Posts Tagged ‘sverige’

for the small appetite

April 29, 2012

I’ve been collecting little bits of papers, restaurant bills, recipe reminders and other culinary snippets for more than a year now, but was never quite ready to make the plunge. Things are settling, though:

After a fulfilled Postdoc in Southampton, I’ve changed scenery again,

moving away from here:

back to here:

(to be fair, the pictures were taken at different times of the year. But note that the first picture is black-and-white, while the second one is in full color)

I’m now in the last phase of writing up my research, which slowly lifts the lid off other plans that have been hissing and steaming in the background: the time has come to remember all the things yummy I encountered in the past two years. Or not so yummy…

Out of chronology, merely because it’s highest on my pile, I will return to the old military city of Kristianstad (where for reasons unknown all the restaurants that I have reviewed earlier have now vanished).

So there I was again on a Saturday evening, trying to find a place to eat in a city that is in the midst of constructing new government quarters. Half the town center, or more precise, the entire rådhuskvarteret, except its facades (because the renaissance character of the city must be underlined, says the City’s chief architectural designer), has been torn down. In its stead there is now a pit of great squareness, deepness and blackness.

After a slight detour around the abyss (why does all this remind me of the Lord of the Rings?), our company located the promising bistro Aptit (Appetite) in the venerable Kronhuset on the main square of the city. On entering, one is greeted by a friendly and competent waitress and invited to white tables with a decent setup of glasses, well lighted, and without too much musical interference. To sit there and converse is in fact possible.

My company of three orders various kinds of fish, and I choose the breast of corn-fed chicken. The southern province of Skåne has some excellent chicken farms and I am curious.

What I get is a nicely looking arrangement of chicken, Madeira sauce, quartered, deep-fried potato and some veggies. I should however mention the size of the portion, which consists of about half a side of a medium-sized chicken breast, with its skin, a tablespoon and-a-half of brown sauce, the equivalent of one and a half medium-large potato and about half a cup of greenery (at the point of writing I see that they offer a grilled corncob instead. Logical, in April…). Some random comparisons: a regular fish and chips over the counter at Bitterne triangle in Southampton is about three times as much in volume and a fifth of the price of my chicken (and almost inedible, it must be said). In American terms (whether we like it or not), we’re talking here about an appetizer-sized portion at its smallest; in Germany, it would be an item from the children’s menu. A large organic chicken from the store for two thirds of the price of my portion contains easily eight times the meat I’m having on my plate, plus wings, bones for soup and scraps for Rillettes. Swedish gastronomy, in short, is most of all about economy.

My company being jolly about the nice atmosphere and happy with their fish, I decide to make a friendly face and to chew thoroughly. It is a helpful trick. (more…)

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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.)

restaurants in summer sweden III, marstrand

August 29, 2009

The beautiful city of Marstrand is located at the Swedish west coast a few miles north of Göteborg. You reach it if you drive off the E6 highway at Kungälv, turning west and following the signs. Be prepared for over-wide and unsteadily-driven campers in the summer and inconsiderate moose in the winter. The picturesque old part of the little village is located on the Marstrandsön, an island that can be reached by a ferry.

We run into a colleague of mine on the ferry, who just bought a house here. Our subsequent restaurant hunt is based on his well-meant recommendations. This works very well indeed regarding the Café Berg’s located at the northern section of Hamngatan. Fortified with reasonable Cappuccinos and some nice sweet apple-filled bits of bakery, we conquer the island until, eventually hungry, we begin heading towards his second recommendation, Lasse-Maja’s krog just across from where the ferry arrives.

Lasse-Maja’s website is not quite complete at the moment, but it sports some impressive art-photography of the menu, which changes every day according to the products available on the market. We’re talking here mostly about fish, so this devotion to freshness is an excellent sign. We can also read the following: Lasse-Maja’s chef Richard Waje guarantees top quality in everything including the ingredients and the service. In other words: the guest has every right to have the highest expectations.

(more…)

restaurants in summer sweden II, borås

August 29, 2009

The city of Borås has a bad name in Sweden, for no real reasons. Yes, it rains a lot here, and the highway that goes right through the city does not allow for picturesque views. But the center of the town is calm and nice at daytime, not too large for a casual stroll and it offers good opportunities for hanging out and getting a decent meal.

Restaurants come and go at quite a quick pace in Borås, which often makes me sad: one would wish that all those enterprising chefs had a little more success convincing the Sjuhärad residents of the benefits of an international cuisine. A little color would truly make everyone happier.  A new large Indian restaurant opened only yesterday on Yxhammarsgatan; I want to wish them well.

The Greek taverna on Lilla Brogatan, on the other hand, has been there for quite a while now. It is a nice, relatively large space with a few random Hellenic decorations and painted crumbling plaster walls (more…)

restaurants in summer sweden I, bollebygd

August 29, 2009

Anyone traveling in Sweden knows that highway restaurants, relatively scarce as they anyway are, are called things like McDonalds, Shell or Korvkiosk (sausage hut). Names like “Route 66” or “Smakfullt” (the latter meaning both “full of flavor” and “tasteful”) do occur, too, but are the exception. Anyway, it is good to know about a few alternatives. This series of reviews will guide the innocent traveler towards some decent meals. I’ll tag these posts in Swedish – let’s see what happens.

It will, for example, be helpful to know that four minutes away from “Smakfullt”, which lies on the R 40 half an hour east of Göteborg, a bunch of enthusiastic people is trying to make a “Family restaurant” go round, with occasionally quite nice results. They need a real audience, however, and a critical one, too.

I am talking of La Familia Macsad which is situated in the in the southwest corner of the tallest building of the pulsating center of Bollebygd, aptly called Centrumhuset, (just beside the Trend-Makery, a boutique which has housed a stable collection of household Non-Necessaries for about a decade). Other highlights of Bollebygd’s center are a wine and beer store, a medical center and a parking lot with too narrow spaces.

La Familia has inherited the espresso machine of the previous owner who didn’t succeed in spite of his good coffee – that’s why we started going there. They have a fixed lunch menu which seems okay, and on some evenings they are open and offer dinner à la carte. (more…)