Washington Post and the Singapore Window). Yet local to non-local relations still make interesting topics and a couple is still looked upon, observed and commented on – even by people who hardly know you.

A total stranger, when least you want to hear things
Anyone can step-up to you and start asking very personal questions, such as the woman who serves you coffee at the local kopitiam (coffee shop). One Swede observed that he from morning to morning got lower prices on his coffee obviously to soften him up for some reason. The price on his morning kopi-o (coffee, black) ran from the ang-moh (Hokkien word to mean ‘Caucasian’) price of more than $1 SGD, down to the local friends’ price of 40 cents. Flattered by the close fren price he was still unprepared for the attack. The conversation went like:

Coffee Lady: Sir, where you from?
Swede: Sweden (*one raised eyebrow*)
Coffee Lady: You how old?
Swede: Eh? Around fifty …
Coffee Lady: You got chirrun?
Swede: Eeeh?? Yes
Coffee Lady: How many?
Swede: Eeeeeh?? .. well, two …
Coffee Lady: You here for business or wat
Swede: Yes
Coffee Lady: You got your own business
Swede: Yes, in fact I do …
Coffee Lady: You earn how much?
Swede: Ehm, well yes …
Coffee Lady: You here for gerfren (girlfriend) ah?

After the questions had been satisfactorily answered and the coffee lady had figured out whether the Swede would be in the market for a meeting with any one granddaughter, niece, daughters of friends, third cousin’s neighbor’s friend’s daughter or some other eligible young woman that was felt was lagging behind in her family career of getting married and having children and needed a push in the right direction, the coffee price eventually went right back up again to the normal solid $ 0.80 SGD.

To the utter embarrassment of the younger generation, aunties can also have no qualms about inquiring about family relations and trying to set up meetings even in the very presence of the persons in question. They will happily talk right over your head as if you were not there. If you think of this as a most well meaning tradition based on the collective nature of the Singapore society you might get used to it and react on it in the proper way, which is to give evasive answers and a friendly smile. I think of it as having its roots in a kampong (village) tradition where everybody knew and cared about everything and everybody. So eventually you will be dating the whole family whether you like – or know – it, or not.

Sarong Party Girls (SPGs)
The collectivism leads to another aspect of cross-cultural dating, its social implications. Even if social gossip may not affect a foreigner with a possible time limit to his stay, there will be a social pressure from family, friends and perhaps even total strangers that might cause problems for the local woman.

The different Singaporean sub-cultures are different in this respect about social pressure and each will have varying degrees of open-mindedness towards foreigners in the family.

Some Swedes I have interviewed for my research were well aware of the concept of SPGs. This is a loose expression for a local woman who would consider dating a foreigner in much the same way as a western girl would i.e. with no immediate plans of getting married to him as soon as possible and not even asking to be paid to do so. In Singapore the SPG label implicates questionable moral or worse, as in bad business sense on the part of the woman, in a society where arranged marriages were the norm not more than a generation ago.

First, meet her parents. Then …
Picture by Lily Khoo, from The Straits Chinese (Khoo, 1998:94):

… meet her family, whom you will also be dating whether you know it or not. As an example, this old picture shows 4 generations of a family, gathered to celebrate the 80th birthday of the family patriarch. The scenes are surprisingly similar around for example Chinese New Year up until today. (Picture: Khoo 1998:39).

So while dating a local woman is not impossible, the foreign male should remember that he is out on uncharted territory. In Asia, you are not approaching only a person but whole a culture and a mindset that is as with all values are so set as to be invisible for those who share it while to the outsider will appear suddenly and out of nowhere as a glass wall at night.

Rather than to be discouraged, there is in fact plenty to gain in dating cross-culturally. There are new ideas and perspectives to discover and share. A key to smoother relations is to begin with understanding that it isn’t just a pretty face you are meeting.


  • Khoo, Joo Ee, 1998. The Straits Chinese. The Pepin Press: Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur.
  • Midsummer’s Day 2008, in the Western Swedish archipelago

    Brrrrr! My first toe-dip of the season, and possibly my last.
    Missing the warm beaches at Singapore’s Sentosa Island. It would take quite a lottery win for me to go swimming in the sea this summer if the weather doesn’t let up! Outfit: A white crochet halter neck dress by BCBG Max Azria.

    This island in the western Swedish archipelago has its own tradition on Midsummer’s, where it was here that the Society of Arbores literally brought back forests and green life.

    For a number of decades every century, as long as anyone can remember, huge shoals of herring used to suddenly appear along the western Swedish coast. It is said that the sea was so full of herring that they could hardly find space to swim amongst themselves. During winter the fishermen could cut a hole in the ice and the herring would pour up onto the ice by themselves. While this might be of a slight exaggeration, the thing was that year after year the herring did indeed come back, by the millions. The most important periods were between 1747-1809, and then in 1877-1904. Continue reading “Midsummer’s Day 2008, in the Western Swedish archipelago”

    Dinner onboard the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III

    “You’ll be dinin’ with the captain.” – Pintel to Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) But unlike that scenario, I wasn’t disinclined to acquiesce to the Captain’s request.

    Just noticed in DN that Gotheborg III was now visiting Stockholm. The reconstructed 18th century Swedish sailing Ship Götheborg III has made its trip to Canton in China, and back. It was time now to hold a final Board of Directors meeting to close the books on the entire adventure of building the replica ship and its sail to China and back. On the agenda was also the ship’s future adventures. Her upcoming Baltic Sea Tour 2008 looks to be enough of a challenge to keep even the most hard core sailing enthusiasts happy, but even so, it sounds a breeze and a walk in the park compared to the high sea sailing to China.

    After the meeting, it was dinner onboard the East Indiaman Götheborg III. Continue reading “Dinner onboard the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III”

    Culinary couples: Singapore and Sweden


    Appetizer at Buko Nero, a blend of rucola and pomelo

    Buko Nero, Singapore

    Type in the words Buko Nero in a google search and you’ll find a long list of reviews, mostly enthusiastic and positive, on this small and personalized restaurant in Singapore, located along Tanjong Pagar Road.

    The restaurant with a seating capacity of not more than approximately 25 persons or 6 tables, looks literally as its name suggests, a ‘hole in the wall’. It’s an easy location to miss, being situated amongst the larger bridal boutiques and pubs that line the stretch of shophouses along Tanjong Pagar.

    What makes this place special is the fusion of Italian and Asian flavours that lace most dishes they serve. The fusion of flavours perhaps being a reflection of the background of the Italian husband and Singaporean wife team, Tracy and Oscar Pasinato. Continue reading “Culinary couples: Singapore and Sweden”

    Swedish Christmas Julbord Buffét 2007


    The Christmas Julbord buffét at the Sjömagasinet restaurant, Göteborg, Sweden

    As the Christmas season rolls in, most restaurants in Sweden begin to offer a smörgåsbord of delights, known as the Julbord or the Christmas table. This line of buffet consists of traditional Swedish Christmas foods such as herring preserved in a variety of marinades, the marinades of which are as inventive as the chefs are themselves. Last year, we tried herring marinated in Coca-cola, by a chef called Mikael Sande, as one of the more unusual / eccentric dishes to the Christmas buffet.
    Continue reading “Swedish Christmas Julbord Buffét 2007”

    13th December: the festival of St. Lucia with Lussekatter


    Our batch of Lussekatter or saffron bread this year, for Lucia

    I’ve asked some Swedish friends of mine, the significance of the festival of St. Lucia in Sweden. And few knew its actual significance, except that it arrived from Italy, back when Sweden was still Catholic (today it is more Lutheran), before 1700s.

    Traditionally, Lussekatter are baked without raisins in them, but as you can see from our batch above in the picture, we cheated some with adding raisins in the dough. The bread is extremely fragrant, with the smell of saffron. It does tend to dry out quickly, also because of the saffron but we hope that with the raisins in the dough, it’d stay moist just slightly longer. The saffron bread, as with most breads, tastes best fresh out of the oven. But if left for the next day, it helps with heating the bread in the oven or in the microwave oven before eating. Enjoy with a warm glass of milk!

    I found a fuller account of the festival of St. Lucia via a quick search on the internet. The information below is from the website of New Sweden

    Continue reading “13th December: the festival of St. Lucia with Lussekatter”

    Stockholm in winter and its Riddarhus


    Skyline in Stockholm on a Sunday, a grey winter’s day, November 2007

    We were in Stockholm over the weekend and there was variation in weather. A bright and clear blue Saturday and a grey wintry Sunday. Temperatures were around -1 deg C with rain and snow at the same time. Just the day before, the picture below of the same waterway was taken, with clear blue skies.


    A clear blue sky on a Saturday in Stockholm, November 2007

    Continue reading “Stockholm in winter and its Riddarhus”

    Annual Antiques Fair in Gothenburg


    Me in a curio stall at the Gothenburg Antiques Fair. On the shelves, the Swedish ceramic artist and studio Tilgman’s ceramics, much defining Swedish homes from the 1950s.

    Over the last week, Gothenburg held its annual antiques fair at Svenska Mässan, a large convention hall for just such events. We thought we’d spend some time there browsing the ins and outs of antiques. Continue reading “Annual Antiques Fair in Gothenburg”

    The Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III: arrival in Canton, China

    The Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III: arrival in Canton July 2006, China

    Photo for CMC © Jan-Erik Nilsson, 2007

    The rebuilt replica of the first East Indiaman Gotheborg, the Gotheborg III has now made its old trade route trip around the world, from Sweden, around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and up to Canton, China. On its way back from China, it touched base at Singapore earlier this year, where some of you might already have had a chance to view Her in Her majestic beauty. To me, she looks every bit belonging to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean where I can almost see Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm, albeit in the wrong flag colours.

    The project was based on the excavation of the original East Indiaman Gotheborg which sat sail in early 1743 not to be heard of again before September 1745 when upon homecoming, She, with a huge crash, hit an underwater rock just outside the home harbour of Gothenburg and sank. The salvaging of the immensely valuable cargo of silk, tea and about 300,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain started immediately. This salvaging of lost treasures continued intermittently for centuries, since her foundering.
    Continue reading “The Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg III: arrival in Canton, China”

    Leveraging on events, beyond Nya Fröken Sverige


    Me and Lina Hane, Miss Sweden Universe, September 14, 2007

    A while back out of sheer desperation with what I read about how Sweden was dealing with their Miss Sweden Universe (Nya Fröken Sverige) event, I searched out who was running it. A few days later I met with the most considerate and charming CEO of Panos Emporio, Mr Panos himself, who after having been in the jury for some years, decided to take over the whole event in an attempt to turn the tide in Sweden back to the glamorous and high prestige event it had once been.

    The treatment Miss Sweden gets in the press was so far removed from my own experiences when I took part in the Miss Universe final in 1999 that I hardly recognized what I read in the Swedish newspapers. How come the same event was seen so different in Sweden, and why?
    Continue reading “Leveraging on events, beyond Nya Fröken Sverige”