Taste Sweden

Like many food-centric people, I log my travel experiences by tastes.  Here are some of the memorable bites I enjoyed on a recent visit to the gorgeous and diverse country of Sweden. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 Swedes are serious about breakfast.  As it was “included” in our lodging, we partook daily.  Swedish pancakes with lingonberry or golden cloudberry jam is impossible to pass up, when offered.  A more unusual breakfast item was caviar in a tube to squeeze over boiled eggs, a fishy substitute for the salt shaker. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

There were always options to make an open-faced breakfast sandwich – cheese, meats, liver pate, tomatoes and cucumbers on crisp bread. Reintroduced to these rye and other grain crackers, I found them an addictive and versatile vehicle for any topping, sweet to savory.  Healthful too, they’re low in calories and rich in fiber and whole grains. 

On a pilgrimage to visit our ancestors’ homeland and meet distant relatives, we visited The Pyramid Bakery in the small village of Hulån, in Dalarna, Sweden.  One of its founders stems from a family of bakers in Egypt and they describe their crisp bread as the result of a “cultural clash” between baking traditions from the traditional Swedish farming culture and ancient Egyptian methods. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

We found the cultural mingling absolutely delicious and made an entire lunch from the bakery’s cracker samples – sans toppings of any sort! 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Skagan Toast was offered on so many appetizer menus that we had to try it:  shrimp salad flavored with fresh dill, served on buttered white toast and topped with whitefish roe. 

 The website toastskagan.com explains that the dish is named for a fishing port at the northern tip of Denmark and was created by a Swedish restaurateur, Tore Wretman, who promoted Swedish culinary traditions after WW II when foreign cuisines were becoming popular. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Potatoes, demonized in the USA for links to obesity and diabetes, seem to accompany most entrees in Sweden.  We enjoyed the small boiled ones topped with fresh dill and creamier scalloped potato-like preparations. The tall, slim, fit-looking Swedes we observed didn’t seem harmed by all the potatoes…but perhaps they decline the fries and chips.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

The quality of our wild northwest salmon is hard to beat but a close match is the fresh, clean taste of Swedish gravad lax, salmon cured with salt, sugar and dill. 

 It made a perfect light lunch on bread with a sweet, tangy mustard sauce.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Four o’clock is time to pause for tea or coffee and something sweet.  Decaf is never an option so I tried hot chocolate.  In this case it was so thick I could have used a knife and fork. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Two of my favorite discoveries were cardamom ice cream cones and saffron-honey ice cream (so-Scandinavian!).   I was so enchanted I forgot to snap a photo. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Swedes clearly have not missed out on the “eating stem to root” movement. I asked the waiter twice about the green dressing on my composed beet and goat cheese salad and he patiently explained that it was carrot pesto, made from the frilly carrot tops. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

A trip is never complete without a stop at a food market.  The variety of local and imported foods at Östermalm Saluhall serves the worldly and sophisticated Stockholm palate with freshness and style.  

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Intensely flavored Swedish strawberries seem to be a symbol of summer, a season Swedes enjoy with an infectious intensity even we short-time visitors picked up on.

Other colorful berries, produce, fresh and prepared foods, were carefully and artfully displayed.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Our recipe for Italian-style meatballs has been a work-in-progress for years and years – always good but never perfect. 

Swedes also claim excellent meatballs, and we were not disappointed by the moose meatballs served at the Blue Door (translated) in SÖdermalm. Flavorful and meaty, they were served with a rich cream gravy, mound of potatoes and a sweet-tart side of lingonberries. 

Swedes know how to party. This was the first course to a beautiful wedding feast we were

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 privileged to attend: goat cheese cheesecake with local dry cured ham and a red onion marmalade, pine shoot marinated reindeer carpaccio with cloudberry chutney, cold green pea soup with mint topped with parsley crisp bread.  It was paired with a Sancerre “Le Chene”  2009 from the Loire Valley.   

It is the Swedish tradition to offer speeches about the newlyweds, ending with a toast, and this process goes on for hours.   The wines and food courses that followed were so sumptuous and the “roasts and toasts” so entertaining that we couldn’t believe the wedding feast had lasted four hours. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

And it wasn’t over yet – the music started with cocktails and a tower of mini cupcakes nearby to keep you fueled for the dancing. 

On our last day in Stockholm we took a midday boat ride under the bridges and through the locks of Stockholm. We felt right at home with street food common to the Western world:  the hot dog.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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