A Sampling of Our Scandinavian Food Delights

With Michael’s love of seafood and Nancy’s Scandinavian heritage we were quite successful in finding something we could eat—and truly enjoy!—during our visit to Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

Seafood of all shapes and sizes at a Stockholm market

Did we already mention the Dutch pancakes? Savory or sweet, they stand up to any French crepe.

Very thin batter, apples and cheese. Can’t go wrong.

Michael loved the Danish smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich that is unique to Denmark. Some that he ordered were almost like a full smörgåsbord buffet on a piece of bread. Rye bread as a base will support anything and everything. Although Michael went for classic seafood content, the method can be used for any food, even leftovers. Just pile on complementary flavors with a bit of artistry. In fact, Kathy has frequently made great smørrebrøds without even realizing it.

Based on height alone, this smørrebrød of “plaice” (a flatfish), salmon, shrimp and, if that’s not enough, microgreens, may have gone a bit overboard, but Michael ate every bit.

Scandinavia is known for herring in multiple forms, but we’re not big fans (although Nancy’s parents and grandmother loved it), so we generally skipped it. However, salmon is everywhere too.

Salmon, pickled onions, rocket salad and in the background a Swedish dumpling (Stockholm)

Some Scandinavian seafood was over the top for us. Michael tried eating ALL the parts of a giant prawn he ordered in Amsterdam, but the deep-fried head and legs were too much.

Yes, apparently this is an edible delight!

The Swedish meatballs we tried were excellent, a lot like those made by Nancy’s mom and other Midwest descendants of Scandinavians. One main difference from Italian meatballs is seasoning. Swedish meatballs often have allspice and cream, giving them a whiter sauce and lighter flavor than Italian meatballs made with oregano and tomato sauce. They’re generally served with a dill cucumber salad, another Midwest staple. Although this sample had more tomatoey content than expected, the meatballs here were good enough to try several versions.

You MUST have mashed potatoes, not pasta, with Swedish meatballs

The unique meatball meal addition we didn’t have in Michigan in the old days was lingonberries. More recently we’ve seen preserved lingonberries at IKEA, of course, but never tried them. They are very good, tart when picked from the vine, but sweetened for eating. We don’t need any furniture, but next time we see an IKEA we’re stopping for anything lingonberry!

Stockholm’s public market had great offerings, lingonberries of course, but also chanterelle mushrooms and green figs, so fresh and tasty compared to the brownish-purple ones we often get in the States.

Lingonberries and more at the market

We could always find “American” food. Plenty (way too many) McDonald’s, Dunkin’s, Burger Kings, etc. but we stayed away. American faves always had a slightly different twist in the non-chain Scandinavian restaurants.

Delicious (California?) avocado toast on the darkest rye bread imaginable. In Copenhagen.

We did try pizza. More outside US than in US, rocket (arugula) is popular on pizza. It certainly looks pretty, but we’ve become spoiled eating Stephen’s superb homemade pizzas, so we weren’t overwhelmed.

A very pretty Amsterdam pizza with prosciutto and rocket

Italian is popular here, like everywhere. Here’s a Swedish version of pasta and prosciutto. It almost looks like a Danish smørrebrød.

Delicious meal in an Örebro restaurant

We even found a great steak-frites place in Stockholm, bringing back memories of our favorite, Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Steak, check. Salad, check. Fries, check. Sauce, check. Where are the profiteroles?

We were pleased with the choices of ethnic (i.e. non-Scandinavian) restaurant choices. We ate Mediterranean meals several times. The moussaka was fantastic, as good as anything we had in Greece.

Moussaka, tsatziki and a Greek salad (authentic, with no lettuce)

We read several blog posts devoted to finding the best cinnamon rolls in Stockholm and decided to test their recommendations. We visited one or two or three…or more of these bakeries. To be honest, we couldn’t tell much difference between the different bakeries as they were all good. The cinnamon rolls here are fairly light, with very thin layers spiraling around a center, and LOTS of cinnamon. Alternatively some had cardamon, nuts or other slight variations. They were all tasty, but not quite as good as the hot cinnamon rolls we loved from Braud & Co in Reykjavik, Iceland. (We even made a trip to town to get some once when we had a layover of a couple hours at the Reykjavik airport.)

Lots of cinnamon and big chunks of sugar on these Stockholm cinnamon rolls.

Stockholmers seem to have a love for sweets, beyond cinnamon rolls, as do we. We never had difficulty finding something to satisfy a craving. Don’t forget our Gränna candy sticks.

Chocolate, fondant and a fruit tart for Chris

Finally, we enjoyed Scandinavian beer. We visited the Heineken Museum in Amsterdam and sampled their nice, light, familiar beer. We tried numerous other good beers, also quite light. Here’s one at the restaurant of the Fotografiska Museum near the water. (The current exhibition “Nude” was a bit racy so we aren’t sharing any photos.)

The Luma Pils beer (from Danish Carlsberg) was so light we could check out the view of the Gröna Lund amusement park across Saltsjön Bay.

Ending with latte art and baked goods from one of Stockholm’s Vete-Katten bakeries (always at the top of the recommended list). Cardamom is worth a try but cinnamon will always be our favorite.

Latte art and a cardamom bun. We LOVED our trip to Scandinavia.
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