Sweden: Stockholm & Gothenburg

Earlier this year my friend Georgia (who’s previous ‘Jimmy Likes to Eat’ fame includes being my beloved Florence connection) left England once again, this time for a job in the Swedish city Gothenburg. After a couple of months of letting her settle in and as our relationship started slipping into being made up of a string of sporadic text messages, it was time for a visit. We decided to meet in Stockholm before making our way to Gothenburg.

First things first, Meatballs.
I arrived a day early with a stinking hangover which surprisingly was from my sisters baby shower. I had bolted an extra day on to my trip to stay with my friend Lauren and her boyfriend Nico. I was also selfishly there to squeeze in a extra meal or 3 into my long weekend of feasting. After Lauren let me in to her apartment and returned to work I took a much needed power nap. I awoke a few hours later with only one thing on my mind, meatballs. My search for the best Stockholm could offer got of to a rocky start when not one but two places on my list turned out to be closed. After a few frantic messages to Lauren she sent me to meet her at Nybrogatan 38, a trendy Swedish bistro with a collection of French and Scandi classics on the menu. Most importantly, here you will find a wonderful plate of veal meatballs in cream sauce served with pickled cucumber and that tart lingonberries sauce. This will forever unashamedly transport me to the only good thing about weekends spent in Ikea as a child.

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Chinese inspired small plates in Södermalm 
After an afternoon of catching up over wine it was over to Södermalm for dinner at Tong for a feast of Chinese inspired small plates. We spent the evening working our way through the likes of sesame smashed cucumber, sticky chicken wings, a incredible five spiced steak tartare, a very special fried rice and bowl after bowl of addictive sesame noodles. The stand out dish being deep-fried aubergine in a wickedly delicious peanut caramel sauce.

After dinner cocktails were had down the road at Bar Hommage, a trendy packed bar housed within a old fire station serving delicious experimental cocktails to rival the likes of Dandelyan in London.

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A Kanelbullar to end all kanelbullar
Four years ago when I first came to Stockholm I became obsessed with the Kanelbullar (Cinnamon buns) served at the famous bakeries Fabrique that are scattered all over the city. Since Fabrique has landed in London that obsession has continued, however the next morning when Lauren took me to her local bakery I met a game changing bun. The soft yet crispy, perfectly spiced and outrageously buttery cinnamon bun I had at Valhallabagerlet was the best I have ever had and just thinking about it is making my mouth water. Just go and bring me one home please!

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Lunchtime on the water 
After saying goodbye to my hosts for the night it was off to meet Georgia at our hotel to dump our bags and head off for lunch. The setting was a old shipping container surrounded by glistening water at the stunning Oaxen Slip bistro. We caught up over wine and a table full of colourful plates. There was thinly sliced ham with blackened beans and lovage mayonnaise, a plump lamb sausage with kale, apple and hot mustard and fab corn shaped bowl that arrived cradling cured salmon with a luxurious fennel cream and sourdough croutons. After some unusual bay ice cream, we walked along the water past picturesque Swedish scenes of bobbing boats and red wooden buildings. As it was turning out to be such a hot day we forgoed the near by ABBA museum (#regrets) and took a boat across the water to the island of Skeppsholmen to explore Moderna Musseet which is a must.

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A place to stay
After an afternoon of working up our step count, it was back to the hotel for a lie down, a spruce up and a cocktail. If your looking for somewhere to stay then check out the Miss Clara hotel. A perfect central location, housed in a beautiful old school, whose features have been stylishly restored with a sprinkling of tasteful modern scandi design. Oh and there is a fantastic cocktail bar downstairs.

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The bucket list dinner 
Ekstedt had been on my bucket list of restaurants since about 5 years ago when I watched Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘Scandamania.’ I remember watching head chef Niklas Ekstedt cooking over an indoor fire pit in his electricity-less kitchen (except for lighting and refrigeration), smoking meats in a pine branch parcel whilst he constructed stunning plates of food. I knew I would eat there one day.

It did take 5 years, but when I walked in to the restaurant and was greeted by the smell of smokey deliciousness, I knew it was worth the wait. Having already spent most of our day eating, we opted for the lighter menu of four courses (plus a few bonus snacks) which will set you back around £75pp not including wine. Part of me wishing we had splurged (even further…) on the full set menu at about £95pp but I’m sure my waistline and bank account will thank me. To be totally honest I was less blown away by the more expected larger plates of birch fired lamb and a perfectly delicious juniper-smoked cod. However what really made this meal memorable was the reindeer heart tacos served to us on arrival, the oysters cooked in beef fat on the open fire, and the most ridiculous looking dish I have eaten. Dehydrated deer with charcoal cream- yes essentially a very expensive plate of dust but oh my how stupidly superb it was.

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Sunday in Södermalm
After the previous nights feast we were somehow ravenous, so our first stop in hip  Södermalm was Il Caffè for strong coffee and a couple of cardamon buns. Once we were fuelled for the day it was on to the Fotografiska Museum, an absolute MUST when ever in Stockholm. After getting our culture fix the rest of the morning was spent wandering the boutiques of Södermalm. Make sure to check out Grandpa, LA bruket and of course Acne studios for strictly window shopping purposes. Our last meal in Stockholm was at Café Nizza for a long leisurely lunch where we basked in the sunshine (in factor 50) whilst we enjoyed delicious wine and ate our way through the menu. There was plates of beetroot tartare, an extraordinary beef carpaccio with peas & broad beans and delicious bowls of handmade pasta such as a very memorable tagliatelle with green asparagus and pistachio.

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Hej Gothenburg!
We arrived in Gothenburg in the early evening after a long train journey where multiple liquorice dime bars (yep its a wonderful thing) were consumed. Gothenburg is Stockholm’s quieter laid back cousin and you feel the change in vibe as soon as you begin wandering the postcard perfect streets of the historic centre Haga. Having got to Georgia’s apartment to find no wine in the house, and with all the stores which sold them already having been shut for a day and a half we headed in to town for a crisp glass of white and a pizza at the super trendy wine bar/cafe Olssons Vin.

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A Kanelbullar the size of my face
The next morning with Georgia at work I started the day at the famous Cafe Husaren in the pretty streets of Haga. Husaren is most famous for its cinnamon buns, mostly I think because of the fact they are actually bigger than my face. I managed a quarter as I guzzled some strong coffee before exploring the cute little stores in the perfect wooden buildings in the area.

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Exploring Gothenburg
For the rest of the day I had a packed itinerary of sites I wanted to see. The morning was spent wondering the streets of Haga, the boutiques of central Gothenburg, the spectacular food hall Saluhallen and the Palmhurst. I stopped for a lunch at the Strömmingsluckan, a small stall in a busy courtyard full of lunching locals in the city centre. It was when I was munching on my lunch of crispy herring fillets, sandwiched together with dijon horseradish that I suddenly realised it was 1pm and I had already done everything on my list.

Being a Monday all the museums were closed, so with the fear of gout finally setting in if I ate one more cinnamon bun I decided to explore the famous Archipelagos. I took a tram right the way out to Saltholmen by the coast and jumped on a ferry to do a little island hopping around the Gothenburg Archipelagos. This is a must do on your list as it was completely beautiful. However after getting to the first island and having a little stroll I realised that if I didn’t get the next ferry back I would be stuck for the night and even worse I would miss dinner. I would say give yourself a day to explore and plan your trip out to the islands a little better than I did.

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The last supper
Luckly I made it to my dinner with Georgia and her friend at Natur. A stunning restaurant with excellent modern nordic food that was refined, yet at the same time simple and comforting. I had a beautiful dish of local duck with roasted celeriac marmalade, crispy fried oyster mushrooms, and a luxurious thyme cream cheese that was offset with a tart sauce. We ate our supper on the terrace in the evening light, but inside you will find a cosy dark cave of a restaurant perfect for the long winter months.

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A little bit of culture and just one last meal…
After a morning spent at the vast and magnificent Gothenburg museum of Art I had somehow once again worked up an appetite through the viewing of oil paintings of oysters and elaborate ancient feasts. For my final stop I went to the church of seafood aka Feskekörka, a long chapel like building which houses a fish market and the Restaurang Gabriel. It was here I feasted on oysters and took one last fabulous deep dive in to my overdraft to see the holiday out.

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