Posts Tagged ‘göteborg’

borås – not ready for good coffee?

April 3, 2014

A month ago, the annual “restaurant week” was celebrated in Borås, and one day, the daily poll on the website of  Borås Tidning asked the question, “Is Borås a restaurant city?” These are ambitious concepts: “restaurant week” and “restaurant city.” Many readers seemed to think that Borås wasn’t really a restaurant city at all, and today’s entry on my blog gives an example of why this may be so.

I should begin by saying that some culinary change for the better has definitely happened in these parts. If you search the archives of my blog you’ll see that this development is, to put it mildly, massively overdue.

But let’s just make a quick tour: a few years ago, for instance, a fine Indian restaurant, Masala Kitchen, established itself on Yxhammarsgatan. It is part of a small chain (the three other branches are in Gothenburg), but their food has the stamp of an individual kitchen nevertheless and is quite enjoyable in its diversity; the service is friendly and personal and the restaurant is clean and pleasant.

Directly opposite Masala Kitchen, a small Italian trattoria with the optimistic name Viva La Focaccia has opened, and to judge by their number of lunch guests, they are doing rather well. Unsurprisingly for an Italian trattoria (but a small sensation for Borås), their pasta sauces have straightforward no-nonsense Italianate taste profiles, the pasta itself is hot and firm and the coffee agrees pretty well with what you would get in similar places in Italy.

The new cheese and salumi shop that has moved into the premises of what used to be an utterly useless sweets store is also exciting: Cassise at Österlånggatan 40. Cassise is impressively well-stocked with a large variety of international specialty cheeses and with a wide range of meat products. Who would ever have thought that the 66,000 inhabitants of this city would get access to good-quality Italian pancetta or lardo?

We were even happier — and this is what I wanted to write about — when da Matteo, a well-established high-end coffee importer, roaster and seller from Gothenburg, opened a nice, roomy new café/restaurant in Borås. On a good day, with one of the better (among their overall excellent) baristas at the controls, da Matteo’s coffee can be the best coffee you’re likely ever to drink (and I’m saying: anywhere).

So, all of a sudden, Borås has easy access to some of the best coffee in the world, in a place that also fulfills all possible requirements for a nice café-workspace: free wifi, a variety of tables, no excessive noise or obnoxiously loud music, and a central location (what I’m going for is outlined in this post, in case you’re wondering). The interior of da Matteo Borås is perhaps a little rough around the edges, but what needs to be clean is clean — the restrooms, for example (compare that with Gothenburg’s first-ever-Matteo in Viktoriapassagen, and you’ll appreciate the difference). And if we weren’t trying to cut down on the carbs, I might start raving about their bakery products. The service is nice and friendly.

This is how da Matteo in Borås looked a few weeks ago:

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Our new routine has been to go there on Friday afternoons and do our work there. It has been a fabulous way to beat January and February, which otherwise can only be survived in these parts by not getting out of bed.

Does Borås deserve such luxury? Obviously not. The terrible news is, da Matteo in Borås will close on 17 April 2014. Why?

I’m of two minds here. (more…)

an english villa in the woods

October 14, 2010

The scenic route between Gothenburg and Stockholm via Jönköping can be a good alternative for the more direct, but hectic and boring E20. The trip goes on riksväg 40 past Borås, and not long after that, things begin to become interesting. You should reserve quite some additional time for recreational stops along the way.

You may consider Ulricehamn, a pretty little town, for the first one of these. Check out Günther’s German bakery, which has a sublime choice of sweet in-betweens (their new website is still under construction). Long before Günther made the news (and Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding cake), he was locally famous for his elegant confectioneries. His Café is in the center of town, a little off the main pedestrian zone.

In terms of lunch, Ulricehamn can be summarized as an assembly of pizzerias, uninspired Chinese restaurants and Swedish school-meals-gone-public; an experience which you will not regret to have missed.

One might instead aim for Jönköping, a larger and more businesslike city at the shores of lake Vättern. I once was talked into accompanying my boss of the time into one of the allegedly better lunch places there, and ended up with an over-salted, brown and wrinkled chicken leg beside a bunch of peas and fries and some low-alcohol beer. I could be prejudiced, but may I suggest a far better and more picturesque alternative, about twenty minutes or so before you reach lake Vättern?

You turn off the 40 at Bottnaryd, taking road 185 north toward Mullsjö. Just before reaching this village, you turn west and enter Ryfors bruk. The signs cannot be missed. The centerpiece of Ryfors, an assembly of historical smithies, mills, sawmills and whatnot, is the English villa, which is marketed as an “authentic English Cottage” built in 1886. It houses a recently renovated hotel/restaurant with an excellent kitchen and good, personal service.

We stumbled upon Engelska Villan on Robin’s birthday (a luxuriously rainy summer day), on our way to Habo kyrka, the interior of which can be seen here (if you look carefully, you even see part of my harpsichord in the right-hand far corner. But that is a coincidence.):

Because of the hostile weather the English Villa was almost deserted, but our dedication to make this a special occasion and to conquer the empty dining room was well rewarded. Based on a copious amount of nachos, a delicious bowl of gaspacho, penne with a wine, cream and beef sauce, and a perfectly cooked piece of salmon marinated in honey, all reasonably priced but very nicely prepared and served, I am happy to recommend this kitchen without any reservations.

(To reach Habo church, a gorgeous large decorated wooden church, we later drove on through Mullsjö and crossed the countryside heading east. The village of Habo itself is somewhat less memorable, were it not for the industrious Anders Ö and his well-stocked, and sometimes open, store of n-gauge trains.)

two secret uses of the salad spinner

January 29, 2008

I own a Moulinex salad spinner that has served me for approximately 25 years. It holds vast amounts of goods, has a turning crank and the habit of getting unbalanced.

One turns to get rid of the worst of the moisture, and then the spinner begins to spin and wobble out of control. So one stops, opens the lid and very carefully re-distributes the content until the internal spinner-colander almost balances on the pivot. Then one closes the whole machine very carefully again and the spinning becomes a feast.

Robin has a “good grips” spinner that has no such problems of balance. But it turns slightly slower, so the drying takes more time. So we have two spinners, a slow and safe one, and a battered Ferrari.

I don’t want to write about dry lettuce. We all know that it’s better. There is a nice restaurant in the Gothenburg Brew House in Gårda, called bEAT (yES1) that offers very fine, fancy, hand-hewn salad dressings (in line with their other food, which is most of the time very good). But at lunchtime, they serve their lettuce literally floating in its rinsing water. Quite disgusting really. Matter of one hand of the cook not knowing what the other does. Hope he doesn’t cut himself one of these days.

I want to advertise two alternative uses of the salad spinner. (more…)

belgian fries

December 14, 2007

I almost feared that I mis-tasted on my first visit. Not so, it is true:

The Göteborg based Delirium Café not only has one of the widest beer selections imaginable, but some person in the kitchen also seems to replace the frying fat at reasonable intervals. This is the third Swedish restaurant in sixteen years where I have found high-end deep frying.

As a web-search on “delirium cafe göteborg” will show, some people object to the roomy atmosphere of the place. [Nope. A web search on July 21, 2011, strongly suggests that they have gone out of business. Pity]  Others are put off by the fact that Delirium “brags” with 2000 kinds of beer while, in practice, many of these can be sold out. I do not agree. We got all the kinds of beer we fancied (even the spiced “Jacobite” brew of Traquair House), I like their wooden tables and the high ceiling (although the huge vent pipes are a bit out of place), and yes:

I ordered Belgian fries, listed here as “Pommes frites with aioli”. In view of their wide range of fancy and pricey main courses, it might seem unfair to judge the kitchen by the fries. But these fries were absolutely fantastic. (more…)

sea-magazine and ratatouille-the-movie

November 18, 2007

So we went to Leif Mannerström’s Sjömagasinet, Göteborg’s one-star fish and seafood place and culinary meeting point. Helped along by a very generous gift certificate, we just sat down and ordered…

The restaurant is housed in an old timber-frame building down at the river, which was built by the East India Company in 1775. It can be reached by car if one drives straight on where a right turn would have led on to the night ferry to Kiel, or by tram, after a lengthy trip out of the Göteborg centre. We had company of a jolly 77-year-old gentleman from Finland, who told us the story of his life, so the tram trip appeared somewhat shortened.

Cold and with the good-humored singsong of our company still in our ears, we entered the restaurant. The interior is sophisticated, if somewhat hand-hewn. The main theme is the building’s original timber structure. Sjömagasinet’s service is absolutely impeccable, and the tram trip was soon forgotten. There is nothing here of that uncomfortable feeling of some high-end food places, where no amount of suitable bank cards in one’s pocket can scatter one’s sensation of basic inadequacy. (more…)