Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Hey, did you go to Carleton?"

For whatever reason, I seem to hear this question quite often when I am wearing the attire of my alma mater. Karen is amazed at the number of random places where people, seeing me wearing a Carleton shirt, ask me if I actually attended the college in Northfied, Minnesota. The encounters have occurred in many different situations including, while eating lunch in Maui just before exploring a volcano, during a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park on a trip to Boulder, and while seeing the terra cotta soldiers in Xi'an. Of course, there have also been a lot of Carleton call outs during my eight years in the Bay Area, including shout-outs on the streets of San Francisco and a few brief exchanges in various locations in Wine Country. You might think that my entire wardrobe consists of college gear, but, in reality, I only have a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. (Okay, I do have more Carleton shirts lying around, but none that I ever wear; I doubt the '89-'90 Third Myers floor t-shirt even fits anyway.)

Yesterday, while wearing my Carleton sweatshirt, I went over to the Ferry Building's Saturday morning farmers' market in search of some Fatted Calf bacon. While wandering around the stalls, I was asked not once, not twice, but three separate times in the course of an hour if I attended the small liberal arts college. One of the people who asked me, Dave, is actually a vendor at the market. After procuring some bacon, I stopped by his booth, Andante Dairy, to check out his offerings and picked up some butter, which was hand-churned by Dave himself. After trying some of the butter on some crusty bread that I picked up from the Acme Bread Company, I can attest to the quality of this delectable, creamy, high-fat content butter. I'll definitely go back for some more butter in the future.

One place where I haven't gotten a Carleton shout-out is in Europe, even though I've been there almost a dozen times over the past few years. I guess that it's a function of me not really wearing much Carleton gear during my business trips over to the Continent. Perhaps I'll have to include one of my Carleton shirts to wear during one of my forays into Heidelberg after working hours. I'll let ya know when happens.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Foodie in Stockholm

Around these parts, when work gets busy, blogging gets slow. Unfortunately, it's been quite busy at work lately. However, now that a long weekend is here (a three day weekend of my own creation as Presidents' Day isn't a work holiday for me), I thought that I would take the opportunity to catch up on my backlog of posts.

As you may recall, I paid a visit to Sweden late last year. For the most part, the trip was packed with work, but I was able to break free one day to do some sightseeing around Stockholm. Despite the less than perfect weather, my colleague Dan and I roamed around the city center, taking in a number of historic sites in the Gamla Stan (Old Town), including the Royal Palace, the 700-year-old Riddarholmen Church (which, unfortunately, was closed), and the famous statue of St. George and the Dragon. We also wandered by the Den Gyldene Freden restaurant, the site of a workshop dinner a few nights earlier. With minimal changes since 1722, Der Gyldene Freden is a living example of a 18th century restaurant. Unfortunately, I can't say that I liked the food very much - the bleak roe appetizer and arctic char entrée were rather bland and left me wanting for some spices.

Toward the end of the short afternoon (short indeed, as the sun set around 3:30pm), we stopped by the famous food market Östermalms Saluhall,

Like the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, the Östermalms Saluhall market is a collection of various food shops and cafés housed under a single roof. Similar to its Bay Area counterpart, this food marketplace targets the higher-end of the culinary spectrum. For example, check out this refrigerated case:

Crab, foie gras, and beluga caviar - you'll need a hefty wallet to shop out of that case.

Of course, there are more mainstream foods available as well, such as beautifully marbled cuts of beef:

Seafood is a big part of the Swedish diet, and this market offers up an ample selection of both fish and shellfish.

You can even buy yourself a tasty anglerfish if you so desire.

Of course, you can't live on meat alone (at least not healthily anyway): the Saluhall market also offered a large assortment of vegetables and fruit, undoubtedly imported from some warmer climes.

I even found some miniature pineapples. These grenade-sized fruit made me think of, well, grenades.

And for those people who think dessert is the best part of a meal, the Saluhall market also had plenty of sweet treats.

It was definitely a cool site to visit, a spot that all foodies visiting Stockholm should consider putting on their list of places to see. Perhaps next time, I will see if I can find myself a can of surströmming to bring back as a souvenir.