Update: We are moving to Malmö!

My Facebook friend’s know and a few other people, so just in case you haven’t heard yet, I will be moving to Malmö in late July/ early August.

Tom has got a job teaching in nearby Lund, at Lund International school and as for myself & jobs, I have a few things up my sleeve 😉  Lund, btw is a stunning university town, home to one of Europe’s most prestigious of Uni’s, Lunds universitet. Only being roughly 10 minutes away from Malmö on the train, if you come visit Skåne, take some time to see Lund!

Jag kan inte vänta! (I can’t wait!)

I’m writing this morning, with news that the Brexit Bill put forward by PM Theresa May passed in The House of Lords last night, with no amendments to the original Bill; which doesn’t guarantee EU citizens rights living over here. It doesn’t guarantee for people who have set up their homes and families in the UK, who have paid their taxes. Instead, it will no doubt use EU citizens & their rights as bargaining chips when the negotiations start with the European Union and its 27 members. We will be effected by this, but It is better to try before the whole opportunity for young, working class people like myself to live & work within the EU fades into the ether.

The language isn’t much of a barrier, with Malmö being both in Sweden, where proficiency in English is impeccable, and it being a World city, I can get around with my English. However, this does not mean I’m not going to learn Swedish. Being interested in languages it’s a must. Having been learning the language on & off for years, now is the time to get my head down and learn it!

I have wanted to move to Norden for years and visiting Copenhagen/ Malmö 3 times in the last 12 months I had truly fallen in love with it! So before Brexit totally stops us, we are trying. We cannot do more than simply try.

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A reason I love Malmö is how multi-cultural it is! Supposedly the city is home to people from 170 countries of this world. Which is bloody fantastic! It is so important, in these times, seeing the rise of Rightwing populism and xenophobic rhetoric and attitudes, that we expose ourself to as many cultures as  we can. Hopefully then, people will humanise eachother which stops the main strategy of the current Right; to de-huminise and see people from different nationalities as ‘other’ and usually, therefore, lesser.

Being only across the bridge from Copenhagen (and a hell of a lot cheaper!) loads of infrastructure has crossed over. So, whilst Copenhagen is the top city for cyclists in the world, Malmö is also in the Top Ten.

Ever since the Öresundsbron/Øresundsbroen  (the setting for the Nordic Noir drama, The Bridge) opened in July, 2000, Malmö has benefitted from being Linked to it’s Danish sis. These days Malmö is a young, creative city, reportedly one of the most inventive cities in the world. So much is happening these days, so many startups! Like the Studio Malmö, or Media Evolution City.  Malmö even, recently hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, following singer, Loreen taking the crown in Baku, Azerbaijan with her song ‘Euphoria’.

 

As a foodie, the city seems like heaven for me! There’s new places popping up all the time, providing great food/ drink. From the new gourmet/ artisan food market, Saluhall, Djäkne kaffe, a quality coffee shop & great place for fika, the HQ of one of the most innovative vegan brands in the world, Oatly to Wunderchef, a new innovative food delivery service, serving up home-cooked food.

Or for the restauranteur, there’s, Michelin starred, Bastard, to amazing concept canteen, Saltimporten. You can pretty much get any cuisine in the city, with it being so diverse. The shawarma you can get there, is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and as a Brit, thinking i’ll miss the unctuous cuisine of back home, well no fear, theres even a fish & chip shop in Malmö. I love it!

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And as a design lover, it’s simply amazing. Being only 30 mins from the Design Mecca that is Copenhagen, you are spoilt for choice in Malmö. There are plenty of design & interior shops, written about here. The city is home to Scandinavia’s tallest structure, The Turning Torso, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. There is also the Form Design Center, home to the famous and coveted Cocoa Ögon poster by Midcentury master, Olle Eksell. The city is home to my friend’s design brand, Emerybloom. Check them out if you’re looking for amazing prints for your interior! Malmö even has its own Moderna Museet, it’s like the Comparison between Malmö and Stockholm; Stockholm is bigger, Malmö is smaller, but both are as cool as eachother!

 

I cannot wait to move! If you haven’t noticed I’ve fallen completely in love with the city;

Jag älskar dig malmo! Ses Snart!

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Food: Vegan Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød, (lit. butter and bread), or open faced sandwiches, are an iconically Danish dish, but much of their popularity is due to a recent renaissance thanks to Adam Aaman’s Deli and Takeaway. Before that, their heyday was during the 19th century when they were eaten in Copenhagen restaurants by men playing cards. These days they’ve become an art form in themselves, each sandwich carefully constructed like ‘Nordic sushi’.

Using my recipe for Vegan gravlax I decided to come up with some classic combos. Smørrebrød needs good bread base so I bought a seeded rye rugbrød from Brød in Cardiff. The smør (butter) element is just as important to the dish as the bread, so make sure you layer each slice with a generous spread of your favourite butter, Vegan in my case. Spread liberally, In Denmark they say you should ‘spread corner to corner’.

Here are three classic varieties.

For the laks you’ll need:

  • 4 slices of Vegan gravlax,
  • Sprig of dill
  • 4 slices of cucumber salad,
    • Half a cucumber, sliced finely
    • 4tbsp sugar
    • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
    • some mustard seeds; some black peppercorns
    • Handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
    • a few bay leaves and a splash of water.

To make the cucumber salad simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and leave to do their thing for an hour or two at least. It’s best to leave them for longer so the cucumber has time to soften a bit. I make mine up and leave them in the fridge as they last for ages.

To assemble, simply combine artfully & garnish with a sprig of dill 😀

For the kartoffel, you’ll need:

  • 3 medium new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced into coins,
  • A dollop of vegan cream cheese,
  • A spoonful of seaweed caviar (available from IKEA),
  • Sprinkle of crispy onions,

For the cream cheese I used Oatly’s PåMackan that I brought back from my trip to Malmö. Sadly it’s a Scandi exclusive for the time being but any Vegan cream cheese would work. I personally like the one from Bute Island Foods.

Again, to assemble, simply layer artfully with the potatoes at the bottom.

For the Levepostej og rødbeder, you’ll need:

  • 2tbs of Vegan leverpostej (see below),
  • 3 pieces of crinkle cut pickled beetroot,
  • 1tbs of chopped parsley,
  • 3 rings of lingonberry pickled onions:
    • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandolin,
    • 1tbs lingonberry cider vinegar (IKEA),
    • 1tbs lingonberry syrup (IKEA),
    • A splash of water,

Again, the pickled onions benefit from having been made in advance, but an hour or two will do. As for the leverpostej (liver pate), this was a bit harder to replicate. It’s a classic Danish ingredient but for a Vegan it requires a degree of creativity! I used the mushroom pate from Suma, which is very rich and delivers that meaty body that you need. To give it the classic pink hue I simply mixed in some pickled beet juice! Hey presto – a convincing alternative is born.

Enjoy your smørrebrød with a shot of cold snaps – oh, and don’t forget to use cutlery! (It’s a faux pas to pick them up with your hands in Denmark :P)

SKÅL!

Check out my post on Gastro Gays’ blog!

Hey guys,

Recently the lovely Russell & Patrick from Gastro Gays did a piece on 16 Scandinavian and Nordic places to drink & eat in London, in the run up to Melodifestivalen (Sweden’s competition to find this year’s Eurovision entry) and of course, The Eurovision Song contest, which will be in Kyviv, Ukraine in May.

As I’m a lover of all things Nordic, I gave them a few more recommendations on Scandi spots in both London, and closer to home here in Wales.

Check it out at:

http://gastrogays.com/scandi-london/

I hope you like!

Design: Emerybloom Christmas Shop

I’ve featured Emerybloom before in a previous post, but, in case you’re reading for the first time here’s a run down:

Emerybloom of Sweden are a small, online design company based in Malmö, Sweden comprising of Gareth Emery and Mysan Hedblom (hence the name). Established in 2014 they’ve gone from strength to strength over the past few years building on their original range of high quality geometric prints to include teas, totes, cards for different occasions and even beach towels! There are even a few Welsh inspired prints, a stylish nod to Gareth’s Swansea roots. Both Gareth and Mysan are Falmouth graduates who are artists in their own right but collaborate for Emerybloom.

The look of the work is stunning, that’s worth getting out there before saying anything else. On trend, crisp and sophisticated, the prints make a bold and elegant statement with their sharp lines and distinct use of colour and geometric patterns.

Their Christmas shop this year is full of new additions such as a new range of teas from Swedish brand Teministeriet in addition to new totes and a range of  Christmas cards.

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Their new collection of cards features their signature geometric style, whilst taking inspiration from typical seasonal Scandi symbols, whether from a simple handwritten ‘God Jul’ (Merry Christmas) or the Finnish (and pan-Scandinavian) himmeli Christmas ornament design.

Every year Emerybloom produce a limited run of a piece, the profits of which are donated to charity. This year their grey, fractal patterned Rudolph print sports the “God Jul” message at the bottom.

One of many things I love about the company is their attention to detail and the quality of the individual elements. To be fair, we are talking high-end execution here, but it’s nice to know that everything from the quality of the paper to the choice of environmentally friendly envelopes has been thought of.

Last year I styled their Rudolph print into the decor, which gives a sprinkle of traditional seasonal red whilst remaining stylish and paired-back.

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Seeing the himmeli cards and seeing as our Christmas décor is full of geometric, monochrome imagery (which definitely included himmeli) I had to get some. They came last week, I loved them so much I needed to have one framed – I’ve been waiting to show you guys how it looks, as I only picked it up on Saturday! It’s small, but bloody lush!

I’d recommend a nice long peruse their prints, bespoke prints and Christmas shop. If you want some in time for christmas then order by December 10th! If you’re looking for something new to base a look around, or perhaps looking for a smart focal point for a room then perhaps Emerybloom has something for you.

https://www.emerybloom.com

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Design & Food: Nordic Berlin: The Nordic influence on the German Capital

Recently I went on a cultural exchange trip to Berlin with University, funded by DAAD. Whilst there I noticed the Nordic influence on the city. Whether it’s my Scandi-obsessed mind I don’t know, but I found many influences from the Northern lands on the German Capital.

Architecture

 

 

It is possible to see the Nordic influence within Berlin,with some of its architectural destinations.

 

The Hansaviertel complex, near the Tiergarten has some of the best examples of mid 20th century architecture in the country, Interbau, a competition devised in 1957, for the world’s best architects to come up with a building each, within the complex. Here, you’ll find buildings from the Scandinavian masters of functionalism; Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen and Kay Fisker, along with other international tour-de-forces such as Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier and the famous Bauhaus school founder, Walter Gropius. In recent years, they have uncovered- and restored, a mural on the pavilion of the Aalto building. This mural, is a wave of sinuous, organic lines, that references his famous piece of design, the Savoy vase- now produced by Iittala.

 

Built in 1999, the Nordic Embassies in Berlin house all the diplomatic buildings of the Nordic countries, shoulder to shoulder. Devised by architects Alfred Berger and Tina Parkkinen, the embassies,- all designed by teams of different architects have been arranged geographically, each one reflecting the qualities of each nation. For instance the use of Milk glass in the Norwegian Embassy, references the glaciers of the Norwegian landscape. The Swedish and Danish Embassies proudly display the materials of their homelands, with the Swedish Embassy using white Gotland limestone, and the Danish Embassy highlighting its use of warm wood, and contrasting cold steel- its trademark materials, made famous internationally. The Icelandic Embassy, features a floor, paved with large lava tiles, which are illuminated below with a red light- giving the impression of the stark, volcanic landscape of the country. The Finnish Embassy, even includes two saunas- a nod to the compulsory national past-time of Finnish life. At the heart of the building complex is the Felleshus, or the Pan Nordic Building- which combines a space for exhibition, conference rooms, canteen, auditoriums- for all of the Embassies- and the general public, too. Using a mixture of Nordic materials, this building, expresses the unity of the Nordic countries.

 

The Nordic influence on Berlin can even be seen in the most German of all buildings; The Reichstag Building, housing the Bundestag. Along with the amazing architecture of Norman Foster, the Danish architect Per Arnoldi designed the concept of all the doors and the protocol room.

 

 

 

Shopping

 

Being a capital, Berlin is a shopping haven. The Scandinavian influence shines no less here, with so many Nordic brands to choose from. If you’re looking for clothes shops, stores such as H&M, COS, ECCO, Monki and Marimekko are for you. Design lover? You’re spoilt for choice with stores such as Scandinavian Objects, Iittala, Bolia and Bo Concept. Not forgetting that the big department store,

KaDeWe, stocking the Scandi favourites such as Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Ferm Living, Design House Stockholm and Georg Jensen.

 

 

 

Food & Drink

If you’re fed up with currywurst and pommes and looking for something a bit more Northern in flavour, then the restaurant Munch’s Haus on Bülowstraße is worth a shout. Serving up Norwegian traditional fair, with a twist, I’d recommend a visit!

 

A place that is equally popular in Berlin, as they are in the Nordic countries, is the humble liquorice shop. Loved by Northern Euopeans alike, these small confectionary shops are where you go for your fix of the black gold, or rather salty, black gold- flavoured with Salmiak ( an ammonium salt). In Berlin, Kadó, is where you go. An institution for 18 years, they stock a variety of liquorice products, from subtle Italian stuff, to the punchy (and tongue numbing) Icelandic and Finnish liquorice.

 

Just fancy something light with a coffee? Then look no further than the Oslo Kaffe Bar, at the Nordic Embassies. Wether you’d like to have a ‘kaffee pause’,‘kaffe og kaker’,‘fika’ or ‘kaffee og kage’, the act of having something small, with a coffee (or tea) and an opportunity to catchup with friends is an institution all over Northern Europe. The Oslo Kaffe Bar is a great place to do it too! Sip a well made latte, and eat buttery, cinnamon filled pastries amongst great pieces of design, such as Jacobsen’s iconic Swan chairs. There’s nothing better, I dare you!
 

 

Miscellaneous

 

A few more Nordic influenced perusings on this trip:

 

When the group and I had an opportunity to bake for students at a school, I noticed their cupboards stocked with Rosti Mepal cookware. They seem to be very popular here. Once two brands, Danish Rosti and Dutch Mepal, the companies were combined in 1976. In 1950 the Swedish Sigvard Bernadotte and the Danish Acton Bjørn designed the Margrethe bowl. This stackable mixing bowl, named Margethe after the queen of Denmark, is now in many homes across Northern Europe and Berlin and is a Design classic.

At the U-bahn station in the Gesundbrunnen district, you’ll find a beguiling sight. Osloer Straße isn’t just named after the Norwegian capital, as architect Rainer G. Rümmler designed the station emblazoned with the Norwegian flag, since its conception in 1973.

 

 

Food: Chocolate & liquorice pinwheels

With the huge influx of Nordic stuff on TV recently, heres a handy recipe for a pastry perfect for watching the latest Scandi drama (with a kaffe of course- a la Fika) 😉

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 4tbs of homemade chocolate & liquorice ganache (made here)
  • 1tsp soy milk
  • 50g soft eating liquorice, chopped finely

To glaze:

  • 2 tsp soy milk

 

Making could not be easier! Simply, unroll a pack of pre made puff pastry and keep it on the paper lining – this will make cleaning up much easier. Spread the ganache, mixed with a little soya milk, evenly over the pastry and sprinkle as liberally as you like with small, chopped nuggets of liquorice. Using a pizza cutter (knives have a tendency to bunch the pastry and make life difficult) cut the pastry into 6 or 8 strips, depending on how tall you want them, and roll into individual spirals. Dab a little soya milk on each one for a glaze.

Place them evenly and spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook at 180c for 12 to 15 minutes – or until golden brown. The coils should unravel and begin to burst at the seams. Serve warm with coffee.

Enjoy Fika!

Design & Food: Our Trip to Copenhagen part II (i)

The second day was a very important day indeed, it was my 22nd birthday! So we had planned to cram in as much as possible. On Theis’ recommendation it was off to Nørreport to a food hall called Torvehallerne. He recommended it to us when we told him about Borough market, in London. A quick hop on the train from Forum and we were there. It’s around the corner from the station, so it wasn’t long before my rumbling tummy was sated. You can’t miss it too, with its glass box construction reflecting the sun’s light. We got there quite early, most of the stalls hadn’t yet opened, but the ones that had were good enough!

Stopping for a coffee and some wienerbrød, this was an amazing start to my birthday. We both shared some snegl (a cinnamon swirl) and a Træstamme ( a marzipan & rum flavoured cake). It was amazing, and the coffee complimented the warm spicy tones of the snegl.

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Another stall which was open (only just!) was the liquor & vinegar seller. As soon as I saw it, I had to get some real akvavit/ snaps. The only Scandinavian liquor I can get readily back home is the akvavit from IKEA in Cardiff, so to get proper stuff was a must! I had plans of using it for my Danish themed christmas, to serve with the starter of smørrebrød. Buying it was a bit weird though. As myself and Tom had gone ‘hand luggage only’ we were limited to a max of 100ml to take home with us, which wasn’t enough, so we bought two 100ml bottles albeit being more expensive than the 200ml bottle. Oh well! The small bottles are a lot cuter.

Our last stop at the food hall was at a food stall Grød (meaning porridge). Now, don’t get me wrong porridge is ok, it’s healthy and filling etc but it can be a bit boring. Not here! The Danes have taken porridge and given it some well needed pizzazz. Already filled up on pastries we didn’t have enough room for a bowl each, but we had to try some. Put before us, two spoons, ice cold milk puddling in the steaming hot oat porridge, and the toppings!  Roasted almonds, crunchy fresh apple and a big dollop of sickly sweet dulce de leche. More of a dessert than a breakfast. But, a perfect Bday treat.

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Wanting to burn off a little of the food before our next destination we decided to scout the area, popping into a few of the shops nearby. The thing about Denmark, even their cheap shops are pretty stylish. Whereas back home, to find something stylish in our little ‘pound shop’ style stores is like finding a needle in a haystack. Design in Scandinavia is taken so seriously that it has filtered down to cater for all budgets. I found some awesome little grid pattern glass pots for 15 DKK (£1.50) that were just calling out to be filled with salt scrub. Oh and this happened.

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Time was ticking on, so we made a move and hopped on the next train to Louisiana art gallery.  The scenery on the train journey was a pleasant surprise, as we passed many residential areas of the outer boroughs of Copenhagen, which you wouldn’t normally see on a city break holiday. Stopping at the Humblebæk station, you’d never think that were were in the midst of a cutting edge modern art gallery. The surrounding  area was well, very quaint. A quiet suburb with lots of big wooden houses (stained black) with immaculate gardens and the odd Danish flag. But sure enough, around the corner, by a wall of trees in their Autumnal glory it stood there camouflaged in a skin of ivy. The trees in hues of ochre, umber and russet contrasted beautifully with the bright green of the gallery.

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Adding to the Autumnal tones were three big statues in bronze of gourds and pumpkins by Japanese Pop artist Yaoi Kusama. Bespeckled with her trademark polkadot pattern, these were a taster of what we had come to see, a retrospective of her works, as well as the gallery’s extensive permanent collections.

– In the next post I’ll describe and review the gallery, the exhibitions and my birthday meal, courtesy of my childhood friend and her Danish partner.