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Scandinavia Report (Stockholm, Malmo, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen)

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Scandinavia Report (Stockholm, Malmo, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen)

msmolly | Aug 16, 2015 03:56 PM

When I was doing research for our Scandinavian trip I found that there weren't a whole lot of recent posts about Scandinavia, so I thought I'd share our food-related experiences from our recent 2 and 1/2 week trip.
We started in Stockholm. On our first full day there we went on a food tour called The Nordic Experience. Our guide was Frederik. There were 8 of us: 2 Swedish couples, a couple from Norway, and a young couple originally from Scotland and Singapore who met in Beijing. It was a great overview of local food traditions. We started in Hotorgshallen, a huge food hall with a wide variety of food sellers. We went to about 6 different vendors there and tried cured meats (including bear!), cheeses, Finnish "hand pies" topped with egg butter (which we found bland), and three types of pickled herring accompanied by beer and aquavit and a Swedish drinking song. Then we left the food hall and went to a restaurant called Tranen for Swedish meatballs with all the fixings (mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, and lingonberries) and more beer. Then we went to an old pub for shrimp topped with bleak roe on buttered toast. Yum. We also sampled gelatos from Stikki Nikki and finished with "fikken," mid-afternoon coffee and sweets in the basement of an old castle. I recommend this tour. The only downside was that we were too full for dinner at Ulla Widblahd, a traditional Swedish place that a Stockholm native had recommended.
In Stockholm we also had lunch at a waterfront place, Restaurant Rokeriat, known for its smoked meats and fishes, on beautiful Fladerhormarma (Feather Island). And on our last night, we had dinner at Gondolen, 12 floors up overlooking the harbor. It has a kind of touristy feel, but the food was very good and the views were great. (Note: most of the high-end Michelin starred places in Stockholm were closed for summer vacation. If those are on your list, time your visit accordingly.)
En route to Copenhagen we spent one night in Malmo, Sweden. We went to a great restaurant there: Bastard. We sat on their beautiful, mostly covered patio, and stayed dry during a tremendous mid-meal downpour. We had burrata with white peaches, smoked trout with cucumber, and pig cheek served with a runny egg. Great food and fun casual atmosphere. The storm ushered in much cooler temps, wind, and more rain but the next day we went out to the beach to see the Turning Torso and have lunch at Salt and Brygga. We had a light lunch of bleak row with buttered toast and warm asparagus salad with cheese. Our extremely nice server took the time to write down some recommendations for Copenhagen.
Thanks to her, we found out about Kodbyens, the meatpacking and fish distributor area that is home to a growing restaurant scene. Any self-respecting foodie visiting Copenhagen should get over there. We ate at Fiskebar and Gorilla. The food at both was great! Our service was not perfect at Fiskebar, which our server attributed to having accidentally deleted our order and then to "10 Americans coming in." ?? But the food was excellent. We loved everything we had at Gorilla. We shared 4 small plates: escargot ravioli, a mini lobster roll, hanger steak in yummy sauce, and pig tail with egg.
Also not to miss in Copenhagen are smorrebrod, the traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches. We tried them at a newish place called Almanak, in the refurbished Standard building that also has a fine dining restaurant and a club. Almanak is a more casual, but beautiful and airy space and the smorrebrod topped with edible flowers were easily the most beautiful sandwiches I ever saw! Delicious, too. Also in Kodbyens is Inco, which appeared to be the Copenhagen version of Costco, a huge food warehouse with double decker carts. My guess is that they cater largely to restaurants.
We had made a monumental effort to get into Noma but were never called up from the waiting list. Nor did they even respond to my email a few weeks earlier. Not impressed with their lack of hospitality. I wonder what it takes to get in there--connections? We could not have been more thorough in our research on the reservation system, including getting up in the middle of the night to log in from a bunch of devices and browsers. So instead, we enjoyed a wonderful evening at Geranium, where the entire staff got involved with the service, including the cooks. One course (a delicious mushroom soup) was even served in the gorgeous kitchen. It was a fine dining experience worthy of their two Michelin stars, and unlike the cold shoulder we got from Noma, was entirely gracious, warm and welcoming.
We went on to Oslo, where we ate at St. Lars, a newish place in Oslo's emerging food scene focusing on locally sourced ingredients. The next day we had lunch overlooking the city and Oslo Fjord at Ekeberg. And for dinner we went to Solsiden, a waterfront seafood place that is a beautiful, lively space with delicious seafood. They are known for the huge seafood platter but we're not big fans of some of the items so we took a pass and ordered the smoked trout and the halibut.
After a few days traveling through the fjords and staying at all-inclusive resorts, we ended up in Bergen, where we had a great dinner at a place called Spisekroken that the chef at our hotel had recommended. It's a tiny, charming place with great staff and terrific food. I started with the aquavit platter, which was three small versions of things from the appetizer menu, each paired with a different aquavit. It was great. If I had one thing to do over again in Scandinavia it would be to drink more aquavit!
One final food note on Scandinavia: they have GREAT bread over there. Every breakfast buffet featured a variety of loaves that you sliced yourself. Slather on their delicious butter and you don't need a whole lot more to get you going.
I hope this report is of some help to someone. I feel that we made some discoveries that may not be on the usual radar screens. Skall (I hope I spelled that right)!

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