You know what I love more than eating and drinking in my beloved YEG; eating and drinking in my new favorite city, Stockholm! (Just jokes YEG, you’re still my fave!)
The Ol’ Ball & Chain and I had the opportunity to travel to Sweden for a wedding and although prior to our adventure neither of us had any particular inclination to visit Stockholm, it fit perfectly with our itinerary and boy am I glad it did!
Stockholm is an amazing city full of life, with vibrant cityscapes that highlight both the old and new of the area. I fell in love almost instantly! It also helped that we stayed in an incredible apartment in an amazing location – thanks again Johanna & Moa for hosting us!
Obviously I wasn’t about to go half way around the world and not dive head first into the food culture so I looked into food tours in the area and purchased tickets with Food Tours Stockholm and let me tell you that food tour was one of the highlights of our trip! We were lucky enough to have THREE fabulous guides and we visited several incredible locations during the 4 hour walking tour. The only unfortunate thing is that I did not take very detailed notes while we were actually on the tour and now a few weeks later some of the details escape me but here is a recap of the day as I remember it.
We started off meeting at Östermalm’s Food Hall, which is a very high end food market (and one of Jamie Oliver’s favourite places to shop) that is practically overflowing with artisan treats. In the market we visited Husmans Deli for a sampling of cheeses (although cheese for breakfast is a little unusual for Canadians, it’s actually very common in Sweden and Europe in general)
and then moved on to Fågel og vilt specialisten, the markets bird and game specialists to try out some cured meats, including elk and reindeer, oh and a beer, because why not.
Our last stop at the market was a fresh fruit and veggie stand where we tried Swedish strawberries. I know what you’re thinking, “Swedish strawberries? So, normal, exactly the same as Canadian strawberries, right?”, WRONG! These strawberries grow in nearly 24 hours on sunlight (in the Northern region of Sweden) and therefore have incredible sweetness and…strawberry-ness. Trust me, they are unbelievable and now eating ‘normal’ strawberries just isn’t as good
Next we wandered the streets of Östermalm until we arrived at our next destination Ingelsta Kalkon, which I’m told in English roughly translates to ‘happy turkey’. Turns out turkey is really taking off with the Swedes, who are notorious health fiends. During our visit we were treated to their take on Swedish meatballs made with ground turkey, delicious!
Off we went again in search of our lunch venue, Restaurant K25 a very unique style of restaurant. K25 is like a hybrid of a food court and high end restaurant. Inside K25 there are several restaurants that serve up gourmet food cafeteria style for dine-in or take away. Our lunch was a very traditional plate of saffron seafood soup (LOADED with a variety of seafood), an open faced shrimp sandwich with boiled egg, delicious gravlax, boiled potatoes in béchamel (the Swedes love them some béchamel!), and a glass of wine or beer to wash it all down with!
This also provided us a great opportunity to chat a little more with one of our guides, Gunilla Blixt, a chef, accomplished food writer, and all around lovely human being. Gunilla told us all about traditional Swedish foods and our new favorite tradition, fika, which is basically a coffee break that can occur at any time simply because you want to have a break or a visit with friends – how cool is that!
After an incredible (and filling) lunch we continued our tour, walking through the bustling city streets and stopping to wander through markets, historical squares, and to discuss some of Stockholm’s landmarks. We entered another food hall, this one I can’t recall the name of but we stopped in at a speciality store called P&B Delikatesser to try their Cloudberry Jam and check out their incredible assortment of oil, spices, and liquorice (turns out black liquorice is a big deal in Sweden, who knew?!). After walking a little further we soon made it to our next destination, Chokladfabriken. Chokladfabriken is a bakery/chocolate shop/ice cream bar so needless to say it smelled heavenly and on a 27 degree day we happily devoured some of their delicious ice cream (every single flavour had an element of chocolate in it (they’re famous for their chocolate), think white chocolate raspberry ice cream…oh yeah!).
You might think at this point that the tour would wrap up and we could go on our merry way, but you would be wrong, AGAIN! Man, twice in one blog post… how embarrassing for you!
We forged on with full bellies towards the streets of the old town, Galma Stan, where the streets are cobblestone and narrow and lined with cafes and bars just begging you join them for fika. Our first stop in Galma Stan was a candy factory called, Polkapojkarna famous for its peppermint candy. Apparently candy canes or peppermint sticks were invented in Sweden by a woman trying to help her ill daughter feel better (don’t quote me on these details OK, if you want to know the whole story you’ll have to hop on a plane to Stockholm and take the tour yourself!). And at Polkapojkarna the candies are still made the traditional way – by hand. Although, now they make a variety of flavours, including the one we got to try: American Cola (ironic?).
Our final location brought us to a beautiful square in the heart of Galma Stan where a local musician was playing a beautiful piece of music on a keyboard set up just under a lush chestnut tree. Under Kastanjen (literally Under the Chestnut Tree) was our last stop where we were invited in for an afternoon fika. We enjoyed coffee, tea, and some pastries as we recapped our day with the guides and other tourist and although we were totally stuffed we couldn’t help but start thinking about where we might want to go for dinner…and that is how you know you have a severe and likely irreversible addiction to/passion for food.
Thank you again to Food Tours Stockholm for a truly memorable day! I am now deeply in love with Stockholm and all of its’ food offerings!