Ahlströms Konditori: A Century-Old Tradition and the Allure of Semla Season

Variations of the semla at Ahlströms Konditori, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2024

In the vibrant heart of Gothenburg lies Ahlströms Konditori, a revered institution since 1901. Renowned for capturing the essence of Swedish baking traditions, the café becomes a focal point as it welcomes the semla season, especially with Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) approaching on February 13, 2024. Here, the semla is not just a seasonal treat; it’s a culinary emblem of Swedish heritage, celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

The Swedish semla, distinct from its European counterparts, is a testament to simplicity and quality. Known for its cardamom-spiced wheat bun, each semla is meticulously crafted. The bun, with its top artfully cut off, is filled with a rich blend of milk and almond paste, and then crowned with a generous dollop of whipped cream. The cut-off top, serving as a lid, is delicately dusted with powdered sugar, completing this exquisite pastry.

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Exploring the Heart of Kaunas: Laisves Aleja, Lithuania

At Laisves Aleja, Kaunas, Lithuania.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2023

It’s my first time in Lithuania, and I’m marveling at the broad streets that give a sense of pure luxury in having space to oneself. Laisves Aleja in Kaunas is the main pedestrian street that reminds me of Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona. It stretches impressively straight and long, framed at one end by the beautiful Church of St. Michael the Archangel. This boulevard is the lifeline of Kaunas, offering a kaleidoscope of shops and experiences.

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Fika and Fortuity: Unexpected Conversations in a Swedish Café

Ahlströms Konditori, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2023

In the serene ambiance of a quaint café in Sweden, where the scent of espresso blends with the sweetness of pastries, Tim and Sara were deeply engrossed in a conversation. Their dialogue, sprinkled with dark humor and introspective thoughts on living alone, was about to take an unexpected turn due to the interjection of a neighboring patron, a rare occurrence in a culture that values personal space.

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Christmas Dining in the Bay of the North Sea, Sweden






By the fireplace at Långedrags Värdshus

By the fireplace at Långedrags Värdshus, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2023

What I find mildly amusing for julbord experience is how I often playfully break the traditional Swedish julbord dining rules. While a typical julbord is savored in a specific order, starting from cold dishes to warm ones and finally to desserts, I slightly revel in mixing all my dishes according to whim. This unorthodox approach might raise eyebrows among julbord purists, but thankfully, my friends, with whom I’ve shared many a traditional Swedish julbord, have always been patient and indulgent towards my culinary quirks. Whether it’s starting with a sweet treat or mixing savory and sweet in one plate, they understand and even appreciate my guilty pleasure of having whatever I want to eat, in whichever order I desire. This liberty to choose, to mix and match, adds an extra layer of joy to the already delightful julbord experience at Långedrags Värdshus.

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Stalking Louis Vuitton since 2006

Copenhagen, Denmark, 2023

At the historic Stork Fountain on Amagertorv, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2023

Louis Vuitton and Danish Design: An Evening Stroll Through Copenhagen’s Legacy

Copenhagen, Denmark’s vibrant capital, is not just a city of historical landmarks but also a beacon of iconic design. Renowned for its minimalist aesthetics, functionalism, and timeless appeal, Danish design has etched its mark on the global stage. Amidst this design-rich backdrop, the presence of Louis Vuitton, a brand emblematic of luxury and craftsmanship, seems complementary.

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A Glimpse into Skördefest Harvest Festival 2023 at Tjolöholmslott, Sweden

At the food truck arena at Skördefest Tjolöholmslott 2023, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

The late summer warmth was still noticeable as I walked through the grounds of Tjolöholmslott, also known as Tjolöholm Castle, during the Skördefest, or Harvest Festival of 2023.

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Sea to table: Salmon from the Faroe Islands, Denmark

Salmon from Hiddenfjörd, Faroe Islands, Denmark, topped with a sliver of dill from our garden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

It’s been a while since I’ve delved deep into the origins of the fish gracing my dinner plate. Just a few days ago, I found myself at a bustling fish wagon in west central Gothenburg, pondering my choices for the upcoming meals. The seller, noticing my indecision, pointed to a luscious-looking salmon fillet, revealing its origins from the Faroe Islands.

Aquaculture, or fish farming, has seen exponential growth over the past few decades, making it the fastest-growing sector in the global food industry. Between 1980 and 2016, the industry witnessed an average annual growth rate of 8.2 percent, and from 2000 to 2016, it was 5.8 percent [1]. Salmon, in particular, has been a standout, showcasing significant growth.

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Exploring Alkmaar: A Day at the Dutch Cheese Museum

A shop specializing in Dutch cheese, near the Cheese Museum, Alkmaar, Netherlands.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

It was a Saturday market morning in Alkmaar, and as an enthusiast of both markets and cheese, and being involved in marketing for cheese on this trip, the opportunity to explore the old cobbled tributary streets leading towards the Dutch Cheese Museum in Alkmaar, Netherlands, proved an irresistible activity. The sun was out on this day, making everything perfect for some walking.

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A Tradition of Taste and Trade: The Alkmaar Cheese Market Experience

At the Alkmaar Weigh House. The Waag building is a National monument / Rijksmonument listed building on the Waagplein in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. The Cheese Museum, Alkmaar, is also lcoated in this building.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

Introduction

The Netherlands, known for its windmills, tulips, and canals, also boasts a vibrant cheese culture that dates back centuries. This blog post is a personal journey through the history, taste, and culture of Dutch cheese, with a special focus on the city of Alkmaar, the heart of the Dutch cheese industry located in Northern Holland.

A Tradition Rooted in History

The story of Dutch cheese is a tale that dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s a narrative deeply rooted in the country’s history and traditions, and it’s impossible to tell without mentioning the Dutch East India Company, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC for short. Established in the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company was a major player in the global spice trade. Its ships sailed to the farthest corners of the world, bringing back a variety of spices that would eventually find their way into Dutch cheese. The integration of these exotic flavors into local produce is a testament to the Dutch’s innovative spirit and their openness to the world. It’s a reflection of their willingness to experiment and adapt, to take something familiar and make it new and exciting. This spirit of innovation is still evident in the Dutch cheese industry today, with cheese makers continually experimenting with new flavors and techniques.

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Where day meets night: Experiencing midsummer along the Swedish west coast

Swedish west coast midsummer celebrations at Strysö Sweden 2023
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

The sun casting long shadows as it flirts with the horizon, the laughter of friends and family echoing through the air, the taste of traditional Swedish food (mostly herring), and the feeling of community and love permeating the celebration. This is Midsummer on the Swedish west coast – a celebration of life, love, and the magic of the longest day of the year.

I love the longer days of summer that on midsummer’s eve, you can witness the sun teasing the horizon, refusing to fully set. It’s been just about two decades that I’ve now lived in Sweden, and I’m still enchanted by midsummer in Sweden. This captivating time, when daylight stretches into the night, is a celebration deeply rooted in Swedish culture, the celebrations of which are larger than our National Day. And where best to witness and participate in the unfolding of midsummer activities to its zenith? Why, along the scenic west coast of Sweden, of course!

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