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Reader voices: Where to find the best of British culture in Sweden

Is it possible to find a proper pub, a good cup of tea, or even battered fish'n'chips in Sweden? Yes, as long as you know where to look. The Local asked Brits in Sweden for help in tracking down the best of British in Sweden.

Reader voices: Where to find the best of British culture in Sweden
What do you miss most about home? Photo: Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash

In a new series, The Local is looking into the best places to find food, events, and cultural associations from different cultures, to help our readers who are feeling homesick or just looking to try something different.

With plenty of help from our British readers and members of the Facebook group Brits Living in Sweden, we've gathered together the top suggestions of where to find a piece of the UK in the Scandinavian country. Did we miss something? You can always get in touch to let us know, and we'll add to our guide.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

A post shared by Milner's Fish & Chips (@milnerssthlm) on May 6, 2019 at 4:47pm PDT

Groceries 

Swedish food culture is not all that different from British, and in recent years it's increasingly possible to buy food and drinks from major UK brands at ICA, Coop, and other Swedish supermarket chains. But some items often lacking include British sausages, golden syrup and baking products, Cadbury's chocolate, and Yorkshire tea.

The English Shop has long supplied expats with hard-to-find items in the three major cities and online, but this week announced it was sadly closing its stores.

But there are still options for a quick Brit fix. Discount stores like Netto and Normal can be surprisingly good for things like Easter eggs and other niche sweet treats, condiments and even cosmetics. In Stockholm, the Little Britain shop in Gamla Stan sells many foodie essentials as well as gifts.

The Cheddar cheese sold at Swedish supermarkets is generally disappointing, so it's worth making a trek to your local Lidl to stock up on its Valley Spire cheddar, which is more or less what you would buy in the UK. The discount supermarket often offers other British style food, including bacon.

Readers' tips: Where to find the best of Indian culture in Sweden

In Stockholm, Taylors and Jones is a British butchers for all your carnivore needs and much more besides. Many Brits swear by the shop for sausages and pies (which are also stocked in several Ica supermarkets across the country), and the Kungsholmen store also sells plenty of British sauces, condiments, and other groceries. Gothenburg readers have the option of Korv United for a wide range of sausages.

Down in Skåne, one Brit Living in Sweden Facebook group member recommended Mandelmanns trädgårdar in Österlen for watercress and Lundasparris for asparagus, to prepare for your summer kitchen.

Failing that, you can always try joining a Facebook group for expats in your area, and keep an eye out for anyone travelling to the UK soon who might offer to bring back some favourite foodstuffs.

Restaurants and pubs

One popular recommendation for British-style fish and chips is Stockholm's Milners food truck, which has also opened a pop-up stall outside the Nordic Museum on Djurgården for the summer. They also offer catering. 

For an English breakfast, try the Greasy Spoon in Stockholm, with two locations near Odenplan and Medborgarplatsen. There's often a waiting time of around an hour on weekend morning, but breakfast is served all day, while Yorkshire Tea is on offer. And while not a restaurant, in Malmö the Brekkieklubben project offers British/Australian-style breakfasts and a friendly atmosphere.

Although not strictly British, several Brits told us that NZ Craft Pies were the best pies to be found in Sweden. Based in Katrineholm, these pies are also stocked across the country, including at Stockholm's Cykel Cafe. And the company also manufactures sausage rolls.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

A post shared by NZ Craft Pies (@nzcraftpies) on Mar 4, 2019 at 11:39pm PST

When it comes to pubs, there are plenty that may claim to be 'British-style' in Sweden. The Tudor Arms in central Stockholm offers British food, beers, and often shows British football matches as well as offering a regular Monday pub quiz. Elsewhere in the city, Oliver Twist is a cosy Södermalm spot for food, drinks, and good British ales.

In Uppsala, the Churchill Arms was recommended for fish and chips or a burger in a cosy atmosphere. And a little bit outside Uppsala, the Flying Pig in Örbyhus was named a hidden gem.

Down in Malmö. the Pickwick Pub offers darts and Wednesday nights quizzes, while Sir Tobys is a British-style alternative regularly ranked as one of the Skåne city's best sports bars.

One reader recommended the Bishops Arms chain for something quite close to home, and these pubs can be found all across the country, while another suggested the Pitchers chain, especially for watching sports. Sleepless in Sweden blogger Jon Franklin said: “The Bishops Arms pub at The Elite Savoy Hotel in Malmö is actually more British in its decor and interior than an authentic British pub.”

And The Folka Red Fox in Långsås is a British-run pub with a wide selection of beers and a menu featuring pie and sticky toffee pudding.

One criticism from several people was that, while there's a growing offering of typical English food, Scottish and Welsh people are less well catered for, with no traditional butchers, bakers or pubs.

Sports

Missing home isn't always about the food, of course. Some of the sports clubs that might appeal to Brits are the Stockholm Netball Club, a plethora of cricket clubs including Stockholm International Cricket Club, Malmö Cricket Club, and Gothenburg Cricket Club, as well as plenty of football clubs and opportunities to try out rowing on Sweden's waterways.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

A post shared by Stockholm Netball Club (@stockholmnetballclub) on Oct 24, 2018 at 10:53am PDT


In terms of more sedentary pursuits, the English Bookshop in Stockholm and Uppsala is a great spot for finding the latest titles from your favourite British and English-language authors, while you might be surprised at the number of British TV shows, from crime dramas to the Great British Bake-off, that are available on public broadcaster SVT.

Events and organizations

Brits are at an advantage compared to many other internationals in Sweden in that their native language is widely spoken here, so English-language events and groups are usually not too hard to find, including English-language movies in most cinemas and so on.

But British cultural associations do exist, including the Swedish British Society, which hosts society evenings with British food in its pop-up pub, the Swe-Brit Arms, as well as events such as film nights and excursions. In Gothenburg (sometimes known as Lilla London or 'Little London' in Sweden), the British Club offers social evenings and other events, 

There are also two useful Facebook groups: Brits Living in Sweden for all things related to life here, and British in Sweden which is Brexit-related.

And if you're just missing British streetscapes, one Brits Living in Sweden member recommended a walk around the Stockholm streets around Engelbrektskyrkan, between Ostermalm and Vasastan.

IN DEPTH: How can Stockholm's cultural scene be more open to internationals?

Contribute to future articles in this series! Have you discovered a restaurant, shop, event or group that reminds you of home? Get in touch and tell us where people in Sweden can find the best of your home culture.

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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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