Monday, 17 September 2007

Summer Holiday Part 1 - Sweden

My trip to Sweden for the first half of my summer holiday was as much due to desire as it was necessity; we needed to go to New York, and since direct flights were too pricey we combined a week-long layover in a country we wanted to visit, followed a flight to New York. Two trips for the price of one, and I got to dip into a country and cuisine I hadn't yet experienced. As ever, the most exciting part of travel for me was the food: eating in local restaurants, seeing the wonders of foreign supermarkets, and in Sweden's case, foraging for wild berries.

We spent two days in Stockholm (where our restaurant-going was anticipated) and 5 days in the country (where the lingonberries came into the equation). With so little time in Stockholm, I tried to gather food recommendations for traditional Swedish places, and thanks to bloggers like Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking I went armed with some solid-sounding choices. I realize that 'traditional' might not equate to current cuisine: proof of this is in Britain, where traditional cooking can mean something a bit dull but the modern take on traditional is a delight. With more time in the country, I would have liked to branch out further and seek out modern Swedish cooking, but I did feel like I needed to first acquaint myself with the basics, served to me from somewhere other than Ikea.
Our glimpse at traditional food did reveal some solid, meaty comfort food which would clearly help get you through the winter. We supped on a bit of reindeer (gamey and steaky at the same time while still being tender) and Swedish meatballs, plenty of herring, and a nice breakfast smorgasboard with some wonderful cinnamon rolls. Vegetables weren't abundant but Vitamin C was represented by lingonberries in the form of jam, sauce, and pudding.

Lingonberries were further on hand when we moved out to the country, by Sweden's biggest lake. There were plans afoot to swim and fish and hike while spending more wild moments picking fruit, though these were slightly scuppered by (in order) it already being too cold to swim, us not catching any fish, having difficulty finding good berry picking, and me being ill. We eventually found some fine berry troves at least (after much walking through wild and windy woods - that's me holding up some of the bounty, below), and used them in our own savory meat sauce as well as in a lovely crumble filled with other 'found' fruit, apples and plums.

I remained intrigued by cloudberries and though we didn't find any of those to pick, I did find some cloudberry jam. I was warned that the taste and smell of them might be an acquired pleasure; indeed, sniffing the jam made me wonder more if it had gone sour than if it would be the most tasty mouthful I had ever experienced. But after the first slightly medicinal hit, they did become sweet and vaguely yogurty. So although we didn't get to experience any modern Swedish cuisine in Stockholm, I created my own modern, fusion food when I sampled my first spoonful of cloudberries atop my hard-won bagels, brought back from New York. Now that's fusion, folks.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Having fun reading about your holiday!
Cloudberry Jam is weird stuff. I ONLY like it heated up and poured over vanilla ice-cream.