6 April 2015

Stockholm - Part 1



I’m currently sitting writing this as the sun sets over the sea in front of me in Tenerife. Cup of tea in hand and James Bay’s “let it go” playing in the background. Blissful- happy doesn't come close. 
A very different setting to where I was last weekend which is huddled in a café in the windy, cobbled streets of Stockholm’s old quarter, Gamla Stam, away from the freezing rain outside! 
I’ve always wanted to visit Stockholm. It’s been top of my list ever since I visited Copenhagen last year and fell in love with Scandinavian style, culture and food. So when my mum suggested we head there for a weekend away, I jumped at the chance to spend a few days exploring its colourful buildings and Swedish cuisine.
I left beautifully sunny Madrid for 3 degrees rain and wind! However, I was kind of glad that the weather was pretty rubbish because Stockholm is one of those places full of cute little cosy cafes and candlelit restaurants that make perfect shelter for a few hours and a great escape from the outside world.
It’s a beautiful city. Under a cloud of grey, it actually has a real magic to it with its islands of multi-coloured buildings, cobbled streets and towering church spires poking above the rooftops.  
We had both been so busy with work before we got there, that neither of us had had much time to do any research or touch up on the main sites. However, my mum laughed at me when we sat down to plan our time there as I knew nothing about the sites  but everything about which cafes and foodie places we had to visit: my itinerary was pretty much a city-wide hunt for the best kannelbulle (cinnamon roll) and Swedish Semla (an almond filled bun topped with shipped cream).  I had a huge list of places I wanted to visit – mainly recommended by my all-time favourite foodies over at Green Kitchen Stories, who have scouted out all the best foodie hotspots, coffee spots and health shops in this post.



We arrived and headed for a wonder through the old town  - an island in the middle of Stockholm called Gamla Stam. It’s narrow streets are full of multi-coloured buildings, big wooden doors with intricate patterns and huge elaborate churches hidden behind corners.  Although now full of lots of tourists shops, it also has little hidden restaurants, all with boxes of daffodils outside and candlelit interiors that instantly draw you in for a big bowlful of hot chocolate.






One of the first cafes we stopped in and one that became our regular that weekend had displays of the most delicious salmon and spinach quiches, Smorgasbord and a cabinet full of the most amazing looking Sweedish sweets.  This café also did the best ever mint tea – huge big patterned mugs with a massive bunch of fresh mint, orange, lemon, ginger and a spoonful of honey – so comforting and delicious.














From there we walked all afternoon, popping in and out of some of the most beautiful shops I have seen (Food styling and prop heaven!) and then ended up in a beautiful traditional Swedish brasserie round the back of the Opera house.
It’s called Bakfickan and was a recommendation on one of the blogs I was reading online. It has a sort of Parisian feel to it and is set in a beautifully grand dining room with a stained glass roof and incredibly smart and attentive waiters.
We started with the most delicious sourdough bread smothered in salty butter.

I chose the traditional Swedish meatballs. Served with lashings of smooth cheesy mashed potato, pickled cucumber and loganberries. It was a perfect combination- I’ve never tried loganberries but they were sort of less tart cranberry and perfect with slightly smoky pork meatballs.  Mum had perfectly cooked hake with buttery potatoes.
What striked me most about the restaurant and Stockholm in general is that everybody was so incredibly well dressed – and beautiful. The streets are full of beautiful, smiling people- there’s an air of elegance and style everywhere and you can’t help but notice how organised and clean everywhere is!

We headed back to the hotel, full of good food and very ready for bed! 

The next day we got up exceedingly late (well for me and my mum that is!) and headed down to breakfast. We were staying at hotel Rival and I would definitely recommend it- any hotel that serves poached eggs with smoked salmon followed by lemon macaroons for breakfast is a winner if you ask me!!
After brekkie we went for a wonder and came across a lovely little bakery and coffee shop (it was actually whilst we were on the search for Drop Coffee – the best coffee I have come across and will share with you tomorrow!)  with the most amazing looking Swedish pastries and biscuits so popped in for a cup of steaming coffee and jam filled biscuits whilst sitting on the wooden crates in the window. I absolutely loved just how cosy all the cafes are. I could spend all day working in them – especially with the smell of baking cinnamon and fragrant cardamom!








We carried on strolling through the streets of Gamla Stam, admiring all the hidden little passageways and beautiful old houses. 









It wasn’t long before we decided another coffee break was in order! So found a little spot in one of the main squares called Chokladkoppen. It’s tiny inside but really cosy with little tables closely packed together, loose hanging industrial style lighting and a big sweets counter, candle-lit and boasting Swedish Semla, raspberry and blueberry pie and fresh cinnamon rolls.



I chose a big bowl of cream hot chocolate and a big chicken salad. Out of all the cafes we had seen, the traditional Semla buns in this café looked by far the best – we were too full to try one but I’d definitely recommend heading there for a hot drink and something sweet!








From there we wandered on over to the palace and managed to get there just in time to catch the changing of the guard- Mum and I tried very hard not to make silly jokes and distract the guards but failed miserably!









We then strolled along the main harbour and into the Ostermalm district.
It was here that I first came across Fabrique: one of the bakeries that was on my list of places to go to recommended by Green Kitchen Stories. It was next to the most amazing cheese shop  (with a drool worthy window display!) 


Fabrique has different bakeries around the city, some with little seating areas and some just bakeries. The smell when you walk into the bakery is mind-blowingly amazing. Warm cinnamon buns, spiced pastries, croissants, crust sourdough bread, dark treacly rye bread and a whole array of jam filled or pistachio and nut based biscuits. Pure heaven.








I plumped for the Wallonbulle, a sort of cinnamon laced roll topped with brown sugar and walnuts. It was by far the best thing cinnamon roll I have ever eaten  - squidgy and chewy in the inside but with a crispy caramelised exterior and richly flavoured with sweet cinnamon and slightly bitter cardamom.  We had planned to buy one and save it for later but it was devoured almost instantly!


From there we wandered onto the Ostermalm Saluhal – a recommended site in almost all the guidebooks and a favourite of Jamie Oliver.  It’s a food hall and market very similar to those in Madrid- with various different stands, some with restaurants and cafes attached and others selling a whole array of fresh and homemade products for you to take away with you. It has a really lovely atmosphere to it. Unlike Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid which  is always packed and a real challenge to find a seat –( you have to work very hard for your lunch in navigating your way through the crows!)  this food hall is much more spacious and you can wander around at your own pace, picking up samples form the stalls as you pass them or enjoying a bowl of fish stew and a glass of wine in one of the permanent fish restaurants. The stalls were full of the most amazing fresh produce, from wild mushrooms picked in the nearby woodlands and fresh fish from the habour, to jams made with loganberries and a whole array of different breads, pies and sweet treats! We were to full of cinnamon roll to sit don and eat properly but we made good use of the samples on offer. It’s a lovely place to wonder around and would be perfect for an early supper and glass of wine.













From here we had a browse in the shops of the Ostermalm district. This district is known for its elegance and smart shops. It has some of the best interiors shops I have seen- food stylists heaven! I could have spent a fortune – luckily my baggage restrictions onboard Ryan Air stopped me from buying the whole shop but I did manage to treat myself to some new linens and a few beautiful new bowls.  



We also came across the most amazing shopping centre- full of absolutely immaculately dressed people, beautiful clothes shops and a very smart bar in the middle.




Check out the Urban outfitters shop that inhabits an old cinema!



By this point we definitely felt like we could fit in another tea stop and something sweet! I decided to take us to Weiner Cafeet - a somewhat famous establishment in the middle of Stockholm – founded many years ago and with an air of real history and tradition to it. It’s a very grand Parisian-like café in Biblioteksgatan with waiters dressed in smart white uniforms and a beautiful open café space with wooden paneling and chandeliers. It’s very like Café Angelina in Paris or Fortnum and Mason in London. There is an endless selection of teas and a cake counter that makes deciding what to choose very difficult!  It has a very elegant feel to the place – the group of ladies next to us had chosen the afternoon tea which looked just amazing- it would be the perfect place for a birthday tea or to celebrate a special occasion. 


We plumped for the raspberry bakewell slice and the apple crumble tart served with vanilla custard. Anywhere that serves apple pie with custard and tea in proper silver tea cups will win me over in a second!
They also had the typical Swedish pastries including princess cake – a sort of Victorian sponge cake sandwiched with jam and layers of whipped cream and covered in a green marzipan layer – it looks a little strange but is a traditional Swedish cake and we saw it in almost all of the cafes and I’m sure its delicious.





Full of tea and cake we decided to take another little stroll through Gamla Stam on the way back to our hotel. It has a real charm at sunset and everywhere is candlelit and cozy- I love how the Swedes have candles burning all the time! It made me want to return to Madrid and light candles in every room!





For supper we headed out to Fotografiska. Fotografiska is a relatively new photography museum that is situated along the port of the Sodermalm district, just down from where the ferry departs for Finland. It is open till late and contains various different photography exhibitions. I absolutely loved it- rarely do I really really like a museum but this is the perfect size and has exhibitions really worth seeing. I’m a massive fan of photography that focuses on topical events/ natural disasters , that captures life at some of its most fantastic and also vulnerable moments  - at the moment there is an exhibition which showcases a collection of photos by different photographers with breathtaking images from all over the world – it’s definitely worth a visit.  The great thing about the museum is that it’s open till 11pm so you can wander around the exhibitions in the evening before you head up to its terrace for supper.

The Fotografiska is a perfect date place. It’s top floor boasts a bar with the best views over Stockholm and is particularly perfect in the evening when you can see Gamla Stam lit up and its lights reflected in the water. As well as the bar where you can stop for a glass of wine or have a snack, it is also host to the restaurant, headed up by well-known chef Paul Svensson. The restaurant has a beautifully simplistic and elegant style with big industrial lights and lots of wooden features and clean lines. The menu is short- it is based on seasonal food, celebrating different vegetables as the main star of each “green dish” and offering meat and fish as optional side dishes “from the animal kingdom”. There are four cold green dishes and six hot green dishes and they recommend that you pick a few from each.

We started with some of the best sourdough bread ever. Served with incredibly creamy salty butter served on a pebble- super cool. I also love the fact that in every restaurant we went to, the butter was served with little carved wooden palettes for you to use to spread it.

As my cold dish I chose the “Cauliflower, dill, sea scallop.” A really interesting combination- served with shaved white chocolate – a flavour mixture I have come across once before in the form of a cauliflower and white chocolate soup and one which I really like.  It was beautifully delicate and really refreshing.


Followed by “Yellow onion, Stallhagens artichokes and winter truffels” served with a side dish of Angus sirloin.
Mum chose the “celeriac with cep mushrooms and walnuts” followed by the “leeks, sprouts, and cloudberries.”




Every single dish was exquisite. I haven’t eaten food so well thought-out and flavourful in a very long time. Each dish is the perfect size- not too much or too little and beautifully presented with great attention to detail to the textures and mix of flavours.  My favourite was the onion, artichoke and truffles- a real comforting and warming dish with a real earthiness and boldness to it.


Although we only picked two dishes each rather than the recommended 4, we were pretty full when it came to pudding but decided we had to try the “Carrots, orange and buffalo yoghurt” which sounded too intriguing not too!


It was almost too beautiful to eat! I love the mix of carrot and orange and the whole dish was incredibly light with the perfect mix of bitter orange and sweet roasted carrot puree, accompanied by tangy creamy buffalo yoghurt and crispy dried carrot pieces.





Although fairly expensive, the food is on another level and so worth the extra money. In Stockholm , most restaurants seem expensive for us Brits but this is definitely worth that little bit extra, especially when accompanied by such a beautiful view!

We returned to bed feeling very satisfied and excited for our plans for the following day- involving a trip out of the centre of Stockholm to one of the most beautiful settings for a cemetery.

Lots more foodie places and photos to follow in part 2!


2 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow. I would love to visit Copenhagen but now Stockholm is definitely up there on the list of places to go. I loved reading this post (dreaming of those cinnamon rolls!) and can't wait to read your next one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful to read about your own city. Cures the blindnness that occurrs after walking the same streets for 40-something years...

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It's really appreciated and lovely to hear some feedback. Katie x