maandag 30 juli 2012

Highlights in Sweden – the New Culinary Nation

The gold of Kalix

It would be hard to top an introductory experience to Swedish food than with vendace roe from Kalix on buttery toast; glistening golden-orange roe piled on a disc of crispy butter-fried white bread, crunchy cubes of finely chopped red onion, a dollop of crème fraîche, a squeeze of lemon, a sprig of dill and a dusting of black pepper. This is the Swede’s favourite way to eat the gold of Kalix. For the full-on Swedish experience? Pour yourself a chilled beer and punctuate with shots of ice-cold vodka.

The vendace roe from Kalix (called ‘Kalix löjrom’) is Sweden’s answer to sturgeon caviar. Of course it differs in taste, texture and price, but has an amazing freshness, a delicate flavour, supple texture and subtle saltiness. The vendace (Coregonus albula) are caught in the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, where several large mineral-rich rivers watershed. These minerals enrich the fauna that the fish feed on giving the roe its unique flavour. So unique that, in autumn 2010, vendace roe from Kalix received the European Union’s PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status, joining the ranks in the esteemed company of Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.

The fishing season starts around the 20th of September and runs until the whitefish spawn, about a month later. The fish are caught and the precious roe is harvested. Fresh Kalix caviar is available during the short fishing season but it can be frozen without affecting the taste.

The meat of Sápmi

Getting hold of reindeer meat outside of Lapland used to be tricky because the locals got first dibs on it. But in recent times, this Lapland delicacy has become easier to find all over Sweden. It is much sought after for its dark, juicy meat with natural woodland flavours of lichen, moss and herbs.

‘Suovas’ – a Sami-language word that means ‘smoked’ in English – is lightly salted and smoked reindeer meat most often served with deliciously dense unleavened bread and foraged lingonberries. The type of suovas that has received the most attention is the smoked inner rump thigh, the first Swedish product to be protected by the Slow Food Presidium. The flavour is enhanced by cold-smoking the traditional way in a ‘kåta’ (Sami tepee) over an open fire. The bresaola-like meat is best served as a snack in wafer thin slices.

‘Goike suovas’ is an air-cured variety favored by hikers. And suovas cut from the outer thigh makes for good frying as it is less salty. Another souvas delicacy is the rich-tasting smoked reindeer heart, served in thin slices.

Jämtland delicacies and fantastic Fäviken

The Jämtland region and small-scale food craftsmanship are synonymous in Sweden. And to prove it, the Östersund area of Jämtland is a designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Jämtland is an eldorado for foodies. Dotted around the county are numerous small manufacturers and sellers of cheese, fine meats, herbs, game, wild berries and bread. One of the greatest taste sensations is cellar-aged goat cheese, produced in Jämtland and neighboring counties, Härjedalen and Ångermanland. Only a dozen or so small farms use the age-old custom of making unpasteurized rennet cheese from un-skimmed raw goat-milk, its character coming from being aged in the farm’s own cellars; each farm cellar imparting its own unique strain of wild mould in turn giving each cheese a unique colour, aroma and taste.

Just north of Åre – Sweden’s largest alpine ski resort – and the small Jämtland village of Järpen, lays the restaurant Fäviken Magasinet, renowned for its culinary adventures. Dandelion martinis are served by the fireplace and in the dining room, housed in an old barn, dishes are laid out based on what the chef Magnus Nilsson and his team have picked, harvested or hunted locally and from their own farm. Fäviken Magasinet’s classics include crispy lichens in garlic cream, thin slices of dry-aged Canadian goose, an elegant little dish of crunchy dried pig’s blood filled with lightly salted wild salmon trout roe, roasted marrow of dairy cow with diced raw cow heart, and freshly-cut cabbage with sage salt.

After dinner, boiled coffee is served from a large kettle – you won’t find espresso here. And for digestif? Try a dash of Fävikens own homemade duck’s-egg liquor with dainty morsels of caramelized meadowsweet flowers and dried berries on the side.

Fäviken Magasinet – one of the most talked about restaurants in international food media today – is ranked 34 by The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.   

Mathias Dahlgren - the philosophical chef
Mathias Dahlgren calls the philosophy behind his restaurants – ranked 41 by The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants – at the Grand Hôtel in Stockholm ‘The natural kitchen’. His cooking is based on local Swedish ingredients and flavours, while always searching for new flavours, raw materials and experiences that can accompany and match. It is based on the idea that the most interesting and creative encounters are when local and global perspectives meet.

A new menu is presented daily in both Matsalen (the dining room) and Matbaren (the food bar). Just some of the dishes that fire the imaginations of culinary-minded locals and other visitors to the restaurant are; Scandinavian sashimi of salmon, cod, scallops and oysters; warm toast with smoked beef marrow; griddled fillet of beef with parsley crème; lobster tails from Bohuslän with cauliflower and savoy cabbage; and ‘Wild chocolate in the oven’, otherwise identified as wild cocoa bean chocolate fondant with toffee ice cream, sour cream and nuts.

British designer, Ilse Crawford, directed the interior design of the restaurants. Matsalen is elegant and sublime, reminiscent of the Hollywood Regency style. Matbaren has rustic overtones with kitchen benches, oversized rib-backed chairs and simple tables, all of wood – something that makes Matbaren one of the most beautiful, yet relaxed Michelin-star restaurants around.

Mathias Dahlgren has been awarded more Guide Michelin stars than any other Scandinavian chef – Matbaren has one star and Matsalen two. He is also the only Swedish chef to have won the esteemed Bocuse d’Or (the unofficial chef World Cup) in Lyon in 1997.

The meteoric rise of Frantzén/Lindeberg

Few restaurants anywhere have had the meteoric rise of the little Frantzén/Lindeberg restaurant in the Gamla Stan (Old Town) area of Stockholm. A Michelin star after a year, a second star in two years, and now after four years, it ranks the world’s 20th best restaurants by The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The food is not presented from a traditional menu – Björn Frantzén and Daniel Lindeberg prefer to cook free-form with fresh ingredients. A daily delivery from their very own gardens forms the basis of their creativity. But the food is not limited to their own produce, it is also sourced from far-and-wide such as with raw liquorice, the east Asian citrus fruit yuzu, the Japanese dashi broth, Asian nashi pear and parmesan cheese from the northern Italian white cow, bianca modenese.

With solid roots in locally grown produce and Nordic cuisine, yet inspired by the French tradition and interwoven with exotic elements, Frantzén/Lindeberg have made their mark on the Swedish restaurant scene.

Sweden's largest archipelago

Sweden’s capital wouldn’t be the same without its vast archipelago, one of the largest in the world with upwards of 35,000 islands, islets and skerries, covering 1,700 square kilometres. The archipelago has over 10,000 residents and 50,000 holiday homes.

A voyage out to the archipelago in your own boat or by ferry is a must for both locals and visitors, especially when the weather is warm. There are a large number of restaurants and inns and their menus showcase local ingredients. There are also other food destinations such as fish smokeries, distilleries, village stores, sausage makers and bakeries.

Some of the archipelago’s best dining is at Fejan Skärgårdskrog, Sandhamns Värdhus, Utö Värdshus and Grinda Wärdshus. But they are in stiff competition with the picnicking punters – pack your picnic basket, find your own patch of undisturbed island and enjoy.

Gorgeous Gotland

Ingmar Bergman isn’t the only one to have been seduced by the unique light on the moorlands of Gotland. The light of Gotland has its own special brilliance and inspiring effect that has attracted artists and other creative professionals to the island since the early 1900s.

Gotland often has more hours of sunshine in the summer than anywhere else in the Sweden making the conditions for growing excellent, and so Gotland asparagus and other vegetables premiere early in the season. The island’s lamb is an institution, as is the newly discovered Burgundy truffle. Other specialties are the meat from massaged cows (Gotland’s answer to Kobe beef) on Ejmunds farm, rum made of sugar beets from Träkumla, wines from Gutevin in Hablingbo, beer from small-scale Gotlands Bryggeri in the medieval city of Visby, and the little fresh dewberry, that Gotland islanders call salmbär.

A real rarity is the beer dricku, a Gotland home-distilled and fermented alcoholic
beverage that resembles microbrewery style färsköl (a strong, rich, unpasteurised and unfiltered beer) and takes its roots from Viking times. The main ingredients are malt, hops, yeast, water, juniper and sugar or honey. The beer’s alcohol volumeranges between 5-13% and can, apparently, give rise to headaches.

Award-winning restaurants are 50 Kvadrat in the middle of Visby, and Krakas Krog on the eastern coast of the island. Both feature a modern cuisine firmly based on local produce.

Probably the world's best-tasting oyster

There are oysters, and then there are oysters. Some are big and juicy, others small and silky. But the secret to there freshing Swedish oysters appeal is all in the flavour. The species, Ostrea edulis, in combination with slow growing conditions in the deep, cold, mineral-rich waters of the Swedish west coast, give the oysters an uncharacteristically subtle character with clear hints of minerals. Some people think the taste is similar to iron, metal or even blood. Perhaps not a beginner’s oyster, but an oyster for those of us looking for a greater taste sensation.

Anyone for an oyster safari? The round, flat Ostrea edulis was the only oyster species in Europe until the late 1800s, and grows in Sweden from Varberg in the south to Strömstad in the north. In Grebbestad and nearby towns, there are opportunities to ride out with the boats and dive for oysters, and of course down your catch.

Fish, shellfish and Sjömagasinet

West Coast fish markets and shops offer a wide range of fish, fresh shrimp, in-season lobster, rope-farmed mussels, crab, an occasional octopus, and perhaps, most delicious of all, langoustine. Supremely juicy flesh and with a multi-layered taste, it is finger-licking-good and needs no company on the plate.

In Gothenburg, the capital city of ‘Sweden – the New Culinary Nation’ 2012 you will find several classic destinations for seafood lovers. The restaurant Sjömagasinet on the Gothenburg harbor was founded in 1984, and today feature two menus: ‘Wagners val’ (Wagner’s choice), which includes regional classics such as fried halibut Rossini with Madeira sauce, and “Trägårdhs val’, a more modern approach to the Nordic ingredients.

Restaurant Fiskekrogen, located in an elegant building from the 1850s, features one of the best seafood platters in the world. Thörnströms Kök, one of Gothenburg’s Michelin starred restaurants, offers modern, Scandinavian and regional cuisine. Legendary Kometen, opened in 1934, is a relaxed neighborhood styled restaurant with traditional dishes based on high-quality ingredients.

Bastard – Europe in one restaurant

Andreas Dahlberg is the chef behind Bastard in Malmö, serving modern European cuisine on a menu that changes daily. The food is simple, distinct and proud purveyor of the wow-factor. Homely bruschetta topped with generous slices of grilled ox heart. A spicy stew of pig’s trotters and snails. Cassoulet of lamb. Chicken livers, pork pie and sweetbreads. Charcuterie of thinly sliced salami, air-cured ham and wholesome rillettes served with sourdough bread and Swedish butter.

The food at Bastard is just part of the overall experience – it’s full-to-the-brim with intuitive good taste, simplicity and the love of food pervading throughout the service and interior; white wall tiles, vintage school posters, shabby-chic tables and classic wooden chairs – and guests that appreciate uncomplicated, high quality food.

The charming backyard with a seated area opens in summertime. The restaurant serves up pizza and other rustic fare from its wood-fired oven.

The Mum, Dad and chef of Österlen

In the tiny village of Tranås in Skåne, chef Daniel Berlin runs an namesake inn-style restaurant or ‘krog’ together with his mother and father. His father’s responsibilities include cheese selection from nearby Vilhelmsdal dairy farm. His mother manages their newly planted fields of herbs, berries, peas, beans, radishes and greenhouse for tomatoes.

Daniel Berlin, winner of the Young Chef of the Year Award at the 2011 edition of the San Pellegrino Cooking Cup in Venice, has long and established relationships with local producers of dairy products, meat and vegetables. The spring menu, for example, includes shrimp, tongue of lamb, wild herbs and asparagus. And Berlin certainly makes the most of milk from nearby farm, Hallingsbergs Gård. One dessert on the menu year-round is a medley of milk-based offerings presented as cream from cow’s first milk, sorbet, and froth.

To call Skåne and it’s southeastern region Österlen ‘Sweden’s Tuscany’ is a cliché but the landscape really is a beautiful roll of undulating hills, it’s lush green most of the year, and the soil produces fruits and vegetables of outstanding quality. Asparagus, apples, herbs and root vegetables flourish in the rich soils of the area, and small-scale producers of ecological pork, young roosters, honey and charcuterie are thriving. And believe it or not, Österlen boasts a bunch of newly opened boutique wineries.

Matrundan (‘the food round’) is an annual culinary staple in Österlen in late May or early June – a week long open-house for visitors to the culinary landscape. Around 30 producers, growers, chefs, brewers and cheese makers in the area invite all and sundry for a taste of the amazing produce Sweden’s southernmost region of Skåne and Österlen has to offer.


Restaurant addresses:

Fäviken Magasinet
Fäviken 216
830 05 Järpen
Tel + 46 647–401 77
www.favikenmagasinet.se

Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen & Matbaren
Grand Hôtel Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6
103 27 Stockholm
Tel +46 8–679 35 84
www.mathiasdahlgren.com

Frantzén/Lindeberg
Lilla Nygatan 21
111 28 Stockholm
Tel +46 8–20 85 80
www.frantzen-lindeberg.com

Sjömagasinet
Klippans Kulturreservat
Adolf Edelsvärds gata 5
414 51 Göteborg
Tel +46 31–775 59 20
www.sjomagasinet.se

Bastard
Mäster Johansgatan 11
211 21 Malmö
Tel 040–12 13 18
www.bastardrestaurant.se

Daniel Berlin
Diligensvägen 21
273 92 Skåne Tranås
Tel +46 41–720 300
www.danielberlin.se

For more information, please contact:
Anne-Marie Hovstadius
Communications Manager, Sweden – the new culinary nation
VisitSweden, Sveav. 21,Box3030, 103 61Stockholm
Phone: +46 709 99 45 00
e-mail: ami.hovstadius@visitsweden.com
http://imagebank.sweden.se/
www.sweden.gov.se/culinary
http://bloggar.visitsweden.com/culinaryacademyofswe


 

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