Trip to Maui, HI & Los Angeles, CA 2015

DSC_5367-2

This Easter vacation I was taken along with the family on my parents dream vacation, particularly that of my mother’s to Hawaii and specifically, the island of Maui, with the route back home stopping in L.A. to visit family, the sights and whatnot, of course.

Maui was and was not what I was expecting; there’s the beaches and palm trees of course, with deep blue seas, but the island is as a whole very lush and green and mountainous, with one area looking like the African Savannah, the next a drier version of a South American rainforest, and yet another looking like a northern European pine forest…it’s a very diverse place in terms of nature, and if you ever get a chance to go, I really recommend doing tours of the island that include the forests, the waterfalls and so on, since I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it!

Naturally, this isn’t at all, all the photos — there’s too many! — but keep an eye out for them on my two tumblr feeds, holycrabness.tumblr.com, and holycrabnessportfolio.tumblr.com

DSC_5534DSC_5724  DSC_5573 DSC_5549 DSC_5776-2 DSC_5590 DSC_5594  DSC_5596DSC_5588DSC_5786 DSC_5785 DSC_5790   DSC_5799DSC_5286-2DSC_5375-2 DSC_5372-2 DSC_5369-2

Advertisements

Lunch at Hotel Ta’ Cenc

maltatacencfishplatter

This year, like we have for a while now, my parents and I went on our yearly visit to Malta for a week. This time we spent a little more time on the island, Gozo, and as usual, ate loads of good food. So much in fact, that I don’t think I could have the heart to post every single picture from our time there. However, this lunch I have to post, because it was that good.

It was merely meant to be a light lunch at the hotel during a lazy day spent by the pool. Above, we have the sharing platter of fish carpaccio–swordfish, salmon and tuna, and the quality was fantastic. The swordfish was meaty and textured, the salmon smooth, and the tuna exquisite.

maltatacenccourgetteflowers

On top of that, we were cheeky and ordered the two other side dishes made for the platter–and in this way, I finally got to try deep fried stuffed squash blossoms (these with cheese and anchovies). Oh my goodness, if there was ever any more reason for me wanting to find some squash blossoms….I totally understand the hype now!

maltatacenccaponato

And a delicious caponata. Yummy!

Fika at Vetekatten, Stockholm

vetekattenecakes

Still updating from all my food experiences in Sweden! This time, for some more fika 🙂

This is from a little place called Vetekatten, Stockholm. It’s been around for 85 years…

vetekattenbakelse

And their bakelse are beaaautiful…! It took me so long to decide (I was actually hungry, meaning to take a sandwich but how could I with all these on display…?)

vetekattenbulle

Here is a lovely vaniljbulle…

vetekattenvaniljbulle

…and the classic; a kanelbulle. Like a cinnamon roll, but the Swedish way!

vetekattenjordgubbstarta

Finally, the choice I eventually made? This beauty right here. A strawberry and caramelised butter tart. Plus…

vetekatteninside

A lovely vanilla cream centre hidden inside. Sinful, but I can take it.

Review; Lunch at Tokyo Diner at the högtorgshallen plus Bonus Snails

suuushi

I’ve walked past this place a few times. I’ve seen the gorgeous plates of sushi served to guests at this small little booth-type place, tucked into one corner of the Högtorgshallen at the top floor. There’s about maybe eight high tables with bar stools, and some more seating right at the bar in front of the chefs. Because it was sushi, and it was in the centre of Stockholm–not to mention in the Högtorgshallen, a fancy type of saluhall (a food hall for non-Swedes).

However, this time, my friends and I went for lunch after a hot morning of shopping in town, deciding what the heck, we didn’t need a lot — we were just craving some good, light fish and we thought this place looked so good. Turns out, it wasn’t that expensive–not cheap, but for the quality and the portions (plus bearing in mind, you know, the cost of Sweden) it was fine with us.

TDpulledporktacos

One friend chose these wonderful pulled pork tacos, with spiced mayo and fennel salad, for about 150 SEK. The pulled pork was amaaazing, us two others snuck a bite each, and ended up in taco heaven. The spice was pretty strong, but it suited the overall dish. Not for the faint-hearted, but it was honestly delicious. For meat lovers ending up at a sushi place! 😛

TDchirashi

My other friend chose Chirashi sushi (about 156 SEK, I think?) — bites of fish, like sashimi, over a bed of sushi rice, served with squid salad and seaweed salad. There was white fish pieces (monkfish and seabass, I believe), salmon, tuna, prawns, scallop, and lojrom. It was so beautiful, and seemed to taste pretty good too, because it was gone quickly. He and I were both served miso soup first for our choice.

TDsashimiiii

And mine? I chose the sashimi platter, something I usually don’t do, but I’m glad I made the exception. I chose the small plate for 165 SEK, but next time, I’ll choose the big one, even if it is 265 SEK (we saw one couple order it, I’m pretty sure I was catching flies!)–nonetheless, I was super pleased with my choice. Beautiful morsels of fish; tuna with a thick soy dress, slightly smoked salmon, normal salmon fillet pieces with mashed ginger, monkfish with black salt, thin slivers of sea bass, sweet prawn tails, and a cut scallop stuffed with lojrom. Mine also came with squid salad, and seaweed salad, as well as some thin strands of beetroot. Seriously, all of it was so good.

TDsashimiii

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I’ll dither between the thick chunks of monkfish with the salt, and the scallop stuffed with lojrom. Both were so tender and fresh. If you’re looking for sushi, and don’t want to have the fanciness of RaKultur in Stockholm, but want something a bit better than the average Chinese-Japanese-Thai-Indian-Sushi mess of a place (I kind of love them, but they have their place 😛 ), try Tokyo Diner. Just a note; the food places upstairs close at 6pm, so lunch here is best, unless you embrace being a Swede and eat super early!

When I got back home, I was still comfortably full from our lunch, and decided to buy some snails for a quick and easy dinner.

snaaaails

A shed load of parsley-garlic butter, and we’re good to go. Happy weekend, everyone!

Review; Dinner at Boqueria, Stockholm

boqueriatheplaceitself

Food, like most things in Sweden, is expensive, as I’ve said before. However, dad, I and my friend decided to treat ourselves for one night, and me, being the organised neurotic leader when it comes to all things food, knew where we were going. Sorry, guys, you can choose next time.

boqueriatapascocktails

First up, some cockatils; the Boqueria mocktail with lime and mint (like a mock mojito, my fav!) because I was a numpty and forgot my ID, though non-alcoholic is my preferred drink…and my friend with her Sangria. I wrinkle my nose because I don’t like wine, but I guess that makes me biased…

Anyway, to more pressing matters. The place is a tapas bar, something I’d hunted out on the internet as being a popular place for locals. We arrived early when it opened for dinner at 5, taking a drink in the bar before the kitchens properly opened and we could be seated. The heat made us sit inside, though the locals seemed to prefer inside, at least when we were there. The place is large inside, and also includes a torg market, a type of coffee place inside the shopping centre the restaurant opens up into. They serve lunch too, from a smaller, more compact menu. The menu consists of tapas, or a few dishes such as paella at a much higher price, though for larger groups.

The place is so huge, and when we walked past the next day at around seven, people were queuing and the place was noisy as heck. We hadn’t booked, but because we arrived so early, we were allowed a small table at the window for an hour and a half. At 7 when we walked past, the place was mobbed, so depending on the time you want to eat, booking is advisable!

The dishes come as they’re made, in quite a quick succession, so at some points, you have four dishes on the table, and then, all of a sudden, only one. I guess it’s made for sharing, really.

We chose 3 tapas each, intending to share, but to start, a charcuterie board between us.

boqueriacharkboard

So, a board of pata negra, Cecine de leon, Chorizo, Salchichon, and a selection of olives (225 SEK). The two first meats were my favourites, though all of the meats were fantastic in their own rights.

boqueriatunattartar Read More

Cake! Cake Everywhere, in Sweden

bakelser2

Fika. It’s an important part of any Swede’s life, nearly enough a vital part of every single day (if you’re strong enough to handle it!) It’s both a verb and a noun, so you can take fika, but you can also fika itself, and it basically (usually) comprises of a coffee break (or less traditionally, some sort of drink) alongside something sweet, whether a light biscuit or few, or to go all the way, a bakelse–a slice of cake. Sometimes, even a small meal can be included as fika. It’s a little bit of what you want goes as you take fika.

Since the cakes-and-coffee tradition is so important in Sweden, and rather different from what you have elsewhere apart from the other Scandinavian countries, I thought I’d document these descents into a sugar coma.

Above are some of the most famous and most popular bakelse around–to the left, green Prinsesstårta, and a Napoleon bakelse to the right. The Prinsesstårta is one of the most easily recognised cakes of Sweden, sometimes found in small frozen versions in various branches of IKEA across the world! But from the konditori (the Swedish equivalent of a French patisserie, because Swedes take their bakelse quite seriously, like with fika) is best, so that you get the perfect alternating layers of sponge, crème patisserie, jam and fluffy whipped cream (the latter always at the top, usually in a dome), topped with a layer of green marzipan, something else the Swedes adore but I understand is not always so popular abroad.

A Napoleon bakelse is basically a whipped cream monster sandwiched between a type of Mille-feuille, with a berry glacé on the top layer. It’s yummy, but I recommend sharing — the cream can get a bit much, even for a Swede like me! 😀

chkladbsikvi

Here’s a little biscuit-cream thing, called a choklad biskvi; a meringue-like bottom, like a coconut macaroon without the coconut, with a fluffy meringue chocolate interior, dipped in dark chocolate that makes a hard shell when cooled. It’s so sinful, and if I didn’t buy them one at at time, they’d be gone instantly!

bakelser

Here is a classic staple to the fika. A vetelängd–this versions pretty fancy with cardamom and crème patisserie in the middle; some are simpler with only the traditional cardamom and pearl sugar, with almond paste inside. Others have as above, or even runny icing drizzled across. They’re cut up and served alongside coffee usually, as a perfect sweet treat that only lasts about two-three bites, unless you take a few more slices! 😛

berrycake] blabarspaj cheesecakepink

These pictures aren’t essentials to fika, but are what I’ve had (or rather, a small sampling of the fika I’ve had this summer) for fika this year; two instances of berry cheesecake, and in the middle, a good old blueberry pie with vanilla sauce (the Swedish answer to custard, but is much runnier and quite often uses real vanilla pods, rather than essence) in the cup. Hears to many more fika-pauses to come!

Review; Dinner at Skansen, Öland

tunastarter

I have spent what seems like almost half my life down south in Sweden, on an island just off its coast, connected by one long bridge; namely, Öland. We own, or did own, a summer house there, from before my own birth (in fact, when my mother was about my age now, I believe). We have just sold it, moving on to other adventures, and it feels a little like the end of an era. It’s somewhat bitter-sweet, but I think I have been weaned off the place gradually, which makes it easier; once, we would spend endless weeks there–at least five or six, and that was making it a minimum–whilst with the years coming on, we spent perhaps maximum two weeks at a time, making the place more of a problem, then a delightful retreat that it once was.

In all that time, I had never been to Skansen; a hotel, restaurant and spa. It’s probably the fanciest place (that I know of) on the island, and I had never even set foot into the place. Even my parents agreed this was somewhat tragic, so, on the last night with the 3 of us together on the island, we had dinner. Oh man, what a dinner. It was pricey (as most things are in Sweden!), but the return was so worth it.

Above pictured is mum’s starter; a beautiful carpaccio of tuna with aioli and pickled ginger. I adore those colours, and felt a little jealous! The pieces of fish were amazing, and rather generous too, though the sauce could have packed more of a punch, even with those large chunks of pickled ginger, we all thought.

duckbreaststarter

This was my chosen starter; duck breast with apple, pea shoots, blue cheese, currents and spring onion. It was lovely, but you had to make sure to get a little piece of everything together to make the flavours work at their best, which, given the variety, was a bit of a struggle. Nonetheless, I think I managed okay 😉

patanegra

And dad chose the pata negra, a Spanish cured ham, with mozzarella and tomatoes. This was very good, I don’t even have anything else to say!

lambrygggskansen

For main, I surprised everyone, including myself, and chose the lamb back, with risotto, pesto, and wine-marinated pears. SO GOOD. Ignore my feelings on lamb for a second, this was amazing. I asked for rare, to raw side, because I am such a carnivore at heart, and I had to restrain myself from shredding it between my teeth within seconds. Every single element together was amazing, and that risotto (not even a fan of risotto at times! I wonder almost why I chose it from the menu…but I’m glad I did) was so intensely creamy, I wonder what on earth they did with it…cheese? I’ve done that before, can’t say it turned out like this!

vensionbacksteak

Mum went for the venison back cut, with mojo-rojo potatoes and saffron butter, and grilled vegetables. I remember mum loving this, but they were a bit generous with the butter considering its intensity in taste! But better, I suppose, for the guest that there’s too much rather than too little…

rissottomainskansen

And father surprised absolutely no one by choosing the risotto on its own. I can’t say I understand why he didn’t choose the same as me since the risotto was the same, but he would have gotten the meat too — but oh well, no regrets. He was in his own little heaven.

editng

Finally, I was stuffed, as were my parents. However, the dessert menu had a licorice and chocolate cake, served with raspberry mousse and salted caramel sauce. The combination in the cake intrigued me; I’m a true Sweden, I quite like licorice 😉 And boy was this good; the aniseed flavour was subtle, present in the background, and was heavenly with the caramel. The mousse was so creamy it was like a sinful dessert good enough on its own. So, no regrets for me either!

All in all, a delightful last evening on an island of my childhood.