Almost the end of 2023

It’s almost the end of 2023 and this year has gone insanely fast in some ways and insanely slow in other. B got her residence permit around the end of October and is now with me in Sweden. It’s a bit crowded at the moment, but until we’ve gotten everything sorted out when it comes to government agencies, banks and so forth, we can’t really move, but at least things are slowly moving forward and everything related to the tax office went a lot faster than I expected.

It will be interesting to see what next year brings, but things aren’t likely to slow down for either of us for now. Fingers crossed the world manages to sort things out, as right now things are still looking pretty crap in general, both locally and further afield. It might not have been the perfect time to move back, but then again, is it ever the perfect time to move countries? At least we shouldn’t complain at the moment, as things aren’t bad for the two of us. Until next time.

The past couple of years…

I haven’t written much here for the past couple of years, mostly because I’ve been busy with other things. I ended up moving back to Sweden in the second half of 2022 and went back to school, because why not. Well, it was more about it being hard to find a decent job, to a degree because of the pandemic and to a degree due to lack of papers to prove that I actually know what I’ve been working with for the latter half of my life.

A couple of months after I started school, I ended up getting involved with a startup, whom I did my first of two interships with, but let’s just say I will be doing the second internship with some other company, as things didn’t really work out. However, it did bring me back to Taiwan over the summer, so it wasn’t all bad.

These days, I’m mostly waiting for the Swedish immigration office to get off their backside and approve the application to let B move here and live with me in Sweden. It’s alreay been over a year since we sent in the application and the migration office hasn’t even bothered assigning a handler to the case. To say it’s frustrating is an understatement. Due to B being busy with work, I ended up having to bring our cat with me to Sweden, which was a lot easier than to bring B over here. In fact, the morning I arrived, no-one was at the customs counter at the airport and I only spoke to someone briefly on the phone who asked for the chip ID and my name and then told me to go on through. A very odd experience.

Anyhow, I will try and maintain the info related to Taiwan and I have updated some stuff this summer, such as Carrefour changing the name of Jasons to Mia C’bon as they no longer have the right to use the Jasons name, but you can find more details about that in the list of Supermarkets in Taiwan.

Until next time, whenever that will be.

Jästa pannkakor / Yeast leavened pancakes

I figured I’d throw up an English translation of a recipe I found on Wikibooks for southern Swedish (Scanian?) yeast leavened pancakes.

These take a while to make, mostly due to the time it takes for the batter to rise, but they’re by far the best pancakes I’ve ever made or eaten. They end up a lot fluffier than American style pancakes that use baking soda or baking powder as the raising agent.

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Bakeries in Taipei

When I moved to Taiwan over a decade ago, finding good bread was hard. The first loaf of bread I bought was in a supermarket and although it looked quite normal, it ended up being filled with rousong, which is an experience you might not want to have. As such. I’ve thrown together a list of bakeries that are worth shopping at that have more western style breads. There are a lot more bakeries in Taipei and in the past couple of years, there are also a ton of patisseries and let’s not forget Japanese style cheese tarts and cheese cake shops.

Rise makes what you’d call western type breads, with very few localised products. The selection is fairly limited, but they make an excellent sourdough loaf. They also have things like croissants, focaccia (not quite the real deal, but close), scones, baguettes and Pain au Lait. They also sell things like cinnamon rolls, hazelnut croissants and various other sweet treats. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area, or even a detour, just because.

While on the topic of croissants, we have MyCroissant by Guillaume, which as the name implies, mainly makes various types of croissants. They’re possible the best croissants you’ll get in Taiwan and they offer a wide range of varieties. There’s also some bread on offer here and some other French style sweet baked goods. I highly recommend the yuzu filled croissants, when available, as they make your tastes buds tingle of joy.

Paul was as far as I’m aware the first French bakery chain to open up in Taiwan. Although several others followed, most of them failed, but Paul is still around, even though they have fewer locations now than they did at their peak. Be warned though, it’s expensive. Their strawberry millefeuille used to be very nice, although I haven’t been here in a few years, so I can’t say what it’s like now. Note that his is a big international chain, so don’t expect anything really standout here.

Mr. Mark is an old school “western” bakery in Taiwan and has been around since 1998. Most breads are very localized, but they have some plain rye and oat based breads that aren’t terrible. I would steer clear from anything that looks like cake here, as healthy is apparently this bakeries middle name. They also sell some other food items, like jam, yoghurt, nuts and some other things.

Oma’s German Bakery is another bakery that’s been around for quite some time and it’s focus is on German style baked goods. They have a few branches and also some restaurants that sell their bread. They have a pretty decent selection of bread, although as with Mr. Mark, the focus is on a lot of healthy bread. However, they do also sell a selection of decent cakes and other sweet treats. Pricing tend to be pretty reasonable for what they sell. Keep in mind that they have limited stock and do sell out. They also sell some other food items online.

Wendel’s German Bakery & Bistro was the most famous German bakery when I moved to Taiwan, but at the time they only had a location in Tienmu and I have still not ventured there. They have since opened a location near the Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall which is much more convenient to get to. Personally I’m not a huge fan of their bread or their food, but they make excellent and affordable cake slices.

Gontran Cherrier Bakery is another French style bakery that obviously offers croissants, but also has an excellent French country bread. A lot of their products are quite local and they have some odd items on offer too. Their main location is near the Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall.

Lugar was one of the early French/Italian style bakeries that I’m aware of. I haven’t been for years, as after expanding a lot, something seemingly went wrong and all their outlets closed and they moved to a peculiar location. They used to have very decent bread and cakes though, but I can’t really say what it’s like now.

GinoPasco is a Japanese/Taiwanese bakery that has some decent bread, especially a kind of very pale, but fluffy white bread. These days they only have five locations, of which one is in Taoyuan.

Hogan Bakery is another local bakery with a dozen locations in northern Taiwan that has som decent bread. They have a very light coloured bread they call soft French parcel which is very nice if you want some really soft bread, that is’t sweet. Their crown milk toast is the best toast I’ve found in Taiwan, even though the slices are a bit on the thick side, but it toasts up really nice.

Flavor Field is another local bakery that you would find in the Fuxing Sogo. They have a decent rye bread and some better quality toast, as well as a lot of local items.

Saison Du Soleil is another local chain bakery that you’ll find in some of the malls. They have some decent bread by western standards.

That yearly post…

Well, I don’t give this blog as much time and attention as I should, but I figured I should throw up an update, since what can go wrong, it’s 2020 and the world seems to try to implode on itself.

Ended up spending nearly 5.5 months in Sweden this year, as I went to Europe for some business and then decided to help out my parents for a couple of months, which ended up being a lot longer due to the lack of flights, courtesy of the Wuhan virus.

My old man also kicked the bucket during this time, so in a way it was good timing, or I wouldn’t have made it back. I guess I’m weird, but it many ways I finally feel liberated and free. Maybe it’s not the feelings you should be having, but not all of us have the same relationships with our parents.

On the plus side, I manged to swap out my British license to a Swedish one, as the British one is not likely to be very useful after Brexit. A lot of things back home when it comes to dealing with government paperwork is so different these days compared to when I left Sweden almost 22 years ago. These days, if you don’t have BankID, it’s almost impossible to do anything that involves government agencies in Sweden and you can’t even shop online from many e-tailers, without it. It’s really quite bizarre that this power has been given to the banks in Sweden.

At least I have one of those now, but I need to renew it in three years time, which is about the same time I need a new passport, so if not before then, I have to go back to Sweden for that. It’s kind of frustrating getting a passport with only five years validity when you live abroad and there’s nowhere locally that you can get one. This doesn’t take into account that it costs five times as much to get one abroad (including the postage costs) and for me it would involve flying to another country to have one made anyhow. It’s the little things…

At least I managed to avoid catching the virus in Sweden, but it also mean that it was a fairly boring 5.5 months, as there was only so much one could do. At least I got to eat a lot of food that I’ve been missing and I cooked up about three months worth of meals for my step mum so she’d have something easy to eat once I left, as she’s not really cooking like she once used to do.

A lot of plans didn’t happen this year and might not even happen next year, but life goes on. Until next time…