Ice cream update!

The weather has been favourable to my ice cream tests at Kungsholmens Glassfabrik, and I can confirm that I made good progress in May. Their offering of half-scoops also helps. Sadly, the price of my regular order (2 scoops, 4 flavours) has gone up by 5 SEK. The pricing was very reasonable to begin with, so the increase is tolerable. The scale is relative, it is in the context of ice cream that is very good to begin with - any one of these I could have again.

The evaluation criteria is quite strict, mostly because the baseline quality is already so high - this is definitely first class ice cream we are talking about! I could eat any of these again, some I would just much prefer over others. In general, I like ice creams that are not too sweet, and the flavour has to be balanced and strong. Mouthfeel is also important: ice cream has to be soft and melting in mouth. 

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5/5
Basilica-lemon sorbet
Cinnamon
Mint-lime sorbet
Black currant sorbet

4/5
Passion sorbet
Chocolate
Mango sorbet
Banana
Raspberry sorbet
Raspberry

3/5
Cardamom
Blueberry
Strawberry

2/5
Bergamot sorbet
Stracciatella
Guava sorbet

* no nutty flavours tested due to allergy - they have at least almond-raspberry, hazelnut and pistachio

Back to work

Holiday is over for the time being, and it is time to head back to work. I say back, because I actually started already in June and took July off. Over the holidays we also moved flats to a different neighbourhood, but more about that later. For now, the return does not feel so bad when my commute is through a green boulevard, small bay, and a forest. The distance is short enough to go by the city bikes, and it is actually faster than taking a direct bus. Way to go!

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Cherry blossoms

Spring and blossoming trees have been inseparable features ever since I moved to UK. Magnolia and cherry blossoms are a sure sign of spring! Kungsträdgården in the city centre has many cherry trees, and since mid-April I was pondering if I will miss the short blossoms while I was away for couple of short trips. To my surprise the blossoms were at their best only after I returned from my latest trip in early May. That day though the weather was very miserable, rainy and cold, nothing like last year's blue sky and crisp temperature.

The warm weather over last weekend brought out the blossoms in other places too, and I saw those both when I was out running and cycling. Kungsträdgården's trees are a sight since they are so many in one place, but during the blossoms there are lot of people and the surroundings in general are not so attractive apart from the trees themselves. Haga park also had blossoming cherry trees with no crowds, and the lake backdrop was very nice.

This weekend I also spotted some magnolias. They are very common in UK, but here in Nordics I haven't seen (m)any apart from Marimekko's Keisarinna print. As I stopped for a little break during my cycle ride, I noted that lilacs might be in blossom already next weekend should the warm weather continue.

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Kungsholmens Glassfabrik

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I have always been a fan of ice cream, but my taste has changed and refined over the years. In Finland the small-brand ice creams have really taken off in the past couple of years with Jymy, 3 kaveria, and Suomen jäätelö. This has lead me to explore other small producers as well as I travel. In Stockholm I have mostly stumbled upon the ice cream places as I move about town - that happened also with Kungsholmens Glassfabrik (Kungsholmen's ice cream factory). 

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Where
Pipersgatan 4, on Kungsholmen as the name suggests. Closest tunnelbana is Rådhuset, opening hours are somewhat limited.

What
Ice creams, to have in or to take away in cones, cups or tubs.

Order
2 scoops, approximately 4e. 

Comments:

- The selection was good and more skewed towards actual flavours than just making an ice cream out of a candy or cookie.
- When I had hard time choosing just two flavours, the lady suggested she can do four half scoops! This was fabulous.
- All flavours I tried (bergamot, passion, cardamom, chocolate) were good, balanced taste with not too much sugar. 
- The space is simple but nice, it is ok to sit and enjoy the ice cream but less nice to spend longer time.

Would I go again?

Yes! I have to taste more of the selection, there were some that I would definitely want to try still. Additionally, I think the pricing is very reasonable.

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Country life

Last summer cottage trips were rare as the sudden and surprising moving hassle took a lion's share of the time. I didn't have summer holiday eitehr - university started already at the end of August. I made do with some long weekends instead. Because of this the relaxion part of cottage life had to be skipped, but at least I could partake in the essential part: labour camp! The darkening autumn nights added to the challenge level, as all outdoor work had to be stopped much earlier than during summer. By six-seven in the evening the shadows were really long and the sun was setting, making it impossible to continue work safely. 

The main agenda was wood chopping. The trunks had to be moved, cut, chopped, piled and covered. After Saturday's work there would be sauna, and Sunday was for finishing up and preparing the cottage for the coming winter. And of course this all was topped by a drive home. There was much to do on both weekends, as our neighbours had fell their forest, leaving some of our trees exposed. We had to fell some trees and make sure that they are appropriately handled for the winter so that they will not rot away. 

Thankfully the work camp left some time for other activities too. On the first weekend I made traditional Finnish thin crepes with barley flour, and on the other one there was a village market. It is not a big market, but more like some local farmers coming together to sell their produce to the people who live or have cottages nearby. It all started years ago from cinnamon rolls and other bread things, but now the offering has expanded to cover meat, crepes, jam, vegetables, and this time there was also a sheep farmer with some yarn! I also got to enjoy a wood-burning sauna (it is different to electric one) and admire the last butterflies of the season.

Occasionally I return to these memories in the midst of the Stockholm greyness, and wait for the summer to arrive again. 

 This tractor was a life saver for us! With its hydraulic chopping attachment we managed to go through much more logs than would have been possible manually. As the task was huge, quantity went over quality and some firewood is quite roughly sized :D

This tractor was a life saver for us! With its hydraulic chopping attachment we managed to go through much more logs than would have been possible manually. As the task was huge, quantity went over quality and some firewood is quite roughly sized :D

Throwback: Uppsala Cathedral

In addition to the castle, the cathedral is another prominent landmark with its tall towers. It is also the archbishops seat, and the venue where the protestant reformation started in Nordics. The cathedral is still used on daily basis, so it is a bit hit or miss whether a visit is possible. When I visited, there was a christening taking place, but thankfully it was short and I was able to return bit later. There is also a crypt with an entry fee, but it was under renovation so visit was not possible.

Many Swedish Kings and Queens have had their coronations here until early 1700s, and some are buried in the cathedral as well. From Finnish perspective, the place is interesting as it has the first remaining shield of Finland there in a tombstone of a King (I have forgotten which one...)

Snickarbacken7

This is my regular place when the weather is less than ideal, since indoors there is steady, bit dim athmosphere with nice music and candle light. There are no windows indoors, so one can be in blissful ignorance if there is a grey day or April snowfall (I really hope I do not get to witness it this year!)

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Where
Snickarbacken 7, a bit North from Stureplan along Birger Jarlsgatan. No evening opening, but bonus for Sunday opening.


What
Coffee, tea, filled rolls, cake and sweet buns, as well as light lunch. Brunch (plates) on weekends. Additionally, there is a changing art gallery on the walls.


Order
Tea + cake approx. 7.50e

 

 

Comments:

- This is fairly pricey place for a standard cafe, a cup of tea costs almost four euros. At least tea is ok, and both cakes and athmosphere are excellent. The cakes are fairly traditional Nordic coffee cakes, buns, biscuits and basic chocolate cake.
- No special comments about service, but be prepared to queue to place your order.
- Snickarbacken7 is very good for working (there is wifi, and some power plugs) and for coffees or lunching.

Would I go again?

For sure! I have been here on several occasions, partly because I live close by. The place also has unique and timeless feel, which brings nice variation.

Throwback: Uppsala castle

 Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

I was browsing some photos and found that a year ago it was quite fine weather, and clearly spring was on its way. This year March has felt like November - rain, snow, grey. But now, let's go back one year to enjoy the sunshine!

There was still too much sand on the roads to go out cycling, but a fine day required spending time outdoors. I decided it would be a great opportunity to venture out, and see a bit more than just the same streets of Stockholm. Uppsala is an easy place to visit, as the train service is very frequent and quite affordable. I think I paid around €15 for return trip on weekend. No pre-booking is needed and you can buy tickets from vending machines at both stations. I bought singles as there wasn't a difference in price, and you would have to choose which train to take back already when buying. There was no day return option unfortunately.

Uppsala is mostly known as an old ruling place, because it has some Viking remains and of course the university is famous too. I touched on all these points during my quick trip, it was bit shallow but nevertheless fun and welcomed change. The trip started on a positive note, as when I went to the tourism office to get the city map, I realised Peter-no-tail is from Uppsala. He is a tailless cartoon cat that has adventures around town in books and animations, a character that was very familiar to kids when I was growing up. I don't remember much, apart from liking the stories.

 Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

It is arguable what in Uppsala is the most famous side, but it is undeniable that the castle has the most prominent physical presence. The castle has changed a lot over the centuries, which might make it even more fascinating. It is no longer in the old, traditional castle layout, but it has some venue spaces, offices, county governor residence, and museums. The castle is important in the Swedish history, as it used to be the seat of the King and has been the venue for many pivotal events like Queen Kristina's abdication, announcement of the war that became Thirty Year's War, and Sture Murders. It also burned badly in 1702, after which the castle was turned to county government's seat. Nowadays the castle can be visited, it has an art museum that has free entry, and a nice cafe. Adjacent to the castle there is also a garden, which is probably quite nice when it get warmer and greener.

 The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.

The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.