March 7, 2017 |
WIN a Mega Scandi Easter Egg
As we find ourselves in the deepest, lagom-est lent – we dream about all the sweets we’ll be eating once Easter is here (by Easter, we mean this Saturday. We have to quality check the sweets well ahead of time, you know).
Scandis are big on Easter. It is a reason to get together, be merry, enjoy some outdoors – or indoors – activities, and gather round a big table filled to the brim with all things nice and decorated with little deformed bright yellow chickens. And of course, munch away on your well deserved Easter egg after lent.
We think our Easter eggs are pretty epic – and so we introduce our annual ‘win a massive Easter egg competition‘. Yay! That’s right, you can win a 23cm diameter Easter egg chock full of our favourite Easter sweets and treats.
Fancy winning? Simply answer the easy question below;
Which colour is usually associated with Easter?
A.) Bright green
Send your answer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday 28th March 2017 at midday. One main winner, getting a big ScandiKitchen Easter egg, will be drawn from all correct entries.
The usual rules apply. UK residents only. No cheating. One main winner. No alternative prize and no cash alternative.
September 28, 2016 |
September 22, 2016 |
Finland – Land of Coffee, Salmiakki and Saunas
In just a few weeks – early October – we are launching our new Finnish range. That’s right, around 60 new Finnish products are hitting the shelves (have a look at what’s coming here). From rye bread to liquorice, ice cream toppings to chocolate – we are super excited. Can one ever have enough salmiakki or dark strong coffee? We think not.
There are thousand things to love about Finland (in addition to the lakes, of course), here are – in no particular order – a few of them.
- Coffee – Kavhi
Finns drink approximately 12kg of coffee per person per year. That equals roughly 240 cafetieres, or 1200 cups – depending on size – an average of 3.3 cups per day. The word caf-finn-ated suddenly got a new meaning (oh ho ho – excuse our humour, we have had too much coffee and are currently bouncing up and down).
- Liquorice – Salmiakki
Ask any Scandinavian (or Dutch) – they’ll tell you the super salty intense stuff is The Only Liquorice worth eating. In Finnish called Salmiakki, it has an addictive edge that is as alluring to us as a freshly made bread. Finnish is arguably the best – you can check out our pan-Nordic range of liquorice here – Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish – we have it all.
- Chocolate – Suklaa
They’re good at many things, the Finns. Chocolate is not widely associated with chocolate, but the Karl Fazer brand is truly worth seeking out. It is smooth and creamy, slightly less sweet than many other brands – and it comes in a range of flavours – Salmiakki (of course!), the Praline-filled Geisha, mint-crispy Marianne-flavoured, and the yummy chewy Dumle toffees.
Karl Fazer Marianne Mjölkchoklad – Peppermint Crisp Milk Chocolate 100g
Fazer Salmiakki – Chocolate with Liquorice 100g
Fazer Geisha – Chocolate with Hazelnut 100g
More coming – have a look here.
These little trolls have a fond place in many Scandi and Nordic hearts. The books, written and beautifully illustrated by Tove Jansson were all published between 1954 and 1970 and were also made into a television series. Raise your hand if you had nightmares about Mårran/Hufsa/The Groke and the scary electrifying little Hattifnatteners?
- The Finnish Language
Finnish has a word for everything, that’s right – one word where in English you’d need a whole sentence. Some examples;
Juoksentelisinkohan? – I wonder if I should run around aimlessly?
Hyppytyynytyydytys – Bouncy-cushion satisfaction
(any more – please please let us know in the comments. We love these!)
- Finnish Rye Bread – Ruisleipä
Finnish rye bread is robust, dark and full of flavour – and it pairs oh so well with toppings such as smoked salmon or herring. If you are yet to try the latter, get your hands on some mustard herring (for example, this one) and eat it on a slice of Finnish rye bread (lightly toasted if you prefer). You can thank us later.
Of the many Finnish contributions to the world, the sauna has to be one of the most famous ones. With over 3 million saunas in a country of around 5 million people, it is undeniably an important part of the Finnish society – not surprisingly maybe, for a country who for large parts of the year experiences relatively harsh and cold weather conditions.
Finnish design – need we say more? Beautiful, simple and sometimes almost supernatural in its use of organic shapes, materials and colours.
Any other things you love about Finland? Let us know.
Like this post? Share it on Facebook to spread the Finland-love – button below.
February 26, 2015 |
Image: The utterly brilliant satwcomic.com
The best untranslatable Scandi words you need to include in your everyday use from now on and forever
We have some great words that deserve to be used. Thank you to everybody who wrote in with suggestions – we got far too many words to use them all, but we have included our best ones here.
(pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]). A very Swedish word. It means not too much, not too little. Just the right amount. You can have a lagom amount of coffee, for example. How many meatballs do you want? Lagom, please. Your shower can be lagom hot. Your coffee lagom strong. It expresses a sense of balance and satisfaction with having your needs met without needing excess.
A Swedish word meaning ‘messy hair after having sex’. Yes, we have a word for that. ‘Hi Brenda, you have knullrufs today – I guess your date went well last night?’
An old Sami word meaning ‘the distance reindeer can travel before needing to urinate’. Used as a distance measure, as in “ There’s a Poronkusema to his house’ (7 kilometres, in case you were wondering).
A Swedish word meaning ‘ to meet up for a cup of coffee and a bun/cake. You can Fika as a noun or verb – to fika or go for a fika. It’s casual, but you can fika with your friends, or even have a fika date. You can fika with colleagues at work or even fika with your family. It’s a social thing: you can’t really fika alone.
The ultimate Danish word. It means a state of lovely cosiness, on your own or with people you like. Doesn’t have to involve food, but it involves good feelings and happiness. You can hygge in front of the telly, or you can hygge at the local café. In front of the log fire with a good book is a nice place to hygge, too.
Same word in Norwegian is Koselig.
A Danish word, meaning ‘tooth butter’. Meaning: There is so much butter on your bread that your teeth leave bitemarks.
Sambo and Mambo
In Sweden, if you live with your partner, you have a sambo. Samman = together and Bo = live. If you live at home with your mother, you Mambo. Yes, really.
A great Finnish word, literally: a comma fucker. A pedant; a person who corrects trivial or meaningless things. A person who believes it is their destiny to stamp out all spelling and punctuation mistakes. As in ‘Seriously, don’t be such a pilkunnussija’.
A Danish dialect word that describes feeling under the weather, a little bit tired and just not quite right and have no desire for food. (Pronounced with a soft j, not a hard one).
A brilliant Norwegian word that simply means: To sit outside and enjoy a beer.
A Finnish word that means: “I wonder if I should run around aimlessly?”
Norwegian. Literally, Cable Salad. When all your cables and leads are mixed together.
Norwegian and Danish word that means: That intoxicatingly euphoric feeling you experience when you’re first falling in love. Pre-real-love. More than fancy, less than love.
A Swedish word, meaning ‘lens louse’ – Someone who always wants to have their face in a photo.
Swedish. To steal fruit off trees. Eg. ‘Hey Kalle, let’s go palla in Andersson’s garden– they have pear trees and plums, too’.
No doubt word enthusiasts will now email us saying the English word is “scrumping”. But as far as we could work out, you can only scrump apples. Let us know if we’re wrong about that, though.
The Danish word for ‘clearance sale’ (you can find this one almost always somewhere written largely across the store’s front windows). Literally: Race to the end.
Swedish word, literally meaning Squeeze Day. If there is a bank holiday then a working day and then another day off, that working day will become a ‘squeeze day’ – and we’ll all be off work.
A Danish word for gossiping and chitchat. (The d is soft)
What you call someone who has had sex with someone you’ve already had sex with. A useful Swedish word.
Swedish for ‘ungoogleable’ – something you cannot Google.
Orka / Orke
Danish, Swedish, Norwegian: This verb is a tremendously common word meaning “to have the energy”: ‘Do you orka to go into Oxford Street this weekend? No, Kalle, I don’t orkar it’.
A Swedish word, literally meaning “attitude incontinence,” meaning: Inability to keep one’s opinions to oneself. As in: ‘Sorry for that long comment I left on your page, I guess I had a case of attitydinkontinens.’
Swedish. Every Friday, we do this: Fredagsmys means Friday Cosy. Eat nice food, sweets, get cosy. Only on Fridays, though. Usually involves tacos (for some reason).
Swedish for someone who refuses to enter the water. As in: ‘Get in the lake, you badkruka’.
Swedish – to wake up in the morning with the purpose of going out to hear the birds sing.
What a great collection of words – feel free to add more in the comments.
Bye for now
The Kitchen People
December 9, 2014 |
Shop our full range of Scandi food here
Glögg is an essential part of Christmas all over Scandinavia. This is recipe was created by my sister-in-law Annika in her Gothenburg kitchen. It’s so very easy to make glögg at home – give it a go. You can reduce or increase the sugar to your liking – and do play around with adding and taking some spices away to make your own signature mulled wine.
Serve Nordic ‘Glögg’ mulled wine warm in smaller glasses with raisins and almonds.
Make your own 'Glögg' mulled wine at home
Author: Bronte Aurell
Recipe type: Drink
- 1 bottle red wine (quality doesn’t matter)
- 1-2 sticks cinnamon
- 5g dried root ginger
- 5g dried Seville orange peel (or other orange if you can't get Seville)
- 7 green cardamom pods
- 15-16 whole cloves
- 80g/3oz sugar
- To serve: flaked almonds and raisins
- Splash of either vodka, aquavit, rum or cognac (optional)
- Pour the wine into a pan, add the spices and heat to around 80C/176F, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour.
- Strain the mixture and return the mulled wine to the bottle - use a funnel to make life easier for yourself. The wine can be kept for around a week.
- To serve, pour the wine into a saucepan and heat it.
- Place a few flaked almonds and raisins in the bottom of your serving cups, and pour the glögg over the mixture.
- If you want to give your glögg a kick, add a splash of either vodka, aquavit, rum or cognac just after you’ve reheated the wine.
October 7, 2014 |
Great Scandinavian idioms is something we’ve been meaning to write about for ages. Thank you to all those who shared their favourite idiom on Facebook the other day – we laughed so hard we cried at some of these.
We also realised we frequently use some of the expressions and idioms when we’re speaking English in the shop – and no wonder people look at us as if we’re a bit weird when we say things like ‘no cows on the ice’.
Enjoy the list.
The Kitchen People
Shop around for more scandi food…
‘Låtsas som att det regnar’ (Pretend that it’s raining) (Swedish)
Meaning: To act normally, so as not to attract any attention
Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum (If there’s room in heart there’s room for the arse) (Swedish)
Meaning: Everybody can fit in here)
Skägget i brevlådan – Caught with your beard in the mailbox (Swedish)
Meaning: “To be caught with your pants down.”
Näytän sulle, mistä kana pissii – Let me show you where a chicken pees from (Finnish)
Meaning ‘Let me show you how it’s done’.
At træde i spinaten – “to step in the spinach” (Danish)
Meaning: To make a mistake
Jeg er kold i røven – I’m cold in the ass (Danish)
Meaning: I don’t care
Dra dit pepperen gror – Go where the pepper grows (Swedish)
Meaning: Go to hell.
Även små grytor har öron – even small saucepans have ears (Swedish)
Meaning: the kids might hear
Det ligger en hund begraven här” – there is a dog buried here (Swedish)
Meaning: there’s something fishy going on.
Det blæser en halv pelican – Its blowing half a pelican (Danish)
Meaning: It’s really windy
Født bak en brunost – born behind a brown cheese (Norwegian)
Meaning: the person is a bit slow
Hej hopp i blåbärsskogen! – Hello jump in the blueberry forest!
Meaning: A cheerful expression to be used when you are a bit surprised (Swedish)
Han har taget billeten – he has taken the ticket (Danish)
Meaning: He’s dead
Oma lehmä ojassa – Own cow in the ditch (Finnish).
Meaning: Someone has an ulterior selfish motive behind an action
Nu har du skitit i det blå skåpet: Now you have shit in the blue cupboard (Swedish)
Meaning: When you really have made a fool out of yourself.
Att lägga lök på laxen – To put onion on the salmon (Swedish)
Meaning: To make things even worse…
Bæsje på leggen – poop on your calf (Norwegian)
Meaning: Make a mistake
Inte för allt smör i hela Småland – Not for all the butter in Småland (SW)
Meaning: Not for all the tea in China.
Å svelge noen kameler – To swallow some camels (Norwegian)
Meaning: to give in
Ligeved og næsten slår ingen mand af hasten – almost and close doesn’t knock a man off his horse (Danish)
Meaning: Close, but no cigar
å være midt i smørøyet – To be in the middle of the butter melting in the porridge (Norwegian)
Meaning: to be in a very favourable place or situation
kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa – To pace around hot porridge like a cat (Finnish)
Meaning: To beat about the bush
Under isen – meaning “Under the ice” (Swedish)
Meaning: feeling a bit depressed
At hoppe på limpinden – to jump on the Prittstick (Danish)
Meaning: To take the bait
Ingen fara på taket – no danger on the roof (Swedish)
Meaning: No worries
Han tog benene på nakken. He took his legs on the back of his neck (Danish)
Meaning: He hurried
Der er ingen ko på isen – There are no cows on the ice (Swedish, Danish)
Meaning: Nothing to worry about
Han har stillet træskoene – “He took off his clogs” (Danish).
Meaning: “He died”.
Du er helt ude og cycle – You’re completely out cycling (Danish)
Meaning: You’re completely wrong
Dra dit pepperen gror – Go where the pepper grows (Swedish)
Meaning: Go to hell!
Du har virkeligt skudt papegøjen – you’ve really shot the parrot (Danish) Meaning: You’ve been lucky
Ingenting att hänga i julgranen – Nothing to hang on the Christmas tree (Swedish)
Meaning: Not special enough
Han har roterende fis i kasketten – He’s got rotating crap in his cap (Danish)
Meaning: He’s not quite all there
Er det hestens fødselsdag? – Is it the horse’s birthday? (Danish)
Meaning: The rye bread is too thick on my open sandwich
Sånt är livet när kjolen är randig – That’s life when the skirt is striped (Swedish)
Meaning: Such is life
Jeg aner ugler I mosen – I suspect there are owls in the moss (Danish)
Something fishy going on
At være oppe på lakridserne – to be up on the liquorices (Danish)
Meaning to be very attentive or busy
Shop around for more scandi food…
August 16, 2014 |
How to host a crayfish party
Want to host the most Scandi of Scandi parties? Try a traditional Crayfish party – or ‘Kräftskiva’ as they are also known in Sweden.
Always held during crayfish season (August and part of September), a Crayfish party is surprisingly easy to arrange. Follow these guidelines and you will be ready to go.
Crayfish. The star of the show.
Unless you have a lake full of crayfish nearby you may want to opt for the method that 95% of Swedes also opt for: Buy them. Ready to eat. They come frozen in one kilo boxes (usually imported from Turkey or China because there is just not enough crayfish in Scandinavia to satisfy us all) – each box contains around 18-20 little crustaceans. All you need to do is thaw and serve (thaw overnight). How much to budget for? About 500g per person if your guests are mainly non-Swedes. If Scandies and skilled in the art of crayfish parties, plan around 700-800g per person. Some greedy Swedes have been known to get through over a kilo each.
Buy your crayfish here
Arrange the crayfish in big bowls or trays on the big table where everybody’s sitting. Decorate with a few sprigs of dill.
How to peel a crayfish
Surprisingly easy if you have ever had the pleasure of peeling a prawn or langoustine – it’s similar. Break off the head, then tail. Crack the shell open and remove the crayfish. You can crack the claws with your fingers or a nut cracker – they are not hard shells. Or simply open to reveal the leg meat by pulling the claws apart with your fingers. Some Swedes love to ‘slurp’ the brine juices out of the crayfish heads and belly. Most other people don’t, so do not feel obliged. Swedes tend to enjoy slurping loudly. It’s normal. After a while, you learn not to notice.
Bibs and hats.
Crayfish parties are messy. You will need hats and bibs. The bibs are functional, the hats less so, but they look good. Well, they don’t, actually, but after a few aquavit, Björn will be wearing one and so should you.
The man in the moon
Decorate your house with lanterns and crayfish bunting of all kinds. You can make your own or buy them here. If you are brave enough to do the party outside in your garden, by all means pop the lanterns around light bulbs for maximum festivity feelings.
The crayfish is the star, but you also need to serve a block of Västerbotten cheese (a lovely mature crumbly Swedish cheese) – just pop it on the table with a cheese slicer and a basket of bread (Crispbread and crusty breads).
The cheese and bread is simply to have something to mop up the aquavit seeing as nobody got full on eating crayfish, ever.
If you want to elaborate a bit, you can serve Västerbotten Paj, a cheese quiche made from the above cheese – serve it cold with a dressing made from red lumpfish roe caviar and 100ml crème fraiche. Surprisingly easy and utterly delicious combination.
Add to this a few bowls of pickled herring of your preferred variety, some new potato salad. Maybe some slices of gravlax. Remember, the crayfish are still the star, this is not a Smörgåsbord and you don’t need to make 117 little dishes. Keep it simple.
This is important: You need Aquavit. This is our traditional ‘schnapps’ distilled from grains and herbs and you can get a lot of different varieties. We recommend OP Andersson for this event or the Dill flavoured Aalborg variety – but anything goes. If you cannot get hold of aquavit, use a super-chilled vodka.
A word of warning: Aquavit makes you intoxicated from the waist down. It is tradition to drink a shot ‘to each claw’ but maybe choose a shot to every second crayfish instead?
It is no secret that we like to sing at every get-together. Crayfish parties are a great opportunity to learn Swedish. You need a bunch of ‘snaps-visor’, literally, Snaps songs. Most are in Swedish, but there are a few in English. The most important is this one here – the Swedish version and then the ‘How to sing it in English so you sound almost Swedish’ phonetic version.
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
Han heller inte halvan får
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Sing along version:
Hell and gore
Chung Hop father Allan Ley
Hell and gore Chung Hop father Allan Ley
Oh handsome in the hell and tar
and hell are in a half and four
Hell and goooooore …
Chung Hop father Allan Ley
First time you sing it, you will be feeling a bit weird. Then you’ll have a shot of aquavit. By the second time, you’re wearing your hat and winking at Björn. By the third time, you will be fluent in Swedish.
The other drinks
A good selection of lagers. You can of course drink wine, but be aware that wine and Aquavit have a habit of not agreeing if overdone, so we recommend beers like Tuborg and Carlsberg. Or just go easy on the wine.
This is important. You must cheer the correct way – whether beer or aquavit. Everybody raises their glasses at the same time, say SKÅL, then you look around and make eye contact with your fellow guests. This is a must, every time. No sneaking in shots on your own. We cheer together. Always.
You will need some friends for this. If you don’t have any, ask some random ex-pat Swedes you meet down the pub if they want to come round yours for a “kreft-HWEE-va” in your Hackney studio flat. Do all of the above. They will most likely turn up.
Have a great party.
Lovely photos thanks to Fran at StoryPr and Bex Williams. Thank you.
Picture this: a little, red wooden house set by a calm, blue lake that sparkles silver from the rays of the summer sun. Rolling green hills and never ending meadows full of wild flowers and berries, surrounding everything and everyone on pure postcard bliss. Welcome to the picture perfect Swedish late summer evening and welcome to the Crayfish Season: it’s time for Kräftskiva (or, if you’d rather: a somewhat messy event involving lots of crustaceans and hard liquor).
Every year in August, Finnish and Swedish people all over the world get excited by the start of the crayfish season. The timing of the season is founded in local law which dictates that Scandinavian freshwater crayfish must only be fished in late summer and early autumn. Although in this time of easy imports where crayfish is available all year round, tradition still holds strong and the season is very much part of the Swedish and Finnish calendar of events, thirdly only to Midsummer and Eurovision.
Crayfish was first mentioned by Aristotle back in the really old days but as a delicacy its big break came in the 1800’s when Monsieur Napoleon developed a thing for the ‘écrevisses’ and got the whole of France hooked as a result. Initially crayfish were plentiful in rivers and lakes all across central and northern Europe, but as this gastronomic trend spread across the continent, the crayfish stock was in steep decline. A lethal pest almost wiped out the entire stock in the early 1900’s and local laws were quickly introduced to limit the availability of the delicacy thus saving it from extinction.
Today most crayfish in the world is farmed, although the ultimate delicacy for a crayfish party is still locally sourced Swedish or Finnish beauties. These are seriously pricey, though, so most people settle for the almost-just-as-good imported, cooked and quickly frozen type, usually imported from China, Turkey or other fancy far-away places. Alternatively, if you happen to have your own Swedish lake handy, you can opt for some night time fishing with wire traps – these buggers are nocturnal and will do much to avoid your dinner plate.
The difference between crayfish you buy at your local fishmonger outside Sweden is that the Scandinavian kind is cooked in a brine sauce of dill, then some dill and a bit more dill thrown in for good measure. Crayfish is, like lobster, cooked alive (sorry if you are vegetarian and reading this) which is why most people who do not have access to live crustaceans tend to buy the frozen kind – these have been cooked to the Scandinavian recipe already and all you need to do is remove from freezer and wait a while.
So, how do you go about celebrating the humble crayfish, Scandinavian style? A traditional Kräftskiva, or Rapujuhlat as it is called in Finland, typically starts late afternoon or early evening. A long table, which is usually outside in the garden or park, is decorated with colourful tablecloths; there are silly special crayfish party hats and bibs available for all guests to wear (surprisingly, with pictures of crayfish on them), lanterns depicting the Man in the Moon as well as festive crayfish cut-out garlands.
The crayfish is served cold in a big bowl on the table, lovingly decorated with some more dill. Eating crayfish is a long process: a crayfish party can last well into the night, so mountains of toasted, white bread is also served to ensure the aquavit is soaked up along the way. It’s always preferable that the guests don’t end up too wobbly too quick and get ideas about skinny dipping and sing-songs before time.
Blocks of the infamous Vasterbotten cheese (a 12 months aged Swedish cheese from the Vasterbotten area, not unlike parmesan in consistency but without the smell of feet) is also served. Along with this are an abundance of cold beers and, of course, no Scandinavian party is complete without the presence of the old Aquavit – a grain based, flavoured strong liquor that is served ice cold. Some people practice “one shot for every claw” but as you’ll eat your way through a good dozen crayfish during the course of an evening, pacing is recommended – at least until someone starts singing. Singing is a good sign that you may as well just give in and join the fun – and there’s no drinking without any singing, according to Swedish law (nor is there any singing without drinking, or any time for silence, according to most local ‘Crayffectionados’). A few of those aquavit and you’ll automatically be able to sing all the songs in fluent Swedish.
Crayfish is eaten with the hands and it is a lovely, messy affair. If you are invited to one of these special parties during the season, do remember that it is absolutely a requirement to slurp noisily as you suck up the dill juices from the claws and belly of the “krafta” as well – a sign that you are truly initiated into this wonderful tradition. Before you know it, all the people around the table will be your best friends, you’ll be planning next year’s holidays with Björn and Agneta in Uppsala and maybe even having a cheeky footsie session with Lars under the table. Suddenly, after you’ve thrown in a swarm of evil mosquitoes, that little red house by the lake doesn’t feel that far away after all.
Brondums Snaps 40% – Aquavit 700ml
Hedlund Kräftservietter – Crayfish Party Napkins (20 pack)
Hedlund Kräfthaklapp – Crayfish Party Bibs (4 pack)
Hedlund Kräfthattar – Crayfish Party Hats (4 pack)
Norrmejerier Västerbottensost – Mature Cheese 33% 450g
August 15, 2014 |
When most people think of the Scandinavian seasons, they either think of the bitter cold and round the clock dark winter days – or the vibrantly colourful summer season with its rolling green hills and sparkling silvery lakes (although, some, admittedly, think only of blonde women, Ace of Base and meatballs, but these have little to do with this post). However, the often forgotten thing about autumn in Scandinavia is that it is certainly also a time to cherish and a time of exceptional beauty – as well as being full of some of the most amazing foodie treasures known to man.
With all the hoo-haa of Midsummer Parties and dancing around maypoles well and truly over, summer in the Nordic countries comes along in fleeting bursts and before we know it, the days are once again getting shorter and the nights colder. By the middle of September, the whole of Scandinavia has changed its green summer coat for the rustling, golden comforting blanket of fallen leaves, and it is time for long walks in the forest, for slowing down and fattening up for winter time.
Back in the Viking times, autumn signalled the time for preparing for the days when hardly any daylight at all shone through. From the summer with its abundance of fruit and vegetables, winter proved always to be a testing time and our forefathers hunted and gathered everything they could for easy storage. In the Northern countries they hunted for game which they salted and dried. In the south they fished, preserving what they could by drying and curing – as well as slaughtering a good proportion of their farmed animals. Everywhere, the Vikings harvested and milled – and stored grain and oats for the long months. Yep, it was porridge for everyone, all year long, even back then.
Autumn nowadays in Scandinavia is first signalled by the arrival of the crayfish season in August, which carries on well into September. Mainly in Sweden and Finland is this season a big celebration, with most people spending many a weekends enjoying the fruits of the sea along with the jolly company of some amazing aquavit and some good friends (whilst being attacked by the last hungry mosquitoes of the year). Plenty of “snapsvisor” – aquavit songs – are sung during the crayfish season and many a horrific hangover endured.
The game hunting season is another big autumn signal in Scandinavia. In all of the Northern countries, the moose hunting season starts and eager hunters stalk out in the forest, hoping to get the catch of the season – and that all important moose-head to stuff and display on the wall at home. Roe deer, wild ducks and red grouse, to name but a few, are also hunted. Game in Scandinavia today is not intensively farmed at all and is of the highest of quality in the world, giving it a seriously hefty price tag – but well worth a taste if you’re ever lucky enough to be offered it. Lately, the much publicised Nordic Diet has claimed that wild game is the meat we should all be eating for health reasons, likely ensuring even heftier price tags in years to come.
Scandinavia also harbours a vast amount of incredible treasures when it comes to late summer berries. From wild raspberries, the plumpest, juiciest blackberries and blueberries imaginable, you can find them all here. Of course, not forgetting the all important lingonberry either, an essential jam served with Swedish and Norwegian meatballs.
Towards the end of July to beginning of August, the much sought after cloudberry blooms across the colder areas. The cloudberry is an orange berry that looks a bit like a plump, overgrown fat raspberry but which grows on stalks instead of bushes – and the plant itself can withstand temperatures of down to -40 C. It is very difficult to cultivate and is most often found only in the wild; it is very hard to pick as the fragile berries burst instantly in the hands of unseasoned pickers. Most cloudberry is therefore made into jam and sold across the world, but nowhere is it more popular than in Sweden, where this jam is often heated and served with vanilla ice cream. Cloudberry is expensive – even during harvest season locally, prices often top £12 a litre – but the tart, unusual taste of this wonderful berry is certainly worth splashing out for.
In Finland, cloudberry is often made into an exceptional liquor called Lakkalikööri – and you can also find cloudberry yoghurt and cakes in certain shops. Lately, the humble cloudberry has also enjoyed quite a bit of press attention, which has hailed it as one of the best berries to eat if you want to follow a Nordic Diet because of its high vitamin content.
In the UK, cloudberry jam is available in a few different brands, the best, and the one that has the highest fruit content, is the Felix version – which is also less sugary than others. Fresh cloudberries or even frozen ones are pretty much impossible to get hold of outside Scandinavia.
But even if you can’t make it to the Nordic countries to collect your own fresh berries this autumn, it is easy to sample some of the other the treasured goods from the comfort of London. Arrange a bit of a crayfish and aquavit party for a fantastic, traditional Scandinavian feast. Get hold of some of the amazing autumn berries on offer – either in fresh or jam form – and get cooking and inventing for both savoury and sweet dishes. All you need then is a good bunch of mates and an autumn evening and you’re all set. Hold off on the moose hunting, though, even after the 4th glass of aquavit when it all seems like such a good idea (even in Hackney): it’s usually not.
Three easy-peasy ways with Cloudberry:
Cloudberry Jam and Vanilla ice cream
The ultimate Swedish dessert. Get hold of some good quality vanilla ice cream and heat a few spoonfuls of cloudberry jam – pour over the ice cream just before serving. Alternatively, make it a bit more exciting by adding some crushed meringue and whipped cream and gently fold in – a sort of “Swedish Mess” (inspired by the British dessert “Eton Mess”).
Cloudberry layer cake
Three sponge layer cakes (we recommend Karen Wolf “Lagkage”, which comes in three pre-made thin layers, easy to assemble, or make your own Victoria style sponge and split to three). Pop a layer on the serving tray, add a thin layer of cloudberry jam, add a thick layer of patisserie cream. Add sponge layer 2, repeat over. Cover cake with a nice layer of whipped cream all round and on top and decorate with a light dusting of chocolate shavings. Leave to set for a bit in the fridge before serving.
Cloudberry baked cheesecake
200g ‘NICE’ biscuits or other plain biscuits – most can be used, even plain Hobnobs.
75 g melted butter
800g full fat cream cheese
180 g Caster sugar
4 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
3 tsp vanilla sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
300 ml sour cream
1 jar of cloudberry jam (use as much as you need/like to – most likely just over half a jar)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C degrees. Grease a 23cm spring form tin. Sit the tin in foil – and wrap the foil all around the side to prevent water from seeping in (the best way to bake a cheese cake is to bake it in a bain marie).
Crush the biscuits and combine with the melted butter. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tin.
In a mixer, put the cream cheese, 160g of the sugar, the eggs, yolks and 2 tsp vanilla sugar as well as lemon juice and mix really well. When smooth, pour over the biscuit base.
Put the cake tin, which is tightly wrapped in the foil, in a larger tin or roasting tin and pour boiling water all around it, till about half way. Bake for 1 hour exactly.
Beat the sour cream, the rest of the sugar and vanilla, pour over the cake and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and roasting tin (discard water). Heat the jam gently and very carefully pour/smooth it over the top of the cake (you can also do this when the cake is cold). Leave the cake alone for at least 4 hours – ideally longer – to set properly- before opening the spring form (or else the cake may well crack).
Bronte Aurell is the owner of Scandinavian Kitchen in London, a place that stocks everything you need to feel truly Scandinavian (except flat packed furniture: you’ll have to go elsewhere for that).
All recipes by ScandiKitchen