30 degrees, sun, friendly people and excellent Caipirinhas is what I can report this far.
So, you wonder where to find the best version of the kanelbulle in Stockholm. Well, of course opinions will be divided, and I feel slightly bad for recommending a chain. But the kanelbulle at Fabrique (a Swedish bakery chain even available in London, UK) is in my mind among the best I’ve tried. Buttery, soft yet firm and just plain delicious. They make good coffee too, which is the classic drink paired with a kanelbulle.
Other great places for a kanelbulle
Magnus Johanssons Bageri in Hammarby Sjöstad. Haga Bageri at various places around town. NK department store’s bottom floor sells (at least used to) great kanelbullar.
Any other suggestion for a good quality kanelbulle in Stockholm? Let me know!
Just got back from a visit to Kvarnen, a classic Stockholm beerhall and restaurant situated on Södermalm. My expectations weren’t that high, but I actually got pleasantly surprised with my meatballs.
Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers and lingonberries. Four out of five meatballs were juicy and tasty, one was dry. Still probably the best meatballs I’ve had in a Stockholm restaurant. Tasted like homemade. A solid four out of five, to quote my cousin who also had the meatballs.
Isterband. A Swedish sausage made of pork, barley groats and potato. This one was quite good too. Served with beetroots, dijon mustard and mustard from Skåne, parsley and chives creamed potatoes, according to the menu.
(Excuse the bad lightning phone shot pics.)
As per usual, food was eaten. Above is a very tasty pork roast that we slow-roasted for almost three hours and served with a creamy risotto topped with fresh shaved truffle from Gotland. Almost mandatory charcuterie was enjoyed as well.
The best thing is, you too can do this at home. The workload’s pretty easy, what matters is the quality of the ingredients. I only used five different items: store bought brioche buns (from Garant if you’re in Sweden), store ground chuck roll, truffle mayo (splash in a few drops of truffle oil in a store bought or homemade mayo), finely sliced yellow onion, sliced pickled cucumber and cheese. I used Reypenaer, a Dutch cheese, to get that yellow melted burger cheese without having to resort to “plastic cheese”. Substitute it with eg. Cheddar if you can’t find Reypenaer.
How to make the (delicious) cheeseburgers
Form the beef patties, I made them quite thin – about 100 grams each, since I served it as a double burger. Add a generous sprinkle of salt on both sides.
Slice cheese, pickled cucumbers and onion. Make mayo. Toast brioche buns.
Grill or fry the burger patties until prefered doneness, I went for medium (check with grocer if meat can be served slightly undercooked first though if not cooking it through). Add cheese
Smear mayo on a toasted bun, add onion and pickles. Add two burger patties on top of each others, cover with another mayo-smeared bun. Eat. I had it with fries and a glass of Zinfandel.
Last weekend I visited the Slovak capital of Bratislava. I’ve been wanting to visit the city for quite a while, and finally it was time. The easiest way to get there, at least from Stockholm, is to fly to Vienna in Austria, situated about 70 kilometers from Bratislava. Bratislava actually have its own airport, but there aren’t that many flights, and no direct ones from Stockholm. So instead we flew Austrian Airlines, which was a nice airline with free drinks and friendly staff.
Bratislava castle. The Bratislava weather in mid September was in the high 20’s Celcius with about 28-29 degrees and great clear blue skies.
Bryndzové Halušky is the national dish of Slovakia and consists of gnocchi like potato dumplings served in a creamy sauce of bryndza sheep’s cheese. The dish is additionally topped with fried bacon and in our case chives. A surprisingly delicious dish. We tried it at Zylinder restaurant in central Bratislava that was very nice.
The second day we went to L’Olive at the five star Arcadia Hotel. This was supposed to be the highlight of the trip, but unfortunately the food was quite bad. It tasted like it had been kept warm for a couple of hours, and the experience was borderline disaster even though the staff were friendly, the wine good and the restaurant itself nice. But it all comes down to the food for me, and it wasn’t good, at all.
One day we took a day trip to the small city of Modra in the foothills of the “Small Carpahtian” mountain range. The area is a wine region and we visited the Ludvik Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. We were also able to visit the vineyards, situated a couple of kilometers from the vineyard on a hill overlooking Modra.
Hearty but delicious lunch at Ludvik Winery. Pumpkin puré, slow-cooked beef cheeks, vegetables and jus.
We tried five different of Ludvik’s wines. All were delicious, but the cabernet sauvignon rosé and the pinot gris were extra good. Had to buy all of them except for the grüner veltliner (also good, but not as spectacular as the others) with me home. Slovak wines were surprisingly delicious in my mind.
A quick visit to the mini-cellar at Ludvik (they have their big one outside of the winery).
We also had time to try the delicous ice cream at Luculus in Bratislava.
Last dinner in Bratislava. Another hearty but quite nice meal at Modra Hviezda. A large piece of deer served with purple potato mash and a cognac-caramel sauce. Not very refined, but totally edible, and a very nice atmosphere in the restaurant.
Then a quick hop over to Vienna, Austria. A very nice thing in Vienna is that if you’re using the airport train, you can check your bags in at the train station (like in Hong Kong for instance), and then you won’t see your bag before you’re back home again. We had a couple of hours to spare before our flight from Vienna and was happy to not have to drag our bags around while exploring the Austrian capital.
When in Vienna, eat Wienerschnitzel. We tried it at the famous Figlmüller that’s been serving up schnitzels for the last 110 years. The veal schnitzel was delicious, but I actually liked the cheaper pork schnitzel more. It was juicier and had more taste. Shame on me, I guess. The schnitzel came with no condiments, but we ordered the field potato salad that was really good.
Another must do for me in Vienna is pastries. We had the above creation, a raspberry white chocolate cream sort of thing, and a delicious cappuccino at Vidoni, close to were the airport express leaves at Wien Mitte. It was really good and pretty much everything I hoped for in a Viennese café.
So, that was a weekend of eating in Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna, Austria. Both were very nice cities, and I can really recommend Bratislava. Inexpensive, beautiful and easy to navigate.
Spent another weekend in Finland recently. The reason for the short trip was that my two aunts turned 60 and 50 years old, and thus they held a 110 year birthday party in the Finnish woods. Since the party venue lacked running water and electricity, we thought that we should start the trip the opposite way, staying at boutique hotel Klaus K in central Helsinki and have dinner at one michelin-starred Ravintola Olo.
Cosy but viewless room at Klaus K.
Above average breakfast buffet at Klaus K. Not a huge amount of food, although decent, but quality was high and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much at a breakfast buffet before.
Time for dinner at Ravintola Olo. A very cool feature of the dinner was that our bread was already waiting for us, unbaked, raising at the table. Later on they took the raising bread to the kitchen, then returned it baked together with “country style” butter, garlic soup and a delicious Finnish craft beer. The entire dinner felt very Finnish, in a fancy restaurant sort of way. Olo was probably one of my favourite meals ever. And at just €69, the small tasting menu – the shorter way – was very worthwile. Three glasses of wine (and a glass of beer) was only €39 more. Great value for the high quality, service and ambiance.
First up was “finger food”: baby turnips with black currant leaf emulsion.
Second was semolina porridge with trumpet mushroom, quinoa and smoked reindeer heart. A very innovative dish that was so good. Great textures with silky smooth “porridge” and crunchy quinoa making a great contrast. Also very deep rich flavours from the broth, mushrooms and reindeer heart.
Pikeperch with Finnish cucumber, scales, roe and dill sauce. Again, very Finnish in a refined fine-dining way.
Hand-cut beef tartare under an egg yolk with sour cream, poppy seeds and custard seeds. The thing that looks like a ravioli is actually the egg yolk forming a thin crust around the delicious beef tartare.
Veal sweetbreads with chanterelle puré, fried chanterelles, fried kale, black currants and jus. Again, delicious flavours, although I could’ve passed on the black currants, though I understood their purpose in the dish.
The dessert was very cool: juniper, birch syrup and spruce shoots. Pretty much the taste of a Finnish forest incorporated into a dessert.
As a fin(n)ish: cake pops:y chocolate truffles on small tree sprigs. A great end to a fantastic meal. Visit if you can when in Helsinki.
Then it was on to the Finnish woods and a long night of Finnish beer, sauna, meeting relatives and enjoying the scenery.
The day after a 110 year party, you’re entitled to pig out at Finnish burger chain Hesburger. Keros Ateria or “floor menu”, their version of the big mac with fries, onion rings and garlic mayo. Good stuff.
If I were to spend the rest of my life on an island, eating only one dish of my choice, it would almost certainly be a classic spaghetti bolognese. Most people are very aware of this Italian classic (although they call it ragu) and there are probably almost as many versions of this dish as there are people cooking it each day. Anyway, this is my version of spaghetti bolognese.
If I cook a bolognese or “spaghetti och köttfärssås” as we say in Sweden, during the week I usually skip both bacon, red wine and finishing butter. So feel free to do the same if you want the dish healthier or for instance without pork. This is a dish that’s almost required to be accompanied by a glass of red wine while you cook and then eat it. But only almost.
What you need (for roughly four persons)
500 grams of minced beef
1/2 package of bacon (or pancetta if you feel fancy)
1/2 small head of celeriac
4 cloves of garlic
1 can of finely crushed tinned tomatoes (I usually use Mutti brand)
2 cubes of chicken stock (or substitute with your own)
3 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of tomato paste
Spaghetti (I usually use De Cecco or Martelli – but eg. Barilla is fine too)
Olive oil for frying
Red wine, about a large glass
How to cook it
1. Start with the chopping. Peel and finely slice garlic and onion. Also peel and dice the carrots and celeriac into small cubes, about the size of a pea. Slice bacon or pancetta into quite thin slices.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the bacon/pancetta and let fry until browned, but not crisp. Add the beef mince to the bacon and let fry until it begins to brown as well.
3. When beef has cooked, using a different pan if possible (otherwise just add into beef pan) fry the garlic, onion, celeriac and carrots until soft.
4. If not in the same pan already, pour the fried veggies into the beef and bacon pan and add red wine, tomatoes, oregano, stock cubes and a pinch of sugar. Cover with a lid, add low heat and let simmer for 2-8 hours, occasionally stirring and adding water/wine as the sauce reduces.
5. About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready, boil the pasta in plenty of salted water. Remember to keep some of the cooking water before draining the pasta as it is needed to finish the dish.
6. When pasta is cooked, set aside some cooking water and add a knob of butter into the meat sauce. I usually also add some extra oregano as this stage, about a teaspoon or two.
7. Add spaghetti and about half of the meat sauce into a pan together with about a deciliter of the cooking liquied. Stirr over heat until the water has reduced and the spaghetti is covered with meat sauce.
8. Serve spaghetti, with extra meat sauce on top. Of course a generous serving of Parmesan cheese is also required. A glass of red, a tasty bread and a simple salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and good quality olive oil is almost mandatory.
Enjoy my favourite dish!
The other day it was Monday again. Monday usually means vegetarian for me. It all started with the ‘meatless Monday’ concept a couple of years back, and then I kind of got use to eat only vegetarian (all rules with exceptions though) on Mondays. This week I felt like curry, Indian curry, and thought roasted cauliflower should work well with it. It did…
What you need
1 head of cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic
1 red onion
2-3 fresh finely chopped tomatoes or a can of tinned tomatoes
3 tablespoons of cream (or substitute with yoghurt)
1 red chilli
1-2 tablespoon each of garam masala, cumin and turmeric
Neutral cooking oil for frying (or Indian clarified butter – ghee, if you’re very ambitious)
How to cook it
1. Start with the cauliflower. Cut it down to bite-size florets. Then slice the red onion into “half moons” and finely chop the garlic and red chilli.
2. Heat the oil in a cooking pan (I actually used a wok to get it all to fit). When the oil is quite hot, add the cauliflower florets and fry them until the are starting to brown. When that happens, reduce the heat a bit and sprinkle over half of the garam masala, turmeric and cumin.
3. Continue woking the cauliflower until the spices are starting to toast and the florets almost look charred. Then remove the cauliflower from the heat and puts in a bowl or similar, cause you’re continuing using the pan/wok.
4. Add some extra oil if needed and fry the red onion on quite low heat until it starts to brown. Then add garlic and chilli and let fry until soft, but not browned. Add the remaining garam masala, turmeric and cumin and let toast for a minute or so before you quite quickly (so it doesn’t burn) move on to next step.
5. Add the tomatoes to the onion, chilli, garlic and spices. Stirr and add some water if needed. Let simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and possibly some sugar depending on how tart the tomatoes are.
6. Add cream or yoghurt to the curry, continue to simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop a bunch of fresh coriander and then add that, and the now cooled roasted cauliflower florets to the curry. Let simmer for a minute more or so. Taste, and if all’s well – serve with steamed rice, and a knob of butter, if you feel that you deserve it.
Above: non-traditional crayfish party spread with the addition of moules frites and garlic bread.
August in Sweden means (hopefully) dark but warm summer evenings, usually the first chanterelles (at least for me), and first and foremost: kräftor, meaning crayfish.
The crayfish season is mainly in August with a couple of jumpstarters in July and then a late season continuing into September. What happens in August is the kräftskiva which pretty much is a crayfish party. You eat crayfish, a few condiments and sidedishes. You also drink beer, schnaps, sing songs and, at least according to tradition, you wear silly pointy hats.
Being slightly allergic to shellfish I usually focus on a couple of crayfish tails as well as on the sidedishes. My favourite is the Västerbottens cheese pie, a high calorie delight comprising of aged cheese from Västerbotten in Northern Sweden not surprisingly called “Västerbottens cheese”. The pie also include onions, dough and eggs. Here is a recipe I wrote a couple of years ago.
Apart from pie you usually also find bread, I usuallt serve good quality baguettes. There should also be butter, more aged cheese (go for the Västerbottens cheese if available) and perhaps some kind of sauce. We usually make lemon mayo which goes well with the crayfish meat.
Kräftskiva is definitely one of my favourite Swedish festivities. So if you find yourself in Sweden in August, try to join one. Skål!