so, i've been asked by many a blog readers, "where the hell have you been?" my deepest apologies for having dropped off the blogosphere. i think the more appropriate questions is, "where the hell haven't i been?" since mid-may, i've spent time in new york city, washington, d.c., london, stockholm, the dutch countryside, schiphol airport (though i never did manage to step foot into amsterdam) and madison. tonight, i am writing this entry from san diego where my latest project has brought me. i now fear airplanes as well as airplane and airport food but do not worry, i have remained true to my stomach and have managed to grab a good meal here and there between waiting in security lines.
there were many comestibles to note, and it's hard to decide where to start in my latest epicurean experiences but i think stockholm might be a good first stop. i must admit i knew very little about sweden before deciding to take a trip there. sweden, to me, was known for its many wonderful exports: ikea, volvo, h&m, absolut vodka, tall handsome scandinavian men, and of course, the swedish meatball. i myself was looking forward to the tall handsome scandinavian men and the meatballs. unfortunately, i only managed to find the meatballs (surprisingly, sweden is much more than just tall blonde people as i ignorantly imagined), but that was more than enough to satisfy me during my short three day trip.
i am a rather low-key traveler. i've done my fair share of schlepping around as a poor backpacker and now prefer to just veg and take in a city and all its people from the comfort of an outdoor cafe. stockholm did not disappoint on that front as the city is known for its many coffee shops and outdoor dining options during warmer months of the year. the weather in mid-july was perfect for being outside. mid-70s and blue skies. in the evenings, the temperature cools down but if you choose to dine al fresco, your meal also comes with a warm blanket. it's definitely a cozy way to dine - enjoying the cool, brisk air with a warm blanket wrapped around you and a warm meal in front of you. i found myself loving the simplicity and heartiness of classic swedish fare. on the top of my "to eat" list in sweden were some of the country's staples, herring and swedish meatballs.
i found both at a restaurant in the center of town near the nk (the famous stockholm department store) called the restaurant victoria. the basket of bread and the butter they brought out was amazing. the butter was whipped up to just the right consistency for spreading over the two kinds of bread they brought out, one sweet and one savory, both having a very robust texture. however, the highlight of that particular meal was definitely the swedish meatballs which came with the traditional accompaniments of mashed potatoes, lingon berries and pickled cucumber. like the bread that preceded the meal, this dish had a good compliment of sweet and savory flavors.the lingon berries lent a sweet tartness to the meaballs while the pickled cucumber provided a unique sour punch that blended surprisingly well with everything else on the plate. the potatoes came in a lighter and creamier texture than i've had at home, and they almost seemed to serve as a sauce for the meatballs. i actually loved this restaurant so much, i returned the next day to sample some of their creatures from the sea. in my second dining experience at the restaurant victoria, i ordered their boiled and smoked shrimp served with a sweet aioli and their herring three ways - pickled, sweet and sour and in a creamy herb sauce. compared to the meatballs from the previous day, this meal was much lighter but just as satisfying. the shrimp came with its shells on and was served with all its roe in tact, which i've never had in a restaurant before. most of the shrimp were young and were incredibly sweet as a result. i also was a big fan of the herring. it differed from the herring i had tried in holland. the fiish was sliced into smaller pieces and served in little glass jars with little silver forks, each jar encasing its own flavors. served with boiled potatoes, cheese and very thin wheat crackers, it was a classic swedish brunch.
next installment from "epicurean experiences in stockholm": dining at one of stockholm's best (and the most expensive dinner in my life) pontus in the green