The smell of freshly roasted coffee draws me into a 19th century red brick building in Stockholm’s upscale district of Ostermalm.
“Time for a fika?” a blonde barista asks as I look around her cafe at the entrance of Ostermalms Saluhall.
Fika is Swedish slang for coffee break but it more accurately describes the Scandinavian nation’s passion for coffee and cake.
While enjoying my fika fix I take in the historic Saluhall, a glorious market hall brimming with butchers, delicatessens, cheese shops, fishmongers, cosy cafes and restaurants.
This gourmet temple has been catering to the city’s food lovers since 1888 and embodies the hallmarks of Stockholm’s food scene – fresh, top quality produce in a friendly atmosphere.
As I browse the lively market, I’m drawn to Lisa Elmqvist Fisk, Skaldjur, Delikatesser & Restaurang, a family-run business for nearly 90 years, which doubles as a restaurant and fish counter selling a fabulously diverse selection of seafood. Among the fish and shellfish on display are sole, flounder, walleye, perch, cod, plaice, brill, turbot and of course, the biggest seller, salmon – either pickled, salted, smoked or fresh. Recommended restaurant dishes include pan fried fillet with creamed wild mushrooms and Sole Meuniere.
I reluctantly exit Ostermalms Saluhall dazzled by the temptations on offer and its lovely old world opulence. As local guide Elisabeth Daude tells me later: “(Ostermalms Saluhall) is something I would very much recommend all visitors to Stockholm to see.”
When Copenhagen’s Noma was named the world’s best restaurant a few years ago, it promoted new Nordic cuisine as a rediscovery of Scandinavian flavours from the forests, sea and shore.
And like neighbouring Copenhagen, Stockholm is now firmly on the map for gastronomic pilgrims. The city’s innovative chefs and restaurateurs have raised the bar to create progressive dishes that move Swedish cuisine well beyond meatballs and rollmops. Herbs, mushrooms, berries and fruits are being used to flavour delicacies like elk, salmon and herring.
A dinner at B.A.R., a smart Stockholm eatery run by award-winning chefs Henrik Norstrom and Peter Johansson, reinforces the point. The menu’s emphasis on freshness lets diners pick from a counter of fish, shellfish or meat and pair it with side orders like avocado and grape salad, pomegranate and chili. This restaurant and bar on Blasieholmsgatan, replete with white tiles to resemble a fish market, is also a favourite of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria.
The Nordic food movement’s emphasis on purity and local, seasonal produce has resulted in the major cities of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland doubling their tally of Michelin stars over the past two decades.
It also earned Sweden fourth place from 125 nations on a global food index earlier this year. The Oxfam good eating ranking compared countries based on food quality, availability and price – Australia was placed eighth.
Stockholm’s culinary star will be further boosted in May when it hosts the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Europe.
From May 7-8, chefs from 20 nations across Europe will converge on the city to vie for honours in the competition, known as the “Olympics of cooking”.
The event, described by organisers as “a laboratory of trends in tomorrow’s cuisine”, will be staged in conjunction with GastroNord, northern Europe’s largest food and beverage trade fair. Twelve chefs from Bocuse d’Or Europe will qualify for the event’s grand final in Lyon from January 27-28 next year.
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Emirates operates 84 flights per week from Australia to Dubai with daily connections to Stockholm. For further details visit: emirates广西桑拿,/au
STAYING THERE: The Clarion Hotel Sign is one of Stockholm’s largest hotels and is centrally located right next to the Central train station. For details on room prices visit: clarionsign广西桑拿,
PLAYING THERE: Ostermalms Saluhall is located on Ostermalmstorg. The nearest metro station is Ostermalmstorg. For details see ostermalmshallen.se/en
– Lisa Elmqvist Fisk, Skaldjur, Delikatesser & Restaurang is located at Ostermalmstorg 114. Details: lisaelmqvist.se
– B.A.R. is located at Blasieholmsgatan 4A near Nybroviken and Grand Hotel in central Stockholm. Details: restaurangbar.se/en
– Bocuse d’Or Europe will be held from May 7-8 for details see: bocusedor-europe广西桑拿,/home-page-bocuse-website
– GastroNord and Vinordic are the largest trade shows for the food and beverage industry in northern Europe. It will be held from May 6-9. Details: gastronord.se
* The writer travelled as a guest of Stockholm Visitors Board and Emirates.