In the Land of Herring and Schnapps--Stockholm, Sweden

Ikea, Abba, sleek furniture, Pippi Longstocking.  These are some of Sweden's most notable exports.  Aside from these, on a recent trip to Stockholm, we discovered that the food is also something to get really excited about.  As you will se below, Swedish food is generally fish, often pickled, smoked, or salted, served relatively simply with clean flavors.  While we did also have some red meat while there, nothing can be compared to the fish.

Stockholm is an extremely beautiful city located on a number of islands sandwiched between the Baltic Sea and a number of large lakes.  We were fortunate enough to stay with my aunt and uncle who live right on the water and on our first day, after a 2 a.m. start to catch our flight there, took us out for a tour around the aforementioned islands and lakes on their boat.

Apparently, the end of August is crayfish season in Sweden, so most people will have a big crayfish feast to celebrate/mourn the end of summer I suppose.  Not only did we have a fantastic crayfish feast, but it was also accompanied by amazing smoked prawns, delicious rye bread, and a variety of different kinds of Swedish Schnapps.  I didn't love most of them to be honest, but they weren't bad, except for one aptly called... Bitter Drops.  It was, without question, the most disgusting thing I've ever drank.

The following day was rainy and after a wicked crayfish hangover we took it easy and just had a nice lunch and made dumplings for dinner.  On our third day in Stockholm we took a trip to the Vasa Museum and a long walk around the city before settling down for an amazing lunch at the Saluhall Market.  This is an extremely upscale market that sells a variety of meat and fish products.  A lot of the stalls also have a sit down area to have lunch.  After we took a look around we settled on one that looked good...and oh... my.... god.  We had the most amazing herring platter with five different types of pickled herrings alongside some boiled potatoes to accompany the fish.  The combination of the two is just amazing and something that is hard to find outside of Scandinavia.  There was also a hard boiled egg with some salmon roe and some strong cheese with bread.  While this would have been enough for the two of us, we also had a smoked salmon platter which came with a type of cream cheese, but much fresher and creamier than the Philadelphia we are used to.

On our last day in Stockholm we took a day trip to the small island of Fjaderholmarna.  This is one of some 30,000 islands that makes up the Swedish archipelago and is only a short 30 minute ferry ride from central Stockholm.  Despite being the first people on the island there are a few boutique shops and artisans.

For our last meal in Stockholm we had an amazing lunch at the Smoke House on Fjaderholmarna.  First we had an amazing plate of pickled herring with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.  While heavy, it was delicious and the salty/tartness of the herring meshed perfectly with the extremely buttery potatoes. Second we had a tomato fish stew, with mussels, prawns, salmon, and clams.  A lighter accompaniment to the heavy herring.

While Stockholm remains one of the most expensive cities in Europe, it can be done reasonably, assuming you keep drinking to a minimum.  Most of our meals were in the £30-50 range, excluding alcohol.  Wine would push that easily above 70 without breaking a sweat.


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