Saturday, August 31, 2013

Long weekend in Göteborg

Bobby and I took a long-weekend trip up to Göteborg (or Gothenburg, its English name), Sweden last weekend. We had a wonderful time in this sea-side town. This trip was actually planned by Bobby as a romantic get-away for us. It was kind of nice to let go of the reins and 'allow' Bobby to plan a trip  :)  I might have to let him do this more often!
Bobby had visited Göteborg in 2002 (just a month before we met!), but it was my first time visiting the second largest city in Sweden. The city is the home of Volvo, which leaves me with mixed feelings (I love Volvo cars, but the one I had was such a lemon!). But nonetheless, we really enjoyed our time there.
The city has tons of large parks, which were well occupied by the city's citizens for the warm weekend. It's actually quite easy and cheap to get to Göteborg from Copenhagen: it's only a 3 1/2 hour train ride away.
So far, every city I've visited in Sweden has been great: Stockholm, Malmö, and now Göteborg. I really love Sweden: interesting culture, good music and art scene, and great food scene! In fact, I'm going to have to write two separate posts to tell you about the two restaurants we visited in Göteborg.
So for now you'll just have to settle for a photo of the fried herring we enjoyed. This meal, complete with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam, was purchased from a very hip food truck in the downtown area. The fish was lovely and cooked perfectly.
We visited two museums: the Konstmuseum (Art Museum) and the Stadsmuseum (City Museum). This neat sculpture, which might look familiar if you like the work of French sculpture Rodin, was one of many interesting modern pieces in the Art Museum. The City Museum was a bit of an odd collection, but it's always fun to see old Viking ruins.
Being in Sweden, we of course had to take note of the hip Scandinavian fashion. Do you like Bobby's new nightcap?
Aside from fashion finds, Bobby also discovered a stamp store! Oddly enough, he left empty handed, but he enjoyed perusing the small shop's collection.
I, on the other hand, got quite excited at this chocolate store! All of the chocolates are made with natural ingredients and don't contain any preservatives.
Which means we have to eat this box of chocolates in good time! I'm pretty sure we are up for the challenge. In fact, half of the box has already been enjoyed.
Speaking of challenges... Bobby decided our romantic weekend away should naturally include a midnight 10k race! What, your romantic get-aways don't include running 10 kilometers in a foreign land? This photo shows just a few of the 13,000 participants in the race.
Here we are before the race, looking fresh and happy. Actually, at this point, I had a head cold: all day I was trying to decide whether or not I could do the race. Luckily, we took a nap the afternoon prior to the race, and it really helped me to feel up for the run.
The midnight run is actually an event held in several cities across Sweden. It's a pretty fun race: there's a lot of music at different stages of the race, some people dress in funny costumes for the run (we saw one young woman in a polar bear outfit, and she ran the entire race in the outfit!!), and you get to run through the city late at night. Here you can see Bobby in kilometer 1, tripping the light fantastic.
Bobby and I did do a bit of training leading up to the race: together we went on 4 or 5 jogs in Copenhagen, never going further than 7 km. So we weren't totally sure what 10 km would feel like. However, we not only managed to finish the race, we ran the entire course (no walking at all) and finished in 1 hour 13 minutes! Not bad for first-timers with very little training and a head cold!
Thank you for a lovely weekend away, Bobby! I can't wait for our next trip, wherever and whenever that may be!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend cooking (and the return of Bobby!)

After a long 24 days apart, and an even longer 8+ months of non-stop travel, Bobby finally returned to Copenhagen mid-August! Despite the previously lovely summer weather, Bobby came home to lots of rain and strangely muggy weather. However, that didn't stop us from trying a new popsicle shop in town!
Bobby and I can both be homebodies when we're in Copenhagen, but we are trying to explore the city more and be more adventurous. What better way to start than with popsicles? Bobby ordered a pistachio ice cream dipped in chocolate and nuts, while I went with a mango and passion fruit sorbet dipped in chocolate. These were really good, and surprisingly inexpensive (by Copenhagen standards), so we will definitely be returning to try the other delicious flavors.
We received a very special (and large, and fragile) package in the mail! When Dad and Gloria last visited us, Dad took some measurements of a very oddly place wine rack in our kitchen (the rack is right above the refrigerator, so it's not only too high to reach, it's also exposed to the heat generated by the refrigerator. In other words, a very stupid place for a wine rack). Dad made this lovely stained glass piece for us to hang over the rack! Miraculously enough, the glass arrived in one piece. I think it looks great in the kitchen!
We picked up another bag of local vegetables. This bag included 2 zucchini, scallions, turnips (I know, not the most exciting), a lot of green beans (more exciting), carrots, salad, and some lovely little plums (did you notice the lack of potatoes? I think this might be the first bag we've gotten that doesn't include potatoes! And now I'm kind of missing them...). The plums were used right away to make a spiced plum sauce to go with roasted pork tenderloin, and some of the turnips were used to make a creamy turnip soup (I served both at a dinner party and didn't have time to take photos, but you can find the recipes here: turnip soup and pork tenderloin with plum sauce).
After visiting the States, Bobby and I both usually feel a need to detox from most American food. Since Bobby was in the States for 6 weeks, he really needed it! In fact, he came home with quite the sweet-tooth from eating so much processed, high fructose syrup-pumped food! So I decided to make us a meal that would fill us up with lots of vegetables, not be too warm with our muggy weather, and use up some of the vegetables from the week's vegetable bag. I used this New York Times recipe for cold noodles with grilled chicken and peanut sauce, though I made some changes (namely, I added a lot more and different kind of vegetables, and pre-cooked them... uncooked turnips and cabbage can do funny things to your stomach. I also used less chicken than was called for in the original recipe). I used my lovely mandolin to julienne some turnips, carrots, and zucchini, plus finely sliced green bell pepper and white cabbage. I quickly sautéed the vegetables, then let them cook, covered, with some soy sauce.
We don't have a grill, so I broiled the chicken. I used a few chicken legs and a thigh since it was what I had on hand.
I decided to add the green beans from the vegetable bag. I cooked them separately: using this recipe, I made some tasty, garlicky, spicy green beans which we eventually added to the finished noodle dish.
Once the rice noodles were cooked, I drained them then added the broiled chicken, green beans, and soy-glazed vegetables.
Next came the two sauces: a peanut sauce and a the dipping sauce.
Toss, toss, and try to not make too much of a mess.
The final product! Finished with fresh scallions, mint, and cilantro, this was a tasty dish that used 5 of the different vegetables from the vegetable bag (carrots, scallions, turnips, zucchini, and green beans). I'll admit that the dish took a good bit of work (you make three different sauces!) and time (make the sauces, marinade the chicken, cook the different vegetables, broil the chicken, boil the noodles), I think it was worth the effort. What else are Sundays for?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First bag of vegetables after the holidays

I picked up this lovely bag of Danish vegetables after getting home from my holiday to the States. It's a bit difficult for me to get through all of these vegetables by myself (Bobby comes home today, so he can start helping me!). In fact, the red cabbage hasn't been touched! Luckily for me, it will last forever in the refrigerator. The rest has been thoroughly enjoyed, though! As you can see, there is a bag of spinach, some chard, the aforementioned red cabbage, a bunch of scallions, a HUGE zucchini, a kilo of small little potatoes, an artichoke, some fresh dill, and some sugar snap peas.
I ate the sugar snap peas as a snack, sometimes with a dip I made of cremè fraîche, the pictured dill, fresh basil, lemon juice, and garlic. The artichoke was roasted, the leaves dipped in garlic butter and mayonnaise. I have no photos, but it was delicious!
For the chard, I decided to sauté it with some garlic and chili flakes. I first sautéed the garlic and chard stems, then added the leaves, plus a few splashed of water, and covered the pan to let the whole thing steam.
It was simple, quick, and delicious!
I used some of the sautéed chard to add to a Korean-ish burrito. This was my favorite dish of the week, and was inspired by an episode of The Mind of a Chef, which follows New York chef David Chang. I had used his recipe for bo ssam earlier in the week, and used some of the leftover meat, rice, and hot sauce for this burrito. I also added some of the sautéed chard and some of the fresh scallions I got in the bag. Any time I have left-over bo ssam, I will made this awesome burrito!
The spinach I got was not young spinach, and I'm actually not totally convinced it was spinach. I did use some of it for a salad; I made Yotem Ottolenghi's baby spinach salad with dates and almonds (featured in the New York Times last week, you can find the recipe here), but I substituted half of the salad with my odd spinach and the other half with neapolitan salad. I also used some of the spinach in a pasta bake, shown here. In addition to the spinach, I added some broccoli and cauliflower to the pasta, made a small amount of sauce using cremè fraîche, a bit of fresh mozzarella, and some grated salty cheese from Denmark's west coast. This was a nice, filling pasta with a lot of vegetable goodness.
I love roasting vegetables; they seem to compliment almost any meal. I roasted two big batches, the first of which included the huge zucchini and potatoes from the bag. I used the same cremè fraîche dip I mentioned above to accompany the vegetables.
And finally, soup. Also known as 'how to use the few remaining scraps of food hanging out in your fridge'. This particular soup featured the remaining spinach and potatoes from the bag, supplemented by a lone sausage I had left-over, some cabbage, carrots and onions, and a bit of spaghetti noodles that had found their way to the back of the pantry. Oh, and the one can of chickpeas that had also migrated to the back of the pantry. Hurray for economical, and healthy, meals!