• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Stockholm Food Tours
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

The Local · 22 Jan 2014, 11:11

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.

Story continues below…

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)

Today's headlines
Ikea opens massive museum in Sweden
A scene from the museum in Älmhult. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Flatpack enthusiasts rejoice: Ikea has just opened a 7,000 square metre museum in the building that once housed its original store.

The Local Recipes
How to make a Swedish chicken and strawberry salad
Chicken and strawberry: a better combination than it may seem. Photo: SwedishFood.com

Easy to prepare, this chicken and strawberry salad is the meal you need this weekend, trust us!

Ibrahimovic confirms Manchester United move
Ibrahimovic playing for Sweden at Euro 2016. Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis/TT

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has put months of speculation over his future to an end by confirming that he will join Manchester United.

Man detained in Sweden over poison plot
Uppsala University. Photo: David Naylor/Uppsala universitet

The case, which involved assistance from the FBI, regards poisonous substance ricin that was allegedly stolen from Uppsala University to aid a blackmail plot.

Fifty Stockholm heart patients hit by superbug
Staff check air quality in an operating theatre at Karolinska University Hospital. Photo: Gary Fabbri

A potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria has spread to more than 50 heart patients at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm.

Two jailed for match-fixing in Swedish football
Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

A Swedish appeals court has jailed two football players and handed suspended sentences to four others for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

How many Swedes were unfaithful last year?
Photo: Sandra Qvist/TT

It kind of depends how you define it.

Brexit
'A Swedish passport means more than a British one now'
A Swedish passport. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The Local spoke to Brits living in Sweden on how they feel about the Brexit vote, one week on.

Want a job? Here’s where Sweden needs people
Nurses are in high demand in Sweden. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

It’s not always easy to find work in Sweden, but there are quite a few professions crying out for new workers in the coming year.

Top Swedish businesswomen slam boardroom quota plan
Antonia Ax:son Johnson opposes the plan. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

It's a slippery slope, they say.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Business & Money
Swedish banknotes expire this week
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Gallery
People-watching: June 29th
International
Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
Blog updates

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Private
The Local Voices
'Having a Middle Eastern name makes life in Sweden hard'
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Private
The Local Voices
'Sweden is the best place for people with special needs'
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
3,314
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