I'm just here for the kjøttboller...
Let's travel to Stockholm. The capital of Sweden is one of the most visited cities in Scandinavia, partly due to the city's first-class infrastructure and accommodation.
...but what else makes Stockholm so popular as a tourist hotspot?
Perhaps the food? I doubt it. Not much is mentioned about Swedish food in the whole world...
...because there is actually only ONE Swedish dish in the world that has become famous, and that is Swedish meatballs (=kjøttboller). Thank you, IKEA. It's a pity, because there are still many delicious Swedish dishes that should not be missed.
You can hear more about my culinary trip to Stockholm in my new podcast episode (...coming soon).
Classics of the local cuisine:
First of all, it is striking that Swedish food consists of many animal products. The food here is hearty: protein, starch and some fruit and vegetables are the main ingredients. Sweden's close proximity to the coast also produces many fish dishes. Herring, for example, is one of the most traditional dishes in Sweden. Bread is also a must: sandwiches and crispbreads are particularly popular here.
Here is a small selection of delicacies:
Snacks: Toast Skagen (=roasted bread with shrimp salad), pickled herring and Scandinavian salmon to a Smörgåsbord (=Swedish Buffet)
Main dish: kjøttboller (=meatballs) with mashed potatoes, pickles and lingonberry jam, knäckebröd (=crispbread) with sausage, vegetables or cheese, Räksmörgås (=sandwich with crayfish), ärtsoppa (=pea soup) and pancakes, Kroppkakor (=boiled potato dumplings filled with a mixture of onions and pork).
Dessert: Cinnamon bun, Prinsesstårta (=Swedish cake made of green marzipan and lots of cream), pancakes with lingonberry jam
Drinks: coffee, Brännvin (=schnaps), beer, glögg (=Scandinavian variant of our mulled wine)
Having spent the days in Stockholm, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the food immensely. Was it the simplicity, the care in the choice of ingredients or maybe just the relaxed atmosphere of the meal that contributed to it being so good?
Besides the well-known meatballs, I'm particularly fond of "fika".
Fika is not a meal. It's more a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. Locals usually make time for fika every day. Swedes take time to have a cup of coffee (or tea) and eat a snack. Fika also automatically makes time for friends and colleagues, because you can't have fika alone at your desk!
What a nice habit. In general it seems that people in Sweden never have a good excuse when it comes to snacking. Cinnamon bun day (Kanelbullens dag) is celebrated on 4 October. Buns filled with cream and almond paste, called semlor, are celebrated on Shrove Tuesday and creamy sponge cakes are celebrated on 6 November. An average Swedish family of two adults and two children eats 1.2 kilos of sweets per week, by the way. Amazing, these Swedes!
Michaelas-Must-Try: Pancakes are not just a thing in Sweden. Instead of whipped cream and raspberry jam, however, my flourless version only gets by on the sweetness of a banana. Here is the delicious recipe.
"Fika" is an important part of Swedish culture and describes time spent with friends / colleagues over coffee and snacks.
Michaelas Video-Message: In my TikTok video you can see my "What I eat in a day" edition from Stockholm.
F&B offer: There is a wide choice of cafés, restaurants and bars.
Meal times: Breakfast (6:00 - 9:00): The average Swedish breakfast consists of two slices of bread with butter, cheese, a boiled egg and a cup of filter coffee. 8 out of 10 Swedes said they eat breakfast every day. Lunch (11:00 - 13:00): Overall, Swedes - compared to many other parts of the world - tend to have lunch soon after 11:00 am. Sandwiches are popular. Fika: The coffee break is even a right of the employees and is stated in the employment contract! It is to prevent accidents at work. There is no specific time for fika: sometimes in the morning around ten, in the afternoon around three or after work. Snacks ranging from cinnamon buns to Kladdkaka are served. Dinner (17:00 - 20:00): Zwischen 16:00 und 17:00 Uhr wird hier Feierabend gemacht und somit auch relativ bald zu Abend gegessen. Zu den typischen Abendmahlzeiten gehören auch hier wieder belegte Brote oder deftige Speisen wie Fleischbällchen & Co.
Price-performance ratio: Stockholm - like most Scandinavian countries - is generally quite expensive. If you are on a budget, you should eat out at lunchtime, because a dish of the day is then much cheaper than a comparable à la carte dish in the evening. Cappuccino in Amsterdam ca. 4 Eur. Cappuccino in Stockholm ca. 4 Eur.
Striking on site:
Surströmming (=fermented herring in a can) is a strongly stinking Baltic herring. A culinary speciality that makes both locals and visitors shudder. Opening the cans preferably takes place outdoors, because the smell is penetrating and unpleasant and is compared by many to rotten eggs and raw sewage.
Cranberry jam is a hit! Similar to ketchup and mustard, cranberry jam is often used as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes, whether sweet or savoury ;)
Here you can enjoy an all-day brunch menu that is also extremely nutritionally conscious and delicious. They serve gluten-free and vegan treats, among other things.
Oaxen Slip is the direct neighbour of Oaxen Krog (two MICHELIN stars) and serves its own interpretation of Swedish bistro cuisine. We went there for my birthday and couldn't help but rave about the location. Super tasty; however, the portions were a bit too small for our taste.
TAK is located in the heart of Stockholm. The restaurant/rooftop bar offers a stunning view over the city. The food reflects modern Scandinavian food culture and the drinks are super tasty. Cool place.
It's hard to find accommodation that's NOT super stylish. ;) Stockholm is - especially in terms of hospitality - my dream come true. We opted for accommodation not directly in the centre and were rewarded with great design in a casual atmosphere.
My conclusion: I came for the meatballs. I liked the freshness of the ingredients, and as I reminisce, I'll think of the city's stylish vibe and fika custom.
Note: I paid for my stay on site including accommodation, entrance fees and food myself. This is what my recommendations and tips refer to. This article is not subject to any cooperation.