Austin – Sep 29 2012

It’s finally time for the Swedes’ annual crayfish party again. Henrik and Rasmus are extending our members the invitation to get together and celebrate this great Swedish tradition Texas style.

When: Saturday Sept, 29th at 7.00 PM
Where: Boundless Network Patio, 200 E 6th Street, Austin
Price: $35 incl. food and alcoholic beverages
$20 incl. food and non-alcoholic beverages

Contact Rasmus for questions about the event via e-mail
“Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back – Got all the crawdads he can pack”

From Russia with Love – Meet Varda & Vladimir

After a lengthy wait for The Russian House NaZdorovye to open in Austin, I was delighted to hear from fellow EuroCircle member Varda Salkey on Saturday they will open in August if all goes as planned. I think the steady following at Facebook attests the warm welcome. Co-incidentally while we sat at Annie’s Bar Varda realized they signed the lease exactly a year ago.

My first visit to The Russian House NaZdorovye was during May when we truly hoped to get the Eurovision Song Contest event with the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce held there. After numerous unexpected delays Varda suggested we better have the event somewhere else. Thankfully Henrik Johanssen decided we can use the Boundless Network space just around the corner. (Sweden won and Russia did really well too!)

The Russian House NaZdorovye is homey. It’s fashioned in Russian house style with a welcoming feeling. It is no co-incidence as Varda and her Russian chef- husband Vladimir Gribkov aimed for this. Within the walls of their Russian “home”, the guests can view the inside of a typical Russian home. They stroll through generations of Russian history, learn about some of her well-known citizens, and even have their picture taken in a traditional Russian folk costume or Soviet-era military uniform. Varda and Vladimir want to treat the diners and visitors as their “guests” who feel they are at home.

Vladimir has twenty five years under his belt in the restaurant business, says Varda, and he’s worked in Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. He is very Russian and contrary to his wife who came to the USA at the young age (17) to play basketball at Georgetown University, he does not speak fluent English. His first visit to the USA was 2 years ago when he arrived with his wife at New York City where they had originally thought about opening a restaurant. Not surprisingly Vladimir’s specialty is Russian food and he is extremely knowledgable and respectful of the Russian history and traditions.

His wife, who has spent almost years in the USA, says she has learned so much about Russia from her husband. Varda’s own work experience is in professional sports as a basketball player, sports agent, occasional modeling and as a sport director for one of the best basketball teams in Russia. She laughingly recalls being in tears when her coach once thought she did not play well and suggested she go back to modeling. It was like an insult. Her family is extremely well-educated, and considers modeling and professional sports as something “off-the-wall” – of course in Russia doctors, professors and teachers make nothing compared to national team basketball players.

So how did they end up in Austin? Varda’s friend and former Georgetown teammate Narumol Andersson (Swedish), who works for a large marketing organization, invited them for a visit to Austin. Varda and Vladimir soon realized that not only was Texas NOT all about The Wild West, the cowboys, cattle etc but Austin as a growing city offered them a better opportunity. There was no Russian restaurant even if there are approx. 6,000 Russians or Russian speakers in Austin area.

Little did they know how much longer it would take to get renovations and all necessary bureaucracy sorted out. Vladimir had an idea but Varda was more taken aback with all delays, red tape and unpleasant surprises but looks like it will all work out now!

It has been a couple years since I ate at any Russian restaurant. At length, I asked Varda what she would recommend or likes herself. Apparently Vladimir has studied quite a bit the American culture as well and added some interesting twists. The menu is very diverse from the blinis, caviars, Kulebyaka, house-made Russian pelmenis, sasliks, beef stroganoff, excellent lamb dishes, the exclusive Tsar’s Fish- Sturgeon covered in black caviar, vegetarian options, Apple baked with cottage cheese nuts and honey, éclairs, cakes, rye bread – and of course infused vodkas! It’s truly authentic Russian. I can’t wait for their housewarming party!

It is also worthwhile to mention that Varda and Vladimir plan to offer language lessons as well as screening Russian movies. They have stocked an excellent collection of Russian movies and books in their Russian House library. Oh, and if you are addicted to the latest American popmusic, you are in for a surprise. In addition of playing Russian music they have extensive plans for other types of entertainment, theme weeks and a little Russian store (a piano is waiting to be used!).

All in all, Varda’s and Vladimir’s Russian House NaZdorovye is the most interesting and diverse bar/lounge/restaurant opening in Austin. It will attract visitors from out of town during Austin City Limits and F1 as well as people who live here – not only Russians and EuroCircle members. Their location on East 5th Street just around the corner from Hilton should also entice convention and business visitors to a different lunch, brunch or dinner!

UPDATE: This interview was conducted in July, now in October 2012 we really hope they will open due to all twists and turns with the City of Austin. I want to have my Russian “thing” and have the next (October 2012) event at The Russian House NaZdorovye 307 E 5th street, Austin, TX 78701.

Website: The Russian House NaZdorovye
Varda at Facebook:


New York – Sep 21 2012

Join us for our Style and Glamour Dance Party at Celebrity Hotspot Polar at The Marcel in Gramercy.

Trendy/stylish, jeans are ok but no sneakers.

French DJ Max Layn will be spinning great tunes for us all evening long –
Eurotini’s will be on special throughout the evening for $10

Featured Co-Host : Milena Koste, Russia –

Best, Alexandra and the EuroCircle New York Team – aspirer(a)

About Polar

POLAR is an arctic inspired lounge located beneath the Hotel Marcel at Gramercy. When guests enter they are greeted by a sexy and chic ambiance with a perimeter of luxurious banquet seating. POLAR frequently plays host to upscale clientele, VIP guests and celebrities who enjoy signature cocktails prepared by our mixologists. Discover our hidden VIP caves that offer private sound systems, bottle service, and secret access. A night at POLAR features some of NYC’s best DJs spinning a mix of Top 40, hip hop, and house.

Hope you can join us for a fun night out at the hip celebrity hotspot!

About Max Layn
Max Layn, started his career in France where he was a DJ in some of the most popular clubs. Max has an extensive unique library ranging from House to HipHop, Electro and Jazz. His knowledge and passion for hospitality has led him to work in many locations in New York City. He is known for the ability to create events, ranging from 200 to 5000 people, and offering people a magical experience. Its not about his music, it is about the crowd and what they want.

Max strives to bring the French Touch to the US and the refinement it entails. Indeed he has spun in a variety of clubs such as Lavo, Kiss and Fly, Le Souk and more. Having a wide connection with the French crowd in NYC, he can also bring a loyal clientele with him.

Houston – September 20 2012

Time for the September Mixer & Happy Hour! This month we will have a happy hour at Little Woodrow’s in Midtown. Fellow member, Natasha Costa, a senior in pre-med at St. Thomas University, is fundraising for a medical relief trip to Nicaragua this November and we thought it would be good to support her efforts. Little Woodrow’s will be donating a portion of the proceeds toward her fundraising efforts. Please see the following link for more information
We look forward to seeing you!

P.S. Sorry for the late notice but I was on vacation! We are already planning the October Happy Hour and will get that invite out sooner!

Little Woodrow’s
2306 Brazos St, Houston, Texas 77006-1612

Barcelona – Sep 25 2012

Dear EuroCirclers,

Welcome back from your summer vacation!

Let’s meet again next Tuesday September 25th for after-work drinks at the beautiful Ornina terrace.

We are looking forward to see you again
Don’t forget to sign up here on the site.

Avda Diagonal, 593 Interior
08014 Barcelona
(antiguo Oliver y Hardy).

Telf.: 933 216 432

When: September 25th 2012, 20:00
Price: 10 euros (welcome drink and finger food incl.)
All the best.

Manon Delois and Alejandro Peña

You can also find us at Facebook – via EuroCircle Barcelona GROUP or fan page

Austin – Sep 18 2012

Photos © Eurocircle. For privacy reasons we ask you not to copy these to Facebook or other social networks

Join City of Austin, International Association of Science Parks, Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Texas and EuroCircle for Joint Happy Hour with visiting guests from Luleå, Sweden

The City of Austin was recently named the first science city member of the International Association of Science Parks. . Visiting this week are IASP representatives from Luleå, Sweden:

– Fredrik Kalioniemi Managing Director, Aurorum Science Park
– Matz Engman CEO, Luleå Business Agency
– Anders Granberg CEO, The Node Pole
– Erik Lundgren, Head of Business Development at Luleå Energy

The Luleå delegates are exploring Austin as a center of innovation in areas of gaming industry, data centers, smart grid, and business attraction strategies.

Join us for an informal networking event giving these Swedish guests a warm welcome to Austin.

Cash Bar. No Cover.
6.30 pm

SACC TX hosts: Peter Holmertz, Henrik Johansson and Rasmus Wendt

NOTE: SACC has also invited us to join the Swedish Crayfish party on Saturday, Sept 29

The Swedish Crayfish Party Tradition

As the Swedish summer draws to a close, you may be lucky enough to experience warm, clear August nights that are almost Mediterranean in character. That’s when Swedes have their crayfish parties.

A crayfish party is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in the Nordic countries. The tradition originated in Sweden, where a crayfish party is called a kräftskiva.

Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to late summer. Dining is traditionally outdoors and customary party accessories are comical paper hats, paper tablecloths, paper lanterns (often portraying the Man in the Moon), and bibs. A rowdy atmosphere prevails amid noisy eating and traditional drinking songs. The alcohol consumption is often high, especially when compared to the amount of food actually eaten (crayfish shelling is tedious work). People mostly drink beer and akvavit which is a traditional flavored spirit that gets its distinctive flavor from spices and herbs.

The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in Austin has made it a tradition to celebrate this Swedish feast every year and this year they are hosting it together with EuroCircle.

written by Rasmus Wendt

Coming to America

During the 1980s, I lived and worked in Germany (I’m originally from England, however). I had 6 weeks paid vacation, and always made good use of it. My then boyfriend and I frequently visited the USA for 4-5 weeks at a time, discovering its beauty and its vastness, and with the generous vacation time we both had, we were really able to explore and get to know the areas we visited. In my wildest dreams, I never expected that just a few years later, in the mid-1990s, I would be actually living in the USA!In 1993 I left Germany and joined a cruise ship based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Whilst there I met my husband, and two years later joined him in Florida. At that time, I couldn’t imagine ever going back to a cold climate or a dull, grey city.

The sun and sand was all I needed. After 11 years in Florida, during which time becoming a US citizen (whilst retaining my British citizenship….), we moved to Atlanta. We’ve now lived here for 6 years, and Atlanta certainly does have a lot to offer. Now, the reason I brought up the vacation time at the beginning is because one of the things I want to touch on about life in the US is the very sparse vacation time. Whilst this doesn’t apply to everyone, the general norm is 1-3 weeks. In my current job, I get one week. One week!!! It’s barely enough time to get unpacked…

After being here for so long, I’ve also learned that sun and sand does not a life make. There is nothing in the US that really compares to a Paris, or a Rome, a London or a Berlin, even though New York is a close contender and I hear San Francisco is very cool. There are times when I yearn for the cobbled streets of a quaint village with the local pub, the butcher and the bakery, or for a big vibrant city that I can actually walk around. I would love to be able to hop on a bus, train or tram to go shopping, or to go to an appointment, or even to get to work.

I often miss the lifestyle of Europe, quite different from here. But could it be that the grass is always greener? When we get visitors from England, they comment on how lucky we are to be able to live here. They talk about the space, the cleanliness, the trees, the food, the laid back vibe. They comment on how affordable everything is, and how we would never be able to afford this kind of lifestyle “back home”. And after 2-3 weeks of enjoying every moment, they head back home, always reminding me to come and visit.

I would love to. If I only had more vacation time…

by Vicki Cimkentli (Linkedin profile)

Atlanta – Sep 11 2012

We will have our September EuroCircle get-together on the second Tuesday (September 11th) at the newly opened Mandarin Hotel (formerly the Mansion) located at 3376 Peachtree Road / Atlanta 30326.

$3 bottle water and sodas, $5 beers and $7 wines along with free appetizers.

Valet parking will be available at $12 – otherwise feel free to self park off premises as valet parking is the only option at the venue.

We will meet towards the back of the hotel where I have made arrangements for us to use the TaiPan area with access to the outside garden and patio area.

We will have two cash bars set up along with cocktail waitresses taking drink orders.

You also will be able to buy drinks at the Hotel bar which is across the hall from where we will be meeting.

This is a very nice venue and a good turnout is expected.

Be sure to RSVP for this event as we need to give the hotel a headcount…..

See you there!

Your Atlanta EuroCircle Team
(David / Randall)

Email us at : atlanta(at)eurocircle(dot)com

FinnFest USA 2012 Tucson – Finnish in the USA

Nordic Finland meets the Southwest with Creativity, Curiosity, and Connection. From November 8-11 2012, Finland and Arizona will meet and engage in a vibrant, educational, and festive celebration where visitors share information and learn about contemporary Finland and Finnish American culture during stimulating, fun-filled days packed with activities and events for all guests.


FinnFest will be able to rightfully engage in some new topics and approaches just because the festival will be held in November rather than in summer months. For example, because it’s during the school year, we are including a special Saturday event with appeal to area Tucson teachers, and the University of Arizona is providing Continuing Education credits to teachers attending this all-day Education Forum, November 10th.

Pasi Sahlberg, the author of Finnish Lessons: What can the World learn from Educational Change in Finland? will keynote the day, and three Finnish elementary teachers from Minneapolis are developing a series of break-out sessions putting his ideas into the reality of real classrooms. They will be joined by teachers traveling to Tucson from Tampere, Espoo, and Kuopio, Finland. The keynote is open to all registered guests.


When strangers in shops and people I pass on the street make eye contact, nod or say “Hi!” I like to reply with an icy stare or low growl. Lately, I’ve come to understand that this is not the done thing, but I can’t help it because I’m British. I was raised in a land where a sneer is worth a thousand smiles.

We are opening up all of our events to the community, and we are including local people in the programming. You’ll get a chance to see long time FinnFest USA festival performing group, Finn Hall, interact with Gertie and the Boyz, a local waila band. (Waila is dance music originating with the Tohono O’odham, native people of Southwestern Arizona. Like Finn Hall, it uses accordion and plays music in the style of polkas and the schottisch.) Other performers include Ulla Suokko, flute, Mimmi Fulmer, soprano and Craig Randall Johnson providing classical music. Saana Ensemble, Kaivama and The Horsmas can be heard in concert and dance hall.


Following the last year’s success in San Diego, we are bringing the delightful Moomins to Tucson audiences. The Dancing Moominvalley-production will not only engage and entertain the festival-goers, but will visit the local schools and donate a series of books by Tove Jansson, to the International Children’s Library. Salolampi Foundation with Concordia Language Villages will offer Finnish language instruction for children in playful manner and Kids Corner at the Tori provides hands-on activities in arts and crafts for audiences under 4 feet or so.


The November timing also has encouraged us to develop programming related to Finnish Christmas foods. We will demonstrate Christmas foods and share recipes. (If you can keep a secret, we can tell you that Santa Claus may show up sometime during the festival as well.)

A Finnish chef will be supervising the tori’s kahvila (marketplace coffee-shop) Finnish-food snacks and lunches as well as an awarding winning Sunday brunch at the hotel, supplemented this week only with Finnish foods. Not to forget, however, that the best tamales in the Southwest are available only a mile away from the Doubletree, our festival headquarters. A chance to connect all “foodies” to the Southwest and to Finland!

Shared History

We knew that Phoenix and Tucson had active Finnish American clubs, but none of us had recognized that Arizona had a Finnish American history, an immigrant labor history. We’ll have a chance to learn about the deportations from the Bisbee Mine that occurred in 1917 and take a field trip to Bisbee. We learn about people with names like Alvar Wilska and Yrjö Paloheimo and meet people like Sinikka Garcia. Since this year is the Centennial of the State of Arizona, it means that we will be bringing light to a little known aspect of Arizona history, history we can share with Arizona.


Contemporary Finland will be present in other ways. This year’s festival is giving us another chance to meet the Finnish Ambassador to the USA. Ritva Koukku-Ronde will give the keynote at the opening and join with Green Party Central committee member, Kimmo Wilska, to talk about Finland’s recent presidential elections. Two local University of Arizona professors will respond with comments, comparing and contrasting Finland’s election with the US presidential elections that ended that Tuesday.

For people who want to connect both to contemporary Finland and to the contemporary USA (with a Finnish perspective), this year’s FinnFest USA festival should provide a great long weekend. Stay a day later, if you can, to explore the exotic desert around Tucson. Our website has a great guide to all attractions and nature wonders Tucson has to offer.

Check and join our email-list for updates. Advance registration (with lower prices) will end on September 14.


Note: Eeva Savolainen, who wrote the above article, is the coordinator for the FinnFest 2012 Tucson. She can be reached at