Copenhagen: wine and cheese at Vinhanen

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It’s difficult to explain the difference between Denmark and Sweden, or the difference between Stockholm and Copenhagen, especially as both countries and cities have different areas with different vibes, but overall I would say Denmark is just so much more relaxed.

Sitting like this, on a wobbly bench on the pavement outside a wine bar amongst parked bicycles drinking wine and using an old IKEA stool for a table is very Copenhagen. The bicycles are definitely a part of the scene and I like the no-fuss approach to basically everything.

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I actually can’t remember how we found this wine bar, but it was on our way to the restaurant where we had dinner after, and tired of shopping we just fancied a glass of something cold and some nibbles.

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And that’s exactly what we got at Vinhanen. Lovely cold wine (much needed in the August heat), crusty sourdough bread and yummy cheeses. The owner was lovely and chatty and we got to try the different wines so we got one we really liked. So nice!

In the store (you can also fill a bottle and take it away) they have big barrels of wine on tap, so you can order a bottle, a glass or a carafe. Clever!

Apart from the good booze and cheeses Vinhanen also offers a nice eclectic mix of people and fun people watching on the street. It’s the kind of place you want to hang out in all night. And that’s exactly what I intend to do next time.

Vinhanen, Baggesensgade 13, Nørrebro, Copenhagen

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Malmö: tapas at Escama

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That Friday night in Malmö was lovely and balmy and when we arrived to Escama for dinner the outside area was of course packed. I had booked a table but the outside area was first come first serve. A shame, but I get it. So we put our names on the list and and sat down at the bar.

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And we divided our dinner into two sittings; nibbles inside at the bar and more substantial dishes outside once we got our table.

We started with some excellent jamon iberico (tapa negra) and Monte Enebro cheese. Real classics. Especially the cheese section was a little unimaginative. Nice cheeses but a very standard selection. Luckily the ham made up for it!

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It took a good while until we got seated outside, but we nibbled, drank cold Albarino and talked.

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When we sat down outside we got a different waiter, and it was like somebody had forgotten to “hand us over”. We got no attention and had to flag waiters down several times to order, ask for side plates and so on. Really not fun when we were finally going to order the main part of the meal.

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We had the tuna tartar which I was a little disappointed with. It was literally just chopped tuna with a little seasoning. Some crunch, more flavour and a nice emulsion would have been nice!

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But the entrecôte steak that we’d seen our table neighbours inside enjoy was amazing! I would come back to have one of those to myself. Easy! We both enjoyed that VERY much, so they do know their meat here. The patatas bravas were also nice, although on the spicy side, but I quite like that.

All in all, we had a nice but very long (due to the lack of service at the end) dinner with some varied service. But the jamon iberico and the steak were so good that all is forgiven!

Escama, Fersens väg 4, 211 42 Malmö, Sweden

Reminder: Västerbotten cheese quiche

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In Sweden crayfish season is in full swing, and I wanted to remind you all that one of the most important things for a crayfish party (apart from the crayfish and snaps) is this Västerbotten cheese quiche. You can buy the cheese from Ocado (love their Swedish shop!) but you could also substitute it for a sharp cheddar if you prefer.

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We had a little crayfish party when I was home in Sweden and I love this non-holiday more than some actual holidays. The crayfish are just delicious, but we went all out with both fresh and smoked prawns (they’re delicious!) as well.

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And yes, we had snaps (Linie Aquavit, pictured above) and silly hats.

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Bread and cheese is also needed to soak up the alcohol (snaps is strong!) and maybe some homemade mayonnaise for dipping.  And don’t forget the finger bowls – this is a very messy (but really fun!) affair!

Skål!

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Västerbotten cheese quiche, serves 6

Dough:

120 g softened butter

300 ml plain flour

1/2 beaten egg

Filling:

250 g grated Västerbotten cheese (or a sharp cheddar will do)

2 egg yolks

2 eggs

200 ml cream

salt

Topping:

100 g girolles

2 tbsp salted butter

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt, pepper

chopped parsley

Mix the ingredients together for the dough and press it out in a quiche dish. Use a fork to pierce the dough all over. Pre-bake the dough for 10 mins at 175 C.

Mix the grated cheese with the cream, eggs and yolks and pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for another 20 mins.

Fry the girolles in butter on medium-high heat until almost done. Add the shallots and garlic and fry until golden. Season well and add the parsley. Place on top of the quiche just before serving. 

First week of holiday!

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My holiday was rather busy, but that’s what it’s like when you’re living abroad; lots of family and friends to catch up with and you’re constantly behind on that front, however hard you try, as there simply isn’t enough time. My strategy this time was to start off busy and try to wind down a little towards the end, as I need to sleep and relax as well. And for once I think it worked. To say I feel refreshed might be pushing it, but I feel less tired than when I left London, which is the whole point of a holiday, isn’t it?!

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But since I had a 7am flight on the Saturday I took that day to relax and really feel that I was on holiday. It was pure bliss to arrive at the beach house, change into a bikini and a cover up, have an glassbåt ice cream in the sun and just try to switch off a little.

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I also walked down to the beach to dip my toes in the water and breathe the fresh air. And in the evening I enjoyed some bubbly and a nice homecooked dinner (pork fillet with lemon and herbs, new potatoes, tomato salad and a cold garlic and herb sauce).

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The next day I went to Helsingborg for lunch with friends and got to see both the hosts’ lovely new house and meet other friends’ little baby for the first time. For lunch we had a lovely poke bowl with sesame marinated tuna and ice cream for pudding. It was so nice to sit in the garden catching up with dear childhood friends like that. The afternoon went by in a flash!

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On the Monday I went to Copenhagen for the day with two friends, and we’ve been doing it for so long it’s a tradition we do everything to keep every summer.

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We started off with tacos and smørrebrød for lunch at Torvehallerne, had fika at our favourite café and in the evening wine and cheese at one place before dinner at another. It was a perfect day chatting away with friends, looking in a few shops and just enjoying what this lovely city has to offer!

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The next day I didn’t have many plans so started with a lie-in and a late breakfast in the garden. I did a few errands and sunbathed a bit and had dinner with my parents in the evening before a visitor from London arrived late that night as the flight was delayed.

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So the next morning another lie-in was in order followed by a cooked breakfast outside. By the way, poached eggs on toast with tabasco is delicious!

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We continued the day driving around the south coast, checking out the beaches and eating ice cream.

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And in the evening we had a crayfish party complete with Västerbotten cheese quiche, fresh and smoked prawns, snaps and silly hats!

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The following day my visitor played golf in Falsterbo while I spent the day with by best friend and my god daughter before meeting up with the golfers for lunch. Afterwards we went to Badhytten for a drink followed by a quick swim in the sea.

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Then I was put to work making burgers (with fake shack sauce) for us all. So yum!

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Friday was my visitor’s last full day in Sweden so we made the most of it spending most of it on the beach and after a late lunch we made our way into Malmö for drinks, dinner and some more drinks.

The next day we had time for a long breakfast and a swim before my visitor had to leave for the airport and I spent the rest of the day taking it easy and had dinner with mamma and pappa in the evening.

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The next day (Sunday) we drove to the southeastern part of Skåne to have lunch with two of my cousins and my auntie. We had hot smoked salmon with new potatoes, soft boiled eggs, asparagus and a cold dill sauce. Very Swedish and so yummy!

It was a lovely week and as you can see I got to see and do a lot and catch up with many of my friends!

BBQ, theatre and a(nother) lovely weekend!

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I’m enjoying my summer so much right now, and my holiday hasn’t even started yet. Must be a good sign for the next few weeks!

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Monday I had a cheeky after work drink with a colleague, which was much needed. Not the drink in itself but catching up outside of the office.

Tuesday was less indulgent; instead I cooked a simple supper at home, did some chores and tidied up.

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Wednesday a friend had us round for a barbecue which was lots of fun and really yummy! Loving all the summer evenings spent in friend’s gardens sipping rosé and chatting away.

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On Thursday we first had burgers at Bleecker’s pop-up on the Southbank (love their burgers) before going to National Theatre to see Julie, a modern adaptation of Strindberg’s classic play. It was such a good play and Vanessa Kirby was AMAZING as Julie. Never have 1 hr 25 minutes gone by so fast!

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The weekend started with an impromptu dinner at The Orange with friends on Friday night, followed by a lie-in the next morning.

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After a late breakfast we walked around Battersea Park and had lunch in the beer garden at The Prince Albert.

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Then we went for another stroll and had an ice cream before leaving the park.

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In the evening I made some sharing food (caprese, parma parcels with figs and rocket, saucisson, cheese and bread) and we started two new TV series. First The Handmaid’s Tale which was brilliant but so hard to watch I couldn’t watch two episodes in a row, so instead we started on Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which also was very good.

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Yesterday I had another lie-in to make up for the late weeknights, and had a rather chilled out day. For supper I made a slow cooked pasta bolognese with garlic bread and afterwards we saw Incredibles 2 in the cinema!

London: Champagne + Fromage, Covent Garden

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Having lived in London for 10 years now (eek!) I have accepted the fact that I will never ever feel up to date on restaurants regardless of how hard I try. There are simply too many restaurants opening and changing for me to keep up. Especially since I want to go back to my favourites from time to time too.

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So I love when my friends suggest a new place to try. I had completely missed the arrival of these cute French Champagne + Fromage spots all over town, but luckily my friend Mary-Lou had spotted one so that’s where we went one evening.

We arrived without a reservation (big mistake) but although the place was packed the staff eventually managed to find us a table. That’s great service!

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Other than that the concept is pretty clear; this is where you drink champagne (we tried a lovely Blancs de Blanc that was the wine of the month) and eat cheese. We had a cheese and charcuterie board with lots of bread which was lovely, but there are also some lovely cooked food on offer. The table next to us sampled about half the menu and it all looked amazing!

Champagne + Fromage, 22 Wellington St, London WC2E 7DD

 

Summer in April!!

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The past week was just glorious with blue skies, 25+C degrees and SUNSHINE! It’s sadly over now but it was wonderful as long as it lasted.

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On Tuesday it was my turn to host the book group and I thought a summery lemon pasta (I will post the recipe soon) would be appropriate. It went down a treat together with a simple leafy salad and wild garlic bread. Marie-Louise brought a bottle of lovely champagne as well, so it was a rather festive Tuesday!

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The next day was sunny and hot, so after work I took the river boat down the Thames and had the first glass of rosé of the season, overlooking the river.

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On Friday a group of us had a lovely girlie evening at Gordon’s Wine Bar (where Laura expertly managed to get us a table as soon as we arrived!) with rosé, cheese and lots of chatting. So lovely!

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The rest of the weekend was fairly quiet with lie-ins, pizza and champagne on Saturday night and a lovely pub lunch in the sunshine on Sunday.