The foodie scene in Sweden has exploded in recent years, with chefs and dedicated home cooks alike taking traditional ingredients and recipes and giving them a modern, unique twist. Local and organic are big buzzwords, while ‘experiences’ are becoming more important than ever before. Here are some of the most unique things you foodies out there will want to try when you’re visiting Sweden.
Surströmming at Tennstopet
Surströmming, better known as fermented herring, could be called an acquired taste… and smell. The small fish are fermented in cans for a minimum of six months, during which time they develop a slightly acidic taste and a stench that could knock over a Swedish elk. That said, when surströmming season rolls there are plenty of devotees who celebrate with special parties and dinners. One of the most famous celebrations is at classic Stockholm eatery Tennstopet. On sörstrumming day the only thing served in the herring, and the potent smell released when the cans are opened is so overwhelming that you can smell it for blocks around, and the restaurant has to close the next day to have the smell removed. But if you’re a brave foodie given to trying unusual fare, be sure to visit Stockholm in mid-August, and book your table at Tennstopet well ahead of time.
Dinner Cruise Hisingen
Hisingen, just off the coast of Gothenburg on the west coast, is Sweden’s fifth-largest island and an area of astounding beauty. What better way to see it than aboard a boat while eating a top-of-the-line meal? Using local ingredients, the à la carte menu offers something for everyone, from fish and meat to vegetarian and vegan, and it’s all cooked to order during the four hour cruise, which takes you along rivers, through fjords, and into Gothenburg’s harbour, with a guide bringing your attention to points of interest along the way. There’s also a bar on the upper deck, from which you can enjoy even better views.
Pick Your Food
The Swedish culinary scene is fully embracing going organic, promoting sustainability and getting close to nature, and there are few better places than Kosters Trädgårdar to experience this. You can help pick the ingredients for your lunch or dinner from the lush private gardens and greenhouse. Dedicated to cooking with the seasons, Kosters offers 40 seats in its restaurant, and an additional 20 in the greenhouse. The food is simple, allowing the ingredients, which come from the farm and from the sea, to be the stars of the show. There are also freshly baked pastries, sandwiches and cakes available if you’d like a lighter meal, and the views are nearly as tasty as the food.
Kosters Trägårdar. Långegärde, Sydkoster, Sweden, +46 052620588
The Soup Theatre is an intimate, cosy little theatre located in the basement of Stockholm’s Culture House (Kulturhuset). What makes it unique is that it serves soup, and only soup. Let’s paint the picture: as you enter the room you see a modest stage facing 30 or 40 small tables. Each table is covered with a red and white checked tablecloth, upon which you’ll find a candle, bread, butter, a water pitcher, a coffee flask and a bowl of soup, covered with a bread plate. You take your seat and sip your soup while waiting for the show to begin. But before that happens, the chef will come out and give details about the day’s soup, which is reliably delicious. Shows are held both at lunch and dinner and the entire experience is utterly charming and tasty.
Soppteater, Drottninggatan 34, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 850620100
If langoustines, prawns, lobster, mussels and all the other shellfish delights get your mouth watering, head to Bohuslän on Sweden’s west coast and enjoy a shellfish safari. The Shellfish Journey is a magical tour based on this magical region, which is rightly renowned for its seafood. You stay in top-end accommodation and take fishing trips into the local archipelago, after which your catch is beautifully prepared and then served in a beautiful setting. What more could a shellfish lover ask for? The best times to enjoy this experience are spring and autumn, both for the weather and for the quality of the catch.
Chef’s Table at Icehotel
The Icehotel in Sweden’s far north has a global reputation for being one of the most unique experiences in the world. Now you can take that uniqueness to another level by booking the Chef’s Table, where a table set for two is plonked down in the middle of the kitchen and you and your guest are served a five-course meal (paired with the perfect wines) straight from the hob. It’s a fun, bustling atmosphere and the 10-strong crew cooking for all the guests who are sitting in the regular dining room are full of energy and laughs. This is one way to ensure you are getting the best service possible, and you’ll be getting a meal that would delight even the most picky gourmand.
ICEHOTEL, Marknadsvägen, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, +46 98066800
It’s known as one of the most isolated restaurants in the world, and while getting here is half the fun, the fact is that any truly dedicated gourmand would move heaven and earth for the chance to eat at the table of chef Magnus Nilsson. With a dedication to subarctic foraging, farming, hunting and traditional Swedish methods of preservation, each dish is a unique taste experience, making the long drive from Stockholm seem like child’s play. Its two Michelin stars are well deserved, but as one spends the night at this daring eatery while watching Chef Nilsson ply his trade, you get the feeling stars and awards don’t really matter much: it’s the commitment to the fruits of the earth and the sea that really counts.
Fäviken, Fäviken 216, Järpen, Sweden, +46 64740177