It’s been awhile since I’ve added another reason why I’m in love with anything Scandinavian lately. This week’s topic is food! I watched an Anthony Bourdain episode on Sweden this weekend, and was inspired.
I wrote an earlier post about Broder, our local Swedish restaurant, which I love with unexplained vigor. And I just found out about Viking Soul Food, a Norwegian-inspired food cart in NE with lefse. It must be visited.
It’s getting more popular everywhere. New York’s Aquavit Restaurant remains an important institution in the city, and in 2010 a Danish restaurant, Noma, was named the “Best Restaurant in the World.” While I won’t be dining out there (I fear that the full course meal might rival the plane ticket), I do like to imagine the flavors and the ingredients, all sourced from Nordic locals.
Scandinavian cuisine is hearty and rich, with a lot of dairy, meat, and seafood. That’s a broad description, of course, so here are some small touches and flavors that I love:
Aebleskivers— or Danish Pancakes. Round little puffs of tasty pancake, lighter and airier than their flat relative. Danish design strikes again!
Lingonberries— widely known as the famous jam that Ikea serves with it’s meatballs, these tart little berries really are tradional. And tasty.
Cloudberries–I’ve never tasted these, but anything with a name like that has to be heavenly. According to wikipedia, “when eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste. When over-ripe, they have a creamy texture and flavour somewhat like yogurt.” They are made into jams, juices, and liquers, and added to ice cream, pancakes, and even beer. It’s also high in Vitamin C, which, as we all know, protects against scurvy. Phew.
Skyr–an Icelandic style of yogurt, available from Siggi’s. I discovered it at our local Whole Foods last year and ate an entire container before showing it to Jesse. It’s thick–thicker than Greek yogurt, more tart, and packed with protein. Siggi’s uses a light touch of natural flavor like blueberry, grapefruit, or orange and ginger that shines through. This yogurt kicks Yoplait’s butt.
Dill— almost a definition of Scandinavian flavor, dill is used most commonly in salmon dishes, potatoes, and pickled vegetables. I love this fresh-flavored herb, and try to sneak it in anywhere I can. Fried egg for breakfast? Add dill. Potato soup? Add dill. Turkey sandwhich? Add dill. You get the idea.
Caraway— a strong, pungent spice used most often in baking and for flavoring liquor. There’s nothing like dark rye bread with caraway!
Aquavit— or, “water of life.” Regarded as an aid to disgestion, this is a distilled spirit, flavored most often with caraway but also with cardamom, cumin, anise, fennel, lemon or orange. Jesse and I tried it first at Broder, and liked it so much we bought our own bottle. Ours is caraway, but I think I might have to try more!
Swedish Fish— I checked–these really do come from Sweden! Made by the Swedish candy maker Malaco in the 1950s, these come in several flavors, and the red color is guessed to be lingonberry, but has never been verified. In Sweden they are marketed as “pastellfiskar,” pastel colored fishes, and have a slightly less sugary taste. They also have a black kind, “Salmiak,” or salted-herring. Yum? (Source: Wikipedia.)
With all this goodness on my mind, I just might have to go eat lunch! In Sweden…
May dill be added to everything you eat!