One of the best things about living in Sweden is the glorious long summer days. We’ve had absolutely crap weather for most of June, but thankfully last week on June 21st, the longest day of the year, the weather behaved and so we sat outside with a mish mash group of expats and had a lovely picnic into the wee hours of the morning. This is what 12:30am looked like (thanks Limor for the photo!):
Later the next morning we dusted ourselves off and headed over to London for the weekend. My sister Emily has lived in London for nearly 9 years, and one of the best parts about living in Stockholm is that we get to see each other way more often now. We flew with Ryanair, which is pretty much the cheapest and also the most skid airline going. It’s infuriating that they are so much cheaper than any of the other options because we feel like we always have to choose them. Flying with Ryanair out of Stockholm means taking a 90 minute bus ride out to Skavsta, the smallest and most skid airport I’ve ever been to. I made these sandwiches to take with us because it’s a bit of a long day with the bus ride factored in, and Ryanair gives you absolutely nothing for free and their for-purchase food is expensive and pretty gross. My sandwiches were delicious and inexpensive because I made them myself. I jury rigged a panini press and toasted ’em up, then wrapped them in tinfoil for the road.
Here’s another Ryanair tip: wear a big jacket with big pockets. They are super strict about the size and weight of your one piece of carry on baggage, but nobody ever checks your pockets. I wear a second carry on bag under my jacket, then zip up my jacket and put my backpack on top. Works every time.
We arrived at Emily and Andy’s flat in Wandsworth (not the dodgy end*) and popped the cork on some local fizz to start the weekend off. This bottle of Chapel Down was exceptionally good, I highly recommend trying some out if you can get your hands on a bottle. Once we were nice and warmed up we hopped on a train and headed to East London where we met up with Andy and had a few pints at a proper British pub with the Euro Cup blaring in the background. After a pit stop at another pub, we wandered over to Brick Lane and haggled deals for a curry dinner. The curry was nothing to speak about, but the experience was grand. After dinner we rolled our full selves along and went to see DJ Andy Smith spin 45’s at one of the most eclectic venues I’ve ever been to. Then it was home to bed – thankfully we had inflated the airbeds before we went out. Smart move.
* a dozen cookies to the first person in either Stockholm or Vancouver who gets that reference.
Andy had asked us to come over this particular weekend because he wanted to do the Warrior Dash and had signed Paul up as well. The race was unfortunately cancelled, so we filled the time with more eating and drinking. The above photo is Andy And Paul around the time they were supposed to be crawling through mud and leaping over flames; they don’t look too terribly disappointed to be drinking beer instead. We went to Covenant Garden (I think) and stumbled upon a market where there was food and drink a plenty. We bought a lot of cheese. We took local beers in to-go cups and wandered along the river bank. We watched some break dancing. I scored a hat for Paul.
We did a lot of wandering and took in some sights. I have been to London many times to visit Emily but it had been at least 10 years since I had been into central London, and the first time for Paul. We peered up at the London Eye and over at Big Ben. We wandered towards Buckingham Palace but couldn’t get the whole way because they’re constructing a beach volleyball court for the Olympics in front of it. We walked through Trafalgar Square. We drank beer and Pimms at Punch and Judy. Then we dragged our tired selves back to Wandsworth and spread out all the cheese and olives and other bits we had bought throughout the day and sampled another bottle of local fizz (can’t remember the name, but wasn’t as good as the Chapel Down) followed by a barbeque dinner with a few more friends.
Sunday breakfast of tea and crumpets. That’s properly British, right? I forgot how much I like crumpets. I stuffed the remainder of the pack, and a pack of English muffins (just called toaster muffins there) and the remainder of a brick of good English cheddar into my suitcase. And! Emily gave me a new cookbook. I can’t wait to start working through this one.
To round off the British experience we hopped in the car and headed off to Richmond for a proper Sunday pub lunch. We drove through Richmond Park and saw herds of deer just chilling out. We wandered around Richmond, settled on a pub, then played musical tables. Three outside, then two inside to avoid the rain. Andy had half a chicken. Paul had lamb. Emily and I had the veggie option which was an exceptionally greasy veggie rarebit bake. All came with the traditional trimmings; Yorkshire pudding (yum!), gravy (they had veggie gravy for the veggie option!), potatoes, and boiled veg, and was washed down with some tasty beers. Honeydew on tap!
We headed back to the airport very, very full, to say the least. It was a grand old time, and I’m already looking forward to the next visit.
One year ago: Vij’s Spicy Cauliflower Steak
Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Honey Baguette Recipe:This tasty little sandwich is inspired by a cafe in Stockholm my friend Erin and I like to meet up at. They do a similar grilled sandwich, but it is made with three layers of white bread, which I think it just unnecessary. Here I used a small multigrain baguette instead.Recipe from The Muffin Myth.For each sandwich:
one small multigrain baguette
rounds of soft goat cheese (the kind with a soft rind, or chevre would work fine too)
a handful of walnuts
a handful of baby arugula leaves
Slice each baguette in half and smear both sides with honey. Top one side with rounds of goats cheese, lined up beside each other. Top goat cheese with a row of walnuts, then a good handful of arugula. Close the sandwich with the top layer of baguette.
If you want to toast it, use a panini press. If you, like me, don’t own a panini press, simply heat two heavy skillets, one inside the other, on medium-high heat for about five minutes. Place the sandwiches carefully in one skillet, top with the second skillet, and put something heavy (like a pot) on top of it all. Grill for a few minutes until the bread is toasty and the cheese is slightly melted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy immediately, or wrap in foil and take to eat on your Ryainair flight (if this is what you’re doing, enjoy it smugly while the other passengers look longingly at your delicious sandwich).
This sandwich is full of good stuff, but with all those rounds of cheese it is definitely a moderation situation. It’s the kind of sandwich I’d enjoy as a weekend or travel treat, not an every day sandwich. Enjoy it every once in a while, but maybe consider these Chickpea Salad Sandwiches for your weekday lunches.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012