Tag Archives: Sweden

7 Random Facts About Surströmming

August 16, 2017 | Leave a comment

7 Random Facts About Surströmming

  1. Surströmming is made by preserving the raw herring with just enough salt to prevent it from rotting, then left to ferment for at least 6 months. A Japanese study ranks it as one of the most putrid food smells on the planet.
  2. Surströmming day is the 3rd Thursday in August – in 2017 this falls on the 17th August.
  3. Surströmming translated to sour Baltic herring. Tempting, ey?
  4. How to eat it? A common way is to have it in a ‘klämma’ – a ‘squeeze’. Take two pieces of (crunchy) flatbread and spread with sliced or crushed boiled potato, add the surströmming, squeeze and enjoy. Alternatively, place on a soft flatbread with potato, sour cream and some raw onion. Eat as a wrap. Think of it as the Swedish burrito.
  5. Whatever you do – NEVER open the tin inside. To say the smell is strong is an understatement. And it lingers.
  6. Beer and aquavit are commonly served along with it – but milk, too, is a common drink.
  7. Surströmming is so smelly it is forbidden on most airlines.

Despite (or because of – we don’t know) the smell – surströmming is very popular in Sweden, and many await the season with anticipation, dreaming about the first taste of this speciality.

Our Jonas had a chat with a lovely chap from the Telegraph a few years ago – to find out what he thought have a look at the resulting video here, or click here to read about it.

Have you tried it? What did you think? Share in comments please – we’d love to hear your thoughts on this smelly subject.

 

Easy Västerbotten Cheese Quiche

August 10, 2017 | Leave a comment

Easy Västerbotten Cheese Quiche

A great side dish for a crayfish party – this traditional cheese tart is really lovely served with caviar dressing.

For the pastry:
125g cold butter
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg (plus water, if needed – add a few drops if dough is not coming together)

For the filling:
250g Västerbotten cheese, grated
3 eggs
100ml whole milk
250ml double cream
½ tsp paprika, salt and pepper

You’ll need a tart tin (25-28cm diameter) with a loose base.

Method:

  1. Blitz your pastry ingredients in a food processor (egg and water at the end only) to form a dough, then leave to chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Roll out the chilled dough and line the pastry tin. Prick the base with a fork and blind bake using baking beans for 10-12 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 5-6 minutes.
  4. For the filling, mix together everything except the Västerbotten cheese.
  5. Scatter the cheese on the base of the pastry, evenly all over – then pour over the egg mixture.
  6. Return it to the oven for about 15-20 minutes. It’ll puff up quite a bit towards the end, but will turn golden on top. It’s done when it is ‘set’ so do keep an eye on it.

Leave it to cool before slicing. Serve cold or lukewarm.

Västerbottenpaj goes well with romsås, a caviar sauce. Alternatively, if you can get real bleak roe (Löjrom), serve the tart with a spoonful of this, some crème fraîche and finely chopped red onion.

Romsås Caivar Sauce:

In a bowl, mix together 3 large tbsp. crème fraiche and one jar of red lumpfish roe (80g). Leave to set in the fridge, then stir again just before serving.

11 Facts About Beer in Scandinavia

August 3, 2017 | Leave a comment

11 Facts About Beer in Scandiland 

    1. In Sweden and Norway, you have to go to specialist shops to buy anything stronger than 4% (in Sweden, that’s 3.5%). In Norway, only an estimated 50% of the population live in a town or parish that has this specialist shop (aptly named the Wine Monopoly).
      Systembolaget Sweden Christmas
    2. In Norway, you cannot buy beer after 8pm Monday to Friday, or after 6pm Saturdays. Not at all on Sundays, any public holidays, and limited hours only on Christmas Eve, Pentecost Eve and New Year’s Eve. Basically, you Should learn to be very organized with your alcohol shopping in Norway – but at 7.57pm on a Wednesday, just before that Champions League match starts, you’re likely to find several stressed out people queuing in your local shop to get that 6-pack scanned before 8.
      Olsalg Norge
    3. In Norse mythology Ægir is credited as the beer-god – known for throwing frequent parties for the other gods, with copious amounts of strong beer for his guests.
    4. In 1857 there were 353 breweries in Norway – the population was only 1.5 million. Beer brewing was encouraged by the government (and failure to brew could be punished) – as drinking beer was considered better than drinking liquor.
      norsk ol norwegian beer
    5. Between 2002 and 2008, the number of breweries in Denmark grew from 19 to over 100 – a result of growing economy and popularity of craft and gourmet beers.

    6. Until Sweden joined the EU in 1995, beer with higher ABV than 5.6% was forbidden, and the government had to abolish their monopoly on wholesale meaning foreign beers were finally made available to thirsty Swedes.
      sweden eu sverige eu 1995
    7. Since the early 1970s, it has been illegal to advertise for alcohol in Norway.
      Norwegian beer advert
    8. Per capita Denmark is the biggest beer drinker in Scandinavia; consuming an average of 60.6 litres vs 52.7 and 51 litres, respectively. If we go Nordic, Finland towers over the others at 77.4 litres per capita. (The UK, for comparison, clocks in at 67.7 – Ireland at 97.5)

      European beer consumption Telegraph

      Photo: telegraph.co.uk

    9. Despite the Danes drinking more than Norwegians and Swedes, the latter two flock to their neighbour in the south to take advantage of the cheaper prices and overdo the drinking far more publicly than most Danes would.

      (Foto: BJARKE ØRSTED/SCANPIX NORDFOTO 2002)

    10. No random beer facts without this one – beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989.
      beer ban iceland celebrations
    11. After he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Dane Niels Bohr – famed for his contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory – was gifted a house from brewery Carlsberg; next to the brewery, with a direct pipeline meaning Bohr had free beer on tap whenever he wanted.
      Niels Bohr Beer

Scandinavian Beers; Nils Oscar

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Scandinavian Beers; Nils Oscar

Nils Oscar’s microbrewery is located in Nyköping near Stockholm. Their beers are distributed across Sweden to both shops and restaurants – and the beers are many and varied. We stock three of these – a lager, an India ale and a rich and charismatic smoked porter. Oh yes. Here is a little introduction to our three main lines – (we sometimes also stock their seasonal beers, e.g. for Christmas).

Nils Oscar Beers

God Lager – 5.3%

The beer with the strange name – in Swedish it simply means ’good lager’, although when exported it has attracted name’s such as God’s lager or heavenly lager. God lager is the first beer produced from the brand Nils Oscar and is the best-selling microbrew in Sweden.

God lager is made with wiener malt from Germany; highly regarded in the industry. Slightly darker for a richer taste. Two types of hops are used – Spalt Select and Tettnanger – for flavor and aroma. The yeast is a German pilsner type. And together, God lager is an easy drinking but interesting beer that is equally good on its own, with salty snacks or with your meal.

India Ale – 5.3% ABV

Launched in 2005, Nils Oscar’s India Ale has won several accolades in Sweden. Nils Oscar themselves say it is almost a British Ale with American Hops; which we agree that it is. The beer has both a rich sweetness and a fruitier, bitter note from the hops – meaning it is well rounded and suits traditional as well as modern dishes, as well as being great, just as it is. Enjoy well chilled.

Rökporter – 5.9% ABV

This smoked porter is rich and complex – with notes of caramel, dried fruit and smoked charcuterie. Made with five different types of malt including caramel malt and two types of hops (Fuggles and Amarillo), this beer goes well with rich foods such as barbecued meat, and is lovely added to a meat stew or to your bread dough for richer flavour. Not an easy summer drink; save this one for the darker, colder months, where it will fit perfectly.

For a more detailed review of God Lager and Rökporter – Check out Craft Council’s review below.

 

Seven things about Nordic Midsummer

June 9, 2017 | 1 Comment

 

Seven things about Nordic Midsummer

The longest day of the year is very important to us Northern people. We have light! And not only that, we have so much of it we hardly see dark and we get to make up for all of those months of candle lit cosiness and snow.

We all celebrate the day slightly differently, so here are a few facts to get you started in the preparations.

Sweden treats Midsummer like it’s national day. Actually, Sweden’s national day is a few weeks earlier, but everybody celebrates Midsummer instead. It’s always celebrated on the closest Friday (this year, 23rd June) and it’s a public holiday.

In London, it’s celebrated on the Saturday because we need to not be at work when we do it.

St John’s Eve In Denmark and Norway, the evening is celebrated on the actual day (23rd June, no matter if it’s a Friday or not) and there, it’s called more St John’s Eve as well as Midsommer Aften.

Sweden and Finland celebrate with Midsummer poles. These are a bit like May Poles, except it’s not May and ours have a lot of fertility symbols associated with them. The Midsummer poles are covered in flowers and greenery. Everybody wears flower garlands in their hair and very summery clothes. Some people try the yellow/blue flag combo for clothes, but it is rarely a good look.

Danes burn witches on Midsummer eve. Much like the British burn Guy Forkes, the Danes like to burn witches on this evening and send them off to Blue Mountain in Germany to dance with the devil. All while the (usually stuffed hay effigy) witches are burning on the bonfire, Danes sing songs about how much they love Denmark (usually a lone guy on a guitar will lead the singing – he always sings with his eyes closed and is very serious).

It’s still all about food. For the Swedes, it is all about the day long picnic and being outside. Meatballs are featured and it is high season for Sandwich cakes, too. The Danes tend to celebrate in the evening with dinner at home, but spend the evening trying to bake stick bread on the embers of the bon fire (it never works).

What about the little frogs? The Swedes, at every given opportunity but none more so than Midsummer, will sing songs about little frogs with no ears and no tails, whilst jumping around the Midsummer pole. Old, young, everyone. It’s a thing and it looks odd – but it is super fun. Do join in.

Swedes pick seven wild flowers on Midsummer eve and put them under their pillow. They will dream of the person they will marry. Some don’t even wait that long, as the birth rate spikes in Sweden every year exactly nine months after Midsummer.

There are Midsummer events held all over the UK – both Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. Local churches are a good place to start for information on where to go.

There is no big official London picnic (there never is – it’s all a bit spontaneous) but people tend to gather in patches in the different parks and just bring a picnic. Ask local Scandies for details or just wander around and look for the people with flowers in their hair. You’ll find them.

There is a massive official Midsummer Party in London in the evening of 24th June – arranged by London Swedes – it is at the Loft in Kilburn and you can buy tickets here

7 Nordic ways to talk about hangovers

April 28, 2017 | Leave a comment

Seven Nordic ways to talk about hangovers

‘Bagstiv’ is a Danish word for when you wake up the next morning, still drunk. Literally: Backwards drunk – in Sweden and Norway, its Bakfull and bakrus.

2. A drunk Dane might say he has a “Stick in ear” (en kæp i øret)

3. The Finnish word for hangover is “Krapula” 

4. The Old Norse Viking word for hangover was ‘kveis’, meaning “uneasiness after debauchery” 

5. In Denmark, if you drink a beer on a hang over, it is known as a Reperationsbajer – literally, a ‘repair beer’

6. In Danish, hangovers are known as Tømremænd  – literally, carpenters.

7. “Fylleangst” pronounced (foola angst) means “drunk anxiety” in Norway and is the unsettling feeling one has the day after drinking when you can’t remember what you did, how you acted or who may have seen you do it!

7 strong Scandinavian names for your new baby

April 20, 2017 | Leave a comment

 

7 strong Scandinavian names for your new baby

Here are a selection of 7 strong Scandi names you could name your new baby. Or not.

Love
The Swedish boy’s name – actually the Swedish version of Louis. It’s pronounced more like lo-vey than love.

Bent / Bendt
Boy’s name – meaning ‘Blessed’.

Odd
How about naming him Odd? Or maybe Even? Both are strong Norwegian names. In Norway, there are 22 people named Odd-Even as a first name. Take your kid to the Casino. (name is also used in Sweden).

Gunn

A good old Norwegian name for your daughter?

Jerker

For a boy, maybe? It’s the old Swedish version of Erik. No, not Jerk for short.

Björn / Bjørn

Maybe the best of the bunch, especially if you like ABBA. It means ‘bear’.

Fanny.

A strong Swedish girl’s name and still popular today.

Any more suggestions? Pop a comment below.

7 Scandi Ways To Screw Up

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7 Scandi sayings for when things are not going well.

  1. If a Dane has his ass in the surface of the water (Røven i vandskorpen), it means things are not going well.

roven i vandskorpen dog

 

2. In Sweden, if you have made a real fool of yourself, people will tell you that ‘you have taken a shit in the blue cupboard’ (Nu har du skitit i det blå skåpet)

 

3. If you make a fool of yourself in Norway they might tell you that you “shat on your leg” (Nå har du bæsjet på leggen).

 

4. In Iceland, if someone says ‘peeing in your shoes will only keep you warm for a short while’ (“Það er skammgóður vermir að pissa í skó sinn”) they mean to tell you short term fixes don’t work.

 

5. If a Dane says you can both blow and have flour in your mouth, he means to say you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. (Man kan ikke både blæse og have mel i munden).

 

6. In Norway people might say you stomped in the piano if you mess up – ‘trampe i klaveret’.

trampe i klaveret mess up

 

7. If a Dane says ‘hot potato’ he could mean simply a hot potato – or he might also be referring to a tricky situation.

hot potato danish

Scandinavian Easter: 7 random things you didn’t know

April 10, 2017 | Leave a comment

7 random facts about Scandinavian Easter

  1. The Swedish kids dress up as little Easter Witches on Easter Sunday and go door to door, asking for sweets and treats.
  2. Norwegians are obsessed with reading who-dunnit-crime novels at Easter – sales triple all over Norway in the run up to the holidays. Norwegians like to go to their hytter (cabins) for Easter – and there, they read crime novels when they are not skiing. So obsessed are they there are even little crime stories printed on milk cartons over Easter so they never have to stop reading.

    paskekrim melkekartong norwegian Easter milk carton
  3. Scandinavian Easter Egg traditions are people buying an empty cardboard shell and filling it with their favourite sweets, rather than just a huge chocolate egg. We like a mix of everything – sweet, sour, salty, liquorice, chocolate, marshmallow.

    Easter eggs
  4. The Easter lunch is usually a huge Smorgasbord (with various regional variations and names). There will be pickled herring, every sandwich topping your mother and grandmother combined can think of, and many ways with egg!

    Picture: TT via dn.se

     

  5. Easter in Scandinavia is called Påsk (Sweden), Påske (Denmark, Norway). An Easter egg is known as a Påskägg / påskeæg / påskeegg – and is gifted on Easter morning. We also like decorating with little chickens – usually slightly deformed with a leg out their head or an eye on their bum. They are, of course, called ‘påsk-kycklinger’ / ‘påskekyllinger’ – Easter chickens.
    Easter egg chicken decorations
  6. You’ll see many places with decorated twigs – feathers and other types of decorations, depending on area. This is a Påskris – Easter Twigs – to signify Christ’s suffering – originally used to lash out at people as a tease – and in some areas, get people out of bed on Good Friday morning. Nowadays, used mainly as decorations.
  7. Easter is the absolute last time you will see Semlor anywhere in Sweden. Most of these Lent buns are already gone at this time of the year, but Easter time sees the last of bakeries stopping them, signalising the end of the season. No more semlor until next year.
    skarsgaard semlor

Scandinavian Cheese: A Handy Guide

March 9, 2017 | Leave a comment

The Essential Guide to Scandi Cheese – Part 1

We first posted this no less than four years ago, and considering how much we love cheese it is due a re-visit – we consider it our duty to share the with you the wonders of Scandinavian cheese. Over the next two weeks we’ll introduce six of our favourite cheeses.

To kick off we will give you a brief introduction to the many faces of Scandinavian cheese – because let’s be frank – Scandinavian cheese doesn’t have a very sexy reputation (with names like ‘Old Ole and ‘Old Cheese’ we really don’t get why).

Many of us have memories of sitting in a field on a summer’s day eating crusty French bread and sharing a kilo of creamy Brie (also French). In fact, some of us would like nothing more than to spend most of our days doing just that, had it not been for the eventual need to be moved around by a pick-up truck.

Fewer people have such glorious thoughts when thinking about Scandinavian cheese – in fact, most people associate Scandinavian cheese with Eurovision. The exception is those – very few – of us who know just how many amazing cheeses actually come from our northern corner of the world.

Cheese has been made in Scandinavia since the days of old Harold Bluetooth, and the vikings reportedly had a diet rich in milk, butter and cheese – and it was thought to be a sexual stimulant.

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the more famous Scandinavian cheeses.

Gamalost Scandinavian Cheese

1. Gammelost (Old cheese)
A recipe dating back to the Viking times, ‘Old cheese’ needed very little help to mature. Most people say both taste and smell resembles something that has spent a few months inside a sweaty old sock. As you know, nothing pleases a true tyrophile more than a slice of stinky old sock. Admittedly, perhaps due to the taste, younger Norwegians are falling out of love with it, even if it is does have the nickname of Norwegian Viagra.

Danablu Scandinavian Cheese

2. Danablu (Danish Blue)
We had to include this as it is the most popular Danish export cheese and it is a darn fine cheese. Invented originally to emulate Roquefort, and quickly making its own mark on the cheese scene, Danablu has a sharp, salty note and is excellent served on just about any kind of bread. Swedes tend to love blue cheese on ginger biscuits (we say don’t argue with anyone who invented Billy bookcases, Volvos and the zipper) – and the rest of us agree. A match made in cheese-heaven.

Brown cheese - Scandinavian Cheese

3. Brunost (Brown cheese)
Comes in many different varieties: the two best known are the Gudbrandsdalen (cow and goat) and Ekte Gjeitost (pure goat); the latter is the connoisseur’s choice

Okay, so it’s an acquired taste, but, vasterbottenon average, Norwegians eat about 4 kilos each of this stuff a year so there must be something to it. It’s as Norwegian as trolls and fjords. It looks a bit like a block of plasticine, tastes a bit like caramel and is enjoyed on its own, on open sandwiches or with freshly baked waffles: all you need then is a patterned jumper and people will soon start calling you Håkon.

4. Rygeost (smoked cheese)
A very Danish invention that is never exported due to its very short shelf life. Unmatured, smoked cheese made from buttermilk and milk and turned in less than 24 hours, after which it is smoked very quickly over a mixture of straw and nettle and topped with caraway seeds. This cheese is simply amazing, light and divine eaten on a piece of rye bread. Resembles a firm ricotta in texture.

Vasterbottensost Scandinavian Cheese (1)

5. Västerbotten
If ABBA is the queen of cheese, Västerbotten is the king. A firm, kinda crumbly, aged Swedish cheese not unlike parmesan in smell but with immense flavour and character. This cheese is a welcome addition to any cheeseboard and is also a partner to any crayfish party. Can also be used to make the excellent Västerbotten pie.

hushallsost - scandinavian cheese

6. Hushållsost
A cheese that has a name that translates as “household cheese” sounds like it belongs on a value shelf in a corner shop in Hackney, but it is actually an excellent cheese. Mild, creamy and full of small holes, this cheese is usually a big hit with the younger generation. Hushållsost is one of six Swedish food products with a so-called TSG protection (only one other cheese, Svecia, also holds this distinction). Taste wise it is unoffensive and buttery – a good all-rounder.

Gamle Ole Scandinavian cheese (2)

7. Gamle Ole (Old Ole)
A sliceable mature Danish cheese, this baby stinks. Oh yes. Don’t touch it too much or your fingers will honk all day. The taste, however, is mellower and really lush. Also known in Denmark as Danbo 45, there are many varieties in the same vein: ‘Sorte Sara’ is another good version, popular in Norway.

Prastost Scandinavian cheese (1)

8. Prästost (Priest cheese)
Sweden’s most popular cheese. It was given its name because the farmers at the time it was invented could pay their church taxes in dairy products. Prästost comes in many varieties, from the mild to the mature and flavoured with anything from vodka to whisky.

Squeaky Cheese Scandianvian Cheese

9. Leipäjuusto (also known as “squeaky cheese”)
This is a fresh young cheese from Finland. The milk is curdled and set into a flat round shape, then baked. In the olden days it was dried for months and people put it on the fire to re-activate it. The name comes from the sound it makes when you bite into it. The taste is not unlike feta. Hugely popular – very difficult to export due to its fragile nature.

Prawn cheese - Scandinavian cheese

10. Rejeost (Prawn cheese)
For some reason, spreadable prawn cheese (ideally in a tube) is immensely popular across all of Scandinavia. Not really a great cheese from a connoisseur’s point of view, but surely any product that manages to combine cheese and prawns and make it taste good needs a mention. If cheese and prawn can be coupled in peaceful harmony, then there’s hope for world peace.

For all our cheeses, click here.

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