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Stockholm, a City Tasting Tour


Stockholm, a City Tasting Tour

Explore Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, by sight and by taste: it's the centre of Scandinavian culinary delights - from whole grain bread to herrings
12 July, 2011

The most incredible thing about Stockholm is that it’s a place where you can procure food all by yourself, if you wish – with your own hands, straight from nature. The city is halfway between a huge lake and the Baltic sea: with its pure air, clean water, and woods that arrive practically to the city centre, the capital of Sweden feels like a giant, open-air market.

The archipelago that begins with Stockholm is composed of 24,000 islands full of little red weekend houses, recreational boats, shellfish, fruits of the forest and mushrooms. But if you’re not in the mood for hunting and gathering your lunch, then the city offers much more convenient ways to satisfy your hunger: a good place to start would be the oldest city market, the Saluhall of Östermalms (established in 1880, in Östermalmstorg). With its red brick edifice and cast-iron roof, it resembles a little castle brimming with Swedish goods. And visitors will be surely swept away by a member of the Enquist family who have been selling lobsters, herrings, cod and salmon for four generations now. And seeing that bringing fresh fish on an airplane is rather complicated, you’d be wise to take advantage of their restaurant right next to their fish counter where you can sample a delicious fish soup or traditional dish of crayfish served in an anise blossom broth. 


This market reveals the true spirit of Stockholm: calm yet lively, refined but casual, cheerful yet discrete. This is where you’ll find the best of Scandinavian gastronomy. From the hundreds of just-baked breads from the Systrarna Anderssons Hembageri (try the "Knäckebröd", the original version of Wasa), to the moose meat and dried reindeer from Willy Ohlsson Eftr. Make a visit to the Husmans Deli counter where you’ll find an extensive selection of homemade marmalades and jams – outstanding flavours like rhubarb and Arctic berries, to eat warm atop ice cream.

The Saluhall, instead, can be found in the Western part of the city, an elegant neighborhood full of shops. When you’re in need of a break, take a little rest in the nearby Sturekatten (Riddargatan 4) where you can enjoy the ritual of coffee (here, it’s drunk long, American-style, and in abundance) along with a little sweet treat like a cinnamon or marzipan dessert. For a more relaxed, trendy atmosphere, cross the Gamla Stan – the historical centre with the Royal Palace, little alleyways, tall, narrow buildings – and head towards Södermalm, an island in the Southern part of the city that is considered to be the “Rive Gauche” of Stockholm, the more “alternative and young” neighbourhood.


When here, be sure to visit the Söderhallarna (Medborgarplatsen 110), a shopping centre full of food shops and little restaurants. Like the central market at Hötorgshallen, here you can find Swedish products, as well as goods from all corners of the globe – which reflects the urbane, cosmopolitan aspect of this neighbourhood. Don’t miss your chance to purchase the Söderblanding brand of tea, which takes its name from this area of the city. Still in the Södermalm neighbourhood, those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss the Chokladfabriken (Renstiernas gata 12), a triumph of chocolate, pastries and all kinds of variations on the dessert theme. You can enjoy a tasting of different cocoa blends they carry, and even take pastry-making lessons. Here, everything is rigorously made by hand.


Another temple of temptation is the Cinnamon Bakery & Coffeeshop, where you can enjoy traditional sweets made from one of Sweden’s signature spices, kanelbullar, and the homemade bread used to make the take-away sandwiches. Another pastry/bread shop, this time with a bistro, is the Xoko(Rörstrandsgatan 15), which serves organic bread with natural yeast and artisanal sweets. The driving spirit behind Xoko is Magnus Johansson, the man who’s been making desserts for the Nobel prize ceremony over the last several years.


But the true trophy of Stockholm style – a perfect mix of ecology, leisure and good taste – is, without a doubt, Rosendals café. Get there easily with one of the city’s rental bikes. You’ll find the place in Djurgården, a kind of forest right near the old city, a green Island where city residents flock at the first hint of sun. Here, among greenhouses and outdoor tables, you can eat salads, soups, sandwiches and homemade baked goods, all prepared with organic and bio-dynamic ingredients. A suggestion: buy some of the delicious muesli that they sell in the warehouse. You won’t find a more delicious breakfast cereal in all of Europe.