March 29, 2012

Spring Break Adventures, Part 1

As you know, I am currently a college student.
As you know, college students have spring breaks.
As you know, college spring breaks are usually full of wild parties and scandalous behavior.
As you know, this geeky food blogger's spring break was not.
Yep, rather than cruise down to the beach with a group of wild and crazy gal pals, I stuck nearby. Due to the unfortunate nature of college costing an arm and a leg, there hasn't been any extra cash around for major vacations as of late. But if you think that it cost me the fun of spring break, you would be quite mistaken. It wasn’t all Snuggies and Netflix for this girl. Even without huge vacation plans, my family and I ended up doing some rather fun activities.
The way we decided our budget-friendly plans was this--while we can't go on an international, jet-set vacation in the here and now, we can come up with some entertaining substitutions. Taking advantage of Houston's amazing cornucopia of cultures, we decided to do a mini tour, starting with Sweden.
By way of Ikea.
Don't roll your eyes at me you lucky international travelers! I am well aware that a huge warehouse of gorgeous, reasonably-priced furniture and yummy little meatballs can in no way replace the experience of actually being in the Sweden. Rather, I like to think of it as a taste of the bigger picture. And let me tell you, that future tastes pretty darn good.
I will make no claims that my desire to visit Ikea did not revolve almost solely around food. Something about those plates of Swedish meatballs topped with brown gravy with a gentle spoonful of lingonberry preserves on the side called to me like a pack of manatees to 18th century, scurvy-addled sailors.
And gosh were those meatballs yummy. I think they single-handedly renewed my love of sweet-and-savory combinations. Just the meatballs alone would've been pretty good, but paired with the sweet and slightly bitter taste of lingonberry preserves they were amazing. Totally took care of all the hunger pangs that I accumulated from excitedly scurrying from one living room setup to another and practically hugging half a dozen mod TV consoles and granite kitchen counters.
Along with my meal, I also got to grab a little something from a tiny salad bar nearby, which, having almost run out of lettuce, I took as an opportunity to fill my bowl mostly with with kidney beans, chickpeas, and sweet pickles. Thanks to what I can only dub an Ikea high, I actually enjoyed the sweet pickles, an item that I usually avoid like the plague.
Hamburger dills all the way for me.
Oh, and this pie. I cannot—absolutely cannot—neglect to mention this pie/cake/pile of yum. I believe it’s more accurately called an almond cake with chocolate and butterscotch, but that’s beside the point. What entirely is the point is the crunchy almond cake, topped with some sort of whipped-cream-with-maybe-a-touch-of-butterscotchy-custard thing, topped with a layer of crunchy things and chocolate. I know that my description does not do it justice, but trust me on this—major, major deliciousness.
On our way out of the store, we stopped by the Swedish foods section and did a bit of shopping there as well. Beyond the frozen and prepackaged versions of much of what is sold in the cafeteria upstairs, there were also surprising, mysterious gems such as these…
fishy spreads
Crab and fish spreads.
I had no idea what to make of these. It’s not like things such as smoked salmon or crab dip is all that unfamiliar, but something about fishy spreads packaged in squeeze tubes left me equal parts confused and delighted.
crab spread
While I passed on the crab spread and its other seafood chums, we did bring home a few party favors.
My mom and sister shared some blueberry preserves…
blueberry preserves
… as well as some lemon ginger cookies.
ginger cookies
Horseradish sauce (this was a dad pick).
horsradish spread
And lingonberry preserves for me.
lingonberry preserves
We also bought several bars of dark and milk chocolate, but they’ve kinda disappeared.
In my tummy.
I have to say, after geeking out with you guys over my newfound love of Ikea, I really enjoyed my trip there. Even if it was just a visit to a furniture store in my same old city, it was a lot of fun. Come to think of it, though, there is something I’m curious about. After spring break, every time I told someone that I went to Ikea for the first time, they stared at me, wide-eyed and mouth agape, unable to believe that I had never been there before. How far behind the bandwagon was I on this? Have any of you been to Ikea? Any favorites or recommendations for my next trip??
Oh, and stayed tuned! I went somewhere else new over spring break—a place that involved lots of eating and irresponsible food shopping. Part 2 coming soon!


  1. Ikea has food!?!?! I thought it was just furniture. I so have to go now!!
    (yes, I do enjoy drooling over your food blog on a frequent basis)

    1. Yay! One of my friends in the real life! :D And yes, you must go! There are so many munchies to be munched in Ikea.

  2. I've never had food at Ikea, but I've always wanted to try the meatballs. They look really good! I don't go very often and when I do I mostly buy random cushions. I see where I've been going wrong now. Should've been hitting up the fish paste aisle!

    Looking forward to your next post. I think your version of Spring break sounds brilliant. :)

    1. Fish paste is where it's at! After putting the photos in this post, it made me regret not buying some.I'll have to do a comparison study another time. :D

  3. I've heard the swedish meatballs are good but they look like the tinned meatballs that my granny used to feed me on visits - errrk. I love your discription of how they called to you though. You made me snort my coffee, Koci! Enjoy the rest of the break.

    1. Yikes, I didn't know that you could even get canned meatballs. Were they part of a sauce/soup thing or just meatballs??

      And yay, I'm so glad that someone understood my history joke! :D

  4. Looks like a fun and educational trip with all sorts of neat eats! :)

    I could spend all day there! Although I wish Vegas had one, part of the treat of going on vacation is hunting one down.
    So much stuff in there! I always have to get a cone on my way out (and I will admit I have gotten a gooey cinnamon roll too ;)).

    1. Really? Vegas doesn't have an Ikea? Unacceptable! :D I definitely want to try some ice cream next time.

  6. Oh my goodness it was your first time to IKEA?! I always get surprised when people tell me they've never been or had been there briefly. I'm used to going there really often since I live 5-10 minutes drive away. Sometimes when I'm bored I'd pop in their restaurant for some juicy delicious meatballs then browse through the well decorated showrooms :) I've always loved IKEA; I think seeing their commercials on TV a lot when I was a kid played a big part. I had always wanted one of their bunk-beds back then haha.

    Anyway! I'm so glad I came across your blog while searching for sweet potato fries recipe/instructions. I don't come across a lot of food blogs written by college students that have good recipes and beautiful photography (which I absolutely love btw. I struggle in that department). Consider me a new follower!

    Cheers :)

    1. Wow, I can't imagine living that close to an Ikea. I'd be there all the time, too! :D I think I've more or less decided that I want to curl up with blanket and live there.

      And yay for new followers!! I'm so happy to came to visit!


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