I was dining out in Sweden all last week and really frustrated by the very restrictive Systembolaget government monopoly on alcohol that doesn’t allow you to bring a bottle of wine into a restaurant. Menu prices are very high and it makes you appreciate how lucky we are here in Vancouver and elsewhere with the reasonable value for price ratio we presently enjoy at our restaurants.
Three places that stood out for me as still worth a detour:
1. GRYTHYTTANS GASTGIVAREGARD www.careofhotels.com/grythyttan
Long name but a wonderful quaint unique historical spot in the countryside near Orebro that has celebrated weddings for centuries. Amazing old underground wine cellar formerly a prisoner holding cell with some special collected treasures including older vintages of Coulee de Serrant. The Grythyttan Inn follows to the letter the Slow Food Movement. Liked a pretty dish of seared scallops with a crisp cheese cracker all sitting on a puree of milk cooked garlic decorated with mirepoix-like yellow and red veg topped by fresh dill; Reindeer carpaccio with pickled chanterelles and lingonberry coulis; and seared cod and pork belly with smoked potato puree and asparagus. Highlights included four Swedish farmhouse cheeses directed to be eaten in a strict order matched with a sweeter apricot figgy wine made from cloudberries (Grythyttan Hjortron). The last cheese tasted was the renowned and expensive Bredsjo Blue Cheese (500 SK /kilo or nearly $100/kilo at the farm) from 100% sheep’s milk that resembles closely a French Roquefort. They will produce even a Woof menu for your dog.
2. FREDSGATEN 12 (F12) www.f12.se/en
Melker Andersson & Danyel Coutet rule Stockholm with their many excellent dining places.
F12 is a special restaurant with excellent French influenced cuisine. Tasting menu with matching wines both served blind at our request highlighted some of their offerings:
-Cold: One long thin strip of coiled radish marinated in oyster -Hot: Crab on Coastal Potatoes. 2012 Fass 4 Gruner Veltliner Ott (Wagram Austria)
-Puree slightly smoked Jerusalem Artichokes and Toasted Crumb, Fresh Water Bleak Roe (orange colour), coddled egg yolk. 2011 Silvaner Keller (Rheinhessen Germany)
-Milk Poached Perch, Foamy Crown Dill Crayfish Sauce. 2009 Albarino de Fefinanes III Palacios de Fefinanes (Galicien Spain)
-Cheek of Veal, Sweetbreads, Fresh Chanterelles and Fava Beans. 2009 Corton Pougets Louis Jadot (Burgundy France)
-Almnas Tegel (gruyere style cheese) aged 36 months, Double Malt Marmalade. 2004 Rivesaltes Ambre Domaine Singla (Languedoc-Rousillon France)
-Angssyra, Brannvin (small jar with sorrel greens on the bottom, crumbled sugar biscuit in the middle and foamy aquavit on top) quite delicious.
-White Peach, Raspberries, Almond, Meringue. 2012 Moscato d’Asti Bricco Quaglia La Spinetta (Piedmont Italy)
3. MATSALEN www.grandhotel.se
Outstanding chef Mathias Dahlgren has arguably the best restaurant in Sweden here at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm where “natural produce and natural taste are essential to the natural cuisine”. Also has the more informal bistro Matbaren. Both feature fresh produce from local farms in a very Swedish style. Impressed talking with their young knowledgeable Sommelier Johan Andersson who is seeking out the story from each of his unique wine producers and who alone is worth your visit. He prefers European wines with higher acidity that go well with food. Johan is encouraged that with global warming Sweden might eventually make some better wines themselves like Blaxsta Vineyard who already makes a sweet expensive Vidal Icewine. The cellar is full of some choice 18000 bottles with 1800 different labels the oldest of which is 1874 Mouton. Some of the world’s best prices on old stock/old prices of DRC wines. Summary of some of our brilliant dishes with amazingly appropriate pairings:
– Tartare of cod and shrimp with ponzu, ginger, radish. 2011 Arbois Blanc Reneaud Bruyere (Jura France) with 80% chardonnay & 20% sauvignon blanc
-Beetroots & Jerusalem Artichokes, hazelnuts, truffle, watercress. 2009 Saignee de Sorbee Vouette et Sorbee (Champagne France) Pinot Noir Extra Brut Disgorged Nov. 19, 2012
-Steamed Coalfish & Bleak Roe, smoked butter sauce, Spring onions, dill. 2009 Matassa Blanc Domaine Matassa (Languedoc-Rousillon France) ripe peachy 70% Grenache Blanc
-Game from Ostermalma (Fallow Deer Filet and Wild Boar Sausage), asparagus, anchovies, lemon, capers. 2005 Les Baltailles Philippe Jambon (Beaujolais France) Morgon but that AC not allowed so shows as Vin de France as was fermented for 6 years and bottled in 2011 at 14.5 alcohol with big rich unique spicy Rhone styling. Great match for the dish.
-Swedish Farm Cheeses, Rye Bread with celery, radish, walnuts and dates. 2009 Vin de Paille Stephane Tissot (Jura France)
-Rhubarb from Flen & Yoghurt, Spanish Chervil, Vanilla. 2012 Foutre d’Escampette Domaine de l’Octavin (Jura France) Petillant natural bubbles of chardonnay from chalky soil with a fresh slight sweetness works miracles with this dessert.
Three other highly recommended lower budget tips in Stockholm:
(a) Herring at NYSTEKT STROMMING kiosk at Slussen as you cross the bridge from Gamla Stan to Sodermalm. Really super Skane on fried rye bread, herring, sweet mustard and fresh dill for 40SK (less than $8).
(b) HOTORGSHALLEN Basement Market (Subway Haymarket) below the Filmstaden Cinema for a great gastronomical tour of food products.
(c) NK RESTAURANTS Satamakatu 18-20 have some interesting lunch choices including traditional Swedish food at the top of NK house.