• Sweden's news in English
 

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
UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip
Photo: AFP

UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip

Sweden’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council will dominate Stefan Löfven’s trip to New York and Washington, DC. While in the US, he will also meet Vice-President Joe Biden. READ  

New trial to start over 8-year-old’s death
Photo: TT

New trial to start over 8-year-old’s death

An appeal gets underway on Monday in the case of 8-year-old Yara Alnajjar, a girl from Gaza who was beaten to death in Sweden last year. A female guardian was charged with murder while the girl’s uncle received a lesser sentence. READ  

Pub shooters wore skull masks and police vests
Photo: TT

Pub shooters wore skull masks and police vests

The two men who opened fire at a Gothenburg pub on March 18 were wearing skull masks and police vests, surveillance cameras footage reveals. Two people were killed and eight injured in the incident. READ  

PM brings up death penalty on China trip
Photo: TT

PM brings up death penalty on China trip

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven broached sensitive subjects such as the death penalty and human right in a Saturday meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping. READ  

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm
Photo: TT

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Sweden will soon return to Stockholm after a diplomatic spat, Swedish officials said Saturday. But an envoy sent to Riyadh stopped short of offering the Saudis an apology. READ  

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow
Photo: TT/Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow

Three Swedish parliamentarians met with fugitive US intelligence agent Edward Snowden at a secret location in Moscow on Friday to discuss mass surveillance. READ  

Spring budget
Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way
Social Democrat Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Green Party deputy Per Bolund at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT.

Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way

Sweden's left-wing government proposed a hike in petrol taxes on Friday, citing the drop in oil prices and pressure put on it by its coalition partner the Greens. READ  

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged  83
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged 83

UPDATED: Swedish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Tomas Tranströmer has passed away at the age of 83, his publishers confirmed on Friday. READ  

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson before his sick leave. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'

Jimmie Åkesson, who is poised to return as leader of Sweden's nationalist party in April after months of sick leave, has revealed he is taking antidepressants for exhaustion and sleeping difficulties in an interview set to air late on Friday. READ  

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?
Pia Sundhage, left, celebrating after Sweden beats Scotland in the World Cup qualifier. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?

Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage's contract leading the women's national team runs out next year. And she has not yet made up her mind as to whether or not she wants to stay on. “If they asked me today, I would say no,” she told The Local on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Gallery
Princess Estelle celebrates her mother's name day in Stockholm
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Obama's anti-Semitism team heads to Stockholm and Malmö
Gallery
People-watching: March 11th
Technology
How a Swedish app is teaching children to empathize
Swedish grandparents put on disguises to snatch baby
National
Why Sweden may not be as gender equal as you think
Politics
Why does Russia blame Sweden for the crisis in Ukraine?
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen
National
Listen to the English remix of a Swedish 'genitals' song gone viral
Technology
'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'
National
Why are 11 Roma people suing the Swedish state?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,445
jobs available
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