before i leave ingrid’s island in the skagerrak sea behind, i present a few small photos of things i noticed in her house. (by the way she tells me she will be blogging on a more regular basis. good news for those of us who will need a regular swedish fix.!)
when i mentioned ingrid’s menfolk i wasn’t just referring to moppa & jonas.
there is also ted, her 19 year old son. on this day he delivered us to strömstad so that we could catch a ferry out to the koster islands. they sit about 45 minutes away towards the west and into the archipelago of tiny islands that dot this western swedish seascape.
the day was bright with sun.
and most tilted their faces towards its warmth.
have hat will travel.
there are 2 main islands north and south koster. we headed for south, the larger of the 2, and got off at långagärde in the strait that narrowly runs between both islands. there are many small fishing villages here and there and almost no cars.
everyone gets around by bicycle, foot, or boat.
we chose to walk and headed off down packed dirt roads that criss cross the island.
we didn’t get very far because i had to keep stopping to stare at everything.
we didn’t walk more than a mile before we reached kosters trädgårdar, organic gardens where one might enjoy a slow cup of coffee, or in my case sparkling water on tap (!) served in a lovely bottle.
and as a bonus i met ingrid’s fresh-faced niece who works in the garden restaurant when she’s home from college.
meet bella. a charming young woman who served us cake with flowers on top. and fresh cream.
the gardens were idyllic. and there were chickens. and little blonde boys sitting at a table by themselves.
until it was time to wind our way back to the harbor.
we had a few hours to absorb the island’s atmosphere before we caught the ferry home.
the epitome of slow travel. nowhere to rush off to. no sense of urgency to see every single thing on every part of the island.
and there was a consignment store where i got some handmade gifts for myself and my sisters.
naturally ingrid knew one of the women working and stopped for a chat.
when we got back to strömstad there was ted to collect us. he knows how to drive fast with no hands! this does not please ingrid, but it delighted and pleased me. listen, there is not much about ted that is not delightful. ( i’ll leave you to sort out that double negative!) he is a thoughtful interesting young man who is keen on the idea of visiting los angeles to explore the skating/surfing scene. he told me that many young swedes have dreams of traveling to LA. who knew?
in the meantime he rows the little boat over to the mainland early each morning, then rides his bike on a windy path into strömstad, where he works at a food store selling, as he put it, “chickens and ribs to crazy norwegians.” ha ha ha!!!
while ted made a quick detour ingrid chatted with another of the townfolk we saw on the dock.
all too soon it was time for more eating. crayfish!
jonas schooled me on the proper technique. i watched and listened. there was fresh baked bread to dunk in the buttery juice. oy!
on my very last day on the island, jonas prepared a “very swedish” lunch of sill. this is a typical meal eaten at midsummer’s eve in sweden. that plate of goodness above, my friends is matjesill (soused herring) raw herring in a sweet preserving liquid. there are many varieties. the matjesill we had did not taste vinegary like pickled herring i’ve tried in the states. we ate it with boiled potatoes, chopped chives, sour cream, and of course crisp bread. which is what is inside that large decorative wooden box.
but what’s in the bottle?
it’s a very strong distinctive tasting spirit that is best drunk cold in tiny beautiful shot glasses.
and there’s a proper way to do it. jonas instructed me. a quick sip, then a swallow of cold beer. according to him all of these flavors in our lunch belong together and none should be omitted. you don’t argue with swedish tradition people!
the herring was sweet and smoky. it was delicious! the aquavit i could live without.
the island & house was gorgeous, but really it was the people (and dog!) who made it a standout experience for me. a small slice of swedish life i will carry with me.
love from sweden my friends. thanks for popping in to see my latest dispatch.
next post we leave the island and head back to stockholm!