It was my birthday last Friday and against my tradition of throwing a dinner party with friends, I decided to fly to Stockholm for a long weekend celebration! My fiancé is always up for visiting new places (especially if cold and snowy) and immediately supported my idea.
Sweden can be an expensive destination, but travelling in the low season means cheap flights and great hotel deals. I travel a lot and always choose hostels, guesthouses or even Couchsurfing, but for this trip we booked a luxury hotel (the Sheraton Stockholm) taking advantage of a last minute deal. Staying in a 5 star hotel does make a difference to your holiday and, in my case, it made it 100 times better!
Now this won’t come as a surprise to you, but my favourite way of discovering a country’s culture is through its food! Every city has unique flavours and traditions that I always long to explore.
We started our 3-day trip with breakfast at the Sheraton 360° Restaurant. A sumptuous buffet with all the cereals and muesli you can think of, yogurt, fresh fruit, smoothies and orange juice, cold cuts and cheese, full English breakfast, breads, butter, variety of jams, croissants and cinnamon rolls! It was hard, but slowly and with great determination I made my way through the buffet! :)
During our first day in Stockholm we visited the impressive Vasa Museum and wandered through the cobbled streets of old town Gamla Sta.
We stopped for fika: a Swedish tradition of meeting up for coffee and cake. Lovely idea, isn’t it? We followed the Lonely Planet’s recommendation and tried the famous Kaffekoppen. Sitting downstairs in a cellar vault from the 1600s we sipped hot chocolate and chai latte.
Quick shopping spree before dinner in the home and kitchen sections at NK department store, where I wanted to buy everything!
For my birthday dinner I followed tips from local food bloggers and booked a table at B.A.R. a few days in advance. It was a smart move, since the place was packed and we only got a table for the 21:30 sitting. B.A.R. is a restaurant by award-winning chefs Henrik Norström and Peter Johansson, who also own Michelin starred LUX (one of the best Swedish restaurants, unfortunately way out of my budget).
I chose B.A.R. for its stylish decor, it resembles an elegant fish market! In fact, the centre of attention is the ice display, a fresh fish and meat counter where you can look and choose what to order.
Not having a huge knowledge of fish (especially when the name tags are in Swedish!) we chose a main course directly from the menu: Oven Baked Halibut with shellfish vinaigrette, crown dill, brown butter mayonnaise and B.A.R.’s crispy fish and french fries.
The highlight of the dinner was the starter: Tempura Fried Gambas with truffle, mayonnaise and vegetable tempura. For dessert we shared the Apple Cocktail with cinnamon ice-cream and apple compote.
Our second day in Stockholm was all about coffee as we met local blogger Jesper Bood for breakfast and coffee tour of the city. It was really amazing to visit many speciality coffee shops and taste coffee roasted by Swedish roaster Da Matteo. You can read about my Stockholm coffee tour here.
While walking through Stockholm high on caffeine, we made a quick detour at Food Hall Östermalms Saluhall, a haven for lovers of good food!
The afternoon was spent ice-skating at Kungsträdgården and visiting the Fotografiska Museum, where we shared a cinnamon roll and admired the panoramic views of Stockholm from the café on the top floor.
For our second (and last) dinner in Stockholm we chose Pelikan in trendy Södermalm, following recommendations from Jesper and also from the fish experts at The Fish Club in Clapham. This classic Swedish pub is featured on the Lonely Planet and Visit Stockholm website, so you can imagine that it was pretty crowded. They didn’t accept advance table reservations and when we arrived around 20:00 we were told the waiting list was too long to even be put on it! Sandy was not happy to wait, but in the end he agreed to stay at the bar and eventually we “only” had to wait for 45 minutes!
The long wait and the slightly on-the-rude-side service didn’t make the evening pleasurable, but still I’m happy we went to Pelikan because the food was delicious and good value! I was so tired, I devoured my plate of Meatballs and Mash Potatoes before I remembered to take a picture and Sandy’s Beetroots Rösti with goat cheese & pine nuts was also gone before I could take a photographic proof of it.
We ended the holiday on a sweet note with semla, a wheat bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday (the last Tuesday before Lent). We bought it just before leaving and ate it at the airport, which in insight was a wise choice: had I known how good it was, I would have wanted to buy and eat many more than just one!
Anyway, with the Scandinavian Kitchen so close by, I know I am never too far from a semla or a cinnamon roll! ;)