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!

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!

Drink: Semla Shake

Here’s a great recipe for fettisdagen (the Swedish Mardi Gras). It has all the flavours of semla buns, but none of the time-consuming process of proving and kneading. However, if you’re game for all that, then by all means this cocktail would be amazing paired with the decadent buns! You can omit the custard if you want, but it gives another dimension to the cocktail and hey, it is for Fat Tuesday, after all!

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 Whole carton of Oatly milk/ unsweetened unroasted almond milk
  • 2 Scoops of Swedish Glace (Tofu Line) vanilla Ice cream
  • 3 Shots of Amaretto
  • 2 Shots of vanilla vodka (I used ABSOLUT, naturally)
  • 1⁄2 tsp Ground cardamom
  • 2tbs Oatly custard

To finish:

  • Soy whip
  • Cake crumbs

To make, put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz up until they make a sweet, aromatic cardamom laced cocktail. Get your glasses, in my case a vintage milk bottle, and fill with the mix. Top with some soy whipped cream, but be wary that it doesn’t sink, as it doesn’t behave exactly the way dairy cream does, it’s also a bit heavier.

Garnish with cake crumbs, vegan in my case, left over from a delicious Naturally Kind Food slice and you’re done!

 

Enjoy!

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!

Food: Gulrødspølse

Inspired by my many trips to Denmark, and their national fast food the rødpølse, I’ve made my own vegan version, which is tasty AF and a lot cheaper than sourcing the Danish hotdogs! You’ll often see a pølsevogn (or hotdog cart) on most street corners in Copenhagen!

The ristet hotdog is a rødpølse with many toppings. They are quite an experience to eat, trying to not drop it all on the floor is like a national challenge. Good luck, but it’s worth the challenge!

The recipe is similar to my Currywurst one, so feel free to make double the amount for two different Northern European dirty favourites!

Once again, I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

Remoulade:

  • 3tbs vegan mayo,
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder,
  • 1 small gherkin, chopped,
  • handful of parsley, chopped,
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1tsp sugar,
  • 1tbs finely chopped onion
  • 2 chopped capers

To serve:

  • Ketchup (the Danes have a special hotdog ketchup, which I got from Scandi Kitchen but regular ketchup will also work)
  • Mustard
  • Handful of crispy fried onions
  • 1 Sandwich gherkin or 3-4 gherkin slices
  • 1tbs of chopped onion

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

Remoulade to the Danes is what brown sauce is to Brits or fish sauce is to the Thai, to make this curry infused mayonnaise sauce is rather easy. Simply, add all the ingredients and mix into a creamy, piquant sauce. Once mixed, Set aside.

To cook the hotdogs, simply take them out of the marinade and brown them in a pan, remembering to turn them. Once brown on all sides, they’re ready to load up!

Home your dog in a hotdog bun and top it with all of the toppings. Start with the ketchup, mustard and remoulade. Then the gherkins and the onions.

Serve with some fries or dill potatoes. Traditionally the Danes pair it with chocolate milk (even grown ups!) or a cold bottle of Danish beer like Tuborg.

Velbekommen!

 

Also- If you are in Copenhagen, the D.Ø.P pølsevogn do a cracking vegan hotdog!

 

Design: Styling Christmas

Foregoing the British festive decorative tradition of “more is more” in favour of the Scandinavian monochrome look, our Christmases might look tame in comparison with others. To others they may look sparse, cold or even un-Christmassy. But where an abundance of light and colour can overload the senses, a more selective approach to decorating at Christmas can yield equally cosy results. Here’s a quick look at how I’ve styled our home for Christmas.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Scandinavia is the primary source of my inspiration for the interior of my home: full stop. Monochrome interiors, stark whites, shades of grey and coal black touches here and there typify the genre of interior design. You’d think an abundance of black, white and grey would create a cold environment, but you’ve got to remember that this design ethos comes from cultures who are used to the cold and the darkness of winter. They even have words for cosiness that transcend what we take for granted in its meaning. In fact entire books have been written on the subject of hygge and mys that they’ve passed into the subconscious of coffee table discussion.

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There is no more hyggelig a time of year than Christmas and an  absence of abundant colour does not mean an absence of warmth. This year in fact I decided to incorporate the teal of our Made.com Jonah sofa and armchair (last year I had them temporarily upholstered in black for the Christmas period). Colour is unavoidable – there’s the inevitable green of whatever tree or greenery you’re introducing, but then there are the inevitable colours of your furniture. It’s all about arranging what you have to create the mood or atmosphere that you want.

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On the coffee table I decided to create a winter forest of candles with Kähler hammershøi candle holders, my white tree from Flying Tiger, the tree candles I got from Denmark last October, the numerous tea light holders I got from H&M home and the Ittala Kivi. Dotted among the “trees” is a little plywood Moomin from Lovi, a stag and some DIY nisse I picked up from Søstrene Grene. The composition is designed to echo the “forest” of Ittala Festivo candle holders sitting resplendent on the sideboard. When the whole thing is lit the effect is extremely hyggelig.

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Our tree is a simple five footer decorated with home-made Himmeli made from black and white paper straws, the idea for these came from Nalle’s house. We’ve also made baubles from black and white patterns printed on card and formed into shape with wire (also from Nalle’s house). A single set of 6 wooden baubles break up the pattern white one set of 100 lights bring light to the tree. Sitting above the tree is our silver star decoration that we got from Home Bargains (of all places!). Clearly intended as a free hanging decoration, the star makes a perfect tree topper to complete the look.

The trick when styling monochrome is to balance heavy and light tones. The easiest way of doing this is by combining tea lights such as glass votives like the Snowballs from Kosta Boda, with a repeated thematic focal point like the himmeli decorations on the tree, which then tie in with the geometric artwork on the walls like the print from Emerybloom, the Kubus candle holder or the Kähler Omaggio vase in the corner. Humour can be used tastefully throughout the arrangement too. As I mentioned in a previous article, the santa hat for the Kay Bojesen monkey was an absolute must while the presence of the white Hoptimist by designer Gustav Ehrenreich gives a breath of life to the stark colour palette. From the opposite side of the room from the tree, the piercing eyes of our Olle Eksell print gaze out across the room, while in the corner sits the Normann Copenhagen tray table, which I’ve mentioned about styling here.

The monochrome shades of the pillows on the sofa and armchair sit beautifully against the teal. I’ve used the combination of a simple grey throw and plain grey cushions from IKEA’s GURLI range, a cushion that we recently picked up from Copenhagen (only 60 Kr!) and my Fine Little Day Gran cushion which keys in with the other patterns, holding the arrangement together. You’ll often find when styling a space that one or two pieces go on to influence a look for a space. The armchair sports a cute mountain cushion from Lagerhaus and the cross cushion from Zana Products.

Monochrome doesn’t have to be oppressive or joyless. In fact I would strongly argue that it’s a smart and surprisingly dynamic avenue to pursue precisely because it runs counter to common consensus. The only drawback is that currently the UK doesn’t really offer much in the way of readily available monochrome ornaments or decorative pieces. Over here black is always paired with gold and silver with white and there the creativity ends. As such, much of my collection has been sourced from abroad. I hope you’ve found some form of inspiration to try something new next year. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and regularly begin sourcing pieces in advance. Be daring, take the plunge and go monochrome.

 

Design: Top 10 for Christmas 2016

 

This is my pick of design pieces and gift ideas that will give your interior some definite Scandi style this Christmas!

 

1.Kay Bojesen santa hat for small monkey

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Fun & beautifully designed, this would make an awesome gift for a design lover! Made from solid hand-painted beech, this little santa hat is perfect for getting your Kay Bojesen monkey (and other wooden animals!) into the festive mood!

Available here.

2. Moomin Winter 2016 mug by Arabia Finland

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This years mug features more scenes from Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter (1957) and feature Hemulen, Sorry-oo, Moomin and the Snowhorse. It’s a fab gift for any Moomin lover, or Scandiphile and would look perfect, filled with hot cocoa to heat up in this cold period!

Available here.

3. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

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One of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tales and some of the source inspiration of Disney’s Frozen, this chilly tale is a perfect Christmas read, made even better by the new illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Known for her collaborations for Marimekko, this is Annukka’s second HCA book, with her illustarted version of The Fir Tree, out 2012. The art is stunning and the deep blue cloth binding really gives you the chilly winter vibe, its simply amazing!

Available here.

4. IKEA VINTER 2016 decorations

 

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Usually the UK (in my opinion) lags behind in the Christmas decoration game, compared to Scandinavia, where you can get Traditional busy, red decorations and also sleek monochrome ones too. well, welldone IKEA for bringing these chic, paired back decs to GB!

-I love the origami styling that would look perfect with the Issey Miyake x Iittala collection!

Available here/ in store.

5.Moomin advent calendar

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This Advent calendar has 24 little Moomin figurines by Finnish company Martinex. I’m in love with it and I wish I had got one!!

Available here.

6.Sarah Edmonds Sami pattern tote

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Sarah is an illustrator based in Worthing and has illustrated for Humble by Nature, the books A Dylan Odyssey & Coming to England, Roald’s Cardiff map for Roald 100, maps for Tranås and exhibited in Fika, a Swedish eatery in shoreditch, London. She extensively travelled the Nordic countries, and was inspired from her travels through Lapland and Sapmi to create this tote. The zig-zag patterns come from Sami textiles and would look great stuffed full of books!

Available here.

7. IKEA STRÅLA LED candle bridge

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Usually I’m not the biggest fan of candle bridges, but once again IKEA are knocking it out of the park with this! The STRÅLA candle bridge looks sleek and very modernist with its stylish black powder-coated steel curves. It could perfectly suit a modern home and be a stand-out piece in a more Traditional home.

Available here / in store

8. Origami-Est topper

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Available here.

Origami-Est are a small company based in Kent, that make folded paper ornaments, lightshades and books/stationary. At least 10% of the proceeds are donated to Stop the Traffik, a charity helping the victims of traffiking, which is cool AF!

As well as all of that, Esther has released a Christmas collection of cards, ornaments and this tree topper. A Simple folded paper star, with a choice of coloured stars and ribbons, it is sure to look great on top of the tree, whether it be real or artificial!

9.Let’s Hygge print by Gillian Gamble

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Gillian Gamble is a talented artist/ illustrator based in County Durham, but grew up in Dundee, Scotland. Gillan nods to her home city in her prints of Dundee marmalade jars. She has illustrated two books The Listening Stone and I Love St Andrews, and has a variety of well executed art styles. Seen as ‘hygge’ one of 2016’s buzzwords, she’s decided to do a little print of a hyggelig scene. Simple & cute, it perfectly captures what hygge is about!

Perfect for cosying up the house in cold winter, or as a gift for the person you’d like to hygge with!

Available here

10.Young Double Dolls

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Handmade dolls from the British company, Young Double. Cute & stylish monochrome buddies, they are perfect to add a touch of stylish quick to your interior or a Perfect gift for some chic children. With 4 different screen printed characters to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect companion with these!

 

Available here.