Friday, August 30, 2013

An Excursion to Wanås

Last week we have been incredibly very active, or better in a different way than our usual and that has implied that we have taken advantage that this summer, here in Sweden, the weather has been incredibly nice and we did an excursion with some friends of ours. Thanks to their suggestion, we ended up visiting Wanås.

The location is at about one hour (and a bit more, especially if you get a fine on the way) from Lund and it is huge. The main thing is the park around the castle, a quite old and beautiful building which is still owned by the count Wachtmeister and is not accessible (but admirable).
Buildings around the castle, like some old barn, have been converted to being used for the exhibitions hosted in the park. Some exhibitions are permanent, others are seasonal.
In this barn you can buy tickets, souvenirs, ecological food among other things
The park is quite huge: I think one has to be there a full day to enjoy it and explore it in its complexity and beauty. It is beautiful not only because there are art pieces spread there and then, but also because it is very picturesque with the big pond and beautiful trees and vegetation.
The pond
The most fascinating thing is how the different art pieces melt very good in the environment and are also quite interactive. In fact, the kids managed to enjoy being there and not just get bored as they would do in an modern art museum!
Mamma, look at that ball!
And also for us, adults, it was interesting to be able to be in the masterpiece or do something with it. For example, two of Yoko Ono's works there were some of the things I liked the most. One was a series of trees (apple trees? ;D) with wishes written on piece of paper, hanging on it (as they often do in Shinto temples in Japan). Another one was a collection of ladders of different dimensions and appearance, used to "reach the sky".
Wishes trees for Wanås, Yoko Ono
Mattias reflecting himself
As said, some of the buildings are used in an artistic sense, not only to host works, but to be part of them. For example, one big barn, five stores high, had each floor used for representing something specific. It was very impressive because the building in itself was huge and depending on the light coming from the windows different effects were obtained.

Light games in a big barn
Wanås, though, is not just art. In 2011 Skånemejerier (a major diary product producer in south of Sweden) had promoted Wanås for ecological products. Nearby the park, a farm is producing milk for Skånemejerier and cows are visible in the stables. As far as I have understood, in spring there is a little event when the cattle is finally allowed to go out from the stables. Kids seems to enjoy such things ;-)
But cows are not the only animals living in Wanås..
A little frog
The ecological concept is not just limited to the cows and the milk. There is also an attempt to try to promote sustainable energy and for supporting this there is a building where biogas is is produced for heating up a radiator that everyone can touch.
Most interesting has been of course the food in the cafe'. With a very interesting menu, constituted by ecological and locally produced dishes, it was lovely to have the possibility to have lunch directly there.
Pork chop
Me and Mattias took a very nice pork chop. The portion was huge and the meat tasted like a pork chop has never tasted before! It was just great! Accessories to the chops were some potatoes, aioli, pesto and a nice cauliflower and carrot salad (and note, I usually don't like cauliflower!).
We also took, as dessert, a cheesecake, and that was something from another planet! With pecans and a very lovely consistency it was something that finished too quickly...

The whole day was a great experience: it was fun, interesting and we could spoil ourselves with great food.
The only bad thing is that Isabella didn't sleep so much in the car so she was lovely the rest of the afternoon, once home... :-)
Hope we will manage to come back one day, maybe not having to rush for making her or whoever else sleep after lunch!
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Portobello Market

No, we haven't been to London visiting Portobello Road Market, but few months ago we managed to organize one of our epic game afternoons (which few years back were regularly happening once a month!) and among the game played, we discover Portobello Market.
The game is over! ©Mattias Pettersson
The game is targeting a quite young bunch of players, but we thought that, strategically wise, it was not as simply as it could have been. Or maybe we made it more complicated ;-)
It is in general quite quick to learn (especially if one starts to play it) and it is also reasonably quick to play, hence perfect for us that nowadays don't have so much free time for being real geeks around some board game.

Goal of the game is to take the best location(s) for building stalls for the market and by doing that, one can be very nasty to the other players and that turned out, for us, to be the key point in order to win or lose. Nothing was given for granted and it was not so obvious which was the best strategy, neither who would have won, although it could have been guessed. What I mean is that the game turned out to be still open and not "one way" for the one that had the best luck at the beginning.

It is certainly not as exciting as Settlers, Ticket to Ride or Puerto Rico, but still, if one is hungry for a quick nice game this is just perfect!

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Monday, August 26, 2013

A workshop at Flädie Mat och Vingård

It has been years since I got the opportunity to be somewhere for work without me paying, so I was actually looking forward to the workshop I attended last week.
The location for the first day was Flädie Mat och Vingård, a nice place outside Lund where about 6000 plants of wine grapes grows and where some local wine is produced.
I don't know all the possibilities that the facility offers, but wine tasting, dinners, conferences and also weddings are some of the events that might take place there.

By being there the whole day, we had the opportunity to had lunch and dinner and also some breakfast and coffee breaks.
On top of the food, there was plenty of space for us to be divided in team and work and the environment was comfortable and, with a free wifi, gave us also a lot of freedom.

Food wise it was an interesting and sophisticated experience, although I think that presentation was emphasized over food sometimes.
The lunch
I like small appetizers and the lunch was constituted by a collection of different small dishes. It was just confusing if there was going to be something more or that was just the beginning of a long meal!
Unfortunately, we got disappointed and ended up have to pass the buffet several times.
The different dishes were quite interesting, from a beef salad with cilantro, to some pickled herrings served in a spoon, and a sort of pancake with some kind of jam.
The afternoon coffee break
The treat continued interrupting the hard work during the afternoon with a smoothie banana and passion-fruit (not that banana based smoothies are my favorites) and a nice chocolate pastry.
And after an hard day of work, we were all looking forward to the dinner.
The evening, I must confess was beautiful: it was still warm and the sun was starting to set. Being outside was pleasant and peaceful. It is a pity it was with work!!!
For the Swedes the amount of glasses and cutlery was in "Fantozzi style"
The appetizer: a salmon tartar with some roe and a potato sort of pancake (can't remember the name now)


Chocolate mousse, raspberry ice cream and a rhubarb pie
All the dishes were quite "sophisticated". For example, the ice cream base was fresh cheese, but for my taste I'd prefer a bit less accurate presentations and a bit more of food. Not that after eating (ehm, working) the whole day I did need some extra food, but when you are finally getting the taste for what you are eating...well, it was over!
On the funny side, with the "food" there were served different wines (and for the ones interested, also some non alcoholic drinks). When the dessert arrived, the non alcoholic variant of the wine (which was a Brachetto) turned out to be a "Sövde Musteri Must". Pity it was just made by Discovery apples, otherwise I would have suspected there was a percentage of our last year 450 of apples... :)
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

An interesting rice milk alternative

Tired of drinking milk considering all the recent studies?
Wanting an alternative that hasn't travelled all over the world (or at least part of it) and has a touch of exotic still?
If the answer is yes, and you want also to drink something ecologically produced I can recommend this product (advertisement mode on!):
Coconut Rice Milk
I can find it even in Sweden (well, I am not surprised since ecological products are quite common and often at a decent price) and it is made with Italian rice. The coconut taste just let summer comes in (also during the worst winter) and I think it is fantastic when used as a base for smoothies.
Will Isola Bio pay me now for promoting their products? :-)

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

A birthday at Sofiero castle

So, yesterday it was my 24th birthday and we decided to have a little excursion (just to make Isabella's routines wonderfully easy to follow).
The location of our trip was Sofiero Castle, nearby Helsingborg. We decided to go there, despite not being the ideal season (in spring it should be even more beautiful) because I read about it in one of my magazines about old houses and it described the park as born in the same period as our house and of English inspiration. It seemed fitting our "master plan" and it would have been a good inspirational source.

The weather though was not that good, but this turned out to be an advantage since there was basically noone else in the park. There was a lot to watch and explore, but we did go just a quite short stroll, since we arrived a bit later than planned and we still needed to respect some minimal fixed hours for Isabella (the sleep, however, didn't turn out that good).

The park is indeed very beautiful and I enjoyed going through what was described in my magazine and trying to understand how we could improve our garden (in a far far far future). Some parts were very amazing and I can't imagine how it would be to have that enormous park blooming in all directions thanks to the enormoous rhododendrum!

We stopped for lunch at the cafe', since the restaurant was unfortunately closed and the food was ok, but very basic (and a little bit expensive). The view from there was just breathtaking, though!
On the beach of the park it was also possible to see Helsingör and the ferries going from Helsingborg to Denmark.

View from the restaurant
The meridian at the terrace of the cafe'

A big bunch of things to watch, we had to leave for another occasion. We really didn't have time, but maybe they are just peculiar and it was enough to observe them from distance?
Gunilla Bandolin's sculpture can be observed from the cafe' terrace
We did manage to give a quick look at the castle, although I would have wanted to look more carefully, before Isabella tried to jump in one of the rooms and play with one of the old toys. Playing in the royal kids garden houses (with a lot of princess clothing) was not enough, clearly!

Oskar style room
Inside the castle it is possible to observe the three main styles that have been used during its "royal life". The first style, a bit heavier, it is called "Oskar style", thanks to the king who built Sofiero. The style is a bit heavy in colors and decorations and it is from the end of 18th century.

When Gustav VI Adolf and Margareta took over Sofiero 1905, Margareta not only had a lovely touch in the whole garden but "refreshed" the interior with a touch of jugend.
Unfortunately, I couldn't take a better picture since Isabella was ready to jump on the rocking horse there...

Modern Gustavian style
Finally, there was a nice touch of Carl Malmsten and Gustavian style in the last room. Very beautiful. Pity I didn't have time to look at it better!

The castle
This was surely a very short visit. Hope we will manage to organize another adventure in the park when the rhododendrum will be at their best!
Bye bye Sofiero, see you next time! 

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

An evening at Far i Hatten

Sometimes it is nice to be able to go out with some friend and have a cosy evening together. Although, one is missing those evenings where one, as a couple, could go out and enjoy some new place.
It is even nicer when the friend is actually enjoying nice food and suggest good places where to eat and/or have a nice atmosphere.

This is the case of Far i Hatten (Father with Hat) which is located in Malmö Folkets Park and is definitely a "multipurpose" place. Music, food, lunch, drinks, foozball tables and also a cafe'. Maybe a bit too much, one could think, but everything is melting into each other without too much fuzz.

We went there for dinner and the place was swarmed with people. I can't really say that the place is cosy, but in a summer evening you don't want to feel like it is an autumn living room, right? And the atmosphere just was perfect for an holiday evening, when you just want to relax in a casual place.

The menu is not too huge, but has some decent variation so one can combine different items and be full afterwards. The ingredients are tendentially ecological and locally produced, so it is nice when one can eat local specialities that are hard to be found in other place. Unconventional is good (if not too odd) and the Alsatian  "pizza" was perfectly fitting in the context.

We splitted an antipasto, which was rich in salame, cheese, some vegetables and some local ham and then we dove into the Alsatian pizza and it was great in order to fill full and satisfied. The Tarte Flambee' was rich with creme fraiche and senap, and hence not exactly light. Unfortunately, the topping was too enriched of red onion, which I think made it a bit too heavy, but otherwise, it was a great dish and the version I took, with olives and rocket sallad did make a very nice contrast to the rich dressing.

It is also good to know that the menu is semi static. This means maybe some dishes are changed during the season, but from week to week one can eat small variations in some dishes (e.g. the antipasto) and having a quite discrete amount of different main dishes makes it hard to have somebody get bored immediately.

Unfortunately, we were so focused in chatting that I forgot to take a picture of the tarte flambee', but I hope there will be a next occasion to refresh a pleasant evening with a friend (but maybe it will be in some other place? ;D)
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

O´learys @ Malmö Entre´

Lately we have been observing an increment in the population of "Sport bar" restaurants. Not only, they usually belong to chains. This is the case, for example, of O´learys.
The advantage of such a place is that there is for sure a lot of space, if you are going with a big group of people they are quite flexible in order to accommodate everyone and offer some "package" meal. This usually includes also some activities and at O´learys in Malmö there are a lot of options, since there is a bowling connected to it.

Said this, if one is into beer, watching sport, doing something with a bunch of friends, this is a very good place to be. But if one is expecting to eat something decent, he should look somewhere else.

I ended up at O´learys few months back, with my previous colleagues, as a goodbye activity. It was nice to meet them all there and it was nice to play a bit of bowling with them, although I am not very good at it.
Pity though that since I am not into beer or watching sport, I was more interested in the food and that was a big disappointment.
Afterall, it is not very complicated to prepare a burger with some french fries, as they do in many other Sport bars, but it seems this was a very difficult task for them.
For how cosy it was to get the food in a little basket, the amount of french fries was ridiculously small and the burger was soggy and not tasting anything special. I think that if we would have been eating at Max it´d be better. But of course, these kind of places are more about the "experience" than the food and when people have been drinking a couple of beers or more, they probably are not paying attention at what kind of food is really reaching their belly.
Still, I am not sure this would have happened in other countries: I still believe that it would have taken so little to have a better food experience, but still that was a nice evening and I guess that is what they are trying to march on :)

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Prosciutto made in Sweden

After a small summer break and few posts about manga, it is time to go back to one of my favorite themes: food.
During one of our regular summer tours, the one in Kalmar, we had the opportunity to see some new items in the "delikatessdisken" (deli counter), one of which made us quite curious and interested.
Yes, it seems that finally also Sweden is trying to produce their own air-dried ham (lufttorkad skinka or better some cold cut of the prosciutto family).
Presentation over the ham

The ham
Of course, the inspiration comes from Italy and an Italian family from Parma is involved in the experiment while the Swedish counterpart is located in Dalsjöfors (not too far from Göteborg).
Reserva has a quite high price, but it is absolutely worthy to be tried and tasted. If one expects the classical prosciutto di Parma taste or maybe some of the Spanish variants, then he will be disappointed. It has quite some differences.
Despite this, the taste grows and grows more one eats it. The only pity is that I haven´t yet seen it in other shops yet.
If you want to read more about this, please check this page.
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Koronde Pokkle, by Yumiko Igarashi

Koronde pokkle vol.3Koronde pokkle vol.3 by Yumiko Igarashi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Of course the most remarkable aspect of Koronde pokkle are the drawings. When you see Igarashi's name on something you know that you will get that granted.
But for how pleasant the drawings are, the story lacks some deepness and a hunch of realism.
We know that most of the shojo portrays young girls living experiences that more mature ones would instead live, but I think it would be enough for this specific manga to change the target from "junior high school" to "high school". I find it so absurd to see a girl around 11-12 planning to open a shop and achieving that by giving love suggestions to her classmates!
However, a dream is a dream and that is the main spark for which the characters are fighting and it is clear that without a goal in life, one can't get that far away.
As in all the most classical shojo, also the characters that were creating some obstacles, turn out to be good and finally find their own path, that happening in parallel with the main character finding happiness.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sakuragaki, by Yu Watase

Sakuragari: 3Sakuragari: 3 by Yuu Watase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially, I thought that this was nothing extraordinary, but maybe because I didn't like the harsh parts of the story as well as I thought it was a bit too much to digest.
If in a way I didn't want to read this, on the other hand I couldn't let the manga in peace until I could find how the story would end.
There are so many relevant themes that are highlighted that one could drown into them considering also their weight and how bluntly they are exposed to the reader. However, the drawings - the classical Watase style, fresh and delicate, despite the story - and the characters constitute the key point in parallel with discovering all the truth behind the events.
The setting is also impressive, although one could claim it is not perfectly accurate, however it is clear that there is an historical effort and it is very interesting to see how the background is actually impacting characters and events.

I didn't expect this to bring up though yaoi elements, however, I would possibly consider this manga an exception if labelled so. I could think it is in some sense close to how some shojo manga are instead developing.

If it wouldn't be for the too much violence, I would have rated this higher, however, sometimes I think it was just exaggerated.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bunbetsu to Takan, by Hina Sakurada

Bunbetsu to TakanBunbetsu to Takan by Hina Sakurada
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the title and the reviews I had read I was actually expecting something else, more in line with the italian title of the publication (Sense and Sensibility).
However, I found a typical modern manga, or better a collection of stories, where the main one has as characters very young teenagers who live more grown up experiences.
Although the themes (temptation, reason and logic, passion) are interesting I think the story could have been a bit less "superficial", as it has been put it feels that everything is just an adolescent whim.
The other stories are nothing extraordinary: I always think that such short stories have to be extraordinary or they will be too quick to bring anything relevant to the reader.
Despite this, I must admit that the drawings were very nice (even though I am usually not that fond of the modern shojo style) and one of the things I enjoyed the most was the emphasys that was put on the facial expressions.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Body & Soul, by Erica Sakurazawa

Body & Soul, Tome 2Body & Soul, Tome 2 by Erica Sakurazawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is nice to read something that it is not the usual: meet-a-guy/impress him/have-a-lot-of-doubts/deal with it and all the hobstacles/happy-ending.
This is mainly about the development of the protagonist and, in my opinion, the highlighting of how "today" is and how it affects people, and especially women.
People do not find the cause of their problems: they just try to find patches that can temporarily making feel them better. But it doesn't work, the body and the soul will pay for all these mistakes.
And, in this manga, this is reflected in the wrong relationships carried on by the protagonist as well as how to deal with common health issues.
The manga is targetting mainly women, but I think it could be enjoyed by a younger reader and even a man, although I would think that he would find some things a bit silly and ridiculous.
The drawings are quite modern, they reminded me of "Kimi wa pet", but slightly less sophisticated and detailed.
I enjoyed both the story, as well as the "recommendations" (or suggestions) proposed at the beginning of each chapter, although there was a bit too much obsession towards "sweating" (!).
It was maybe very simplified that finally the protagonist, Miku, gets enlightened and find that all the things said to her were actually correct, but it shows also her way to find her indipendence from her fear to be alone.
The manga takes place in just two volumes and it is perfect, since it doesn't have the time to become too boring or too ripetitive.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lady! by Yoko Hanabusa

Lady Vol. 12Lady Vol. 12 by Yoko Hanabusa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember watching this anime when I was small, but I saw just some episode there and then and I was never hooked by it (there were already too many cartoons with tragedies/sad stories/poor protagonists around!), also possibly due to a bad adaptation.
I decided though to buy the manga since I wanted to know how the story really was and I thought I'd like it, as I usually like "old" manga.
In fact, I was not disappointed by it, even though there is not an enormous (or unexpected) development of the characters.
The plot is surely nothing very revolutionary. There are big hints on how things will turn out and there are plenty of hobstacles that will be solved very elegantly by the "heroes" of the story.
As one might guess, certain characters from being very surly or spiteful will turn out nicer and nicer, reminding me of some of Candy Candy villains.
However, the drawings are very nice (or in line with my expectations) and the story is catchy enough to not becoming too boring or ripetitive, ending with a positive, but open finale without concluding it without falling into obviousness.
For the ones nostalgic as I, this is surely something that deserves attention!

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