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GWEN'S GUIDE TO STOCKHOLM

STOCKHOLM SECTION

Shopping for Christmas food in Stockholm

As the Christmas season approaches in Stockholm, it is very likely that festive food is uppermost in your mind. Luckily, contributor Gwen Ramsey has put together a list of great options for filling your holiday hamper.

Shopping for Christmas food in Stockholm

No matter what your family celebrates during the holiday season it is very likely that your festivities are built around food. And, if there is any occasion to spend some extra cash and effort on food then this is it.

This year more than ever, food and foodies are in focus as the HUI Research (formerly the Swedish Retail Institute) recently declared that 2011’s official Christmas Present is a bag of freshly delivered groceries and recipes, otherwise known in Sweden as “Matkasse”.

Below is a list of delicatessens and food shops that will ensure a successful celebration whether served on your Christmas table (Julbord) or to put in your “matkasse”.

Fish:Carrotte

Bröderna Axelssons Fisk (Dalagatan 78, Vasastan)

This small fish store in Vasastan has remained a local favorite due it’s close contact with reliable suppliers and commitment to personal service. At Bröderna Axelssons, quality reins over quantity and while they don’t have the largest selection of fish, they are a dependable stop for Maine lobsters, Norwegian crabs and shrimp from Sweden’s west coast. They also have locations in Sollentuna, Kungsängen and Bromma so stop by before you plan your New Year’s Eve party!

Other fish stores worth noting….

Gamla Stans Fisk (Gamla Stan)

Fiskeläget (Hötorgshallen)

Melanders Fisk (multiple locations)

Meat

Taylors and Jones (Kungsholmen)

Meats and sausages from Sweden as well as cheeses and groceries from the UK is what you will find when you walk down the stairs into this basement butcher shop. Got a family full of meat lovers? T & J is smartly following this year’s trend of groceries-in-a-box by offering a meat box for 2, 4 or 6 people. If that isn’t enough of a reason to check out this shop then stop by and inquire about their sausage making class. It is the perfect gift for the uncle who has everything.

Other meat shops worth noting….

Köttbaren (City)

Sandstroms Kött (Nacka)

Cheese and Deli foods

Vasastans Ost

I can’t help but pop into Vasastans Ost every time I pass by it. It’s a true food-lovers paradise. They have cheeses from all over Europe as well as locally produced delicacies from Sweden and their freshly made sandwiches are heaven on earth.

Vasastans Ost offers cheese tastings, ready-made gift boxes and gift certificates for the holidays.

Planning a Glögg Party? The experts here have a pre-set Glögg Buffet Menu (minimum 10 people) that includes Stilton cheese, duck paté, smoked salmon and much more. Pick it up on your way home from work and your party is a guaranteed success, without the stress.

Winjas Ost Butik (Kungsholmen)

It would be easy to walk by this cheese store if it weren’t for the pungent smell of cheese wafting out to the sidewalk.

Winjas isn’t fancy but it is one of the best shops in town. They have an enormous selection of cheeses; most of which are already pre-cut so you are stuck buying rather large quantities. In addition to cheeses they also have meats, sausages (I recommend the wild boar salami), and other delicacies from around the world.

French food lovers will appreciate their selection of patés as well as duck confit from Castelnaudary. Their staff are pros at helping you put together a gift box that will impress even the pickiest foodie in your family.

Other cheese shops worth noting….

A Tavola (Vasastan)

Gamla Amsterdam (Södermalm)

Androuet (Östermalm)

Chocolate and Confectionaries

Choklad Fabriken (Multiple Locations)

It’s not surprising that there is a shortage of good chocolate stores in a country where the dessert culture is influenced by bulk candy, licorice and sourdough.

Stockholm could use a few more chocolateries, but in the meantime Chokladfabriken does a good job of satisfying your chocolate cravings. For a cozy cup of hot chocolate try their small store and cafe on Regeringsgatan. If you are Christmas shopping then their flagship store on Renstiernas gata is a must where countless beautiful chocolate goodies await you behind the glass counters.

If you don’t know what to buy then why not purchase a gift certificate to a dessert making class so that your loved ones can make their own favorites!

Other chocolate stores worth noting….

Xoko (Vasastan)

Boutique de Chocolat (Gamla Stan)

Middle East/Asian delicacies

Japanska Torget (City)

Stockholm’s largest selection of Japanese tea kettles, cups and accessories and cookware lines the walls of this Japanese store. Regulars often stop by Japanska Torget to stock up on Japanese seaweed cakes, rice cakes, rammen and udon noodle bowls, sauces and sweets.

Indian Food Center (Kungsholmen)

The Indian Food Centre doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it is a treasure of spices on the inside.

You can buy chili powder, curry seasoning, turmeric and plenty of other tear jerking spices along with lentils, nuts, seeds in bulk (500 hg – 1 kg). Perfect for stews, soups and curries that can feed the entire family while ensuring leftovers.

Hötorgshallen (City)

Hötorgshallen is a mecca for food lovers, but what makes this market unique from the others in Sweden is the concentration and assortment of specialty foods from all over the world including, South America, Philippines, Eastern Mediterranean, Hungary, Poland, The Balkans, Finland, Germany, Middle East and more.

Ready-made meals

No time to cook due to the holiday rush? Treat your family (and yourself) to a quick and delicious mid-week meal by picking up a freshly made and ready to eat family meal on your way home from work. The grocery stores and eco-markets listed here offer an exceptional assortment of organic food stuffs and local produce.

Saltå Kvarn (Södermalm)

Urban Deli (Södermalm)

ICA Baner (Östermalm)

Kajsa Warg (multiple locations)

Eat Ekoaffären (City)

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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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