• Sweden edition
 
A beginner's guide to the Swedish food scene
French macaroons with "Swedish" parfums such as saffron. Photo: Solveig Rundquist

A beginner's guide to the Swedish food scene

Published: 22 Jan 2014 11:11 GMT+01:00

“New Nordic" cuisine has become a culinary keyword since Copenhagen restaurant “noma” popped up in 2004 and became a top-notch Michelin restaurant. It has been voted best in the world for several years in a row. But that's Copenhagen, this is Stockholm.

IN PICTURES: On the road with Stockholm Food Tours

I set off on a Stockholm Food Tour to find out if the Swedes are as impressive as the Danes. Guide Francisco assures me, as we hobble across cobblestones, that the foods featured on the Stockholm tour are uniquely Swedish, painting a much different culinary picture to the sister tours in either Copenhagen or Oslo. All three have been successful, and within six months of its birth last year the Stockholm tour climbed into the top ten activities for the city on Trip Advisor.

The food tour begins at Hötorget, which has been the scene of one of Stockholm's biggest marketplaces for centuries. The square got its name in 1644 and has remarkably kept its identity and significance since then. An actual food hall on the square was finished in 1884, and the current Hötorget Food Hall (Hötorgshallen) has stood since 1958.

Although Hötorgshallen is massive, the tour only makes one stop -  P&B Delicatessen (P&B Delikatesser). And no, P&B has nothing to do with peanuts or butter - though it was a lot to do with jelly. The initials stand for Pelle and Björn, two devoted jam-makers with a taste for the finer things in life. In Sweden that means heavenly hjortronsylt, or cloudberry jam, made from a remarkably expensive berry that is native to the Arctic tundra (think fat golden raspberries growing on the ground).

Tour participants also get a taste of beloved Swedish liquorice – and more eye candy than you can bear. Displays of dainty pastel-coloured macaroons are made with "Swedish" flavours such as saffron, apple-cinnamon, and pepparkaka (gingerbread).

From there it’s on to more conventional flavours, at the Chocolate Factory (Chokladfabriken). Or so we thought. The first sample: a tiny but intense cardamom truffle. Swedes are practically cardamom connoisseurs, with the oriental spice playing an essential role in traditional confections despite its far-flung origins.

“Cardamom is the third most-expensive spice in the world, right after saffron and pure vanilla,” Francisco grins as one tour member gingerly spits out the confection and wraps it in a napkin. Her wrinkled nose hints that such Swedish goodies may be an acquired taste – and delicacies don’t have to be delicious.

Chokladfabriken is somewhat of a foodie newbie, established in 1999, but has already carved out its niche at three locales in Stockholm. While all of the chocolates are made on location, the ingredients come from around the world, including Belgium and France.

The group wanders on to another food hall – older and grander than Hötorgshallen, the renowned Östermalms Saluhall. In 2007, it was ranked the seventh best indoor food market in the world, and Jamie Oliver himself has adopted the market as a personal favourite. Here we acquaint ourselves with Swedish cold cuts – reindeer salami, anyone? – and a cheeky lesson in Swedish cheese.

“They even put cardamom in their cheese!” Francisco announces cheerfully, to the mixed delight and despair of his followers, passing around a tray of spicey Boxholm cheese cubes. “And this,” he adds, moving on to a tray of Västerbotten, the king of Swedish cheeses, “is a very special cheese. Legend has it that the milk maid was stirring the cheese curd and was distracted by her lover, giving it its strong flavour and bitter notes.”

Unfortunately the cheese didn't find too many lovers among this particular audience, and the tour moves on.

Next is Pocket, the budget bistro little brother of French-Swedish favourite restaurant Pontus!, where traditional Swedish appetizer Toast Skagen is on the menu.

The tour tops off with a visit to a candy shop and then a rustic café in Old Town, where guests indulge in peppermint, fudge, coffee, and sweet cardamom buns. (Is there a trend here?)

After four hours the group has covered quite a bit of space, both geographically and on the food map. Contented moans confirm the satisfaction of many a full belly – although at 700 kronor ($108), the tour carries a hefty price tag considering the closest thing you get to a meal is an appetizer. The tour could use some fleshing out – in fact, an addition of meatballs wouldn’t be half bad.

Perhaps that would be too obvious. Scandinavia has a penchant – perhaps an obsession – for the new and unique, and the food tour’s concept in and of itself sheds light on a superfluous feud between the old and new. The focus is on New Nordic Cuisine, and the foods on the tour are decidedly traditional. There is a paradox in the fact that the manifesto of “New” Nordic Cuisine highlights traditional ingredients, methods, and dishes. It also focuses on (and even requires) local ingredients, whereas many of the ingredients we spotted on the tour came from around the world – Belgium, France, Italy, Estonia, etc.  

But that’s what Swedes are best at, borrowing ideas and ingredients and improving them, incorporating them into a uniquely Swedish identity. And while the foods on Stockholm Food Tour are not particularly new, nor so exclusively Swedish, the tour is four hours of Stockholm at its finest.

Solveig Rundquist
Follow Solveig on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Will 'hated' dating coach reach Sweden?
Julian Blanc in an image from his Facebook site. Photo: TT

Will 'hated' dating coach reach Sweden?

A viral campaign to stop controversial US dating coach visiting Sweden appeared to have been successful on Tuesday, when scheduled tour dates disappeared from Julian Blanc's website. READ  

Swedish Honeymoon Killing
Swedish honeymoon murder verdict delayed
Shrien Dewani outside the court in South Africa. Photo: TT

Swedish honeymoon murder verdict delayed

British businessman Shrien Dewani will have to wait two weeks to see whether a South African judge throws out charges that he organised the murder of his Swedish bride on their honeymoon. READ  

Housing crisis limiting Sweden's growth
A housing development in Malmö. Photo: Flikr/Anders Bengtsson

Housing crisis limiting Sweden's growth

Sweden's economy won't expand as quickly as previously expected, says the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which has lowered its growth forecast for the country. READ  

'Swedish' street dog becomes global celebrity
Arthur arriving back in Sweden last week. Photo: TT

'Swedish' street dog becomes global celebrity

UPDATED: Tales of a stray dog who latched on to a team of Swedish athletes in Ecuador have been lapped up by international media this week. The Local has learned that a new charity is being launched in the animal's honour. READ  

Sweden reveals 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Two of the hopefuls. Photo: TT

Sweden reveals 2015 Eurovision hopefuls

The full line-up of contestants hoping to compete for Sweden in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna has been announced. READ  

Fitness band is Sweden's hottest gift for 2014
Go on, you know you want one. The fitness armband has been awarded the 2014 Christmas Gift of the Year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT

Fitness band is Sweden's hottest gift for 2014

The must-have gift Swedes want to find to find under their Christmas trees in 2014 is a fitness armband, according to a Swedish retail research group's annual 'Christmas Gift of the Year' prediction. READ  

Presented by Stockholm International School
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Stockholm International School director Marta Krajnovic. Photo: SIS

SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning

International Education Week drew to a close last week and, the Stockholm International School (SIS) held an event looking at study abroad, multilingual education, and what really makes a school “good”. READ  

Volvo prepares for 3.7b kronor fine from EU
A Volvo truck. Photo: TT

Volvo prepares for 3.7b kronor fine from EU

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, is setting aside 3.7 billion kronor ($497 million, €400 million) to cover a potentially huge fine from the European Union for price rigging. READ  

Opinion
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Tina Miles is half Swedish, half American. Photo: Private

'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'

Swedes who grew up abroad or spent years away travelling can find it hard to adapt to life in a country with unique traditions and a somewhat shy population, argues Swedish-American Tina Miles. READ  

Sweden accused of '1800s' child cancer care

Sweden accused of '1800s' child cancer care

A number of leading Swedish health professionals have spoken out about the lack of qualified staff in hospitals to help children suffering with cancer, with one arguing that levels of care are akin to those in the country during the nineteenth century. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Blog updates

25 November

SEXUAL VIOLENCE: IT’S STILL TIME TO ACT (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"In 2013, a World Health Organisation report found that 35% of all women in the world..." READ »

 

24 November

Seeing into the Future of Business: Interview with Antonia Ax:son Johnson (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"Nobody can change the world more than businesses can. This is Antonia Ax:son Johnson’s mantra and..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
Opinion: 'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

769
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply