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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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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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