Monday, May 13, 2013

Local Cuisine in West Sweden

Taste award-winning local cuisine in West Sweden
 The world is taking notice of Western Sweden– its lakes and seacoasts spawn an impressive variety of wild fresh fish and seafood countryside artisans produce fine cheeses, brew beer, infuse schnapps, its fertile land produces a harvest of grains and its emerald forests are home to a variety of berries and wild game.
 Now travelers can do more than just wait around their supermarkets’ fish tanks for the famous Swedish fish to arrive, they can join Seafood Safaris and haul their catch alongside experts whose lives literally revolve around these traditions.
 On land, travelers can sample the best of the region’s produce at Taste of West Sweden restaurants – a network of 35 gastronomic eateries that highlight the local cuisine on its menus. Or, time your visit to a food festival to meet many of the region’s renowned gastronomic ambassadors and to sample the exquisite produce, locally roasted coffees and sit side by side with a Swede for a ”fika,” a coffee break.
 Seafood Safaris are the latest catch in a long line of travel products that take visitors to the source. Year-round safaris show visitors how to trap, harvest or catch – lobsters, mussels, oysters, shrimp or crayfish,– and prepare dinner. Embark on an Oyster Safari with Everts Sjöbod in Grebbestad; or a Lobster Safari from seaside properties such as the SeaLodge Hotel in Smögen or the Sydkoster Ekenäs hotel on the Koster Islands.
Lobster Safaris take visitors on a voyage along the stunning coast with a skipper, as participants help to haul and reset the pots of “black gold.” Learn how to handle, prepare, cook the lobsters, and sample the day’s scrumptious catch, perhaps after enjoying a drink in a hot tub under the stars at seaside. From Lysekil, Orust Shellfish leads Mussel Safaris demonstrating how the delicacies are cultivated before cooking up a bubbling pot of fresh mussels on an island overlooking the calm waters. 
 Western Sweden’s lifestyle is no longer a secret. Scientists are in constant pursuit of the next richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood that has been cultivated in the pure, cold, clean waters that surround this region. Take the lowly herring as an example.
 Nowhere in the world is herring so loved as it is in West Sweden, but herring is just the beginning of a love, appreciation for and high-quality seafood, and natural, organic produce that is the norm in this region.
 Historically, herring is one of Sweden’s most important foods. Local economies depended on fishing for herring a thousand years ago - particularly between the 1500s and 1800s -- when fishing communities emerged and flourished. Fishing remains an important industry here, although it’s increasingly common for local fishermen to be willing to take visitors out on seafood safaris, too.
 Visit Klädesholmen, known as “Herring Island” where 40% of Sweden’s herring comes from - and dine at the Salt & Sill floating hotel, with its long herring buffet.
 Swedes need no excuse to devour herrings year round as part of a Smörgårbord buffet, or to celebrate traditional holidays from Shrove Tuesday to a “Julbord” Christmas buffet and festivals: at the Nordic Oyster Opening Championships in Easter, The Day of the Herring in June, at a Midsummer bonfire menus feature pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, sour cream and raw red onion. 
Riches on Land
 Sample the best of the region’s produce at Taste of West Sweden restaurants – a network of 35 gastronomic eateries that make the most of the local cuisine. Located in an array of naturally-beautiful settings – including islands, deep forest and rich farmland - delicious food hotspots in the network include Villa Sjötorp in Lyckorna, which offers delicious seasonal menus, as well as The Koster Gardens on the South Koster island, named Sustainable Restaurant of the Year at the country’s Restaurant Gala Awards 2012 for its emphasis on growing and raising its own produce.
Visit the many quality local producers and farm shops across the region too. For example, Östragärde Gård in Sätila, which cultivates its own mushrooms and sells them in an array of flavours; Sivans ost in Oljeberget near the town of Vara, offering 8-40 month matured cheeses and Knäck & Bräck’s new bakery at Östra Tunhem, set just outside of the town of Fallköping and specialising in crisp bread, including lingonberry, sesame, juniper, tomato, blueberry varieties.
Gothenburg: Self-Styled Pleasures
 West Sweden’s vibrant capital, Gothenburg boasts five Michelin-starred restaurants, but in the Swedish tradition, the restaurants eschew the starched and stuffy style so often associated with excellent food. Instead, Gothenburg’s Michelin-starred restaurants offer relaxed, unstuffy dining, with visitors often able to walk in without reservations.
 As a major fishing port, Gothenburg’s famous indoor fish market, Feskekörka meaning ”Fish Church” both because of the high opinion Swedes have of fish and because the market is set in an old, elegant building inspired by a church. Feskekörka also houses renowned Restaurant Gabriel where head chef Johan Malm, the former World Champion in Oyster Opening, presides.
 Join The Passion for Food Festival, a mouth-watering showcase of West Sweden’s award-winning food producers and restaurants held at Eriksbergshallen in the spring.
 Finally, visitors must indulge in the city’s organic café scene, too, joining the locals for ”fika” (pronounced fee-ka), a coffee break with a pastry spiced with a healthy dose of local gossip, a national institution that Gothenburg excels in.  
 Local Gothenburg favorites include the three branches of Da Matteo (a hip bakery, coffee roastery and shop with a sparkling seleciton of home coffee-brewing equipment), Café Husaren (serving up undisputably, the country’s biggest cinnamon buns) and SoHo Gbg (super-trendy décor and lots of space).
 Gourmet cafés dot the region, including the cozy, organic, child-friendly garden café at Gunnebo House and Gardens, located in Mölndal just outside the city center, and Sundsby Säteri at Tjörn, housed in a charming red cottage serving exquisite home-baked biscuits, cakes and pastries.
 No matter where you plan to sample West Sweden’s richest resource: from berries to seafood to biscuits and locally brewed beers and coffees, it pays to get that much closer to the source.
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