Recently I took a trip to Sweden and Denmark. The plane ticket was just too cheap to resist – even though it was for February. Just two weeks before the trip, Europe experienced a cold spell that was so cold that it even snowed for the first time in Rome in 26 years, and traffic came to a screeching halt. Well, many parts of Europe came to a screeching halt. This really made me wonder how cold it would actually be, as for 2 days of the trip I will be in the Arctic Circle – so it was important that I actually bundle up.
Being from California, I don’t own any winter clothes. Not even for skiing (I don’t ski). So after asking friends that do know more than I do, I ended up at the local Sports Basement store which was offering a storewide discount on everything. These guys are seriously knowledgeable. So $500 later, I ended up with gear from head to toe, including this cool Orage Alaskan Jacket. I was ready for -25 degrees Celcius (-13 Fahrenheit).
As the departure date drew near, the weather in Scandinavia became warmer by the day. That was a relief. Even in the Arctic Circle the forecast was for about -15C, which compared with -35C it was definitely good news.
Hello Again, Stockholm
So after 15 hours of flights later, I’m in Stockholm. This was only my second time in the Swedish capital, but the last trip being more than 10 years ago during the summer. This being my first time during winter, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I was looking forward to seeing the city in snow, and visiting many of the design shops for content for my design blog – so here I am.
So the first day was probably the worst combination possible: snow and rain. So the streets of Stockholm is filled with slush and therefore not very pleasant. The only “plan” I had on the agenda for the day was dinner at Mathias Dahlgren’s casual dining restaurant Matbaren in the evening, so I decided to do a little walking tour to get myself reacquainted with the city, which is now popular with the Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, most recently with the movie “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. Since I have never read the book nor have seen the movie, I decided to start with the Drottinggatan, which is a main shopping street in the Norrmalm district. In the photo below you’ll see PUB, which is the department store Greta Garbo worked at when she was discovered. Pretty cool, eh? The inside of the store was not all that exciting until you get to the home section on the top floor – it was filled with design products for the home. I was in heaven.
After walking the Drottinggatan, I turned over to the Birger Jarlsgatan towards Stureplan, which is a square filled with nice shops. This street also splits Norrmalm with Östermalm, which is an upscale part of Stockholm.
Not too far from Stureplan is the Östermalms Saluhall, which is an upscale food hall with restaurants and just food stalls selling everything from fish to Swedish wagyu (yes, apparently they have that too in Sweden). I just wasn’t hungry enough to try anything. I did read though that you must have herring in Sweden, so I figured I’ll run into it again somewhere.
Walking across the Östermalmstorg square is the beginning of a few design shops in the area, including the well-known Asplund store. This is a shop that sells all kinds of home furnishings, including Asplund’s own line as well as well-known international brands.
After some rest back in the hotel room, it’s time for the main event: dinner at the 1-Michelin star Matbaren inside the Grand Hotel. So as I’ve mentioned before, this is a casual restaurant. There is a formal dining room called the Matsalen (2 Michelin stars) which is just next door. So here is what you get when you sit down: a tray with your utensils, glass and then a bag with today’s date on it. What’s inside? It’s actually bread.
So dinner begins with natural foie gras and artichoke with a vinaigrette of hazelnuts (bakad ekologisk gåslever kronärtskocka, vinägrett på hasselnötter). The foie gras seems to have melted into everything, so you have to mix everything up and eat it. This was yum.
Then it’s fried reindeer and gnocchi with ginger, cabbage and spring onions (stekt renkalv & äggklimp, ingefära, vitkål, sticklök). This was definitely my favorite dish. I’ve had reindeer on my last trip to Sweden, but I just can’t remember how that tasted. This was just a very tender rendition.
And finally, the dessert. Baked wild chocolate from Bolivia. sour cream, toffee ice cream, nuts (ugnsbakad vild choklad från Bolivia. Gräddfil, tofféeglass, nötter).
Evening ends with a short subway (and expensive) ride back from the Kungsträdgården station to the hotel. Note that the station is so “raw” with art.