Festive egg halves

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

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

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Down peanut butter lane

Chocolate peanut butter jelly cocktail, made with juleøl (Norwegian Christmas beer) and cognac.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

There was only ever one time in my life when I was growing up in Singapore that I tried Smucker´s Goober Grape. I often heard of peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwiches from watching Sesame Street as a child, but growing up in Singapore, the school lunch looked rather more like mee siam, fishball noodle soup and chicken rice rather than peanut butter and jam sandwiches. If my mother would pack lunch for me, it would come in a two compartment tupperware. On one side would be a peeled hard boiled egg, and on the other side, some baked beans. My lunchbox content was considered fairly “western” because other mothers would pack fried rice with spam or stir-fried bee hoon with spam for their children in their lunch boxes. I loved my hard boiled egg.

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Black custard, in celebration of Old Halloween

Black custard, topped with crème fraîche.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

I love blood sausages. I was first introduced to blodpudding in Sweden when I moved there in the early 2000s. Blodpudding, also known as black sausage in the UK is a northern England creation that uses the blood of pigs, cows or sheep, combined with suet and grains to make sausages. Blood sausages are some of the oldest forms of sausages. Recipes of how to make them date back to the 1600s, although I would not be surprised if black sausage recipes date further back to the Viking era. Traditionally, black sausages are made and eaten in celebration of Saint Martin´s day or Martinsmas, as well as Old Halloween or Old Hallowmas Eve, celebrated on 11 November each year.

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Weekend breakfast at RISØ, Tromsø, Norway

Weekend sunshine with RISØ´s CEO Arne Risø Nilsen. Arne is co-founder and co-owner RISØ, a café and coffee bar that serves some of Tromsø´s best coffee brews.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

As the weekend rolls around, morning coffee and breakfast at a local café in Tromsø is something to look forward to. It´s pretty much autumn here in the Arctic, where you can typically get a string of grey and rainy days. Depending on personality, I think rainy autumn days are perfect to grab that mug of hot chocolate, cozy under your blanket with your favourite book and read. As it happened, it was a weekend of brilliant weather with sunshine and clear skies. Which meant, a café breakfast morning.

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Midnight sun, Tromsø, Northern Norway

This was filmed at ca. 0130 in the morning. Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

“It must be so romantic, to experience the Arctic midnight sun!” She said.
“Yes, it is.” the Other She replied. “But you can´t sleep either.”

The prosaic quips above reflect but only a partial reality of what I find unique about living in this compact Arctic city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Special on this part of the globe is the shifting polar light from spring/summer to autumn/winter. Most travel brochures speak of the spectacular Northern Lights that appear when the skies darken over the winter months, and when the sun hardly rises above the horizon. At this time of year however, it is the opposite. The sun hardly ever sets. From 18 May to 25 July 2020, the sun does not go below horizon in Tromsø. The midnight sun is not much advertised in travel brochures as an experience to be lived for long because for those who are sunlight sensitive with functioning circadian rhythms, this might mean a whole lot of lack of sleep days. It is not unusual to observe nightlong parties and people out on the streets of Tromsø at 0200 hrs, as if it were late afternoon in southern Europe.

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20200523 Weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway

Outdoor gym and meeting seagulls on a weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It´s been some frustrating weeks for everyone with the current global health pandemic that has led to disrupted lifestyles and socioeconomic consequences. In Northern Norway, society is cautiously opening.

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Telegrafbukta, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Telegrafbukta / Telegraph Bay, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Telegrafbukta was one of the first places I visited when I landed in Tromsø. Known as Northern Norway´s Gran Canaria, Telegrafbukta is the choice location of the annual Tromsø Bay Festival, one of Northern Norway´s most popular music festivals. It has also been the case that every time it´s been decided to gather at Telegrafbukta, the weather decided otherwise. Windy and icy-cold, it gets difficult to hold a coherent conversation when your teeth literally chatter.

Short walk by the beach at Telegrafbukta. Beautiful when warm, but when it gets clouded over and it´s windy, it is cold.

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Lapis lazuli to steel grey, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Spring in Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

When I moved to Tromsø just over a year ago, it challenged the notion I had that tropical Singapore was the only place where you could have rain in your backyard and sunshine in your front yard. This Arctic island city has minute shifting weather. Clear blue skies one minute and in another, clouded over, threatening ice-cold rain against a background of steel grey.

But I´ll take the moments in time. It´s spring. The lapis lazuli of the ocean hypnotizes.

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20200413 April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway

In April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

From the pages of Ken Wilber´s One Taste [1]:

“As the Witness, I-I do not move through time, time moves through me. Just as clouds float through the sky, time floats through the open space of my primordial awareness, and I-I remain untouched by time and space and their complaints. Eternity does not mean living forever in time—a rather horrible notion—but living in the timeless moment, prior to time and its turmoils altogether. Likewise, infinity does not mean a really big space, it means completely spaceless. As the Witness, I-I am spaceless; as the Witness, I-I am timeless. I-I live in eternity and inhabit infinity, simply because the Witness is free of time and space. And that is why I can drink vodka in New York and get drunk in L.A.

So this morning I went jogging, and nothing moved at all, except the scenery in the movie of my life. (p.68)

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Hemgjord leverpastej and pâté de campagne

A Swedish hemgjord leverpastej [1] is a rich spreadable pâté that complements most festive tables in Sweden from Christmas to Easter. Here, it´s served with cumberland sauce and French cornichons.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the midst of my 2019 Christmas marketing in Gothenburg city´s oldest market place, Saluhallen, I picked up by chance, the most wonderful rustic/country pâté made with the livers of duck, chicken and pork. The terrine that sat on the market counter simply read “3 Confit – Duck, Chicken, Pork” and it looked like a fine spreadable pâté. We bought some, took it home for our Christmas table and it was such a treat that I went back to Saluhallen, determined to wrap some to bring with me to Northern Norway for after the New Year´s. But there was none to be had, with the reason given by the charcuterie, “That is a very special dish, we only order it for Christmas.”

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Marina in early April 2020, Tromsø, Northern Norway

April weather in the Arctic. Snow dusted over a thin layer of ice in this marina along the coast of Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Different from the Swedish west coast marinas and Tromsø marinas is how the boats remain moored through the winter season. On my walk this morning, I found several people tending to their boats, doing spring cleaning of sorts on the inside. Temperature outdoors this day is around -3°C with alternating snow and sunshine. Along the Swedish west coast, no one would consider tending to their boats if temperatures were in the minus outdoors.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 marked the spring/vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere. In Tromsø, you can feel daylight stretching to cover more hours over the day. There´s still snow outside but there´s much more sunlight too, which cheers people up some. I wonder if the neighbour´s heavy dragging of metal over the balcony floors meant they were readying the barbeque grills for the summer? Here in the Arctic, seasons don´t really languidly morph from one to another. Overly long winters means that summer rather rushes up at you as a concrete floor to your face when you´re in free fall, so best to bring out those summer things already now.

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20200328 A different bruktbokhandel in Tromsø, Northern Norway

A Saturday used books haul, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the past week, I´ve returned to reading some of Ken Wilber´s works that appear in scientific journal articles. In particular, my favourite paragraph thus far is from an article of his that appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 1982, when Wilber unpacks structural analysis and deep structure in cognitive development:

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Experiential dining onboard the M/S Bjørnvåg, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Standing with the M/S Bjørnvåg co-owner and Chef de Cuisine, Eivind M. E. Austad.
Text & Photo © F. Boije af Gennäs, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

The clear night sky was a velvet obsidian, and the air was winter crisp. Standing dockside in Tromsø harbour whilst waiting for the taxi to arrive, I marveled at how Tromsø night sky shades could range from variations of deep blues to vantablack, depending on the time of year. That the seasonal mørketid is all dark is not true. Experiencing a winter´s night such as this in January and February (just past mørketid), when the region records its lowest annual temperatures, releases in you a feeling of the intense magic associated with living in a city located in the Arctic.

As my taxi left the Tromsø harbour for the main road, I watched how the light from the street lamps lining the Tromsø bridge were mirrored in the water below. I said to the taxi driver, that it was a beautiful winter’s night. “Yes” he replied, keeping his eye on the road. “It is a nice night. But too much snow.” Not hearing any reply, he added with a slight touch of cynicism, “We are near the North Pole you know.” Still looking out through the window, I noted how the boats moored at the quay swayed with the wind. One of them was a beautifully restored wood hulled passenger boat from the 1950s. Its name is M/S Bjørnvåg.

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Dinner at Skarven

At Biffhuset, Skarven, Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

While Tromsø is known for its fresh seafood, in particular, its varieties of fish, sometimes it is that you just crave meat for dinner.

A restaurant that I’ve returned to several times is Vertshuset Skarven. A multi-culinary themed bar and restaurant, Skarven is known for its excellent ambience and friendly customer service. The dim lit and warm interiors of this restaurant are furnished in dark wood, in a colour scheme reminiscent of a different era, such as the use of a deep forest green for their menu hardcovers.

Dinner was fairly simple. An order of beef steak served with sides of potatoes and greens, and a draft beer. It was good.

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Sunday morning breakfast and Tromsø harbour walkabout

Having a morning single shot espresso Capuccino at Scandic Ishavshotel, located along Fredrik Langes gate 2, Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Weekend mornings are a fairly quiet affair at the heart of the city of Tromsø. Visitors from the larger cruise ships are most likely asleep onboard, and around the city centre hotels, there might be one or two tour groups headed off farther inland. On days of fine weather, exploring the surrounding fjords and sightseeing along the coastal regions can render some picturesque postcards for keeps.

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European food fair, Tromsø, Norway

My absolute favourite moment on the Saturday city walkabout. When the perfect song begins to play when you’re at the perfect food stall at the summer food fair in Tromsø. “Sugar, ah honey honey”, The Archies from their album Everything Archie’s. (1969)
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

Tromsø is a little city that sparkles. Almost every other weekend sees some kind of exciting event. This weekend, 1-3 Aug. the Tromsø Skyrace was complemented by more grounded activities such as this petite European food fair held in the small square located adjacent to the city centre’s main shopping mall, Nerstranda. At Torgcentret, some couple of hundred meters from Nerstranda, was an ongoing Saturday farmer’s market and flea market.

This European food fair was exciting. Condensed into a small space, you could literally taste several of Europe’s most famous produce and dishes, from fudge, Belgium waffles served with raw, farm produced honey, to candied dried fruits.

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Art Café Tromsø: A passionate combination of art and food

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ivonne Wilken, Art Café, Tromsø, Norway 2019

At Art Café with Ivonne Wilken in Tromsø, Norway. Ivonne is a writer and artist. Her sculpture exhibition titled “Connections” is currently on display at Art Café, Richard Withs plass 2, 9008 Tromsø, through the months of August and September 2019.
Text & Photo © Art Café, T. Altintzoglou, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The summer months of Tromsø is warm, languid and beautiful. The university is closed for the summer holiday and this makes a marked difference to the atmosphere of this city, that has as its core activities, education, medical expertise and tourism. Tourists still dock off from the majestic looking cruise ships that pass by, but the crowds are fleeting and transient. What is, are the long hours of summer sun, to be enjoyed at one’s own pace if you’re spending your summer here.

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At Art Café Tromsø: Connections by Ivonne Wilken

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ivonne Wilken, Art Café, Tromsø, Norway 2019

At Art Café with Ivonne Wilken in Tromsø, Norway. Ivonne is a writer and artist. Her sculpture exhibition titled “Connections” is currently on display at Art Café, Richard Withs plass 2, 9008 Tromsø, through the months of August and September 2019.
Text & Photo © Art Café, T. Altintzoglou, JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

I met Ivonne Wilken about a year ago, not long after I moved to Tromsø. Born in Emmen, Netherlands, Ivonne studied journalism in Zwolle and anthropology/criminology in Utrecht. She’s a writer, writing in both Dutch and English. You can find her book published in English titled VIS-A-VIS available in Kindle version. She’s also an artist. Her sculpture collection currently on display at Art Café is titled Connections, and it’s a personal exploration and expression of relationships.

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Skrei season in the north of Norway

Skrei season in Norway is during January to April each year. This is when the fish arrives to the northern coast of Norway in order to spawn. In Northern Norway, this seasonal fish is traditionally served as a dish called mølje. As such the fish is boiled together with its liver and roe and served with a side of potatoes and carrots. This particular skrei was captured at Lofoten and bought at the main market square in Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The Norwegian skrei season is a miracle that repeats itself.

For those few unfortunate that are not yet familiar with skrei, it is a North-East Arctic cod that lives in the Barents Sea, in an area enclosed between Franz Josef Land on the north, Novaya Zemlya on the east, and Svalbard on the west. Skrei is the Norwegian word for wanderer.

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Valentine’s at Graffi Grill Tromsø

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The roses were brought out in most flower boutiques here in Tromsø on Sunday 10 February 2019. It was in celebration of Mother’s Day in Norway. The Feast of Saint Valentine which falls on 14 February in celebration of love and friendship, seems a fairly understated affair in Norway, and in particular as observed, in this city in the Arctic Circle. In a walkabout the city centre prior to dinner, I came across one of my favourite flower boutiques. There was a significant absence of bouquets of roses for the Feast of St Valentine’s. The shop had for ready-made bouquets, clusters of chrysanthemum and lily blooms. Roses were available but firmly potted. In Gothenburg, I loved to have tulips at this time of year sitting on the kitchen table in a vase. In Tromsø, four metre high snow walls built from clearing snow off the sidewalks and driveways is not encouraging weather for tulips, even in vases. I did however, bring home a new pet plant from that shop, a ficus elastica robusta.

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Spark, a traditional form of Nordic transportation, Tromsø, Norway

On a Spark (kicksled) in Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The Swedish and Norwegian word spark means kick in English. This ‘winter walker’ has been a small, more lightweight form of transportation since the mid-1800s for the wintry landscapes of northern Scandinavia. An observation between the city of Gothenburg located along the southern southwest coast of Sweden and the Arctic Circle city of Tromsø is how much less gravelling of the snow is done here as compared to Gothenburg. This also means that in the northern regions of Scandinavia, kicksleds come more into use, facilitating longer distances and heavier carrying loads. These kicksleds are crafted from wood, where the seat in front of the kicksled could comfortably accommodate a child whom you’d want along with you if you were in a smaller town or village on a half day’s errand to the market or nearest grocers. In today’s context, kicksleds are used more for recreational purposes, like on this Saturday afternoon, the perfect time to går på tur along the snowy waterfront of this island.

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Tromsø International Snow Festival 2019, Norway

The Tromsø International Snow Festival 2019, 26 January 2019, Stortorget, Tromsø, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

It was just about a week ago, almost immediately following the final movie screenings of the Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF) 2019 that the large market square in the city centre was cleared and up sprang these carved ice-sculptures. Lit in various neon colours for a fantastic light and ice display, these ice sculptures certainly brightened and complemented the still darkened winter sky in this Arctic Circle city.

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Tromsø International Film Festival, TIFF 2019, Norway

At the Edge Sky Bar, Clarion Hotel, for the Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF 2019), Tromsø, Norway. DJ for the TIFF 2019 evening event is Christian Bruun.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

The 29th Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF 2019) is currently ongoing in this Arctic Circle city. Beginning on 14 January and ending on 20 January, the film festival is expected to see over 60 000 thousand visitors to the city of Tromsø. TIFF 2019 draws both local and international visitors to its annual event. It is also an important meeting space / platform for Norway’s local film industry to meet with its international network. An important socio-economic catalyst, in 2018, the film festival generated 26 million NOK in related activities for the local community [1].

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Knekkebrød, a Norwegian variety

Knekkebrød, a Norwegian variety made with different seeds.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

A tiny brown paper package that contained some crispbread / knekkebrød turned up at my kitchen table counter top during a gathering in early December 2018. Next to that was the cheese platter, laid out with different types of honey, fruit marmalade and jam. I assumed that the crispbread was a variety of Wasabröd, except this version was peppered with different types of seed. Wasabröd is a crispbread that is quite ubiquitous in Sweden and I usually pay little attention to it as a food item when grocery shopping. Why eat that when you can have intoxicating kanelbullar dribbled with pearl sugar?

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Coffee as an art form at RISØ Tromsø, Norway

Kawaii cat cappuccino. RISØ Tromsø, Norway, takes coffee customization to the next level.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

If there was a must-visit café in Tromsø, then RISØ, located along Strandgata is it. A walk-past on most days will find this café filled with guests for want of an excellent, personalized cup of coffee. Their cinnamon rolls (closest to Swedish kanelbullar I’ve found here in Northern Norway) and coffee cake are good too.

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Egon Tromsø, Norway

A festive season pizza buffet on a Sunday? Super. At Egon Tromsø Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

The Egon chain was established in 1984 with headquarters in Trondheim. Having worked as a waitress at Chili’s Grill & Bar when they first opened in Singapore prior to my university years, I was skeptical. Due to my experiences in bridging between kitchen and customers at Chili’s, I knew both what to expect and what not to expect at the same time. But any misgiving about bar and grill franchises dissipated stepping into Egon Tromsø. With warm friendly smiles from the service frontline to the complimentary coffee to each meal, I found very little not to like about Egon Tromsø.

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Alice and Indigo M-theory

Christmas light-up in Tromsø, Norway, 2018.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

Alice sat rag doll on the ground her full skirt semi-circling around her knees. Minutes, or was that tens of minutes (?) had passed when Caterpillar with a note of ire in his tone of voice asked, or was that suggested (?), “Contemplating…, Alice”

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Evening out with Olaf, Tromsø, Norway

Me (left) with Olaf.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

It was an evening stroll that led to the serendipitous meeting with Olaf. It had been some years since we last met, and I was delighted to see him standing there with arms outstretched in a welcoming Hello! I returned the warm greeting. It being a chilly night, we noted that it would be tempting to make a cup of hot chocolate and get warm in a blanket with a good book. We agreed however that it was perhaps not something he should do.

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Julebord at ROAST Tromsø Scandic Ishavshotel

Eyes on the view of the harbour that is just outside our table by the window at ROAST Tromsø. We were there for a traditional North Norwegian Christmas table sitting. ROAST restaurant is located at Scandic Ishavshotel, at Fredrik Langes Gate 2.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

This would be my first jultide spent in Northern Norway. It was mentioned several times in the course of various conversations had that the long Norwegian coastline has given rise to slight variations of culinary traditions and Norwegian culture within the country. And I could expect it to be much different from the culinary traditions of the Christmas tables in Gothenburg, along the Swedish west coast. As such, I was curious about the Northern Norwegian julebord or Christmas table. How different is it from the Swedish west coast julbord?

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Arctic Circle light on an October morning, Tromsø, Norway

Arctic Circle (latitude of 66°33′47.3″ N) morning light in October 2018, an intense gemstone colour of orange spinel, Tromsø (69°40′58″N), Norway
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2018

If weather was a significant fika topic in Sweden, the changing light reflected in the Arctic Circle through the seasons captures greater conversation interest over fredagskaffe sessions. These pictures were taken this morning at about 0725 hrs. I sit at Tromsø, staring at a morning sky that streaked an intense gemstone colour of orange spinel to the left over the mountains at Tomasjord. Moving the eyeline from left to right over Tromsdalen, the morning light turned an ametrine bi-colour, cleaving both mountain and ocean at an almost surreal perpendicular. Moving the eyeline further right towards Solligården, the morning light turned gradually into shades of pale amethyst.

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A walk through Tromsø sentrum, Sept 2018

Strandgata, a main shopping street in Tromsø city centre, Norway
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

With houses built from the 1700s that remain standing along narrow cobbled streets close to the waterfront, the city centre of Tromsø makes for romantic evening strolls and compact access. One could spend just about 20 minutes navigating the main shopping street from end to end. And where I have bypassed souvenir gift shops in most other places I have visited, I would certainly recommend visitors to stop by a souvenir shop in Tromsø. Souvenir shops here offer some well crafted, artisan Scandinavian products that range from sustainable fashion made from salmon leather, kitchen wear made from reindeer antlers and natural pure wool throws that is perfect for cooler nights in.

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Culinary journeys in Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø harbour, walking along Sjøgata, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

After the oil and mineral industry in Norway, fish is an USD 11 billion industry in Norway [1], making it the make the second largest industrial sector in the country. Tromsø with its location in the arctic region and access to the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea makes it perfect to serve up some of the world’s freshest seafood on a daily basis. Something of the most prized culinary experience here is to go out on a boat and catch your own white fish, in particular, cod, whose fish stock is currently abundant and has been expanding northward since 2004 [2]. And if not, there are many eateries and resturants around the city centre that serve an array of sustainable seafood that is fresh caught from the Arctic Ocean from king crab (a 2015 Seafood report ranked Red King crab from Norway’s Barents Sea–Pot as best sustainable source [3]) to minke whale meat [4].

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Kristiansand, Norway, summer 2017

Standing in front of the wet market, Kristiansand, Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2017

The initial expectations of a long and tiring drive north along E18 from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Kristiansand in southernmost part of Norway, via the Bastø Fosen ferry between Horten and Moss turned out to be one that was scenic and comfortable. The comforts of a long drive being provided for in terms of a more than adequate number of rest stops, and eateries dotted along the way.

Kristiansand is Norway’s fifth largest city with the sixth largest municipality. The city has about 90,000 inhabitants. A number that can swell to more than a hundred times its local population during the summer months when tourism is at its peak.

Most houses in the city and in its archipelago are beautifully kept, pristine in detail of wood oak panels, generously coated with linseed oil paint in colours of mostly white or earth yellow for houses, and red for boat houses and barnyards. Some barnyards are so large in comparison to the main house that they looked more like mansions in themselves from a distance. Driving along the coast in southern Norway, the small clusters of houses and villages are breathtakingly beautiful. This drive reminded me of the drive along the coastline of the French Riviera some years ago, the houses here being distinctly Nordic in architecture.

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Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene in Oslo, Norway, 2009

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro visiting the Norwegian Miss Model of the World and Miss Tourism Queen International pageant in Oslo, Norway, 2009. Red coat by Patrizia Pepe.
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

A while back I got a call from pageant organizer Peter Hadward in Stockholm, Sweden. He is the national director and franchise owner of most of the beauty pageants there are in Scandinavia. After successfully having “done it all” in the entertainment industry in the 1980s and 90s, he has now settled for the challenging task of coaching young women towards fame and glory in the fashion industry.

During the talk Peter mentioned the upcoming international pageants of Miss Model of the World (MMW) and Miss Tourism Queen International (TQI) that were to be held in Oslo, Norway in early March 2009. He also mentioned the possibility that I could come along and coach a small group of Swedish girls through a real pageant.

The girls would participate outside the real Norwegian competition, but would be allowed to appear on stage and would be modelling sponsored designer dresses
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Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
1 – Dressing and outfit

Natasha showing the dress that later actually is worn by the winner

Natasha, the head stylist, shows the dress that later actually was worn by one of the the winners
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

The trip up to Oslo from Gothenburg was some four hours of relaxed travelling. The roads were good and were being improved along the way as we travelled towards a more and more wintry landscape in southern Norway. We arrived at about 2 pm and after checking in at the Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania, the first thing was to meet up with Peter and his styling team, and to send the girls off to their various appointments.

Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania is one of Oslo’s most modern and comfortable first-class hotels, and is located at the very heart of Oslo. It was a very good choice and was a very pleasant stay. Though we were early, the atmosphere at the meeting place was electric, with the styling team on location and already at work! Continue reading “Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
1 – Dressing and outfit”

Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
2 – Hair and Make-up

Natasha at work, in the hair and make-up room for the girls.
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

After selecting the gowns and being properly fitted, the girls were off to do their hair and make-up. The styling team on location had superb energy and focus, working several hours to get all the girls ready for the event.

The waiting time for hair and make-up gave a pleasant opportunity for the girls to socialize, network and do some girl-talk!
Continue reading “Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
2 – Hair and Make-up”

Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
3 – Stage Rehersal

CMC coaching and giving pageant tips to Katarina (left) and Minna (center) just before the event at Sirkus, Oslo, Norway, 2009.
Photo for CMC by: Jan-Erik Nilsson © 2009.

1. Rehearsal begins

When the dresses were all set, the make-up and hair stylists were done, we proceeded to the event arena, which in this case was Sirkus, the largest club in Oslo which could seat 1,100 guests. Appearing in front of that many people would be scary for anyone. However it now turned out that the seats were distributed over several floors, so the show would be less intimidating for the girls than we initially had feared.
Continue reading “Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
3 – Stage Rehersal”

Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
4 – Crowning and After-Party!

The bartenders were not about to be upstaged by the girls; they offered a brilliant show of their own bartender tricks, juggling bottles, glasses and blenders.
Photo JE Nilsson CM Cordeiro-Nilsson © 2009.

Around 10 pm the crowd started to pour in. The photography crews settled in and representatives from print newspapers as well as on-line journals started to appear and introduced themselves. The lights flashed and the sound checks punched holes in the ambience once in awhile. Girl friends, boyfriends, talent scouts and the hot and successful of the clubbing crowd milled around, settling in the VIP areas and the bought tables.

It wasn’t before long that the music was pumping to a vigorous dance beat and the DJ created new sound waves that got the crowd on their feat before the event began. Everything with the show was rehearsed and planned by now. The second stylist crew was on site and they were busy re-tangling any hair that the rehearsal could have untangled. Continue reading “Beauty Pageants, a peek behind the scene
4 – Crowning and After-Party!”