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Author Archives: Bronte Aurell

Eurovision Bingo 2019

May 10, 2019 | Leave a comment

The ScandiKitchen Eurovision Bingo 2019

Every year, we make a Eurovision Bingo card for you to play along on the big day (18th May).

We watch the clips, listen to the songs and make our best guess about what may come up on the night.

You can follow our live tweeting on Twitter (@scanditwitchen). (If we go quiet, it simply means we’ve overdone the Pina Colada. But we’ll try to help call out the Bingos as they happen).

Want printed cards? We will be giving them out in the cafe from Tuesday-Saturday this coming week – pop by and grab yours. We’re just six min walk from Oxford Circus in London (61 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7PP)

Nordic Ice Creams – Summer 2019

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Our Nordic Ice creams 2019

Every summer, we import a selection of our favourite ice creams from Scandinavia.

You can get these at the cafe, whilst stock last (arriving Tuesday 14th May 2019 – although the Piggelin is coming a week later).

Our ultimate favourite? It has to be the salty liquorice ‘Salmiakki’ one – what’s not to love? Well, okay, if you like salty liquorice, that is.

30 steps to become a Norwegian

May 3, 2019 | Leave a comment

30 steps to become Norwegian

As all Norwegians know: everyone else just wishes they were Norwegian. (Yes, even you, Swedes and Danes. You know you want to, deep down).

So, here is a handy guide on how and what to do if you want to be more like the Norwegians.

1 Own at least one Norwegian flag. Ideally, have a drawer full of flags. In fact, the more flags you own, the more Norwegian you are. Stick little flags in all your food, too.

2 Norwegians are born with skis already on their feet. Uncomfortable for the mothers, but useful once they learn to stand up and navigate down snow covered mountains. If you can’t ski, don’t move to Norway.

3 Own at least one hi-tech brightly coloured jacket to protect you from the elements. Wear this jacket every day, in any weather. Norwegians refer to such jackets as “All Weather Jackets” (allværsjakke). These are extremely practical, if a little bright. Yes, people on the moon can also see you.

4 When having a conversation, about anything, make sure to say ‘ikke sant’ a lot. It’s a bit like English speakers using ‘right’. Depending on your intonation, ‘ikke sant’ can mean a range of different things, including but not limited to:

  • Ikke sant. Yes, I agree
  • Ikke sant? Do you agree?
  • Ikke Sant! YES
  • Ikke SANT? You’re kidding?!
  • Ikke sant. Yes, yes.
  • Ikke sant…? Really?
  • Ikke sant?! I hear you.

(illustration: Jenny K Blake)

5 Say Yes in English (but spell it jess).

6 Say ‘Ja’ (yes) on the inhale.

7 Never, ever, admit to a Swede being better than a Norwegian at anything. ANYTHING. Especially not skiing. Sweden will never be better than Norway at anything (apart from the price of everything -but of that you shall never speak openly).

(Footnote: Denmark will never be better than Norway at anything. Apart from its easy availability of booze, which you can talk about).

8. If you live close to the Swedish border, drive across the border on meat-safari (fleskesafari). This is because everything is cheaper in Sweden, especially meat. Also known as a Harry-Tur (Harry trip).

9 You will realise there is a sausage for every occasion. It’s called Pølse. Travelling by train? Have a pølse. In the airport? Have a pølse. Watching the footy? Have a pølse. Celebrating the day Norway got its own constitution? Pølse.

Depending on your mood, you can either have it in a hotdog bun (novice) or be really Norwegian and stick it in a potato pancake called Lompe.

10 If a Swede beats a Norwegian at skiing it is always because of ‘Smørekrise’ (the way the skis are prepped, depending on conditions). It has nothing to do with the athletes themselves – only the faulty way in which the skis were prepared. Probably by a Swede.

11 Extra proud Norwegians own a National Costume. It’s called a Bunad. It’s made from wool and it’s itchy and heavy. It will keep you warm should it snow on National Day.

Usually given to people when they’re around 13-14 years old, these cost thousands of £ and for this reason, you would be better off not changing your size for the decades, until you can afford a new one.

12 Own at least one practical rucksack – and use it every day. It goes very well with your All Weather Jacket (see point 3).

13 If someone asks you how you are, you must be honest – and in great detail. Having a rubbish time? Elaborate on this – and do not under any circumstances try to make it less awkward.

14 Always bring a matpakke (packed lunch) when you leave the house. These little open sandwiches must be separated by little greaseproof pieces of paper that makes the cheese extra sweaty after a few hours in your backpack. Adventurous toppings need not apply: sweaty cheese, salami, maybe a bit of pate with one slice of cucumber (soggy).

The special piece of paper even has a name: middle-layering-paper.

15 Wear cool jumpers. Perfect for occasions such as being in temperatures of -20, Eurovision, fishing and crossing the border to acquire meat. Caution: Itchy.

16 In autumn, winter, summer and Easter time, never ever go hiking without a Kvikklunsj chocolate bar in your bag. You must also bring one whole orange.

17 Avoid looking directly at your fellow citizens in all urban areas. That includes pavements, public transport and inside shops. Always keep a safe distance of at least 1 metre at bus stops.

If a stranger smiles at you on the street (or other urban areas) assume they are drunk or crazy. Look away immediately and do not engage.

18 When out on a hike, remember to say Hei hei to everyone. Just briefly, but this is when rule no. 17 does not apply.

19 Eat tacos every Friday. Yes, every Friday. The tex mex stuff in boxes you mix with real meat and then you do TacoFredag. Add cucumber, that essential Mexican ingredient.

20 As a Norwegian, you know the only true pizza is a Grandiosa frozen pizza. Love.

 

21 Go to your cabin – Dra på hytta – every weekend. Sure, you’ll spend 4 hours in your car each way to get there, but go, you must. If you don’t have a cabin near a fjord, go to your garden shed. Use motivating sentences such as ‘Ut på tur, aldri sur’ (literally: ‘out on a hike, never angry’).

22. Eat boiled sheep’s head, dried lamb sticks or cod preserved in lye.

And fermented trout – that you should also be down with.

23 Eat brunost. Enthuse about brunost. Live the brown cheese life.

Brown cheese. It’s the food of the gods, the cheese of the people. It’s made from goat’s milk and it looks like Plastacine and tastes of caramel. You put it on waffles. What’s not to love?

 

 

24. Eat waffles, loads of waffles. These must be made in a special heart-shaped waffle maker. Ensure that in your fridge you have ready-to-waffle mixture in a jug (at all times).

Top waffles with brown goat’s cheese or jam with sour cream. Or all three things, why not? Even more Norwegian-ness right there.

25 As soon as the sun comes out, run outside and smile yourself silly. Have utepils. Do not, under any circumstances, stay inside on a sunny day.

26 Utepils is any beer that is drunk, sitting outside – literally ‘outside-beer’. From now on, your life revolves around the possibility of Utepils.

27 .Every summer, you must travel to Syden and get a sunburn.

Syden means ‘the south’ – and means anywhere south of your home town (but usually excludes Scandinavia).

28 Drink a lot of coffee. And milk. A glass of milk with every meal for extra Norwegian-ness.

29 Always say Takk for maten (thanks for the food) after food, or mamma will be most upset. Every meal, every time.

30 Celebrate Norway’s national day on 17th May. No exceptions, no matter where you are in the world.

You are proud of Norway. The 17th May is the most important day of the year, better than Christmas, birthday and Eurovision put together. The Norwegian Constitution Day is a day celebrated by all Norwegians and Norgesvenner.

Get up, eat Norwegian food, wear a bunad (see above), sing songs about how much you love Norway. Wave flags around a lot. Ice cream. Waffles (see above). Brown cheese (see above). Repeat. Follow with alcohol (possibly purchased in Sweden). Forget how you got home, but wake up loving Norway even more than you did before.

Happy 17th May.

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Little Lessons: Smorgasbord

April 5, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: How to Smörgåsbord

There is literally nothing more Scandinavian than a good old Smörgåsbord. Except, Smörgåsbord is a Swedish word and in Norway and Denmark, it’s called something else (Koldt Bord (cold table), and similar). But really, it’s all about food and our way of grazing through a nice, big wonderful lunch.

No matter which of the Scandinavian countries you are in, follow this guide and you won’t go far wrong, bar a few regional variations. As long as there is enough aquavit, people will be happy.

The word smörgåsbord comes from the Swedish word smörgås, meaning ‘open sandwich’ or ‘buttered bread’, and bord, meaning ‘table’. If you translate it very literally, it could also mean Butter-Goose-Table, but that would be wrong, although quite funny.

A smorgasbord is basically means a buffet made up of many smaller dishes: ‘a laid-out table’. The traditional smörgåsbord is slightly different, depending on the country you are in. Just follow the guidelines of what to eat and in what order and you’ll be all right, no matter where you are. It’s our tapas, our buffet, our small-plate-phenomena.

The term smorgasbord first cropped up outside Scandinavia during the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, when a Swedish restaurant served a smörgåsbord as we know it today. This, however, was not the first occasion of a smörgåsbord, as this was more of an accidental invention. Many centuries earlier, people in well to-do homes had what was known as an “Aquavit Table”. They would return back from whatever they had been doing (hunting moose or looking after their estates etc) and enjoy a few snacks. A few hours prior to dinner, shots of aquavit were served, likely as an afternoon pick-me-up. These were accompanied by a selection of cheeses, pickles and meats laid out on a side-table to snack on before the main meal. Over the years, the choice of dishes expanded and, one day, the Aquavit Table because the main event instead of the actual lunch or dinner. Clever marketing people at the World Fair coined a new word that since then has been adopted into a word that works in many languages.

The essence of a real smörgåsbord (or cold table) is all about taking your time to eat and talk to your guests as you do it – and share food, conversation and time. There is lots of food, granted, but we spend many hours eating it. No smörgåsbord ever took an hour – and there is no time limit on how long we might sit there – the Danish Christmas Table, for example, can easily take an entire afternoon and end with an early dinner and most certainly result in quite a hangover, too. This is why these are usually done during high seasons such as Christmas, Easter and Midsummer when people plan big get together and have time to relax and enjoy both food and company to the max.

Traditionally, a smörgåsbord is served in ‘rounds’ – on a Swedish one, usually everything is set out at the start of the meal in buffet style, whereas in Denmark, each round is brought to the table one after the other in strict order and shared round.

It’s tricky to know how to maneuver a smörgåsbord if you are a rookie, especially if you are in Denmark and nobody has told you that there are seven more rounds of food to follow the one you are eating. What foods go together? Can you put remoulade on liver pate (answer: No) and do you ever put herring with prawns (answer: NEVER). How much aquavit are you allowed to drink? (Answer: As much as you can, but not so much so that you appear drunk until everyone else is).

Rookies will fill a plate like they are at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will also hit the aquavit hard – and you just know that no rookie will last till the end. Many a newbies have fallen off the Smörgåsbord wagon at round 2 and missed the party.

The biggest smörgåsbord of the year is at Christmas. This is the julbord (literally meaning ‘Christmas table’) and is also the one that takes the longest to complete. There are many dishes and rounds – and there will absolutely be beer and aquavit, too. And singing. Lots of singing.

During December, people across Scandinavia will attend many different julbords. There is the work julbord, the friends’ julbord, the julbord for the golf club, the book club … The most intimate one is always on Christmas Eve with the family (less drinking at that one). Then there is the smörgåsbord at Easter, Midsummer and birthdays.

The dishes on a Scandinavian smörgåsbord vary seasonally and regionally, but the main dishes are the same – and these are also what connects us Scandis together, despite living in a place 3 ½ time the size of Britain and with quite a varied food culture. This is where you will always find herring and meatballs!

Photo: ScandiKitchen Summer Cookbook – by Bronte Aurell, photo by Pete Cassidy – click on photo for link to buy a signed copy.

The order and how-to of a good Smörgåsbord

Always eat everything with a knife and fork – NEVER with your hands.

Always start with the herring. It needs its own plate, because it’s a strong fish and you don’t want it to flavor all the other foods. We eat the herring first – and it needs a glass or two of Aquavit to go with it – it pairs well in flavor. Yes, you have to drink the whole shot and smile through gritted teeth. From this follows other fish, sliced meats, warm meats, salads and other warm dishes, then cheese and then – finally – dessert. And coffee.

Everything is served buffet style or passed around the table in small servings. You will never find pre-made open sandwiches on a smörgåsbord – you are supposed to make your own as you go along – and you will also rarely find many ‘fillers’, such as warm potatoes or gravy (it is not a dinner, it is a cold table with a few contradictory warm dishes included).

A good old smörgåsbord may sound a little complicated at first, but it is a very enjoyable way to spend 4-6 hours with some really nice people you get along with. While Scandinavians will never, ever talk to you at the bus stop or in the supermarket, once you have shared a few merry tunes around the smorgasbord and a few shots of aquavit, you’ll be making new friends in no time, perhaps even find yourself fluent in a Scandinavian language by song number three.

The basic order of the smorgasbord – a guide

Round one

Pickled herring (a few different kinds, served in bowls) and shots of cold aquavit. Singing at this point is optional. Beer is the traditional drink served with smorgasbord. You can drink wine, but if you mix that with wine, it just gets you even more drunk.

Suggestion: A good plain onion herring and then Mustard herring for Swedish, Curried herring for Danish, spiced herring or tomato herring for Norway.

Round two

Fish and seafood dishes. Smoked or cured salmon (with dill & Mustard sauce). Serve bowls of good quality prawns, smoked mackerel (either fresh or literally from a tin), skagenröra, halves of hardboiled eggs or any fish other than herring – even small, warm fried plaice fillets (quite a Danish thing – goes well with remoulade dressing). Lumpfish roe and creamed cod roe on the side.

Round three

Cold meats and pâté. Smoked ham, salami, liver pâté (a firm favourite amongst all three countries), cold roast beef, rolled rullepolse sausage – any deli meats are served in this round, along with pickles and/or toppings.

Round four

Warm meats. Meatballs (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian), roast pork (Christmas only for the Danes), mini sausages – anything warm is served for this course. If you want to serve Janssons frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation – a traditional Swedish gratin-style casserole made with potatoes, onions, cream and sweet pickled sprats) for the smörgåsbord, this is the course to do it. It’s mainly served at Christmas, but can also be served at Easter with some lamb (The sprats go well with lamb). In the summer seasons, serve a light quiche instead of heavier meats – Vasterbotten cheese quiche, mushroom pie or similar. But always meatballs.

Any warm sides, such as red cabbage, can be served here – but again, warm cabbage is usually more of a winter thing. Opts for a coleslaw style in the summer.

Round five

Cheese selection. Optional decorative grapes that nobody will eat and maybe a slice of green pepper that you can put in the bin after. 2-3 cheeses is enough. Go for a good blue cheese such as Kornblost or Danish blue, a solid harder cheese – Vasterbotten is always a hit here. And a milder one such as Creamy Havarti (Åseda). For the love of Thor and Freya, get yourself a good few cheese slicers.

Round six

Dessert and coffee. Any soft cake, such as a strawberry Midsummer cake or a berry cake, works here and a nice selection of little fika treats goes well too – there won’t be many hungry people at the end of a smorgasbord, so limited selection is fine. At Christmas, you might have your creamed rice pudding, in the summer a more fruity option. Or simply little marzipan/chocolate treats with the coffee. By this time, there will be no more singing, just attempt to manoeuvre a fork.

Stuff to always serve alongside a smörgåsbord:

Rye bread, crusty bread and crispbreads, bowls of salads (beetroot salad, mainly), pickles, condiments, sauces such as dill and mustard sauce, Mayo, Danish remoulade – and more.

Traditional drinks for smörgåsbord: Beer and aquavit.

Round Seven

Bugger off – food

In Denmark, the last dish serves is called Skrub-Af Mad, this means “Bugger off, food” – it is served right at the end a few hours after the last bit of the smorgasbord – it is a signal for people to leave. This might be a light soup, a hotdog or similar.

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Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

March 22, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

One of the most favourite thing to do amongst Norwegians is going for a hike. No, not just going for a walk, but a hike. Which essentially means going for a walk but a bit longer and you have to bring a thermos of something to drink along the way. 

There is a Norwegian saying that goes ‘Ut på tur, aldri sur!’, which literally translated means ‘Out on tour, never sour!’ You should never start your hike in a bad mood – always be positive and ready for a great experience. Sing this merry little tune in your head every time you head out for a hike, especially if you are not in the frame of mind to be out walking – and think lots of positive thoughts.

Norwegians’ love of hiking and skiing is absolutely second to none. It is an essential part of being Norwegian both to go hiking and go skiing. It is unlikely you will find many Norwegians who do not enjoy these two activities.

Weekends and holidays are spent getting out into the fresh air and heading upwards to a hill or mountain, on foot or skis. To gå på tur (‘go for a walk’) is a favourite pastime – and is done by, literally, everybody. It is absolutely part of being a Norwegian.

If it’s a weekend day and impractical for you to get out of the city, you are allowed to take your walk in parks and around where you live. These are leisurely walks, but do not include popping to the shops for a loaf of bread or cat food: the walk has to be for the purpose of the walk itself. A weekend walk is often called a Søndagstur (Sunday walk). Then everyone knows what you’re doing and with what purpose (i.e. no purpose, other than the walk itself).

When out for a weekend walk, you must always factor in a stop for coffee (drinking this from your thermos that you packed at home, because a cup of coffee in Norway will set you back a small mortgage – bring your own). You must also bring one treat – usually a chocolate bar – and, if there is any kind of snow or ice, you must also bring one fresh orange.

Why an orange? Nobody knows, but it is always: an orange. Maybe its because it is super refreshing and completely impractical to peel when your fingers are frozen (which is often the case in Norway). An orange is, nevertheless, essential.

The word Søndagstur can also be used in Norwegian to describe something that was a bit easy, as in ‘How was that ultra marathon yesterday?’ ‘Oh, it was like a Søndagstur.’

When you manage to leave the city and aim to go on a proper hike, you need more appropriate equipment. These include:

Physical maps

Because you are unlikely to have any phone reception once you leave the town as half of norway is made up of fjords, mountains and other inaccessible terrain. It’s massive, but with only very few people in it. Bring a map, Citymapper is not your friend here. You can go out on a hike and see nobody for days and days, so best to be prepared like a native or risk getting lost.

More oranges

For these longer hikes, still bring the obligatory orange, your Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar (although other brands are allowed) and the thermos of coffee. a Matpakke (packed lunch) is also advisable.

Hiking smile

Being on a hike is the only time in Norway when you are allowed to talk to strangers. You meet someone along your merry way, you smile and say Hei. Do not stop: Just “hei’ and get a “hei” back – and then you hurry along, minding your own hiking business.

Good Shoes

The shoes for a good hike are the kind that will rip your feet to shreds for the first few trips. Eventually, they will fit you and you will love them. Until them, bring plasters. Stop moaning: It’s normal. Keep walking.

Layers

Every Norwegian knows the saying: No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Dress for the weather and don’t try to get away without layering. Do not, ever, wear jeans. Wear proper waterproofs if it’s raining. Norwegians out hiking tend to look like an advert for comfortable hiking clothes (in rather bright colours so you can warn other hikers to put their hiking smile on.

Happy hiking!

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25th March: Day of Waffles (Våffeldagen)

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25th March: Day of Waffles (Våffeldagen)

This day is very celebrated in Scandinavia, but no places more than in Sweden where it is seen as a great excuse to have more waffles than normal! (In Norway, it is also celebrated, but to be fair, in Norway, every day is waffle day, so…. Norway will always win when it comes to waffles).  It is also celebrated in Churches, as it is Our Lady’s Day – in Swedish, this is called Vårfrudagen – and this apparently got misunderstood once upon a time – so it became Våffledagen (Waffle Day) – an easy mistake to make, but now we get to celebrate both on the same day.

Scandinavian waffles are made in a waffle iron that is heart shaped – usually 5 little hearts make up one waffle. You can buy these waffle irons online and in places such as Clas Ohlson 

If you have a different waffle iron, by all means, you can use this too but your yield and cooking time will be slightly different, so apply logic when cooking if you use different size waffle irons.

There are hundred of different waffle recipes. Literally. This one is from Bronte’s book Fika & Hygge and comes via her Mother-in-Law Eva who makes these when they are all together in the cottage in the North of Sweden, skiing over the winter months. It is a simple recipe – containing no sugar or egg – and you get wonderfully crispy waffles. Be warned, though, the waffles need to be eaten straight out of the waffle iron or they go soggy.

One recipe makes around 7-8 waffles. We usually double the recipe. Or triple. Can you ever have too many waffles?

Basic Frasvåfflor recipe

150g melted butter
300g plain flour
250ml whole milk
250ml water
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Method
Mix ingredients together to form a smooth batter. Turn your waffle iron on and make your waffles. Depending on your waffle iron you may need to brush the waffle iron with a bit of butter (but most these days are completely non stick). Bake until brown and crispy.

Enjoy straight out of the waffle iron with your chose toppings. We think the very best is a good dollop of cloudberry jam and some vanilla whipped cream or ice cream. Actually, any kind of jam will do.

Female person making fresh waffles with a waffle maker towards black on white

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Little lessons: Scandinavian Easter

March 15, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Scandinavian Easter

After the long, dark nights of winter, Easter and the arrival of spring are truly celebrated in Scandinavia. Whether spent in the south welcoming the return of the spring flowers or spent escaping to the mountains in the North, getting in a few last runs on the slopes, Easter is a time of renewal for Scandinavians, celebrated with good food and good company (and perhaps the odd shot of aquavit or two). Peek into the history of the Viking north and you’ll find plenty of magic things that add to the richness of Scandinavian Easter celebrations.

Here’s our quick guide:

The lingo

Easter in Scandinavia is called

  • Påsk (Sweden)
  • Påske (Denmark, Norway)
  • Pääsiäinen (Finland)

An Easter egg is known as a Påskägg / påskeæg / påskeegg – and is gifted on Easter morning.

Easter in Scandinavia means the last of the skiing.

Well, except for in Denmark, where there are no mountains. Everywhere else, people head for the last of the snow somewhere high up.

More than anything, it’s a sign that finally, the long dark nights are ending.

The hut (Hytte)

Most Norwegians will head for a wooden hut somewhere, as remote as possible and as far away from people they don’t know as they can get. If it has an outdoor toilet and no running water, even better.

 

It’s still all about Vikings

Our forefathers celebrated something called Ostara, the spring Goddess, around spring Equinox 20-21 March. Freya and Thor were often celebrated, too. This was all about gathering and giving of eggs.

Photo: Absolutely nothing to do with real vikings, but in the absence of Viking photography….

Swedish and Finnish kids go trick’or’treating at Easter.

Well, there are no tricks, only treats as kids dress up as Easter witches and go door to door, asking for sweets. These Easter witches are called Påskkärring in Sweden.

In Finland, the mini witches sing the rhyme: Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle! (I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!) and offer fresh willow twigs in exchange for sweets.

Easter celebrations in Sweden are also rooted in the old Christian witch-hunt times. The celebrations last from Maundy Thursday until Easter Monday. In the olden days it was thought that on Maundy Thursday, all the Witches would fly off on their broomsticks to the Blue Mountains in Germany to have a weekend of fun and dancing with Satan.

Let’s light a fire

In many western Finnish villages, bonfires are still lit to drive away evil spirits on the evening of Easter Saturday.

Norwegians become obsessed with dark crime

For some reason, Norwegians read crime novels at Easter. Sales of these more than triple as everyone buys the latest who-dunnit to bring to the wooden hut. These books are known as Påskekrimmen.

This is such an important thing the milk producers even put little who-dunnits on milk cartons so that people can solve crimes over their cornflakes.

If you spot a Norwegian out and about at Easter, his backpack will contain 2 crime novels, an orange and a Kvikklunsj chocolate. But unlikely you will see any, they are all hiding away from people.

Write your name with dots

The rhyme goes: I write my name with dots, careful they don’t sting you (Mit navn det star med prikker, pas på de ikke stikker”.

The Danish tradition of writing teaser letters (gækkebreve) is a wonderful one, an old tradition since early 1800’s. Cut out a pretty pattern in paper, write a rhyme and add your name in dots and enclose a snowdrop flower from your garden (the symbol of Easter in Denmark). If the receiver guesses who it is from, you have to buy them an Easter Egg – and vice versa. Magically, no grandparents ever guess who their letters are from, and thus a great source for getting LOADS of sweets.

The perfect Easter egg

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, and perhaps and extra Kvikk Lunsj, Kexchoklad or marzipan eggs for good measure.

Fancy a bit of whipping?

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.

Make your own: Get some twigs, decorate with feathers. Whip your flatmate and tell him it’s tradition.

The Smörgåsbord

We never turn down an opportunity for good smörgåsbord. Essentially, the same as at any other high season, although with more fish and egg. This is the time to add new salmon to the spread, a few extra fish dishes and of course, egg in different shapes and sizes. We also recommend adding Jansson’s Temptation and pair it with some new lamb – it works so very well.

Goodbye, lovely buns

Easter is the absolute last time you will see Semlor buns anywhere in Sweden. Most of these lovely luscious Lent buns are already gone at this time of the year, but for those still clinging on, Easter marks the final hurrah, signalising the end of the season. No more semlor until next year. Nope, none anywhere – all gone.

We stock Easter goodies from all over Scandinavia – both online and in our café deli. Pop by and see us – we will be open all over Easter except Easter Monday when we will be busy hunting for eggs and whipping each other with twigs and reading crime fiction. That’s how we roll.

    ScandiKitchen Kottbullar – Swedish Meatballs 300g
    £3.99
    Swedish Easter Egg Bundle
    £19.99
    Påskägg – Easter Egg Shell, 18cm
    £3.59
    ScandiKitchen Rödbetssallad – Beetroot Salad 200g (Rødbedesalat)
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £1.99

Little lessons: Friends of Norway

March 8, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Friends of Norway

There is this thing in Norway called Norgesvenner – literally Norway Friends.

What this means is basically, someone famous who isn’t actually Norwegian, but who really, really loves Norway. Okay, they don’t have to proclaim their love of brown cheese and wooly national costumes, but they have to – in some way – declare a bit of extra love, only reserved for Norway.

In order to become a Friend of Norway and end up on the list of Norgesvenner you must first visit the country several times. Like, on a music tour or too many holidays in order for them to just be normal holidays. The fact that Bruce Springsteen has now done 76 word tours means he’s been quite a few times, so he’s in the Hall of Friends. It is also likely that you will have given some sort of indication that you’d even like to live in Norway one day once you’ve finished being a World wide superstar. A slight indication of this is fine, such as “I could really live here one day” sort of thing. We will interpret this as a desire to up sticks and move to a nice house in Bergen, if only things would work out that way.

This unofficial, but very prestigious title, is often bestowed upon to foreign politicians, artists, writers, singers, actors and other famous people who visit often or who may have a personal connection to the country. Once the title has been given to you, it is very hard to shake it – and Norway will forever be the place to welcome you as the star you are, even when Hollywood has long forgotten about you.

Examples of lifelong Norgesvenner include – but are not limited to – Lynda Evans from Dynasty, Leroy from Fame, Roald Dahl (he was Norwegian, you know), Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Tyler and the pop group A1. The Queen of Denmark is now also a Norgesvenn, as is 50Cent and Steven van Zandt (after he filmed Lillehammer). Recently, also Prodigy became Norgesvenner.

There is not actual rule book about how one can become a Friend of Norway, but it does start with a deep love for Norway as a country. All people from abroad who love Norway are sort of Norgesvenner, too, but this in their own sort of way.

Ps is it just us but does that guy second from the left on the Smokie picture look like a young Justin Trudeau? No, we can’t un-see it either.

    Sorlands Chips Spanish Paprika Crisps 160g
    £2.99 £1.99
    Tine Norvegia – Mild Cheese 500g
    £9.79
    Mills Kaviar – Smoked Cod Roe Paste 185g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £4.59

Little Scandinavian Lessons: How to slice cheese

February 15, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little Scandinavian Lessons: How to slice cheese.

Yeah, we hear your hollow laughter: Why on earth do you need to know how to slice cheese? It’s just CHEESE, isn’t it?

To you, maybe. But to us Nordics, and Swedes especially, this is key behaviour territory. We will judge you. Oh, yes we will.

Cheese is of the upmost importance to all Scandinavians. Even if you do not eat cheese, you will be around people who consume a lot of it, so it is important to understand our love affair with what is, essentially, a bacterial process.

From the time of the Vikings, Scandinavians have been making cheese and consuming it on a grand scale. We eat 19–24 kg (42–53 lb) of cheese per person per year – in contrast to the UK, where people eat around 11.8 kg (26 lb). We are nations of tyrophiles.

In Norway, the most favoured cheese is called brunost, which means ‘brown cheese’, and it is indeed brown. It looks a bit like plasticine and feels like it, too. Made from goats’ milk that has been boiled, caramelising the milk sugars and thus turning it brown, it has a delicious, almost sweet, taste of caramel and goats: caramel goats’ cheese. It’s a particular taste that you either love or hate. Once you are stuck on it, you won’t be able to stop eating it and you’ll add it to your waffles, bread and snack on it at night straight from the fridge when nobody is looking.

The Danes favour more pungent cows’ milk cheeses, of slightly softer texture. Some of them smell like things that have gone off and have names such as Gamle Ole (‘Old Ole’), which is a fair description of the smell (the taste is far milder, as with most Danish cheeses). This particular cheese smells like something that has been left unwashed in the corner of a squat for a week or so.

Only the Norwegians have a stronger cheese – an old Viking-style cheese called Gamalost (‘really old cheese’), known to be so smelly it makes grown men cry.

Swedes like to think of themselves as the kings of cheese in Scandinavia, as they consume the most. Their cheeses range from the undisputed Västerbotten gourmet cheese to the more elaborately named Hushållsost (‘household cheese’). Only the Swedes would have a favourite cheese called ‘household cheese’: It’s very lagom.

Cheese in Scandinavia is often eaten with jam or. This is a perfectly reasonable accompaniment to all kinds of cheese. Simply add butter to bread or crispbread, a thick slice of your favourite cheese and a good dollop of jam on top and you have a great ‘mellanmål’ (afternoon snack).

In Scandinavia cheese is sold in very large packs, usually over 500 g–1 kg (1–2 lb) in size. This is because all cheese lives on a plate in the fridge once opened, covered with a plastic shower cap (it does the job in a very practical way, don’t knock it) and is taken out at most morning and midday meals plus at snack times. Most households only have one (max two) cheeses on the go at any one time, which can make a Scandi cheeseboard a bit boring at times.

Next to the cheese is a slicer. There are four kinds of slicers available, broadly speaking:

The gold standard

This is a metal cheese planer, as invented by a Norwegian many years ago. A metal planer works well on harder cheeses – from Västerbotten to your cheddars. No, Cheddar is not supposed to be hacked at with a knife, it’s supposed to be sliced. SLICED. Yes!

Plastic planer

Use this for softer – but still hard – cheeses – such as Greve, Hushalssost, Havarti. Perfect slices every time. But use your plastic planer on a hard cheese and it will be thick, horrid slices. Know your cheeses. If we see this at your house: We know you’re one of us.

String slicer

The Danish choice. Seeing as the Danish cheeses tend to be too soft for both a metal planer and the plastic one, cheeses such as Gamle Ole, Riberhus, Danbo etc favour a string slicer. Also, it looks cool on the table, as if you’re some kind of cheese god.

Metal planer – with ridges

This is for the plastacine cheese; only serious cheese slicer people will have this. Perfect for slicing brown cheese. Not as common as the other kinds, but this is the one to aim for if you need perfect brown cheese slices.

Ultra-slicer

This is invented by the Dutch, but could have been invented by the Swedes: How only to grate enough for your sandwich and avoid ANY waste and you can STILL keep your cheese level. A cheese-grater-planer. Smart.

How to slice it

There are rules one must follow when slicing cheese in Scandinavia. Once you have chosen your appropriate equipment, make sure you slice from the correct side. The aim is not to create any sort of slope whatsoever on the cheese. These slopes, created by careless, non-trained, usually non-Scandinavian people are referred to as skidbacke (‘ski slopes’) and are considered a waste of cheese. The ultimate sin.

If you cut the cheese wrong at someone’s house, do not expect to be spared a snide comment even if you were introduced to your Swedish girlfriend’s Dad only fifteen minutes earlier. There will be no going back if you fail at this and you will forever be known as a sloper.

So, instead, look at the cheese and slice from the side that is currently tallest, ensuring you help to even out the cheese to perfection. Get yourself a large block of cheese and some slicers – and practice at home.

Ski-slope fixing is a national sport in Sweden and some people pride themselves on being the silent fixers. These people go through life, with slight OCD, quietly fixing other people’s mistakes, never being able to enjoy a decently sliced piece of cheese themselves. Ever. These poor people are forever eating the crappy, bitty correction sliced because you simply could not be bothered to learn the rules. Suffering for your sins. You don’t want that on your conscience, now do you?

You’ve been warned.

We’ve written a book about how to live like a Scandinavian. Read it and be enlightened. It’s called North. You can get it on Amazon (also available on Amazon US and Canada).

This article is based a little bit on one in that book.

    Danbo Riberhus – Medium Cheese 500g
    £10.69
    Cheese Planer Metal
    £4.59
    Norrmejerier Västerbottensost – Mature Cheese 33% 450g
    £9.99
    Osti Original Cheese Slicer Replacement Wire
    £2.59
    Osti Danish Cheese Slicer RED
    £4.29

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