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CHRISTMAS

Where to get the food you need for an international Christmas in Sweden

If you want a taste of home this Christmas, or perhaps just a change from endless lussekatter and pepparkakor, you might be on the lookout for international ingredients for your festive feast. Here's a look at the best places to find non-Swedish Christmas foods in Sweden, put together with some help from our readers.

Where to get the food you need for an international Christmas in Sweden
From Italian panettone to a Christmas turkey to Polish desserts, here's where to find international Christmas food. Photo: Tim Marringa

Italian wines, pandoro and panettone

 

Reader Linde suggested Wijnjass on Bergsgatan in Stockholm for hunting down delicacies including great Italian wines to complement your Christmas meal.
 

For sweets and cookies, the store Amaretti Virginia in Gamla Stan is a cozy place with shelves are full of brightly coloured classic packaging. “We import premium products from the Liguria region. My father-in-law is from the village of Sasello in the north of Italy. That's how we got in touch with the Italian culture,” one of the owners, Jacqueline, told us.

 


Photo: Tim Marringa

 

“The panettone is the favorite Italian treat for Christmas. Soft and sweet, the perfect stylish cake for the holidays. It's a symbol of getting together with the whole family and sharing the panettone,” she said. “Last year we sold eighty cakes before Christmas, this year I ordered two hundred, and they are going fast.”

 

Eataly in Stockholm and Lidl stores all around the country also have an excellent panettone, recommended by The Local's readers.

 

And for anyone in Gothenburg wanting to add an Italian flavour to Christmas, restaurant Enoteca Maglia sells Italian ingredients as well as serving food.

 

French Bûche de Noël and pâtisserie

 

If there's one thing the French are known for, it's their fantastic bread. Bakery Petite France is popular through the year for its croissants and other goodies, but in the winter months the place is also the home of the Bûche de Noël or the French Yule log cake, a sponge cake with chocolate buttercream.


In Gothenburg, Sylvain Marron offers a small and sweet part of France in Sweden. As well as chocolates in a wide range of flavours, this is a spot to pick up baked desserts to add to the festive menu.
 


Photo: Tim Marringa

 

English Christmas pudding, marmalades and curds

 

Tea House Java in central Stockholm sells delicacies from all over the world, including many local products from Sweden and the classic Christmas pudding, as well as British desserts such as shortbread.

 

Also in Stockholm, the British butchers Taylors and Jones were recommended as a one-stop shop for everything for a great British feast during Christmas, including the turkey.

 


Photo: Tim Marringa

 

At the Little Britain store in Gamla Stan, it's possible to buy mince pies, Christmas puddings and fruit cake, as well as Christmas crackers. And a similar offering is available at Gothenburg's British Shop.

 

And reader Elis shared a tip for an English-Swedish hybrid Christmas dinner at the Gamla Riksarkivet. Elsewhere in Stockholm, brunch favourite Greasy Spoon is also serving British Christmas roast dinner in December.

 

Spanish exclusive hams, crustaceans and nougat

 

The Pavo Trufado de Navidad is the Spanish variant of the stuffed turkey, filled with truffles and serrano ham and served with fresh pineapples and orange. Dennis Kött in Spånga near Stockholm is known for its high-quality meats, including the famous Christmas turkeys. Be sure to buy in time, because these birds fly fast during the holidays.

 

In some parts of Spain, Christmas is all about the seafood. Despite its French name, Grand Gourmet in Stockholm imports quality products from Spain including fresh fish and crustaceans, cheeses and cured meats.

 


Photo: Tim Marringa

 

Salmantinos delikatesser, also in Stockholm, focuses on restaurants but also sells their products to private customers. 

 

One of the top products in the store is the Jamon Iberico (Pata Negra). The meat from black Iberian pigs sold here is from the Spanish regions of Andalusia, Extremadura, and Salamanca. Because the leg of the pig is still intact, it's a spectacular addition to a festive feast.


Also on offer are snacks and desserts such as Turrónes, a sort of nougat with honey, sugar and egg white, mixed with nuts. 

 

German strudel, kuchen and mulled wines

 

A German Christmas wouldn't quite be complete without krautstrudel, Christmas lebkuchen cookies and plenty of meat. At Österqvist Delikatesser in Hötorgshallen in Stockholm, one of Sweden's oldest delis, you'll find different kinds of German sausages, dried meat and products like sauerkraut, spätzle and kartoffelklösse. 

 

The Wine Room at Hangövägen offers a Katzenhütte Glühwein for anyone who prefers the German take on mulled spiced wine to Swedish glögg.

 

Meanwhile, if you want some classic German lebkuchen at your festive gathering, Stockholm has two bakeries specializing in German products Tyska Bageriet and Der Berliner Bäcker.

 

Polish Wiglia: borscht and pierogi

 

The traditional Polish Christmas dinner, called Wiglia and eaten on Christmas Eve, excludes meat and has twelve different dishes, just as there were twelve Apostles. The Polish kitchen is known for two specific recipes. The first is borscht, an iconic eastern European beet soup. The second pierogi, filled dumplings that can be eaten with every meal, and both feature during Wiglia.

 

There are a few shops in Stockholm specializing in Polish delicacies. Polska Delikatesser is a little store that sells all kinds of Polish products, and you can try and taste different things here before you buy. 

 

Photo: Jurek Holzer / SvD / SCANPIX

 

The shop Polen Specialisten has three stores in and around Stockholm. The store has a large selection of Polish foods so if you plan on making twelve different dishes for a Wiglia Christmas eve, this place should have all you need.

 

And another option in the capital is the PolFood – Kött & Chark store. They combine local production according to their own recipes and a hand-picked selection of products from the Polish market. Fresh sourdough bread, sernik (Polish cheesecake), makowiec (poppy seed cake), pączki (berry donuts with apple), and traditionally smoked Polish sausages are just a taste of what's on offer.

 

American Christmas turkeys

 

Many of the food traditions in the US have a British origin, and just like on Thanksgiving, the centerpiece of an American Christmas dinner table is a turkey. 

In Stockholm, Lulles is a high-quality butcher selling every kind of meat you can possibly think of. Fresh game from different parts of Sweden such as moose, deer, deer, wild boar, reindeer, bear and hare. But you can also get turkey here. 

In Malmö, one option is Ola och Ko, selling meat and poultry from surrounding producers and farms in the immediate area.


 

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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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