Not quite…I had a capuccino actually. Are the golden letters in celebration of Maurice’s birthday? Who knows…
What I do know is that they have some pretty good capuccino at Maurice. With enough milk, just the way I like it, without even asking.
Maurice is the name of Veronique Leysen’s Antwerp based coffee bar. I heard Veronique talk about her professional plans in a Belgian tv show a few years ago. She named her coffee house after her grandfather, whose picture is proudly displayed above the counter. This young lady also sells knitwear (e.g. scarves, pullovers) in a corner of her coffee house. This sounded so original I decided to visit ‘Maurice’ the next time I was in the neighborhood, which was last weekend. They were open and I wasn’t in a rush. If a coffeebar is on my ‘to drink’ list I will get there, sooner or later…
You can find Maurice at the end of the Meir, the well known and large shopping street of Antwerp. You know, just in case you get hungry and/or tired from all your shopping…the entry is through the KBC bank (they share the ground floor)
Couscous makes good comfort food. Because boy did I need comfort and calming down a few weeks ago. I used to scramble down my writings in the ‘drafts’ part of wordpress before publishing. One day I logged in and read the words ‘NO DRAFTS’. They might as well have told me “there’s a boa constrictor in your bathroom”. A large one, with an A+ for constricting… I started panicking. Several features had disappeared from the dashboard, such as wp administrator and media library. I posted the case on the forum, but without receiving an answer. Somehow, today the drafts have re-appeared. Christmas magic? I somehow managed to retreive my second article on Sweden, but felt tired and nervous afterwards. It was way past dinnertime, and very near bedtime. Luckily my dad had made a batch of couscous earlier that week, and insisted I took some home. Couscous is made from grains. This food is made with a steamer (and tastes heavenly when you add some butter). In papounet’s version a sauce with chickpeas,olives,cowmeat and sometimes even shrimps is poured on top. The dish originates from North Africa. That couscous was so good it made me smile, the evil IT perils seemed less worse. Hence the name papounet’s (informal French for dad’s) couscous against panic.
So, here it is…finally: part two of my travel story in Stockholm. The trip itself was made a few months ago, due to a busy work and home-schedule the second part arrived a bit later than planned. However, since this part focuses on shopping and style, so the places I mention can be visited all year round…
When planning to visit Sweden’s capital there are several hotspots you can read about in loads of travel guides and brochures. One of these is Gamla Stan (the old town). Although several of its streets are quite touristic, I really think it’s worth visiting. Just follow your curiosity and wander. If some streets seem a bit too busy, take a turn and you’ll discover new ones. The Stora Nygatan for instance is a long street with interesting clothing stores, jewelry with a twist and eating venues (they have a Ben&Jerry’s ! for instance).
If you’re into sweets, especially artisanally made ones with cool packaging, do visit the Polkagris shop (picture with polkagris above). You can find the shop at Lilla Nygatan 10.
*tip: the Swedish word for sweets is godis (wonder why I remember that one so well…)
This doesn’t concern the temperature, but a trendy and cool part of town called Södermalm.
Södermalm is home to well known shops such as Acne (jeans,sweaters,coats,…) and Stutterheim (high quality raincoats).You can also visit small, independent shops such as Caroline Hjerpe’s jewellery shop, which sells beautiful rings, bracelets, earrings with a pure and modern design.
I got off the tube or Tunnelbana at Medborgarplatsen and walked to åsögatan . From there I wandered to the rest of Södermalm. The Stutterheim and Caroline Hjerpe shop can be found at åsögatan. Another interesting place in this street is Söders café. They have the definition of Fika written on the window, the staff is very friendly and enthusiastic. It was so warm in July that the guy behind the counter greeted me with “welcome to the sauna”. However,one can also choose to sit outside and enjoy the sun.I had a bagel with smoked salmon,dill and a zest of lemon.
Watch your watch…
If you want to go on a shopping spree,you’ll find that opening hours between 10am and 6pm are quite common. However on saturday the shops tend to close earlier: at 4pm. So, watch your watch and be an early bird.
The Swedish Style
I like to ‘blend in’ while travelling, so I try to keep moments when I have to fold out my tourist map to a minimum (thank you smartphone). I find it interesting to experience some of the day-to-day things locals do. One of these experiences concerns sampling local treats for instance, you can read part 1 for more tips on this subject.
What I mean by ‘The Swedish Style’ is not only trying local specialities but also trying out the local look. Buns for instance: I noticed that several Swedish girls/women like a hassle-free style, and ‘wrapping’ your hair into a nice bun fits in with this idea. So I blowed out my fizzy frizzy hair and had a bun-moment (so comfortable).
And, coincidentally, in the photo above I happened to be wearing a t-shirt and trousers from a large Swedish clothing brand. ‘Blend in’ mission complete?
This is a condensed, compact version of many themes I want to write articles about. Let’s get started so you can find out more about Aypau!
Part 1 : chocolate
My favourite kind of chocolate?
This depends on the manufacturer, brand and how I use the chocolate.
At the moment my favourite milk chocolate is made with cocoa beans from Vanuatu. I love to eat it raw, this means I don’t use it to make desserts. Belgian chocolate maker Dolfin is one of my favourites who offer this delectable variety.
My favourite black chocolate – yes, I like chocolate so much I actually have favourites within each type (and subtype!) – contains spices and organge peel flavour. It’s produced by Green & Black’s from the UK. I don’t import it as this chocolate is also sold outside Britain, in organic food stores for example. And yes, it’s affordable.
Just to make this answer a bit more complete I have to mention white chocolate (for the record). I usually don’t eat white chocolate (I really don’t), but will gladly make an exeption for Vivani, who add vanilla to their version of white chocolate. (you can also find this brand in organic food stores). The first time I bought this chocolate I melted it to dip strawberries in. Before doing this ofcourse I had to sample what it tastes like in its pure form. It convinced me! How to melt white chocolate successfully is another story though…(advice is welcome)
What’s your favourite? Do tell me in the comment section by clicking on the article’s title first.
July 2016 – I broke with the tradition of going on a holiday during the calmer periods of the year. My choice was a country with islands, beaches, sunshine, good food and…where I can practice my new language.
Ibiza? No, too cool for me (not cool as in cold ofcourse)
Sydney? No, I would go gaga spending that much time on a plane
Hawai? No, but maybe next time.
The Carribean? “Me don’t speak Patois”…(yet)
Destination? The trendy capital of Sweden: Stockholm.
Part 1 features island hopping, the Swedish coffee break and my experiences with learning Swedish. You’ll find interesting links with ‘more Sweden’ at the end of the article. Part 2 is due as from mid- October and will feature shopping and style information.
A Thousand Islands
One of my main reasons for choosing Stockholm is that you can stay in an urban setting with numerous fine distractions during day & night and also enjoy idyllic isolated areas with pastures, small forests and lakes.
The islands near Stockholm (which is a combination of islands itself) are called The archipelago. There are literally thousands of them! Some are the size of a large rock, while others are worth a daytrip.
I visited the small but very green island of Grinda (Southern Grinda). My criteria were: an island that is easy to reach in less than 3 hours and which is not too crowded. Due to the wonderful weather in July there actually were a lot of visitors, but not up to the point of having to queue a long time everywhere. When you get straight off the boat there are large rocks and a small strip of beach where you can soak up the sun and go for a swim. There were only a few people on that part of the island during late afternoon, so absolutely fine and calm for me.
How to reach Grinda? I took the boat at Kungsträdgården in Stockholm. Waxholmsbolaget operates beautiful boats with vintage wooden interiors. You can take a seat inside or on the deck where you can feel the breeze. It’s possible to have a meal,drink or snack on the boat (or to bring your own lunch alternatively). It’s best to queue at least 30 min. prior to your boat’s departure during the summer season(queues). The boat makes several stops and tickets can be bought on board.
Time to eat (and drink)
I’ll concentrate on ‘fika’- which is my favourite part of Swedish food and drink culture – in this article.
A fika is a coffee break, which you can enjoy with other people or just by yourself. The definition isn’t very strict: you can also have e.g. lemonade, tea or a milkshake…instead of ‘Kaffe’ (coffee)
And it gets better! Pastry makes it complete. Two all time classics are the chokladboll* and the cinnamon roll (Kanellboll). The complete range of Swedish desserts is much larger though…
Do it yourself: Chokladboll
A Chokladboll is, simply translated a chocolate ball. It’s key ingredients are cocoa, oatmeal, butter or margarine and a sweetener (usually sugar). I used a traditional recipe (chokladbollar.net) as a base, and made a custom version (that is also suitable for vegans)
3 table spoons of cocoa
300 ml of oatmeal
100 gr of margarine
150 ml of rice sirup
a pinch of vanilla sugar
grinded dry coconut
Mix the sirup and margarine in a large bowl. You want to obtain a homogenous mass. Add the oatmeal and cocoa. The mixture is now ready for you to start rolling it into little balls. It’s sticky and that’s why you’ll gently roll it through the grinded coconut until the ball is covered. You can roll 10 medium chokladbollar with this quantity (or more smaller ones).
You now have a Swedish companion for your coffee, enjoy!
Talar du Svenska ?
[Do you speak Swedish?]
As mentioned in the introduction, I got the chance to practice the Swedish language during the summer. I started learning Swedish in november 2015 by using the duolingo app. I took ‘speaking lessons’ a few months later with a Swedish student. Learning a new language takes time, however the app made it very accessible to get started.(another thing to remove from the bucket list). For me, speaking with a native Swede made my knowledge evolve in a few weeks. I can now have a simple conversation and be understood, what a relief! By the way, the Swedes were patient and pleasantly surprised that I could speak a bit of their language, so if you’re learning and you want to practice: don’t be shy…
I’m more than enthusiastic about the latest new member of my kitchen: a moka espresso maker by Bialetti.
While on a holiday I looked for some kind of appliance to brew my coffee in the morning. My host had an espresso maker and luckily a few years earlier a flatmate told me how this curious object works.
Then came the quest for ground coffee. The holiday apartment had loads of tea in its cupboards…but where was the black gold that I so (desperately) need to start the day?
After close inspection I found hazelnut coffee. This type of coffee, as a shopkeeper told me, is either the result of hazelnuts being added during the roasting process, or the outcome of ground hazelnuts that are mixed with the coffee (which is roasted on its own).
Anyway, it’s my new favourite and it tasted so good in the espresso maker!
Bialetti espresso makers are quick and easy to use. They work by being placed on a heat source such as an electric or gas cooker and are very affordable. Mine was purchased in a shop that sells small kitchen appliances such as toasters and baking utensils.
First day on the job, six months ago. I told my new colleagues about my plans to cut back on chocolate and desserts. They started laughing and one of them said “If you’re trying to cut back on sweets you chose the wrong team”. We all had a laugh, the ice was broken.
I still enjoy working in the same team, even though I eat less desserts (they forgive me, sort of). Most in the team love food – as you’ve guessed by now – and we regularly discuss it.
Colleague A and me have a short conversation about our dinner plans each day. She meticulously describes which dish she’ll consume and how to prepare it. Especially the latter description is usually mouthwatering. Somewhat like Nigella Lawson’s cooking programme.
So here’s a taste of culinary indulgence: Banana in the oven.
You simply peel a ripe banana and place it on an ovendish with bits of chocolate on top. Then you sprinkle it with sugar! I don’t know how long it’s supposed to stay in the oven, or the exact temperature (I recommend 150 C°max).You can watch the sugar and the chocolate melt, and see the banana get mushy. If that isn’t a sight to die for…
The Marshmellow files
Do you recognize that moment during lunchtime when you get a bit bored by your usual sandwiches? Then one of your colleagues suggests a silly idea and you answer “hey, why not?”
The ‘silly idea’ was to put a marshmellow in the microwave for 20 seconds. A few of us argued with colleague B that this was not a good idea as the Marshmellow would seriously explode. My tastebuds and curiosity were triggered though, and I decided to test the idea. The solution is to place the treat on a small plate and leave it in the microwave (on medium power!)for about 3 seconds. It will pop, but so slightly that nothing gets messy. You will enjoy melted chocolate and semi fluid white marshmellow.
Fun and easy!