Like people in many parts of the world, Swedes have recently been rediscovering their passion for food. No longer is it good enough for food just to be cheap and filling – more than ever before, people want to know where their food has come from, how it was produced. And for real foodies, the real discoveries are to be made far from the big cities.
Västervik, a pretty old port town Sweden’s east coast, is one of the places leading the Swedish food revolution. Placed between some of Sweden’s most fertile farmland and the fisheries of the Baltic Sea, it is fast becoming a magnet for Swedes and tourists looking for a genuinely Swedish gastronomic experience.
Easter time is one of the highlights of Västervik’s foodie calendar – perhaps unsurprisingly, as the Easter weekend is known as the period of the year during which Swedes buy the most food. For most Swedes, no Easter is complete without a traditional smörgåsbord, featuring salmon, herrings, potatoes, hard boiled eggs and fish roe, among other delicacies.
In Västervik, Easter also means it’s time for the Galet Gott food fair.
Galet Gott, which translates as ‘Crazy Tasty’, is a chance for local producers and specialist food and drink providers from further afield to promote their wares to locals and visitors in Västervik. The festival is run by well-known local restaurateur and cookbook writer, Henrik Arkåsen, who is known as an evangelist for organic, small-scale food production:
“Small scale food production has been on the up in Sweden in recent years. It’s important for us to know the provenance of the food,” he says.
Among the local delicacies available to be sampled at Galet Gott are smoked fish from the Kårö smokery in the Västervik Archipelago. The smokery produces favourites such as smoked salmon, but also local specialities such as smoked buckling, a smoked fish very similar to kippers, and smoked flounder.
“They work with classic Swedish herbs and spices and old-fashioned methods,” says Arkåsen.
Other local food producers exhibiting on the day include Arkåsen himself, who as well as his restaurant Saltmagasinet runs two further eateries, a bakery and a cheese shop-deli. His traditional sourdough breads and Swedish pastries such as cinnamon buns are always a firm favourite with both locals and visitors.
“We only use organic produce and support traditional agriculture,” he says.
While many of the exhibitors are local, others have come from further afield. Visitors to the festival can taste wines from across Europe together with foods, and wine critic Camilla Settlin, from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, will be on hand with tips.
Of course, no Swedish celebration is complete without a smörgåsbord, a traditional Swedish buffet. That’s why Västervik is offering readers of The Local a special deal, including two nights and an Easter buffet at the Best Western Västervik City Hotel. There will also be a Saturday boat trip to to archipelago, where you will be served local Easter food, archipelago style.
At a price of 1785 SEK per person (or 3480 per couple), including room, breakfast, Easter buffet, boat trip with Easter food and tickets to Galet Gott, there is every reason to celebrate springtime with a feast in Västervik.