Tag Archives: food

Saltygardener in Sweden?

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I’m not sure exactly where this post sits in saltygardener world. Definitely under travel but also very much under food as I didn’t seem to stop eating the whole time. Either way it was a wonderful, unexpected and very welcome diversion to Stockholm!
We started out in pure hotel luxury and although the room was awesome there were such little things that I appreciated so much more.  The first being an electric kettle for a cup of tea and a Nescafe pod coffee maker which I am not ashamed to admit I needed to call on the concierge for driving lessons. This simple level of ‘instant’ was a bit of a rush coming from our gas cooker for boiled water tropical lifestyle. Then came satellite TV, fresh sheets, a cloud for a pillow, a lovely cool room, a HOT shower with a head I didn’t have to hold up over me. Oh boy we were almost in nirvana folks and then I found the gourmet ROOM SERVICE menu and literally cried. As I said, it’s the little things.

Boatlife in SE Asia for a year has me fairly accustomed to going without the familiar and I guess I wasn’t at all prepared for the reverse culture shock. Take the simple experience of walking into a European (or even Swedish) supermarket.  I know, I know, not the height of adventure for most but that first aisle of mega bread choices with rustic, wholewheat, dark, cereals, spelt, crusty, baguettes and more OMG sent my head spinning.  Then came th cheese and meat choices and variety and oh yes – even with the foreign to me Swedish packaging – that lovely sense of familiarityDairy,red meats and any tinned foods (can you even imagine?) are not part of my local store that’s for sure.  As a bonus we had now moved into a self-contained apartment and this is where I confess to being both a market AND supermarket addict. I love nothing better than cruising aisles of ingredients imagining all the interesting local dishes that are created with them. Drives Captain Crackers (CC)bonkers as I literally can spend hours doing this… let’s just say he sent me out alone on the first excursion.

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Two cheese aisles was simply overwhelming

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With dinner secured it was great to join all the other summer tourists walking though cobbled streets of the city centre, waterside buildings had classical boats moored alongside,  ferries touted their river trips. The 3 hour  Shrimp and Tacos evening trip sounded intriguing if not authentically Swedish! The Royal Palace changed the guard and we walked the city, absorbed it,  rubber necked and loved every bit.

Having crossed the supermarket fix off it was time to drag Captain Crackers to the local market area in pursuit of the Östermalms Korvspecialist streetfood stall I had read about in visit sweden.  We found it Nybrogatan 55 and persevered with the massive list in Swedish until the girl took pity on us and offered an English version from behind the counter. I tried the house special which was suprisingly spicy even to my chilli loving taste and served with sauerkraut, potato salad, mustard and pickles. CC had one called The Austrian in a baguette and gave it a thumbs up. The sun was shining and we were able to use one of the 2 small tables by this roadside cafe which served us well to watch a steady stream of customers proving it was equally popular with the locals.

Next stop and pure foodie heaven was the Östermalmshallen at Östermalmstorg.  The prior sausage refuel was so we (ok, I) didn’t tackle this place on an empty stomach and buy a ton of food which would be impossible to consume in 1 day. Oh boy what a good tactic as danger hit the minute we entered and found some of the best of Swedish produce in reindeer, beef, pork, seafoods, smoked fish, gravadlax, roe/caviar, cakes, fruit, vegetables, beers, coffee and ready meals . All this inside a beautiful vaulted and skylit 1880’s building. It was wonderfully traditional, even CC loved it and rather than hinting to leave actually looked for a table to grab a beer and soak in the wonderful atmosphere. I crumbled and purchased traditional pickled herrings and fresh roe to add to our dinner menu and with that the budget was blown so we headed out for more foot touring.

I was only in Stockholm for 3 nights yet managed to put a mighty dint in my bucket list of ‘must try’ local delights. It really was an impressive degustation of cured meats, the classic shrimp sandwich,  local beers, cheeses, specialty crispbreads, pickles,  mustards, meatballs (of coarse!) and even salt liquorice. All I can say it was a very good thing the next stop on my travels was to be a mountain fitness boot camp. Thank you Stockholm,  you were wonderful!

Fixing bloggers block 101

What is happening with saltygardener.com?

 **crickets chirping**

Well for my 10 truly devoted followers you are all in for a bumpy ride over the next 3 weeks because I have signed up for a 21 day WordPress.com kick up the blogging butt. There is a daily assignment to blow out the dusty cobwebs and bring some life into both the site and the blogger I just know is within me.

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
I’ve never kept a personal journal. Living a nomadic travelling lifestlye aboard a sailing yacht I have so many crazy things to write home about and for the past few years I have posted fairly reguarly on Social Media. But lately Updates / Instas / Tweets leave me feeling kinda hollow. So I got to thinking about family and friends who are not on Facebook and realised I have left them without news or escapism or insight into my wierdo ways for a few years now. I also really enjoy the extended writing, the composition and the story telling of the ‘old’ email days. Well actually before email I wrote and sent postcards and letters from my travels – yes I am one of those dinosaurs.

So I am going to blog with the same intention. If a post sounds like a letter home to family and friends then good, its supposed to.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?
I am passionate about how people use plants, about growing and catching my own food, self sufficiency and the natural world. I love to travel, dive, snorkel, meet people, take pictures, try anything edible, forage, buy local and cook from scratch. I aspire to live minimally, be fearless, keep my global footprint tinier than my tiny floating home and be better at fixing stuff. I miss my family and friends. I think I’ll be writing about all these topics.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
Friends, extended family, vicarious travellers, foodies, gardeners, bloggers, fellow nomads, live-aboards, minimalists, nurses, ethno-botanists, sailors, first mates & crew, farmers, sales people, scientists, cartoonists, fishermen, divers, free spirits, comedians, chefs, domestic engineers, musicians, retirees, managers, analysts, artists, drivers, students…
please see above “I love… meeting people”

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
I really hope to have found a writing style that reflects who I am so that I can wear it comfortably and continue to write from the heart. I’ll have a larger, equally truly devoted group of followers who I feel connected to and eager to update on all the highs, low and epic parts of travelling the world by sailing boat. On the site design front I will learn more so that saltygardener.com can evolve into an organised, content rich blog which is easy to navigate and looks amazing.

Stay tuned!

Catching and preparing crabs

Cooked Mudcrab
A really impressive first catch, cooked in salted water with a little sugar for 10-12 mins.

I’ve been on the hunt for crabs ever since we arrived in Australia as they are right at the top of my list of favourite sea foods.  It all started with family fishing trips to the Swan River and Mandurah Estuary as a child. I have wonderful memories of a massive copper pot of freshly scooped Blue Manners boiling on a campfire – newspaper laid out on the foldout table with bread buttered and white pepper and vinegar at the ready for the gourmets amongst us.  We’d stuff the warm crab meat sandwich to bursting and the buttery juices would run down my hands with each delightful bite – heaven.

All grown up and living on the other side of the world in London they were not so easy to catch – I’m no contender for the “Deadliest Catch” series that’s for sure.   I resolved to them being caught and prepared for me, which tended to leave me somewhat disappointed.  When I first met my partner and planned to move onboard a boat for a large part of the summer I straight away called home and asked mum if she would bring me over a couple of drop net pots on her next visit.  Strange thing to ask for I guess, but she didn’t even blink.  They arrived as priority in her luggage (what a great mum!) and I couldn’t wait to get crabbing again.

Sailing Brittany in northern France each summer and learning from the locals I would head ashore on the low tide to set my pots near rock and hope for a selection of small rock crabs.  They never yielded much meat but really added that essential oomph to any stock or our staple seafood bouillabaisse.  The divine brown and spider crabs which could be purchased cooked or live from the  fishmongers were brought up from a depth that my simple pots could never reach and so became a regular treat for us when dining out.

Keep an eye on these masterful houdinis as they can easily escape many containers.  Encountering this one walking around the foredeck was an interesting experience.

Which is why I am so excited to have the larger crabs back on my catch list here in Eastern Australia.  Whilst we are in northern climes with mangrove-fringed shores it is the mudcrab I’m after as they will not be around as we head south.  My first beauty crawled into the pot I had thrown off the back of the boat just yesterday and the cooked version of him is starring in this blog header – gorgeous isn’t he?  The hardest part is deciding how to cook them – an online search for recipes returns a huge list.  Not only was he the first “muddie” I’d ever caught, it was the first caught crab in such a long time for me that he got the royal treatment.  Half was consumed warm and unadorned and was eye-rollingly delicious.  The other half was chilled overnight in the fridge and meat was extracted to be served tossed through spaghettini with olive oil, lemon juice and a few chilli flakes.

Male Blue Swimmer crab caught using a tin of sardines for bait

The same pot and bait caught a couple of blue swimmers today which are currently going zzzz in the freezer.  Until I get used to the fact that they are here in my life again with abundance I will be treasuring these guys steamed naturally, buttering the bread in anticipation, a little vinegar and black pepper at the ready.

I can’t wait to try our luck at catching a few spanner crabs, or Moreton Bay bugs as we head south to explore the coast towards Sydney.  Whatever we catch I’m very glad to say that crab is back on the menu!