Summer in Norfolk and a long weekend in Italy

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The last week in August was mainly a week of fun for me; not a lot of work. Monday was a bank holiday so we were all off and I had Tuesday and Friday off. Wednesday and Thursday I worked from Norfolk and so had the evenings there at least.

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Monday was a gloriously sunny day so we went on a little trip to Holkham Hall with the children. First we spent some time in the lovely (and big) playground and then went for a little walk around the estate, stopping by the lake so we could all go on a little rowing adventure. So in we went, four adults, three children and a small dog all in the same rowing boat. It was such a lovely little outing and the perfect activity on a hot day. While the children and their parents stayed to have lunch my boyfriend’s mother and I drove to the golf club to have lunch with our boy, and also the proud winner of that weekend’s golf competition!

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After lunch we went down to the beach for a swim and drying off in the sun, before grabbing an ice cream on the way to the car.

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In the evening we toasted the winner with champagne and had a lovely dinner prepared partly by us all. Somebody did the food shopping, another took care of the wine, somebody manned the barbecue and yours truly contributed with a smoked paprika butter for the steak, potato salad, tomato salad and a green salad with avocado.

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The next day I had the day off so we made the most of it with a little road trip. Starting with crayfish baguettes in Brancaster Straithe because I had heard so much about them and then a little boat trip in Wells-next-the-Sea.

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It was really fun to see a working (and thriving) commercial harbour with boatload after boatload of fresh lobster and crab. Our little boat trip went out to one of the lovely beaches and back out again and it was so much being on the sea for a little while.

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After a lovely artisan ice cream we drove back to get ready for a dinner party. It started with rosé and blinis with smoked salmon and sour cream in the garden and then we moved inside for the rest of the evening. Another lovely evening!

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Wednesday I locked myself in a room during the day to work, but came out for lunch and of course in the evening. We had fresh crab with mayonnaise and salad for lunch and it was probably the best lunch that week! So yummy!

In the evening we had a little date night, just him and me, and went to The Jolly Sailor for pizzas and then to another pub for a drink afterwards. So nice with a chilled and cosy evening just the two of us.

On Thursday I worked during the day and in the evening we had lasagne for dinner, followed by meringues, berries and cream for pudding. Then it was time to say goodbye to lovely Norfolk and drive back to London as we were going away again early the next morning.

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On the Friday morning we flew to Milan, rented a car and drove to Piedmont where our friends were waiting for us.

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After some delays we arrived just in time for the wine tasting and basically started our stay by drinking four large glasses of lovely local wines. A good start indeed. After a very speedy shower and change of clothes, the whole group (we were here for a wedding!) had aperitivo outside, followed by a whole buffet of antipasti followed by pasta and pudding at the table. And the wine was flowing! Such a lovely evening toasting the happy couple and listening to Italian live music. Around midnight the day had caught up with us (we had about 4 hrs sleep the previous night plus all the travelling) so after a quick dip in the pool we went to bed and slept and slept.

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The next day (our friend’s wedding day!) started with a late breakfast and then we joined the others by the pool. We had lovely salads for lunch (caprese and ham and melon) and then I decided to practice my speech but I ended up tweaking it as well.

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Then it was time to get ready for the wedding and join everyone but the happy couple for bubbly and nibbles before we followed the cellist to the spot among the vines where the wedding ceremony would take place. It was such a beautiful wedding! Afterwards we walked back down to the hotel to toast the happy couple before we sat down for dinner.

It was a lovely and long wedding breakfast with great food, nice wines and lots of speeches, singing and games. Afterwards we watched the bride and groom cut the cake and have their first dance. Then the dancing continued until the early hours when most of the guests gathered by the pool for a swim before going to bed.

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The next day we had brunch at the hotel and after some more time by the pool we packed up and drove to Acqui Terme for lunch, at a place recommended by the sommelier at the hotel.

Next we stopped at some Roman ruins and made a few stops on the way to the airport.

Such a lovely week! It feels so much longer when you visit different places. And I loved that we got a little bit more of the gorgeous summer weather, both in Norfolk and of course, in Italy (where I definitely would expect it!).

 

My second week in Sweden!

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The second week in Sweden by dear boyfriend came to visit. So on the Monday morning on my way to pick him up from the train from Copenhagen airport I stopped at Ikea to buy a few things. It was almost empty and a breeze  to shop (i.e. the opposite of the Ikea shopping experience in the UK!).

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After I had picked him up we drove into central Malmö and went for a nice walk in the sunshine to the west harbour, and afterwards we had lunch at Saluhallen, the foodhall. We shared a huge burger and a crab ravioli and neither of us could decide on what we wanted.

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In the evening we had dinner with my parents. Starting with bubbly and parmesan biscuits, then barbecued chicken (so yummy!) with slaw, crispy potatoes and tzatsiki.

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For pudding mamma had made crema catalana which we enjoyed with berries.

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The following day we had some friends coming for fika, and so to avoid a sugar overload we started with a savoury quiche and salad and then had a lovely apple and blueberry cake with vanilla and blueberry ice cream to finish. We played a bit with the children in the garden and had a lovely time catching up!

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In the evening we bought pizzas and had a very chilled night in watching a Swedish sing-along show (!) and a good documentary.

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The following day we had a morning swim in the sea and then started prepping for our little dinner party that evening.

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As a starter we had melon and prosciutto as well as a caprese salad and for the main course we had shrimp rolls, skin-on oven fries and a nice salad. For pudding I had made lemon posset that I served with whipped cream, apricots from the garden and blueberries. Such a lovely evening!

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Thursday my boyfriend played golf with my best friend’s husband and his dad most of the day so I met up with a childhood friend in the morning.

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We played on the beach with his children until suddenly a rain storm drew in, so we took refuge at a nearby restaurant that was just opening for lunch. As we had finished eating the dark clouds disappeared and we could go outside for a nice walk in the sun and an ice cream. After I had said goodbye to them I quickly went to the supermarket and stocked up for dinner that evening and then met up with my best friend Emma for a glass of wine while I was prepping dinner and we waited for the golfers to come back.

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To make it easier with my goddaughter’s bed time we had our started – the much loved bruschetta bar – before she went to bed, and the rest of the dinner after.

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So while my friends put her to bed I finished cooking the pasta carbonara with girolles and for pudding we had a lovely frozen daim cheesecake. It was one of those lovely evenings where you forget about time and just sit there chatting, laughing and sipping wine until you suddenly realise it’s late and we should all go to bed.

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We stayed over so the next morning I got to play with my goddaughter some more before we went back to the summer house. As it was my boyfriend’s last day in Sweden we made the most of the afternoon with a little outing to Smygehuk (the southernmost point in Sweden) where we had delicious (and huge!) prawn sandwiches, then went for a little walk and finished off with an ice cream before we went back home to pack.

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After I had dropped him off at the train to the airport I had a very simple supper with my parents; grilled hotdogs! We were still full from the prawn sandwiches so didn’t want a full-on dinner so sausages were perfect!

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On the Saturday I did some sunbathing before we went home to our other house to pick a few things up and get a few things done. In the evening my parents and I had a little mini crayfish party, as we all love seafood and especially crayfish at this time of year. First we had a girolle toast, then the Swedish crayfish with bread and cheese and aquavit!

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The next day (my last in Sweden, sob…) mamma and I went to a flea market where I bought some bouillon bowls and plates (I’m such a crockery addict!).

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Then I packed my bags while mamma and pappa organised fika for my best friend and her family, so I could see them one last time before I left. We had Danish open-faced sandwiches with prawns and brussels pate respectively and a chewy toffee cake with lightly whipped cream afterwards. It was a short fika but lovely seeing my friends and god daughter once more.

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The journey back to London was easy, so I hung out in the lounge a bit before my flight, enjoying a light supper of smoked salmon and potato salad before I boarded, already missing Sweden. Thank you for two lovely weeks! ❤️

Recipe: garlic and herb sauce

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Growing up in the countryside in the south of Sweden I didn’t realise how lucky I was to grow up in such an idyllic place. Fast forward to present time living in a big city, where getting fresh herbs and locally grown vegetables can be quite tricky at times.

So my first night in Sweden this summer I cooked us a fairly standard summer meal of pork fillet, salad and potatoes. Normally I would cook the meat on the barbecue to get that charred flavour, but due to the first barbecue ban in my life time (even in your own garden – it was that dry) I had to make do with the stove and oven. And sitting outside in the sunshine it was still a lovely meal.

Mainly because of the sauce I literally threw together on the spot. It’s a simple cold sauce with mainly creme fraiche and a little mayonnaise as a base (us Swedes make sauces like this ALL the time), but what made it so nice was the mix (and quantity) of fresh herbs from the garden. An absolute treat for this city girl and something I used to take for granted when I lived at home.

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Garlic and herb sauce, serves 3-4

300 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Acacia honey

3/4 small garlic clove, finely chopped

approx 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley 

salt and pepper

Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Then add mustard, honey, garlic and herbs and leave for a while for the flavours to develop before serving. Season to taste.

 

Copenhagen: dinner at Bæst

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As you know I like to eat, and when I once a year have my day with friends (who luckily also likes their food) in Copenhagen, we make the most of it. Which is why we could fit in tacos for lunch (followed by some smørrebrød because why not?!), fika at our favourite place, wine and cheese pre-dinner at this nice little spot and then still had room for dinner. The August heat and the walking helped though.

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Bæst, our dinner spot for the evening was recommended by Daniel and all three of us loved it. It was laid back and cosy, and obviously a popular spot because it filled up as we sat there.

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The menu reflects the casual atmosphere and has the emphasis is on good local organic produce and sharing plates. Just what we like!

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The grilled courgette and kale salad what we started with was really nice. It had texture, a nice charred flavour on the courgette and acidity and freshness as well. It’s the kind of vegetable dish that makes you feel good.

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Next up we had a huge plate of chicken wings, covered in a herb-y finger-licking sauce. Delicious! And a lot fresher on the palate than regular buffalo wings (which I love, but this version was more interesting).

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After that we were ready for the main event; the pizzas!

Cooked in a 500C (!) oven these blistery, still soft but cooked just enough pizzas are to die for.

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Especially the classic margherita. With a delicious tomato sauce, their own (!) mozzarella and basil.

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I mean, look at this. Pizza perfection.

Bæst, Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N

Recipe: blueberry galette

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My last day in Sweden for the summer was a Sunday in August and instead of just making it a travel day (i.e. boring!) I invited by best friend and her family to the summer house for a nice lunch with me and my parents.

As a group we get on so well and you wouldn’t think we weren’t all the same age! I love it and as it’s also stress-free inviting people over who you know so well it was the perfect ending to my two+ weeks in Sweden.

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As my best friend and her husband has a baby who now walks on her own but then was desperate to master the walking we decided against a sit down starter. Instead we had some cheese straws and wine standing up chatting and running after the little one. For the main course we had arctic char with boiled potatoes, vegetables and a sauce with lumpfish roe. Very traditionally Swedish!

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And for pudding I made this blueberry galette! It was an instant hit (Emma, bestie, sorry it’s taking me so long to write this up – but here you finally have the recipe!), although my dad would have liked it a little bit sweeter. I, on the other hand, like the fact that it’s not too sweet as you can really taste the freshness of the blueberries this way, and it doesn’t feel all that indulgent serving it with ice cream, but pouring cream or lightly whipped cream would work well too.

Blueberry galette, serves 4-6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe

Dough:
205 g (385 ml) plain flour 
2 tsp caster sugar
115 g chilled salted butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
350 g blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp potato flour (or cornstarch)
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
60 ml caster sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tbsp milk or cream

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the softened butter and either work with your fingers until you have a sandy consistency or pulse in a food processor until you reach that sandy texture. 

Add 4 tbsp cold water and mix into a dough. Add another tbsp if needed until the dough has formed. Shape into a disc, cover with cling and chill for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 190°C. Toss blueberries, potato flour, lemon juice and caster sugar in a large bowl.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 30 cm diameter. Carefully transfer the rolled out dough to a parchment-lined baking tray. Mound blueberries in the middle of the of the galette, leaving 5 cm as a border. Fold the edges over, overlapping slightly. Brush dough with milk/cream and sprinkle generously with caster sugar.

Bake until the crust is dark golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 45–50 minutes. Leave to cool before serving.

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

Copenhagen: Hija de Sanchez

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When an ex-Noma chef opens a taco restaurant you just know it’s going to be good food. On my day trip to Copenhagen this summer with my usual Copenhagen travellers Maria and Daniel, we didn’t have enough time to go to the restaurant but got to taste Hija de Sanchez’ tacos at our favourite lunch place; the food market called Torvehallerne.

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There are several restaurant stalls here, so you can sample a bit of this and a bit of that. But we went straight to Hija de Sanchez and ordered a plate each of tacos.

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And some cava. Because why not?!

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All three of the tacos were (of course) delicious! The one with cheese and avocado (queso fresco) was nice and fresh but I also really liked the one with fried runny egg and guacemole. And the barbecoa was the best I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve sampled a few…)!

Next time I really need to go the restaurant – can’t wait to sample the whole menu! Which I’m sure my travel companions are up for.

Hija de Sanchez, Taquería and market, Torvehallerne, Frederiksborggade 21, Copenhagen