March 29, 2012
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…
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.
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…
… as well as some lemon ginger cookies.
Horseradish sauce (this was a dad pick).
And lingonberry preserves for me.
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!