Saturday, June 25, 2011

Road trip: day 1

 Day 1: Boston, MA to Fishkill, NY

After a long day in lab, my traveling partner and I met up at McCormick in our cute little red rental car and drove off first to Ikea, to replenish my stock of Swedish food for Midsommar.  She had never been to Ikea, so she also found all manner of random things to buy.  I swear, between Ikea and Target, you can have willpower of steel and still walk out with purchases. 

We also lucked out because there was a Midsommar buffet going on that night - something we would have missed had I gotten out of lab on time at 2...happy accident, I tell you.

Swedish meatballs.  We are so happy to see you.

Our dessert plate - the neon green-looking log/hair-curler thing in the center is actually a alcohol-soaked cake covered in marzipan and dipped in chocolate, a treat I remember fondly from my trip to Sweden.  We were walking through the grocery store, and Eric and I were charged with finding a Swedish dessert to bring to dinner that night - nothing allowed from the American foods aisle.  I ended up choosing these mini ho-hos covered in chocolate sprinkles -- they looked delicious!  And they reminded me of the Hostess bakery outlet shop on Rice Street (those pink coconut boob-shaped half snowballs, oh my childhood).  We went back to Näcka, had dinner, and I brought out the ho-hos and went to town; they didn't really taste quite like the ones back home, but oh man they were goooood.  No one else was hungry, so I just kind of kept eating them.   I got through about six of them when finally my mom said, "Wow, these must be good!"  She took a bite and gagged, "Bridget, these are full of rum!  Oh my god, try this!"  She hands the rum cakes over to our Swedish host, an American friend who hadn't had them before.  She took a bite and confirms that the cakes I were eating were definitely alcoholic.  I giggled.  

I hadn't really thought about them again until I bit into the neon-green hair curlers and they tasted exactly like those rum cakes from so long ago.  Now, the irony is that I spent quite a bit of time going through Swedish cookbooks (especially baking books) and hadn't noticed a single recipe that would make anything close to these rum cakes.  But now that I knew Ikea served them, I could do some backwards google-searching and find their name.  Success!  Ikea sells them under the name Punsch Rolls, but they are also known as dammsugare (=vacuum cleaners) in Sweden.  Basically, you take sponge cake and mix it with butter, punsch, almond paste and chocolate, form it into a shape, and cover it with sprinkles or marzipan.  Now, punsch is apparently difficult to find outside of Scandinavia, and tastes a bit like amber rum (explains why that is what my mom tasted).  You can actually make some yourself using earl grey tea, sugar, lemon juice, vodka, and arrack.  That last ingredient first came to Sweden through the Swedish East India Company in the early 1700s, and it is a bit fruity, a bit sweet.  So - my next liquor store adventure will have to include arrack. 

From Ikea, we drove off to Fishkill, having a bit of a fight with the GPS, who clearly decided to keep us off the highway.  We didn't figure out til the next day that I am GPS-technology-deficient and hadn't looked at some of the tabs that you can click to avoid traffic or tolls.  Whoops.  But--we arrived on time, and stayed overnight in my travel partner's home.  Built by her parents, it's simply gorgeous.  Lots of windows, beautiful woodwork, and a garage for a family of engineers, complete with shelves filled with supplies from a local hardware store that went out of business.  Brilliant.

Oh--trivia of the day?  "Kill" means river in Dutch.  As in, Catskills.  Apparently PETA rain a campaign in Fishkill for a more fish-friendly name, a venture that didn't go over so well. 

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