21 March, 2012

Sweden: Food

This was a very quick trip, and food in Sweden was insanely expensive (really- a lunch that would cost $15 here was about $45 in Stockholm), so we weren't able to get to a lot of places I would have liked to try. (I'm just going to have to save my Krona and go back sometime for a food tour!) But we did have a couple of truly memorable meals, and discovered some fantastic new foods on our many visits to markets and grocery stores (we are all packaging nerds).

The one fancy meal we had was at Mistral, in the suburbs of Stockholm. I'd read about the restaurant in Saveur and liked the farm-to-table sound of it, expecting something a bit more rustic than the contemporary, detail-oriented, nouveau cuisine style offered at many of the city's other fine dining establishments. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mistral was a wonderful combination of the two! Run by three young men who take turns cooking and working the floor, and serving only two to three tables per night, eating at the restaurant really felt like being in someone's home. (In fact, the other patrons dining while we were there were one of the chefs' parents!)

From the beautiful tablescapes made up of scattered items from the garden and kitchen, to the friendly conversations we had with all the guys, to the wonderfully imagined incarnations of seasonal foods, we were totally enchanted. We had a seven course meal with wine pairings, so I will fully admit that I don't remember every detail, but certain dishes really impressed me, like one made with beets cooked for 10 hours and then soaked in rosewater, and an unsweetened pumpkin granita that tasted more "pumpkiny" than anything I've ever had (including raw pumpkin, if that's possible?). I loved the dessert course of jerusalem artichoke ice cream (so delicate and sweet) paired with Tokaj so much that I want to try and recreate it. And both my friend and I were completely taken with the story of one chef's vegetarian-raised, eleven year old son tasting meat for the first time (freshly hunted elk) that inspired another dish with venison, cabbage, kelp and roe; the boy's reaction to the new taste sensation ("it tastes like fish") had sparked a conversation among the chefs about the similarities between the ocean floor and the forest floor. Really, everything was just beautiful, and totally worth the splurge.

at mistral, onions with jerusalem artichoke, apples, butter, coffee, crispy mushrooms, and duck gizzard

Besides Mistral, my other favorite food finds in Stockholm were the bakery at the Rosendals Tradgard, where they use locally milled, organic flour- I had the most amazing sourdough roll with basil pesto and walnuts- and Urban Deli, a grocery, bakery, and restaurant all in one, where we had this beautiful dish of roasted root vegetables served with hazelnuts, aged chevre and sour cream. YUM.

urban deli

rosendals tradgard

Also, since you know I love food on a stick, and have a particular fondness for the Twister Dog since I first discovered it at the Alameda County Fair three years ago, I couldn't resist stopping into this place when we passed it! I opted to try a "Waffle Dog," the making of which involved a special waffle iron designed to hold a hot dog and stick inside the batter, resulting in what looked like a hot dog in a sleeping bag and tasted... well, like a waffle wrapped around a hot dog.

In Uppsala, we had some truly spectacular meatballs with lingonberries at the aptly named and wonderfully decorated Lingon.

As we were on the road quite a bit, we ate quite a lot of easily transportable food like knackebrod with cheese, yogurt, sandwiches, etc.. I was thrilled to find that rhubarb was a popular flavor both for juice and yogurt, and became a little obsessed with trying all the other interesting kinds of juices as well (loved the lingonberry and elderflower, but was not such a big fan of rosehip).

One night in Orsa, after a day on the frozen lake and the observation that every open restaurant was serving pizza, we aquiesced and tried Swedish pizza. This one, with pineapple and ham as well as bananas and curry, was actually quite good.

And finally, here are some assorted grocery and market photos.

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