Thursday, September 25, 2014

Falling into autumn

I jumped into fall last night, literally. Here I am, taking the plunge:

my jump

Beneath me is the cold darkness Stockholm has become since Sunday afternoon. What happened to our Indian summer? My knuckles are already cracking. Our windows are already shut. It would help if our building would turn on the heat at least.

My literal jump was at an event last night sponsored by the Nike Training Club. We got free t-shirts, worked out, and then each participant had the opportunity to hop off a, say, 30-foot-high platform onto a gigantic cushion of air. It was terrifying and invigorating. 

When jumping from high places - usually into water - I go through a painful Thinking Process, starring out over the edge for, on average, 10 minutes. I've never backed down, but it certainly doesn't get easier the longer I wait. 

Last night, I wasn't nervous as I climbed the 4 shaky ladders of the scaffolding to the top. It was when the man up there said "rumpa först" (butt first) that I started sweating. That doesn't really work for me, I tried to explain, my heart racing. 

Dozens of fitness-crazed girls were waiting their turn to jump behind me, so climbing down wasn't really an option. I almost did anyway until GK saved the day and started counting - One - focus - two - stop thinking! - three - goooooo!

If you zoom in on my face, you'll see pure terror. Also note the half-hearted attempt at rumpa först. It didn't go so well, but fortunately my landing was pain free.

And there's my dose of courage for the week - thanks NTC!

GK's jump

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Once you pop...

I know my last post was about food, but I'm hungry and there's 2 1/2 liters of ice cream in the freezer and I just can't help myself, okay?

So last May, we moved to the north shore of a lovely island called Kungsholmen in central Stockers (not sure if I wrote about that bit of happening, but now you know). Anyways, we happen to live dangerously close to one of the best ice cream stores I've ever been to. I'm talking 12 flavors of fresh, homemade ice cream every day. Fryst it's called (frozen in Swedish). And it takes about 23 seconds to walk there, our door to theirs. 

our first trip to Fryst this summer

With this in mind, you'll probably be surprised to know that it was over 3 months after we moved that we first indulged in Fryst's creamy goodness. But since then, it's been hard to resist. Once you pop...

And so it's come to be that I have one half liter of toffee and another of cardamom rhubarb. The flavors may sound a bit random, but Swedes love their cardamom and rhubarb's in season, so here we are.

While I'm on the subject of toffee, I must let you all in on another discovery I made around my office on Stockholm's Södermalm island last week (see #3 in Vogue's list of the coolest neighborhoods in the world). 

I was wandering around and came upon a tiny, dark shop connected to a glass-front candy laboratory. Walking in was a time-warp to the 1950's - a typewriter on the table, a scalloped sofa in the corner, a Fats Domino tune on the radio, and - tons of toffee. Hard and soft, jarred and wrapped. They even had free samples (a true rarity in Sweden). It was Pärlans Konfektyr, and their product did not disappoint.

I brought home a small paper bag full of different flavored toffees, and miraculously, they lasted until yesterday when we finished them off. I would go back every day if it weren't for the price tag .... or maybe I will anyway... 

Is it dinner time yet?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spicy tuna and maple apple granola

This week has been about food. Most weeks are I guess, but this one in particular. Food and an Indian summer. Indian summers don't happen often in Stockholm, so we've got to savour it for the short while it's here or ... ooops there it goes....

Let's get back to the food bit. From playing kubb barefoot on the softest grass imaginable in an apple orchard to making maple apple granola in my very own kitchen - it's all about kicking off fall the right way. Just remember to put a timer on the granola. No one likes burnt granola. (Thankfully I was able to salvage most of it.)

While we're on the subject of making things in the kitchen, I also discovered the easiest, healthiest "ice cream" imaginable (thanks MS!). Pop some pieces of frozen banana in a blender for, say, 3 minutes. And viola - you've got banana "ice cream". I don't know how it happens, but you must trust me. My love affair with bananas just reached a whole new level.

With regards to foods outside of my own kitchen, I have 3 words for you: vegetarian buffet and sushi. One of my favourite restaurants in Stockholm must be Herman's. It's situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking where the sea meets the old city, and serves dozens of rotating vegetarian dishes daily. Unfortunately for me, self-control when it comes to buffets (or any food really) is not my strong suit. Let's just say it was a good thing my ride home on Friday night was downhill. 

On Saturday, we indulged at what I can confidently say is Stockholm's best sushi restaurant: Ljunggrens [yoon-grens]. Drinks to start on the rooftop, followed by spicy tuna and edamame below. A match made in heaven.

Tune in later as my culinary adventures continue. And I can also happily report that I'm enjoying the creating part of food more and more, rather than just the eating.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's that red crustacean-eating, hat-wearing, song-singing time of year again

If you're thinking Maryland blue crabs, you're close. It's Sweden's version of a crab feast: crayfish! They're messy and delicious. Dill instead of Old Bay, snaps instead of beer... or maybe both. And singing, of course! 

Saturday night's tunes ranged from the traditional crayfish party melodies to Pocahontas' Colors of the Wind. Why not? 

snaps drinking in action

If there's one thing that makes the end of a Swedish summer bearable, I'd have to say it's a crayfish party, or kräftskiva in Swedish. The days are still long and there's still time for a cocktail on the terrace before heading inside for the main event.

The main event involves tiny tongs and knives to crack the red shell and dig deep into the crayfish's small crevices. But it's really all about the tail, which has a big chunk of meat waiting to be inhaled. Be prepared to get covered in smelly crayfish juices and maybe get a few cuts on your fingers in the process - a small price for such a delicious delicacy. 

Our evening continued with charades (thanks MMD!) and more wine and later on, me slipping away for a cat nap in the early hours of the morning. 

A wonderful evening to end a gorgeous Swedish summer...