The gold of Kalix
It would be hard to top an introductory experience to Swedish food than with bleak roe from Kalixon buttery toast; glistening golden-orange bleak 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 ofblack pepper. This is the Swede’s favourite way to eat the gold of Kalix - it’s light, fresh and dangerously more is hwhat with its unique character in taste and balance of textures.For the full-on Swedish experience? Pour yourself a chilled beer and punctuate with shots of ice-cold schnapps or vodka.
The whitefish 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 whitefish are caught in the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia, where several large mineral-rich rivers watershed. These minerals enrich the fauna that the whitefish feed ongiving the roe its unique flavour. So unique that, in autumn 2010, Kalix bleak roe received the EU ‘PDO’ (Protected Designation of Origin) status, joining the ranks in the esteemed company ofParma 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 favoured 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 UNESCO ‘City of Gastronomy’ and in 2011, was chosen as the capital city of ‘Sweden – the New Culinary Nation’, by the Ministry for Rural Affairs.
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 neighbouring counties, Härjedalen and Ångermanland. Only a dozen or so small farms use the age-old custom of makingunpasteurized rennet cheese from unskimmed 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 - the small Jämtland village of Fäviken is home to 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 havepicked, harvested or hunted locallyand from their own farm. Fäviken Magasinet’s classics includecrispy 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.
Mathias Dahlgren - the philosophical chef
Mathias Dahlgren calls the philosophy behind his restaurant 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 the Matsalen(dining room) and Matbaren(foodbar). 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 Dahlgrenrestaurants have been awarded more Guide Michelin stars than any other Swedish restaurants- Matbaren with one starand Matsalen with 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 three years, it has been designated the‘One To Watch’ in global contest The San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants.
The food is not presented from a traditional menu - Bjorn Frantzén and Daniel Lindeberg prefer to cook free-form with freshingredients. A daily delivery from their very own gardens in Sörmland forms the basis of their creativity. But the foodis 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 pearand 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, the largest in the country 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, Dykarbaren in Sandhamn, 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.
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 Gotland Bryggeri in Visby and the little fresh dewberry, that Gotland islanders callsalmbär.
A real rarity is the beer dricku, a Gotland home-distilled and fermented alcoholic beverage that resembles microbrewery stylefärsköl (a strong, rich, unpasteurised and unfiltered beer)and takes its roots from Viking times. The main ingredients are malt, hops, yeast, water, juniperand sugar or honey. The beer’s alcohol volumeranges between 5-13%and can, apparently, give rise to headaches.
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 therefreshing Swedish oystersappeal is all in the flavour. The species, Ostrea edulis, in combination withslow 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, lobster. 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 find a classic destination for seafood lovers, the restaurant Sjömagasinet on the Gothenburg harbour. The restaurant was founded in 1984 and operated from 1994 to 2010 by legendary restaurateur, Leif Mannerström. From 1999 to 2010, it earned one Michelin star. The restaurant recently re-opened in April 2011 with new owners Ulf Wagner, who runs the Basement in Gothenburg, and new head chef Gustav Trägårdh, Swedish chef of the year 2010.
There are two menus that complement each other. ‘Wagners val’ (Wagner’s choice), which includes classics such as lobster salad with crispy bacon, boiled salted cod,and fried halibut Rossini with Madeira sauce. ‘Trägårdhs val’ is a more modern approach to the Nordic ingredients: whitefish bleak roe and veal fillet on crunchy sourdough bread, Smögen shrimp and squid, and grilled fillet of hake with crisply fried side of suckling pig. Or keep it simple and order the absolutely freshest seafood, delivered from the port just around the corner.
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 walltiles, vintage school posters, shabby-chic tables and classic wooden chairs - and guests that appreciate uncomplicated, highquality food.
The charming backyard with a seated area opens in summertime. The restaurant serves up pizzetesand 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 anamesake inn-style restaurantor ‘krog’ together with his mother and father. His father's responsibilities include cheese selection from nearby Vilhelmsdals dairy farm. His mother manages their newly planted fields of herbs, berries, peas, beans, radishes and greenhouse for tomatoes.
Daniel Berlin 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 cetainly 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 Österlen ‘Sweden’s Tuscany’ is a cliché but the landscape really isa 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/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 Österlen has to offer.
830 05 Järpen
Tel 0647–401 77
Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen
Grand Hôtel Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6
103 27 Stockholm
Tel 08–679 35 84
Lilla Nygatan 21
111 28 Stockholm
Tel 08–20 85 80
Adolf Edelsvärds gata 5
414 51 Göteborg
Tel 031–775 59 20
Mäster Johansgatan 11
211 21 Malmö
Tel 040–12 13 18
273 92 Skåne Tranås
Tel 041–720 300