Chips with dip 2.0

I’ve heard about versions of this chip and dip ‘dish’ throughout the years, but haven’t got myself to try it until recently. 

The flavours of this decadent little nibble are very Swedish – it’s sort of like a small condensed version of Midsummer. When you, after a day of schnaps and singing realise that there’s only leftovers remaining after the herring feast, and you’re having cravings after something nourishing. You find chips, you find some leftover sour cream, “oh, there’s löjrom (vendance fish roe) in that half empty bucket”, and you also find dill and chopped red onion. What to do? You scoop everything up with the chips you found, of course.

There you have it, (Swedish) chips 2.0. Below is a guidline recipe for a slightly less brutal version.

You need:

Kalix löjrom (Vendance roe from Kalix)

Finely chopped red onion

Sour cream/creme fraiche/smetana

Finely chopped dill

Salted potato chips (preferably a bit thicker)

Place a bit of every ingredient on nice sturdy potato chips (see picture above). Enjoy with a glass of bubbly or a good quality beer.

Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class (sort of a review)

Just got back from our trip to Cape Verde. We traveled there with Swedish tour operator Ving, which is part of Thomas Cook Northern Europe. Hence, we flew with Thomas Cook Airlines for our 7 hour trip (actually 6 hours, 40 minutes) to Cape Verde.

I will write more about the actual Cape Verde trip (and the food) in a separate post. UPDATE: Here it is – a guide to what to eat in Sal’s Santa Maria.

Anyway, as the cost for upgrading to Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class was quite affordable (600 kr or about €60) return, we opted to go for it. What it gave us was basically another 10 cms of space and our own front of the plane-cabin. Otherwise food, personal tv screens and service was the same as regular economy. So this “review” pretty much covers that as well, for the interested.

Seats
The whole plane, an Airbus A330-300 felt quite new and clean. The personal screens were HD and was one of the best I’ve seen on any flight. You had to pay to access movies (35 kr/sek) and some of the other content. However using the inflight map, listening to music and viewing some of the other content was free. You could also plug in your own headphones and charge your USB-device through the screen which in my mind is a huge plus.

dsc_0043 dsc_0047

Food and drink
I eavesdropped to a conversation about the food between one of my fellow passengers and one of the flight attendants. Apparently Swedish pre-fab food company Dafgårds handles the inflight food catering for Thomas Cook Scandinavia. The food was quite good for being on a plane actually. Everyone was served the same dish which on the outbound trip was chicken salad followed by pannbiffar (Swedish burger patties) with peppercorn-cream sauce and mash as well as a standard airplane dessert. Warm, really fresh (best on a plane I’ve had I think) bread was also served. On the return we had Skagen mix (it’s supposed to be shrimps in mayo – this was more likely surimi or something similarly awful), followed by a really (for an airplane) tasty beef stroganoff. The finale was a tasty but very sweet chocolate mousse.

Drinks were sold, and you could get a small bottle of Pommery Champagne for 90 kr, or a glass of nice New Zealand Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc (3 Wooly sheep) for 65 kr. There was also a less expensive wine as well as a couple of drink packages. We opted for the “Bon Voyage” with one bottle of Pommery Champagne, one bottle of whatever wine you prefered as well as snacks and water for 150 sek.

This meant we got pretty much a Intra-Europe business class experience (with more legroom) at the cost of roughly 1000 kr or €100 extra per person. It was surprisingly nice to be honest and for a total of almost 14 hours in the air, quite a bargain according to me. Now they just need to install wifi, and I’d be thrilled to fly Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class again. 🙂

Stockholm’s best cinnamon bun (kanelbulle)?

Kanelbullar or cinnamon buns is probably Sweden’s most famous contribution to the world of sweets. A buttery cinnamony creation that at its best can elevate the simplest fika to something great.

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!

Fabrique’s website

Meatballs at Kvarnen

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.)

Kvarnen’s website

Autumn weekend in the archipelago

Spent last weekend in the archipelago, probably for the last time this year, since Sweden’s getting a bit too cold for country home life during Autumn and Winter. For me that is.


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.


Walking, champagne drinking and sauna on the island of Gåsö, a short boat ride from Saltsjöbaden or Älgö just outside Stockholm.


Dinner day two: a 9-hour cooked Bolognese with chipotle chilli, giving the sauce a smokey rich flavour. Buttered fusilli pasta and parmesan cheese too. So good.


A final eggs and bacon before heading back to the city.

One of the best burgers I’ve made

As you may or may not have noticed, I am (oh well, I guess most people are) a big fan of burgers. This weekend I made a really good one.

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.

Bratislava, Slovak wine country and Vienna


img_2200.jpgBratislava’s beautiful Old Town, close to the decently good and well located Crowne Plaza Bratislava where I stayed.


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.

img_2242.jpg
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.

img_2276.jpg
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.

img_2344.jpg
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.

img_2345.jpg
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).
img_2253.jpg
We also had time to try the delicous ice cream at Luculus in Bratislava.
img_2366.jpg
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.

img_2406.jpg
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.
img_2407.jpg
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.

img_2408.jpg
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.

The Finnish 110 year party, Ravintola Olo and Helsinki


Helsinki Cathedral in the central parts of the city.

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.



Into the sunset during the 1 hour flight from Helsinki back to Stockholm.

Homemade spaghetti bolognese recipe


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)
2 carrots
1/2 small head of celeriac
1 onion
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)
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for frying
Red wine, about a large glass

Salt
Sugar

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!