Hey, remember when we went to Scandinavia last JUNE?! I'm a shameful delinquent. While I covered our adventures in Iceland pretty thoroughly and shared a peek at Stockholm's Old Town and gorgeous Lake Malaren, one of the highlights of our time in Sweden was taking a locals' food tour.
We booked this tour through Viator, which is one of our favorite resources for international travel, and adored the small-group experience. There were only a dozen people on our particular tour, and as we comprised five of them, it was nice to feel like we had a bit of a monopoly on the day.
Our tour started bright and early in the Ostermalm Saluhall, the oldest food hall in Stockholm. It reminded me so much of a Borough Market type deal...sort of a farmer's market on crack. Our "breakfast" for the day consisted of a wide variety of reindeer and elk sausages...eek! We tried cured elk, smoked reindeer and a moose sausage, along with pungent Swedish cheeses (including a "holiday" cheese that had minced crayfish in it!) and a Swedish "breakfast beer" which was super malty. I had to get past the mental block of thinking about Rudolph and Co while enjoying the sausage, but once I did, I really enjoyed it...the smoky flavor was great and the meat was pretty lean.
From Saluhall, we headed further into the Ostermalm neighborhood and stopped at Ingelsta Kalkon, a deli that specialized only in turkey, another big Swedish meat. Apparently many delis do specialize like that...little did we know! We enjoyed Swedish turkey meatballs served the traditional way...with potatoes, pickles, gravy and lingonberry sauce...and they were delicious.
Of course, being a city comprised of islands, seafood is huge in Stockholm. Our next visit was to the Sture Galleriam in Normalm, the heart of "Parisian Stockholm." The wide boulevards, carefully-tended trees and gorgeous buildings did remind me a bit of the 1e arrondissement in Paris! We headed to the Sturehof, famous for having the best fish dishes in Stockholm.
Seriously, look at all that seafood, We tasted pickled herring, smoked salmon, and a shrimp salad, all with a lot of dill (a staple of Swedish cuisine). While it was all really good and beautifully presented, this is about where I was like "holy crap, I'm really full and it's only like 11am."
From Sturehof, we headed to another food hall to visit P&B Delikatesser for licorice! Apparently licorice is a huge part of Swedish diets. We tried traditional sweet licorice, smoked licorice (which was such a weird flavor that I almost spit it out...eek! Acquired taste!), and white-chocolate covered bitter licorice...another totally bizarre combo. We also chatted about Swedish drinking culture...very beer-heavy, and sales of wine and hard liquor are very highly regulated due to the cultural disapproval of alcoholism and drunkenness.
After a weird licorice tasting, we headed to Jonathan's favorite stop of the tour... Chokladfabriken, an artisan chocolatier. We tasted dark salted chocolate, milk chocolate, sea salt caramel chocolate, and a licorice-caramel-sea salt chocolate mix. We also sampled chocolate gelato made with 64% Madagascar dark chocolate.
Needless to say, Dad and Jonny found themselves at the counter buying a wide assortment to take home (or just snack on back at the AirBnB!). The photo doesn't do the size of the box justice...I think between the two of them, they picked out close to 2 dozen different pieces, ha!
Our second-to-last stop was in Gamla Stan at Polkagris Kolkeri for traditional Swedish candy. How cute is the shop?! This reminded me of the hard candy sticks we'd get at the apple orchard or General Store if we were well-behaved as kids...so many flavors, and wrapped in the prettiest patterned paper.
We tasted classic peppermint and a few other flavors before heading to our final stop of the tour, fika at Under Kastanjen! Fika is basically a mandatory Swedish coffee break, taken daily with friends, which I think is the BEST idea. While fika typically includes coffee or tea and a cinnamon-cardamom roll, we did our fika the Schwegman way...
all in all, by 2pm after doing pretty much nothing but eating for six hours, we were ready to roll home and take a giant nap. What a great way to see a wide variety of neighborhoods in Stockholm and try food I would NEVER have eaten otherwise!