My newfound love of French Cider

Even though I would describe myself as a big beer geek, it actually took me quite some time to appreciate the wonderful malt beverage at all. As most people I tried drinking beer in my teens, but god damn it was horrible! Because of that I didn’t drink much in my late teens and in my early twenties I exclusively drank cider and cocktails. That all changed when I got a new job at 24 and almost immediately went on a business trip to Berlin, Germany for a week. Berlin and all the evening events made it hard to avoid beer so what the hell, I decided I needed to learn and started ordering weissbier at every place we came to. When I got home i had started to enjoy a cold weissbier and if there was one type of beer I liked there could be more, so I started to try everything I could. Slowly it went on to Belgian beer and after that pretty much everything except sours (that took a couple of more years but now they are my favorites).

There you have my beer journey in short, but that was not what this actually was supposed to be about. Before I liked beer I of course had tried every cider I could get my hands on and one thing I really liked was French cider. Mostly because it had more taste and was not some artificially flavored sugar water, as most Swedish cider is, like Rekorderlig. There are also pretty good English ones, but I must say the French are the experts.

After I started drinking beer however I almost stopped drinking cider, I don’t know why and regret it. This summer Sweden had the hottest summer in decades and that is when I rediscovered the beauty in a simple cider instead of all the over complex hipster beer I usually drink (like this one). When it is hot outside, or together with light food I now appreciate a cider even more than a beer. I just started to try to test every brand available in Sweden so I can’t give any tips about which one is the best or so, just that maybe you should buy a bottle or two if you usually only drink wine and beer?

The search continues

The tools

Last week I wrote about making my own notebook cover so that I could use “ugly” notebooks and loose paper. The reason was because I couldn’t find a notebook I actually liked. The cover is nice and all, but I still miss a nice insert so I decided that I should try and make my own.

I bought some Tomoe River paper as it is the absolute best paper I have ever tried and if you haven’t tried it, you definitely should! After the paper arrived, I turned to the best school I know, Youtube, to try and learn how to do book binding. I found a couple of videos and also read some blog posts about it and got to work. What you see in the pictures is my first attempt and I will not say that it came out great, but at least it works!

Of course this notebook immediately went into my leather cover and yes, it is the best notebook I have. I also like that I can use it together with a couple of other notebooks in the cover. Right now for example I also have a sketchbook and a lines Rhodia notebook for writing blog posts.

The big problem though? I will probably not have the time and energy to bind my own books in the future, even if it was a fun experiment. So the search continues.

The hunt for the perfect notebook

I have been in the hunt for a great notebook for quite some time, without any luck. In the end I got tired of looking and instead “made” my own.

As a fountain pen user the paper quality becomes super important, and most notebooks with “normal” just won’t do it. The reason is that fountain pens write a bit wetter than normal pens and often bleed through or feather a lot on bad paper. Good paper also helps you get the most out of your cool inks.

So with the majority of notebooks out of contention there aren’t many left andthe only two that are readily available here in Sweden are Rhodia and Leuchtturm. I do like the Leuchtturm notebooks overall, but the paper is a bit too absorbent to really let the ink shine. Rhodia is better when it comes to showing of the inks properties, but their notebooks are just too ugly. So what should I do?

I decided to solve this “problem” by making my own notebook cover in which I could put any A5 notebook or even just loose papers. It is essentially just a piece of leather with some carefully placed holes where I can thread some rubber strings through. This book can actually hold three different small notebooks so that I can have different types of paper or both lined, dotted and blank paper.

The main plan was to use loose sheets of paper, but in the beginning I used cheap staple bound Rhodia notebooks and it worked great. I have however also made my own notebook with what I think is the best available fountain pen paper there is, Tomoe River. But more on that another time!

Ps. The hunt for the perfect notebook still continues and I still buy way to many of them.

Yay, I can now buy this beer year round!

Look at that color!

Last night I opened a bottle of one of my favorite beers, a Rodenbach Alexander. This beer is just an amazing work of art. First of all, and the most important thing, is that it really has the perfect balance between sweetness and sourness. Usually I don’t like Krieks and beers with cherries, but this is the exception as, exactly as the sourness, the cheery taste is perfectly balanced.

I recommend this beer to both beer drinkers that hate sour beer and sour beer lovers. It’s not that complex, it is just a super nice balanced (yes, I used that word once again) beer that has a long taste.

One problem though, the beer has only been available in limited quantities once in 2016 and once in 2017 (after the brewery stopped producing it in 1999). That is, until now! Earlier this year the news came that we now can order the beer at Systembolaget in Sweden all year round. I was so happy! But the story doesn’t end there, about two weeks ago more news came, now the beer has hit over 90 stores all over the country so it has become even easier to get a hold of.

If you haven’t tried it yet, do it now! 

I'm back!

Pilot Custom 74 with Robert Oster Fire & Ice.

So I started this blog because I have so much I want to write about, but as you can see I haven’t updated it in a while. The reason isn’t actually because I haven’t written anything, because I have actually written quite a lot! That may sound strange but let me explain. I write with pen and paper and the problem has been how to quickly transfer the text into digital form. Also we have had the hottest summer in 260 years in Sweden, so I really haven’t felt super excited to sit down with a computer in the sun. 

But that ends now as I’ve found an okay way to transfer the texts and I still want to share my thought about so many things, especially my growing pen interest. There will however probably won’t be as many updates as I started out doing as I still mostly do this for myself and some things feel “done” when I have written them down in analog form.

The plan now is to write one post per week at least, but maybe more. It all will be decided on how fast I can transfer the analog posts into digital form.

Who doesn't need a pair of titanium chopsticks?

Those who know me probably know that I’m a big fan of Kickstarter. Almost every night before I go to sleep, I check out all of the new projects that have been launched since last time. More often than not I also find something cool that want to support, and depending on how tired I am I might even back the project without much thought.

This has led me to buy many cool and nice things, but also so many stupid, strange and useless items, like these. I think I'm at 53 backed projects as of writing this post.

What you see in the pictures are a couple of titanium chopsticks and even now as I write it I think that is super cool. They are travel sized and come with a acrylic travel case so you always can have them with you and yes, they are also quite nice to eat with. But the question is, why do I need these?

When would I want to travel with my own pair of chopsticks and at home I want to set the table with matching flatware. The only time I can use them is therefore, when I’m home alone. Maybe not something I really did need, but still, I do like them. They are the perfect example of what happens when I get to tired and start to check Kickstarter.

 

My favorite pen right now! The Pilot Custom 823

Some time ago I wrote about what I thought was one of the best beginner fountain pens, so I thought it was time to write about one of my absolute favorite pens. This is the pen you buy if you want to skip the beginner pens and just buy a super good pen straight away, or if you already have a couple of pens and want to upgrade.

This is the Pilot Custom 823, one of Pilots top of the line pens and only vacuum filler pen. The pen comes in three different colors, a clear one, an amber one and the one that I have, smoke. All of them are translucent so that you can see how much ink is left in the pen, but the Smoke one is almost so dark as it looks black, and I like black. It does however change color in strong light depending on what ink you use. I use Iroshizuku Shin-kai in it right now and then the pen gets a beautiful blue shine.

One problem is that all the colors aren’t available in all parts of the world, hey, Pilot doesn’t even sell the pen AT ALL in Europe. Therefore, I needed to get mine directly from Japan via an eBay seller, something I don’t like to do as fountain pens can be a bit finicky, but I had no choice. For those interested in buying it on eBay I can tell you that it was about 210€ and as I live in Sweden I got to pay around 50€ more in VAT. Price wise I would say the pen is worth every cent and more, If you only are getting one pen (and don’t want a flex nib), this is the one.

One thing to note is that this pen has a built in filling system instead of the more common converter (in which pens you can also use cartridges). That means that this pen can contain more ink, but it’s also harder to clean. The special filling system also need you to unscrew the back of the pen a few millimeters if you are going to write more than a few notes. That can probably be annoying for some people but I don’t really care. One thing I like about the pen is the weight and size. I would call this the perfect size for both small and large hands and I can write for hours with it.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the nib as that is what actually does the writing and probably is the most important part of the pen. I’m not going to get too “geeky” but let’s start with a couple of words about nibs for you beginners out there. A nib is often described as being smooth or writing with a bit of feedback. A smooth nib is one that you almost can’t feel when you write with it, it just glides over the paper. The writing feel of a nib that has a lot of feedback could more be described as the feel of when you write with a wooden pencil.

This pen has a nib that I would call the golden mix of the two, it is super  smooth but with some feedback so you actually can feel that you are writing. Another thing I like about the nib is that it’s pretty big so it flexes a bit for some line variation and a great feel. The shape is also quite long and slender so you get a perfect view of what you are writing, perfect for sketching.

There you have it, that is why I love this pen.

Futagami Frame Bottle Opener

Who can say no to cheese and beer?

I may have a bit of an obsession when it comes to bottle openers and most people would probably say that I own way too many. Actually, they would probably say I'm crazy, but I just like bottle openers. The thing I like is that in its core, the bottle opener is such a simple thing, but it can still be designed in so many different ways and no opener has the same feel as another. So when I find a new opener I like I just can't help myself, I need to buy it!

My latest purchase was this opener that I got a couple of weeks ago while I was visiting Gothenburg. I first saw this opener online in December last year, but have waited until I could have a look at it for real before I bought it. A couple of weeks ago I finally got the chance to do so at the store Artilleriet, and I bought it immediately! Even though it was quite expensive at around 51€ (63$).

The opener is named Frame and it's made by the Japanese manufacturer Futagami. The quality of the opener is amazing and the design really speaks to me. But I do like Japanese design overall as most items have a design that really puts focus on the usability. A bit like the classic Bauhaus school of design.  Do I need to say the the opener also opens bottles like a dream?

As a last note, it's not strange that the quality of this opener is as good as it is, as Futagami is a company that has made brass items since 1897. The Swedish readers may know of Skultuna and Futagami is like the Japanese Skultuna. I recommend everyone to have a look at their site, because they have so many beautiful things.