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Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo, Copenhagen


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I'll be doing some travelling in Scandinavia next month and I'd love to hear any restaurant recommendations for Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo and Copenhagen. My preference is for meals with typical Scandinavian foods and preparations.

Also, what are some typical meals that I should try? Herring!? Gravlax!? Lingonberries!? Meatballs!?

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For Norway, try "Kjøttkaker" -- "meat cakes." They're similar to meatballs, but shaped like -- well, like crabcakes. This is sort of the unofficial national dish, both served as a formal Sunday dinner with sauerkraut ("surkål") and cranberries ("tyttebær") as well as a casual week-day meal as a leftover casserole with brown gravy.

For a more "challenging" experience, try Lutefisk. This is (typically) cod, that has been treated in a strong solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide -- I used to think it was paint thinner, but it turns out it's just lye :). This, you either love or hate. There are lutefisk appreciation societies there, and during Christmas time when the dish tends to be served, restaurants will have signs out on the sidewalks, announcing that the Lutefisk has arrived. I don't personally like this dish, but a friend of mine just got completely hooked on it. I only tried it in a not-so-impressive café, so I guess the best bet is to stick with a slightly upscale restaurant. (With Kjøttkaker, you can't go wrong -- even the worst dive serves fantastic Kjøttkaker.)

A much more mundane dish is Fiskeboller (fish balls). These are egg-shaped, served in a white sauce. There's also Fiskepudding (fish pudding), which is slightly denser and has a browned surface -- I love both, but prefer the latter.

Then there's fårikål -- a lamb-in-cabbage stew. If you like lamb, this is a must.

But above all else, there's Molter -- Cloudberries. Or rather, as it is properly served, as cloudberry cream: Moltekrem. Cloudberries are the Beluga caviar of berries. They are grown in Norway, Sweden and Finland (The Fins make an excellent cloudberry liqueur called Lakka -- or Lapponia Lakka -- which you will treasure as a beautiful reminder, once you've tasted cloudberry cream. You can buy this in any tax-free airport shop (cheaper) but if you're desperate, there are the state-run booze monopoly shops Systembolaget/Vinmonopolet) -- I don't know about Iceland, but I don't think they grow em in Denmark. Cloudberries have the shape of very large, amber-colored raspberries. They don't taste anything like raspberries though -- it's impossible to describe their taste, other than to say that it is unbelievable. It is considered the most exquisite delicacy -- it is a traditional desert at weddings, and people have actually been killed in territorial disputes over these things. Highly recommended. One note though: Like raspberries, cloudberries have seeds. But since cloudberries are larger than raspberries, they have larger seeds, and tourists will often spit the seeds out -- don't. Doing this ruins your experience -- it's as if you're eating a fish, having to spit out hundreds of bones. The seeds are meant to be eaten.

Norwegian hotdogs ("Pølse i brød" ie., sausage-in-bread) are fantastic. Seriously. Get the cheapest on the menu (typically called Wienerpølse if I remember correctly) -- they are longer and thinner than the pricier alteratives. You can buy these from hotdog stands in the streets -- and even at the Gardemoen airport. There's also the old-fashioned pølse i lompe, where the hot dog bun is scrapped in favor of a Norwegian lefse -- a sweet potato tortilla of sorts.

The Danes also have a unique sausage -- wrapped in bright red skin. It tends to be served as-is, with a few daubs of ketchup, mustard (and some other brown relish) just on a paper plate. Quite good, and worth checking out -- it's kinda weird to eat a bright red hotdog.

There's also knekkebrød -- crispbread, which should be experienced with geitost -- goat cheese. This is an open-faced sandwich kinda deal, served for breakfast, or lunch.

Gravlax, meatballs and lingonberries, you can probably experience fairly well in the US, but the pickled herring you can't. My personal fave is the Apetittsild ("appetite herring") variety that you can buy in any supermarket there -- there are a lot of other spice and flavor mixes, that you might like better, if you like unusual tastes, but well, this is the one I preferred.

You should go there during the summer time, if at all possible. If you're fond of snow and the wintertime, I'm sure it'd be a complete paradise -- but if you're not, the summers in this region can be fantastic. It's a lot warmer than you'd expect, seen that the gulf stream hits it.

Oh, oh, oh -- I just remembered... There is ONE unforgettable meal you can experience in Oslo (or anywhere else in Norway for that matter) -- shrimp. In Oslo's harbor, there are temporary stands/cafés that serves fresh shrimp, and it's an experience not to be missed. You can even buy it straight off the boats. Get a local to show you how to peel them -- it's easy once you learn it -- and eat them as-is, or on a slice of French loaf with some mayo and a squirt of lemon juice. Nirvana. Knock that back with some cold Norwegian Pilsner beer and bask in the summertime sun -- you'll never forget the experience.

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Fantastick recommendations for Norway from Grub. I've only spent a brief time in Oslo and Bergen, but I can tell you that the food can be wonderful, though also very expensive.

If you are staying in hotels, don't miss breakfast. At least in Norway (and I suspect in the other Scandinavian nations as well), hotels that serve breakfast put out quite a spread of cheese, herring, flat breads, etc. Some offer make-your-own waffles with butter and jam in mid/late afternoon.

One other omission by Grub: Bergen fish soup. You can get it in Oslo, but it's what made Bergen famous (after the Hanseatic League, that is). Not at all like an overly-rich New England Chowder, though still rich enough, just not stand-a-spoon-in-it gloppy thick. And definitely go for the dockside shrimp (rekke) as Grub recommends.

As for the Norwegian sausages, there's also a hot dog made from lamb that you should try.

I've yet to get to Denmark, but it's only my list if only to satisfy my cravings for Danish open-faced sandwiches, røllepølse (a brined and pressed cold cut, made from any combination of lesser pork, lamb and/or beef cuts) and kringle (a wonderful form of Danish pastry). For Danish sandwiches, Restaurant Ida Davidsen is renowned, though I suspect there are any number of other establishments that serve these open-faced works of art that are at least as good.

And anywhere you go in Scandinavia, you should acquire a taste for Akavit. An excellent accompaniment to herring, cured salmon, etc.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Cloudberries (Molter) or Hjortron as we call them in swedish.. is sooo fantastic.. You're really privileged once you've found them..

I remember being in Norway when I was about 11, living with my swedish-norweigian friends family up in the cold and beautiful mountains east of Lake Mjösa.

We went out for just a day in the woodless mountain tundra and got into a swamp where we found millions of untouched small bushes of cloudberries growing freshly in the summer-sun. HEAVEN. Hjortron is truly the beluga of berries. I think Lakka liqour is a damn waste of fabulous cloudberries.

Seafood is what you really haveto try when you're up here in the cold but very clean waters.

but what you got to try is the fabulous gravlax with "maitre d'-sauce". Cured salmon served with a dill and mustard emulsion. Looovely.

All the different types of herring, pickled, fryed, smoked or cured, nobody in the world serves herring like the swedish. Eels is also so good. Southern and west-Swedish Fishsoup is very hard to find, but extremly good.

If you come in august, you can experience "the great crayfish boil", were we swedes get drunk on Aquavit (Finns have vodka) and eat buckwise of boiled dill-flavoured crayfish. Almost as good as the shrimps and white wine. (which substitutes the crayfish all year long otherwise).

I don't really know about Stockholm, I live in the south of sweden so I don't get there very often, but traditional swedish food is often served there more than in other places. Especially in the city centre and Gamla Stan.

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I'm sorry I don't have my notes with me, but I'll try to remember the details as best I can. I notice Helsinki, where I live, is not on your list.

In Oslo, we had a nice but extravagantly overpriced meal at Bagatelle, and a just plain overpriced meal at Oro. (That's what we get for eating Spanish in Norway.) Bagatelle's sommelier is an interesting young Finnish guy named Pontus.

The best thing we ate in Oslo was boiled shrimp at a shrimp shack on a tiny island in the Oslo bay--I can't remember the name of the island, but it started with an H, I think. The ferry takes 10-15 minutes from the downtown wharf, and there are lots of wild rabbits on the island, which is more of a small park with very little on it. Seemed a popular place for locals to hang out on a sunny weekend. I also second the Bergen fish soup, which we had at Lucullus in Bergen.

In Stockholm, I had lunch at Fredsgatan 12, which was an error, because while the dinner menu looked interesting, it's a boring spiffed-up steak-and-potatoes business lunch spot at midday. Bon LLoc could very well be the best restaurant in Scandinavia, which is unfortunate because they serve modern Spanish, not Scandinavian, food. We had the Tradicion menu, which included three mini-tapas, foie gras crema quemada with apple and pork knuckle, grilled pigeon, cheese, and a raspberry souffle.

For Swedish food, we had a nice seafood lunch at Sture Hof, which serves updated Swedish fish and meat specialties in a relaxed restaurant in the Sturegallerian. Highly recommended and good value, at least for Stockholm. The pastry shop "Gateaux" (hope that is the name--it's upstairs from the main entrance of the shopping gallery) had some nice pastries and light meals. I fell in love with Semlor, a whipped-cream and marzipan filled bun that might be available only around Mardi Gras. I think Gateaux's version had cardamom in it. Swedish pancakes are yummy.

I'd also recommend having seafood at the casual places in the Ostermalmshallen covered market, which is a food destination on its own. The best one (sorry, can't remember the name--I think it was a woman's name), was in the back corner, with the largest seating area. Nearby, there is a butcher shop that sells two grades of aged beef prime rib: plain and gold, which is aged covered in a thick coat of lard. (Lard gets scraped off before cooking.)

Paul et Norbert seems to be forgotten by our trendy Swedish friends, but we had a very nice meal there. We went specifically to have capercaillie, a large black game bird that is not commercially sold in Finland. It was served rare, wrapped in cabbage leaves, with game jus. The sauteed foie gras was classic but well done. The restaurant was very traditional without being overly stuffy.

If you really want to turn back the clock, go for Sunday brunch to Ulla Windblad, near the Vasa Museum. We had Swedish meatballs and beef Rydberg, sauteed cubes of beef tenderloin with hashed potatoes, onions, and mustard. On the weekend, families are celebrating birthdays, and there is a kind of holiday air. The park is a nice walk after all that traditional food. I hear a good smorgasbord is served at the Grand Hotel, but we did not have room to try it.

As for dishes, Lappish food is interesting: grilled Lappish cheese has a squeaky texture. Reindeer is about as exotic as lamb up here, and since it is domesticated, it is not gamey. Game birds are very interesting, provided you can get them well prepared: snow and willow grouse, capercaillie, etc. (Note: depending on the country, some of these birds can only be hunted for private consumption.) In Helsinki, you can get bear sometimes, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's tough, greasy, and outrageously expensive.

You will be in time for the new potatoes. And, of course, the salmon. A reddish-gold tint says its hand smoked in a smokehouse, but do also try cured salmon (gravad lax). I've also had very interesting aquavit-treated smoked salmon. Scandinavian women used to pride themselves on their repertoire of baltic herring dishes. My favorite is herring in mustard sauce.

Too bad you are going a bit too early for the most glorious Scandinavian products-fresh berries, mushrooms, crayfish. Crayfish are incredible in season (July-August)and are worth the journey. If you have any of these in May, they are bound to be frozen or from somewhere else. (F12 served frozen crayfish in a sauce. I would have preferred to have no crayfish at all.)

Because of all the daylight in summer, berries here are like nowhere else during their short but brilliant season. I used to think French strawberries were good, but a single Northern strawberry has the flavor of a thousand Southern ones. Cloudberries are blushing yellow and tart, reminiscent of passionfruit. Sea buckthorn is orange, often found powdered or in juice form, and has medicinal uses. There are also false morels, a toxic mushroom unless properly prepared. Scandinavians love licorice in myriad forms, and even if you don't like it, it's amazing to see how many different kinds of candy there are.

As a cook, fresh licorice was a revelation. So were the syrups made of tar and boiled spruce shoots. I brought home the cookbook of Nobel Prize dinners :raz:

Edit: Gamla Stan is a likely destination for a visitor to Stockholm. I did not try these, but they looked inviting amid the tourist dreck: Pontus in the Green House (rather modern stuff with Scandinavian ingredients) and Den Gyldene Freden, a beautiful pub restaurant dating from the 1700s and owned by the Swedish Academy.

Edited by Culinista (log)
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I'm so grateful for everyone's advice. I'm going to print out your suggestions to bring with me, and I'll report back with photos when I return.

I can't WAIT to try cloudberries!! :)

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As I said, you're probably too early for fresh cloudberries. The best I can suggest would be to find a restaurant that serves a good dessert made with frozen cloudberries, maybe over Lappish cheese. Unfortunately, nothing tastes like fresh, but you are welcome to try the cloudberry jams and liquors as well.

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Some typical swedish meals to try besides those that already have been mentioned are:

Salt-brined pork hocks with rootvegatable mash. (Rimmad fälsklägg med rotmos)

A swedish sausage called "Isterband". It is stuffed with pork, pearl barley and potatoes. It is often served with potatoes stewed in cream.

Salt-brined beef brisket with horseradish sauce. (Rimmad oxbringa med)

It is becomming harder and harder to find these sorts of dishes at restaurants though.

The best bet to find them are as lunch specials. Look out for the word "Husman or husmanskost" which loosely translated means "homely traditional swedish food". Two places I recommend are "Amanda Boman" in the Indoor food market called "Saluhallen" and a place called Sandberg & Månsson at Magasinsgatan.

Many of the high end restaurants in Gothenburg often has a modern french touch to the food although the ingredients may be typical swedish.

A couple of restaurants in Gothenburg that I'd recommend are:

- Sjömagasinet is a great seafood restaurant at the riverside in the Gothenburg harbour.

- Fond at Götaplatsen is usually good and has many courses with a swedish touch, especially in the seafood section of the menu.

There are a couple of other good ones, but they lean more toward the french inspired.

It's been a while since I dined in Stockholm, but there is one place that I've not been to, but that I've read a lot of good about lately. It's called "Leijontornet" and is located in the Old town. They are using old and almost forgotten traditional swedish ingredients and applies modern preparations and techniques to these.

Christofer Kanljung

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Hi--

I believe the restaurant with the woman's name in the Ostermalm Saluhall is Lisa Elmqvist. On the other hand, you could just buy up some pasta salads, meat, pastries etc at the saluhall and take them over to Skansen or have lunch down by the sea.

Speaking of Skansen, I loved Rosendals Tradgard, which is a kind of garden centre cum cafe famous for its cakes, where you can have a nice boozy lunch under apple trees and buy some (extortionately priced!) but gorgeous plum jam.

Cheers

Spanky.

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In Copenhagen, I'd try 'Kanal cafeen' (Frederiksholms Kanal 18, 1220 København K) for traditional, danish smørrebrød (Open face sandwiches piled high with meat or cheeses) and the chance to spot members of parliament. It's very good!!!

There's quite a trend i Copenhagen for microbreweries and some of them serve very good food too. Try Nørrebro bryghus for a varity of beers and excellent beer themed food - reservations highly recommended even on weekdays.

Velbekomme

/Mette

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  • 2 weeks later...

EnidJane, you're going to have a great time! I second Mette's suggestion for Nørrebro Bryghus in Copenhagen. I have heard that Gitte Kik (Fortunstræde 4) is another good place for smørrebrød and again, seeing members of Parliament. I guess they really like smørrebrød.

I haven't gotten used to danish herring but I love the smoked eel (røget ål). In one of the airport gourmet food shops, you can buy a whole smoked eel (how can something so ugly taste so good?), a loaf of good dark danish rye bread and a bottle of akvavit, and have yourself quite a party on the plane.

While in Denmark, try the salted licorice (lakrids), as Culinista suggested. There will be a whole aisle of them in every market and kiosk. The mildest are Blue Jeans, stronger are Plet Skud or Piratos or Tyrkisk Peber.

I once tried what I think were cloudberries. They had been brought from the Norwegian mountains and were called himmelbœr, does this sound correct? If so, it is true there is nothing like them. After a delightful berry taste, there was a hint of something else, and when I made a surprised face, I was told that yes, a good himmelbœr has a noticeable amount of butyric acid, which is what gives vomit its unmistakable smell. Is this true, guys, or were the Danes just winding me up?

I have heard that the wonderful coarse rye breads appear the same, but taste differently in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Please try them in all three countries and report back! Have fun!

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  • 2 months later...
enidjane I'll be in Stockholm for one night this winter so I would love your recommendations for one great meal there!

Restaurangan @ Fredsgatan 12, Bon Lloc. Try good Swedish food in the old city.

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enidjane I'll be in Stockholm for one night this winter so I would love your recommendations for one great meal there!

Restaurangan @ Fredsgatan 12, Bon Lloc. Try good Swedish food in the old city.

Be careful with these names. The same owner has several places. One is called "Restaurangen". It is NOT at Fredsgatan 12 and while it is good it is not at the same level of food or prices as F12, which is at Fredsgatan 12.

F12 has a website, this may get you to the English part. http://www.f12.se/generellt/index2.asp?lang=eng

Bon Lloc is run by a different person then the other two above. It is less avant garde and I actually prefer it. But both are in the top 10 in Stockholm. Bon Lloc is modern Latino cooking. They also have a website with an English section. http://www.bonlloc.rgsth.com

If you want something more traditional Swedish in style and are willing to travel outside the city (about half way between Stockholm and airport) and don't mind the extra expense of the taxis (do not even try to drink and drive in Sweden) Edsbacka Krog has a very Swedish atmosphere, uses a lot of traditional Swedish ingredients and prepares them in French inspired manners. It is the only 2 starred restaurant in Sweden. Their website http://www.edsbackakrog.se/english/index.html

Enjoy your trip.

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enidjane I'll be in Stockholm for one night this winter so I would love your recommendations for one great meal there!

Restaurangan @ Fredsgatan 12, Bon Lloc. Try good Swedish food in the old city.

Be careful with these names. The same owner has several places. One is called "Restaurangen". It is NOT at Fredsgatan 12 and while it is good it is not at the same level of food or prices as F12, which is at Fredsgatan 12.

F12 has a website, this may get you to the English part. http://www.f12.se/generellt/index2.asp?lang=eng

Bon Lloc is run by a different person then the other two above. It is less avant garde and I actually prefer it. But both are in the top 10 in Stockholm. Bon Lloc is modern Latino cooking. They also have a website with an English section. http://www.bonlloc.rgsth.com

If you want something more traditional Swedish in style and are willing to travel outside the city (about half way between Stockholm and airport) and don't mind the extra expense of the taxis (do not even try to drink and drive in Sweden) Edsbacka Krog has a very Swedish atmosphere, uses a lot of traditional Swedish ingredients and prepares them in French inspired manners. It is the only 2 starred restaurant in Sweden. Their website http://www.edsbackakrog.se/english/index.html

Enjoy your trip.

Yes! it should have been & instead of @.. sorry..

I know Melker Andersson yes.

Edsbacka Krog is very excellent. Very genuine Swedish food. Definitly a recomendation.

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