Recently I took part in The Nordic Experience with Guided Food Tours Stockholm. I learned that there is far more to the Swedish cuisine than just meatballs and fish. A LOT more!
At 2 PM on July 13th, after arriving back from Landsort, I met up with a dozen other bloggers outside the Hötorgshallen food court. For the next six hours, we wined and dined at some of the most incredible establishments in Stockholm. While we did have meatballs, there was so much more to the tour than that.
The tour is 795 SEK (about €84), which you can book here. Included in the price are tastings at ten different shops and restaurants, a metro ticket to take you between the different stops, a sampling of snaps (along with your herring), and a water bottle at the beginning. Is it worth the price? Definitely!
Obviously I’m not going to spoil the tour for you, so I’ll just do my best to tantalize you. The problem with writing a food review is that you just can’t do it. Words will just never be able to adequately describe the bear meat we tried at Hellbergs, or the Getmese cheese (think of a nutty, caramel-flavored brown cheese) at Fromageriet. I probably should mention this tour isn’t for vegetarians.
You might have had pickled herring before, but I’ll guarantee you haven’t had the explosion of flavor in your mouth that the Hav Fish and Delicatessen produced with their salmon and herring samples. Even that was eclipsed by the fish soup made at the family-run Kajsas Fisk. As an aside, it’s not just tourists that frequent these joints. Locals flock to Kajsas Fisk, and they serve as much as 270 liters of soup in a single day!
Then there’s the Urban Deli. The next time I’m in Stockholm, I’m going to revisit this place and write a whole story just about them. They don’t have a set menu since they essentially cook whatever they feel like. They’re always trying new recipes, and if you like their food, they’ll happily share the recipe with you. They’re also innovative and even went to Italy to produce their own olive oil. If there’s something you want to sample, they’ll be happy to provide you with a bite, even if that means opening a new bottle of black truffle olive oil for you to taste. Simply put, this place is probably the hippest join in Stockholm!
The next stop was Osterquist, which imports all of its deli products from abroad (except for one type of cheese and the apple juice). They basically have every type of meat not produced directly in Sweden. That’s not to say we didn’t have meatballs. We eventually made it to Tennstopet, where they make the best mouth-watering, 100% beef meatballs, complete with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. I humbly withdraw my opinion that Ikea meatballs are good, at least compared with these.
The tour continued from there with several samples at Bakery and Spice, delicious hot chocolate and salted caramel samples at Chokladfabriken and finally a Swedish fika in the “dungeons” of Rörstrands Castle and Cafe. If you don’t know what a fika is, you could translate it to “coffee time.” It’s an integral part of Swedish culture several times a day, usually accompanied by pastries or sandwiches.
That was the end of the Nordic Experience food tour, but my culinary adventure continued. We next went to the world’s first urban Winery Hotel. What an amazing hotel. As the name implies, yes, it is a full winery. They import their grapes from Italy, and then produce and bottle their own wine right in the hotel lobby.
We had a full tour of the wine-making process, including a small sampling. Then we were lead to a veritable feast, complete with a full flight of their wines, bread, cheeses, Italian cold cuts, olives… You get the idea. I would have thought the 35 food samples from the earlier tour had filled me up, but it seems my stomach has an infinite storage capacity. And I might not be a sommelier, but that wine tasted damn good! Finally, we got a tour of the hotel itself, including the rooftop pool. That’s definitely a place I’d love to stay someday!
Even after my first two visits to Sweden, if you had asked me what food the Swedes were known for, I couldn’t have named more than their meatballs and perhaps the cardamom buns they serve with fika. If I took one thing away from the two tours, it was that Sweden has quite a few contributions to the culinary world. I was to find that to be oh so much truer over the next few days in Sweden, but you’ll have to wait for those posts! Coming soon…