This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Hot wall

hetvaggHetvägg (”hot wall”). With marzipan. Just like it used to be for hundreds of years. While most people in Finland prefer their bun dry in hand, mine definitely likes hot milk better.

This is what people relish in the Nordic countries on Shrove Tuesday (called Fat Tuesday in Swedish). In Finland the day is “laskiainen”, an untranslatable “sliding day”. Not only because one begins the slide towards Easter and spring, but quite literally because one is supposed to rush down snowy hills with one’s behind seated on a coaster or in a plastic sled, regardless of one’s age and bone health.

Therefore, a Finnish or Swedish Shrove Tuesday is also celebrated with hot pea soup – and possibly a sip of arrack punch.

(Helsinki, Finland; March 2019)


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Dear Bali, I am back!

balifood-1Apologies for the food photo, but I am on Bali (yes, again). Thus this will not remain as the only one from my stay. You see, the healthy, locally produced (and mostly raw) food trend is on another level here.

Today I spent a few hours on a packed Air Asia flight from Singapore to Denpasar. It is astonishing how people cannot stay in their seats for as long as the seatbelt sign remains on due to bad weather. The crew patiently called for people to sit down, for a total of four times. Even children were out of their seats. I cannot quite understand such parenting, as the risk (while rare) is real that the children damage their necks and heads in the turbulence.

The weather was cloudy and choppy as we made our way towards Bali. After waiting for an entire hour in a congested immigration checkpoint, I was met by Gede, the owner of the homestay in Canggu I am staying at. Finally I get to stay in a traditional Balinese house.

But first, this delicious dinner in Betelnut Café.

(Canggu, Bali, Indonesia; August 2018)


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Swiss cheese

fondueThere are no holes in Swiss cheese in its proper form: melted into a fondue pan, and mixed with white wine and a hint of garlic. In this form it is solid, warming energy on a cold winter’s day. Fat and carbs galore (because oh, all the bread served!).

There are three tricks to survive this bonanza AND feel good: 1) sparkling water; 2) digestive enzymes, or 3) a shot of something afterwards. This time I had no pills and did not request sparkling water – and thus was offered cherry schnapps afterwards. At least it was past noon – barely.

(Zurich, Switzerland; February 2018)


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Les Halles

leshalles-2Les Halles in Zurich is not like Les Halles in Paris. Its is much better. Sure, you get Moules (mussels) there, too, but the feeling is that of a food hall and not of a modern shopping center.

There even are bicycles and sneakers hanging from the ceiling, to create that “authentic hipster feeling” (is that an oxymoron by the way?).

The moules were excellent. The food is cheap. Only cash is accepted. Do book before you go.leshalles(Zurich, Switzerland; February 2018)


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The Nordic version of Carnival

laskiaisbunThe laskiaispulla (FIN), or fastlagsbulle (Swedish dialect in FIN), fastelavnsbolle (NO) or semla (SE) is one hell of a calorie bomb: sweetbread carved out to harbor a clump of juicy, bitter-almond tasting marzipan (or raspberry jam for the heretics), with a cloud of whipped cream on top. But what else do you want on a cold February Shrove Tuesday when the body craves for energy?

This is as close as we get to Carnival in the Nordics: one or several laskiaispulla before 40 days of “fasting” (over here it was mainly cutting out the superfluous) before Easter. Except I don’t know of anyone who actually fasts. It seems to be a nearly dead tradition – and why? In the middle of the carbohydrate frenzy our body seems to prefer during the cold months, take 40 days and really consider every piece of simple, unextravagant food you put in your mouth. Cut down on sugar, leave out the booze. And kick-start it all with a few laskiaispullas in the ancient fashion: served in a bowl of hot milk. This dish is called “hetvägg” in Sweden (hot wall). Try it and you’ll find out why.

(Stockholm, Sweden; February 2018)


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Das Original

vienna-26Today we wanted to have the cake and eat it, too. And it was possible, because Hotel Sacher both serves and sells its famous torte. But who knew that the lunch menu at Café Sacher was so delicious? And that the walls were a bright red, and the china sparkling white? And the service so graceful. It all really became less about the cake and more about the entire experience.

The cake shop clerk recommended to not buy a big cake but single-serving cakes, if possible. Because there is more chocolate and jam per mass, and that makes it all so much better. We agree.
vienna-27(Café Sacher, Vienna, Austria; February 2017)