9 more reasons to love cloudberries

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Fresh cloudberries in the flesh

It’s been almost two years since I announced to the world that cloudberries are my crack. Since then my dependency has grown worse, exacerbated by a recent trip to the northern hemisphere where I had more access to the goods than I could handle. I’m literally on a cloudberry high as I write this.

I’ve waxed lyrical about these babies before. Their rarity. Their delicacy. Their sweet, sweet, but tart taste that has my eyes lolling in my head. My habit started with cloudberry jam in London and peaked with fresh berries in Helsinki. I’m too far gone to stop now.

But this year I took it to a whole new level. Cloudberry yoghurt? Yep. Cloudberries and fried cheese? All over it. Cloudberry soap? Absolutely (but only topically mind you – even I have limits). Cloudberries found their way into my world no less than nine times this July.

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Delicious yoghurt flavoured with Swedish cloudberries

Cloudberry yoghurt

Clouberries are called hjortron in Sweden, pronounced ‘you-tron’. I don’t even have to hint to my Swedish friends anymore, they know how much I love them. On my first morning in the northern Swedish city of Sundsvall, I was greeted with a delicious breakfast spread by my adopted Swedish mother, Ing-Mari. Amongst the crisp rye bread and västerbotten cheese was a carton of hjortron fjäll – a thin rich yoghurt flavoured with my favourite berries. What a way to start the day!

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Cloudberry jam is where my addiction started

Cloudberry Jam

This is how is all began for me and is probably the most well known and well travelled cloudberry product. If you’re lucky you can even find it at IKEA (if you live in Sydney don’t even bother trying the Tempe store, I generally clean them out). It’s ubiquitous in Sweden and I had to start restricting my purchases as it’s not very practical to transport around the world.

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the fidgety foodie_9 more reasons to love cloudberries

The unbelievably tasty combo of fried camembert and cloudberry jam

Cloudberry jam… with cheese!

Cheese and jam is a winning combination, nothing makes me go weak at the knees like a hunk of blue cheese stacked with quince jam. That was until the day I discovered fried camembert with cloudberry jam at a street market in Skelleftea, up in Swedish Lapland. The fried cheese had a crispy exterior, gooey cheesy interior, and worked delightfully with the heady sweetness of cloudberries.

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Cloudberries are a cornerstone of Swedish dessert menus

Cloudberry dessert

It’s not uncommon to see cloudberry jam or sauce featured on Swedish dessert menus. The ante was upped, however, on a dining experience in Umeå, where I came across rullrån with mascarpone and cloudberries. Crispy cigar wafers were filled with mascarpone and served on a bed of macerated cloudberries and it was a sensational combination. Can’t wait to recreate this one at home. Read More

A year of heart stopping coffee moments

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A perfect Leipzig coffee

A day doesn’t pass when a cup of the good stuff doesn’t pass my lips. Not because I’m addicted or because it gives me an energy boost (although I’m not denying either of those points).

Rather my daily coffee is a ritual. The where, how and who are just as important as the what. What use is great coffee in a soulless room with a lone grumpy staffer playing bad music? Only the whole coffee package will percolate through my memory long after the event.

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Steffen and his portable Lieblingskaffee

I had my first heart stopping coffee moment in the east German city of Leipzig. My friends Marc and Kathleen took me to Lene Voigt Park, a stunning expanse of green which seemed strangely elongated until I discovered it’s on the site of old train tracks. Here they introduced me Steffen who runs Lieblingskaffee, literally meaning ‘favourite coffee’.

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Steffen takes his time making each filter coffee

Steffen cycles his café into the park daily and sets up camp. Everything he needs is cleverly packed away and unfolded when needed. Ikea would have a field day with this design. Steffen takes his time with each coffee – carefully filtering it to deliver a smooth and sprightly cup.

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Hanging out in Lene Voigt Park

The coffee was tasty. But the moment was heaven. A roaring sun, Marc strumming away on his guitar, locals stopping by to say hi. If you’re ever in Leipzig, you must track down Steffen and this idyllic park.

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Classic Irish coffee – just don’t ask for the recipe

In Ireland, if you mention ‘the good stuff’ they inevitably think you want a pint of Guinness. Thankfully Irish coffee is as ubiquitous as stout, unfortunately the recipe is almost as carefully guarded. Neven and I couldn’t find a single bartender who would reveal the recipe and they purposely made it out of eye’s sight, dammit.

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Can you tell which one is the Irish coffee?

A quick google revealed it was as simple as hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with an almost impermeable layer of thick cream. After a chilly day exploring the Connemara district, nothing is more welcoming than a warm pub, cosy fire and large glass of this delicious concoction.

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Getting some perspective at Monmouth Coffee

And now over to London’s Monmouth Coffee. Big deal I hear you saying. Monmouth Coffee tops every ‘best coffee’ list in London so it’s hardly an unsung hero or undiscovered gem. But by god is it marvellous. The coffee itself is of course sublime – a good body, distinct caramel notes and organic Jersey whole milk make the best latte of your life. But it tastes all the more special when you’re perched precariously on a wooden stool that took twenty minute of shameless hovering to secure, looking down at the mayhem of Borough Market. Then turn you gaze turns upwards to the arresting figure of the Shard. Now that’s a money-can’t-buy view.

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In Sweden I become a fika fiend

Accoutrements are important for any coffee experience. And in Sweden that means kanelbulle or cinnamon buns. I’ve exposed my weakness for these babies before but it’s not just me – all Swedes are engineered to consume coffee and kanelbulle on a daily basis in the name of fika. The coffee in question was in the old town of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, with my local friend Claire. It was Claire who insisted I try the chokladbollar or chocolate ball (”Only if I can still order a cinnamon bun” was my response), beloved of children all over Sweden.

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Proper iced coffee

It wouldn’t be a true list without some Sydney representation. My favourite coffee moment of late was an iced coffee on a hot day with Cheryl in Cremorne. I’m always nervous about ordering an iced coffee. Cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos are (almost) universally recognised and generally resemble your expectations. But you’re playing with fire (or ice?) when you order an iced coffee – it’s open to interpretation. So Bread & Butter’s cold drop coffee with icy milk and a dusting of cinnamon really hit the spot. I think the drink-in-jar moment may have passed though (you know the zeitgeist has moved on once it’s on the shelves of Kmart).

And to finish, here is my all time favourite coffee moment of the past year:

“One iced coffee please˝ I asked my waiter politely while enjoying the afternoon sun with friends in downtown Mallorca.

And this is what was served.

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Iced coffee – just like I ordered

Technically he delivered what I ordered. But now you see why I get nervous ordering iced coffee!

The Purple Collection

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Image by Pantone

It was inevitable wasn´t it? Yes, my friends are nodding. For I am obsessed with this colour.

But I do not stand alone. Pantone, the absolute authority on colour, declared the 2014 Colour of the Year to be purple. Well Radiant Orchid to be precise. Number 18-3224 if you want to be really precise.

Image by Pantone

Image by Pantone

They even whipped up this cute illustration for Halloween. Seems I˙m not the only one campaigning to rebrand all major festivals in a purple hue.

In the spirit of celebrating this fabulous colour I bring you my Purple Collection.

Purple sweet potato and chestnut tart

Purple sweet potato and chestnut tart

Purple sweet potato and chestnut tart, Hong Kong: Tell me this isn´t the most stunning little pastry that you´ve ever seen! The fact that it didn´t taste amazing was in no way a determent for me. It wasn´t sweet enough for my palate and I never have fully embraced the concept of root vegetables taking a starring role in desserts.  Didn’t stop me from eating one a day though.

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Aubergine, Hong Kong and London: this is an obvious addition to the list, perhaps too obvious. But the calibre of produce at the Graham Street and Borough markets respectively is top notch, and the colours so luminous they had to make the list. I found myself cradling these beauties like newborns.

Purple potatoes, inside and out

Purple potatoes, inside and out

Purple potatoes, Berlin: A delightful discovery for me this year was the Turkish market in Kreuzberg where I had some of the best Turkish food I´ve ever eaten (and that includes in Turkey). Amongst the gozleme stands and fresh produce was an unassuming crate filled with purple potatoes that I almost walked straight by because their skins were not dissimilar from ordinary potatoes. But one look at the sign and a sliced up specimen spoke the truth. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to a kitchen on this occasion so didnt´t buy any and I´ve been looking in vain to find them ever since.

Purple flour! Sort of...

Purple flour! Sort of…

Flour, Stockholm. Trust the design saavy Swedes to package up something as generic as flour into a design classic. I am almost wept at the beauty of this display.

Cauliflower is back on the hot list thanks to its new shade

Cauliflower is back on the hot list thanks to its new shade

Cauliflower, Stockholm: Thanks to purple varieties, cauliflower is going through a renaissance. No longer languishing on crudité trays and under mounds of melted cheese and breadcrumbs, this underachieving brassica is finally having its (purple) moment in the sun.

Blueberry soup for every occasion

Blackberry soup for every occasion

Blackberry soup, Stockholm: My Swedish friend Johan drinks cold blackberry soup every morning and hot blackberry soup when he is sick. He happens to be the fittest person I know so when he told me this I ran to the nearest store to track some down. A super food in super packaging, does it get any better? 

You might have noticed that the last three items all came from Stockholm. So keep an eye out on the shelves of Ikea, no doubt this will be next season´s feature colour!

Does anyone have a purple food item to add to my collection?