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GWEN'S GUIDE TO STOCKHOLM

STOCKHOLM SECTION

Finding a fab place for fika with a twist

As the daylight in Stockholm dwindles, finding a place to catch up with friends is all the more important for beating back the winter blues. Luckily, contributor Gwen Ramsey has put together a list of great options for your next fika.

Finding a fab place for fika with a twist

I have never been a fan of the word fika. One can wonder if the term is still relevant today since we have come to expect so much more from this Swedish inspired custom of meeting friends or family for a cup of coffee or tea and perhaps a snack.

Instead of serving guests a café latte and a kanel bulle many cafes in town are finding a niche and dramatically exceeding our expectations of what one should expect from this sacred tradition.

Gärdet: Carrotte

Sandwiched between Mekonomen and Tullverket, it is easy to miss the very charming Carrotte. This delicatessen/café is definitely worth the trip out to Frihamnen. For many cafes in town, organic, healthy and locally produced equals boring and tasteless food that costs a lot and lacks creativity.

That is not the case here. Carotte puts their own spin on things. Try their salad with fresh seared tuna or the Boeuf bourguignon with is a regular on their lunch menu. If your lunch was too healthy then stay for dessert and try their fabulous selection of teas and homemade cookies or scones.

Östermalm: Kaffe Verket (also known as Snickarbacken 7)

Snickarbacken used to be an old stable but has since been converted into a place where boutiques, office spaces and cafe merge. Tucked away on a side street, this space is recognizable from Birger Jarlsgatan by the big electric “7” hanging over the doorway.

Whereas most Östermalm cafes are traditional and cozy, Sickarbacken 7 is minimalistic and hip. The narrow café is lined with steel benches against one wall so that guests can watch the baristas perform their magic. The menu here is short and to the point. Order a coffee made from their meticulously sourced beans, a fresh squeezed orange juice with ginger and the homemade egg sandwich on sourdough bread. You wont be disappointed.

City

Kafe Esaias

Believe it or not there is an oasis for coffee lovers in the middle of the chain-packed street of Drottninggatan. Kafe Esaias is a simple location with extremely good coffee. Their traditional brewed coffee is excellent as are their espresso drinks.

Esaias gets their baked goods from the very popular Bakery & Spice, but get there early because most of their baked goods are already sold out by lunch on the weekends. Also worth noting is that their staff is incredibly friendly.

Sosta Coffee Bar

The original Sosta Coffee Bar on Jakobsbergsgatan has won numerous awards for its coffee. Most, however don’t know that they have opened a second location on Sveavägen. This second outpost is much smaller than the original one, much more authentic to its Italian roots and in my opinion, much better.

Businessmen line up elbow to elbow at the crowded bar with their morning papers in a multitude of languages and order a “short” espresso and a small croissant sandwich. There isn’t a lot of room here so leave the strollers at home.

Vasastan: Salinos Espressobar

Salinos Espressobar on the corner of Odenplan is one of those places that you walk by numerous times before you notice it. This family owned and operated café prides themselves on Italian sweets and specialties made with carefully sourced, high quality goods.

Their espresso drinks are much better than their regular coffee, but it is their food, small Italian sandwiches with Taleggio and mushrooms or a hearty soup that makes you feel at home here.

Kungsholmen: Le Petite France

You know that Le Petite France has done something right from the length of the line that extends outside the door. Their numerous awards for best café in Stockholm has made it a challenge to get a table here on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but I can assure you that it is worth the wait.

Here you can order a creamy café au lait together with the best croissant in town or a more luxurious tarte aux pommes. If you want something on the more savory side then go for the croque madame a delectable salad or picture perfect omelette.

Don’t forget to buy a few loaves of their freshly made bread before you head home. If you aren’t yet convinced then check out the owner Sebastian’s blog. These pictures are sure to send you running to Le Petite France.

Södermalm: Johan & Nyström

Johan & Nyström is already well established, but I had to include it here because they have very unique offerings and their coffee is just so darn good. Their employees are true pioneers in the art of coffee making. If the ever-changing menu is confusing then let them help you choose the right beans and brew for you. 

Their staff is well-trained and they enthusiastically discuss the origin, smell and aftertaste of each option. Sandwiches seem a little pricey at 55 kronor ($8.50) but they have inspiring combinations in a town where ham and cheese sandwich is all too common. Their desserts are supplied by Dessert & Chokolad Stockholm and are even more delicious than they look. 

Also worth noting is that Johan & Nyström collaborated with Blossa to select the coffee beans that are used in this years much awaited Blossa Glögg.

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FOOD & DRINK

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Kanelbulle

The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Chokladboll

A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Prinsesstårta

The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.

Budapestbakelse

Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/imagebank.sweden.se

Biskvi

Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.

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