Monday, 11 January 2010

Gothenburg: an Eatist's City Guide

I ate a lot of good food in Gothenberg and to stop this turning into a long ramble, punctuated only when I need to wipe a bit of drool from my chin I think the best way to organise this is probably a kind of photo diary of things that I ate and liked.  I used to come to Gothenberg a lot when I was younger, but haven't been for a few years now and I had a lot of fun rediscovering it and all the things I used to eat there.  The food scene here is respected throughout the country, with its chefs regularly winning national awards, and increasingly international plaudits.  On the other hand there is a lot of great traditional food served in small places and a whole host of wonderful cafes.

Sweden isn't just all about meatballs, but they are delicious.  We had some nice juicy ones (no jokes please) in Smaka (Taste in English).  These were slightly too springy for my liking, though still very good, served with a wonderful mash and a lovely creamy gravy made from the pan juices as well as the traditional lingonberries and dill pickles.  But Swedish food is a lot more than that.  Gothenburg especially is famous for its fish.  My starter at Smaka was Lojröm (a type of fish egg) with traditional accompaniments of sour cream, chopped onions, chopped egg and toast.  This typified a lot of the food in Gothenberg for me, clean big flavours relying on high quality ingredients.  The other side of the coin here is things cooked in butter, lots of butter, with some cream added.  Still big flavours, maybe a bit less clean, still delicious.  That's before I even mention the baking.  

Fish was the main theme of this trip and went so far as to include a bit of splurge at Sjömagasinet which I  reviewed separately below.  Probably the best dish of the whole trip was the fish soup at Amanda Bomans.  This is a wonderful little restaurant in Storre Saluhallen (a large indoor food market) in the centre of town.  It's open Monday to Saturday for lunchtimes only.  Its only small with maximum ten to twelve tables and feels like a real find.  It's always full of locals getting their traditional dishes (husmanskost) at good prices.  They do meatballs and gravlax at every meal and have daily specials, all are good.  I can rarely bring myself to get them though, because I know if I do I'll see someone eating the fish soup and I'll start weeping like a small child.  The base of the soup is an intense shellfish stock made with prawn and crayfish shells and a generous pinch of saffron.  To this is added big chunks of salmon, some white fish and the aforementioned shellfish.  Its finished with some creme fraiche for a bit of tartness, maybe some cream lots of dill (the key seafood herb in Sweden), a small amount of grated carrot for texture and a lovely aioli, which can be stirred in.  Its rich and luxurious with beautifully balanced flavours and works as a warming lunch in winter or a light lunch for summer.  It's almost certainly my favourite soup in the world and one of my top dishes full stop.

Eating out all the time in Gothenburg is expensive though, even in the short term.  The Fiskekyrka (Fish Church) provides an excellent option for wonderful do it yourself seafood, though the city has many excellent fishmongers.  The gravlax on sale here is really wonderful.  At the best stalls the cure is lovely and sweet, but does not permeate the whole of the fish, leaving you with a fresh, oily salmon taste and soft texture that any sashimi fan would relish.  The cafe at one end also sells enormous prawn sandwiches (a real Gothenburg speciality), either the traditional open ones or a baguette for a convinient packed lunch.  This is filled to the brim with small tasty prawns, some chopped spring onion, mayonnaise and a scattering of fish eggs.

Sjöbaren in the trendy area of Haga has an excellent reputation for inventive seafood, and though expensive does good value lunches and some excellent moderately priced classic dishes.  The fish pie I had here was excellent.  The Swedish don't cover the whole pie with mash, instead piping it round the side, this means you can cook the fish, quickly and more delicately.  The cod in mine was soft and juicy, and just cooked, it was surrounded by a rich white sauce, flavoured with white wine, chopped mushrooms, prawns and the ubiquitous dill.  It was also very pretty!

Also in Haga is Hemma Hos, which has taken a tapas style of cooking but applied it to very Swedish food.  Small portions of stewed mushrooms in cream/milk sauce on toast, hot smoked salmon, grilled goats cheese with Swedish honey, matjesill (pickled herring) with the trimmings and smoked reindeer meat mixed with mayonnaise and served on rye bread are served up by incredibly friendly staff.  The meal was fun and delicious and Gothenburg's O.P. Andersson Schnapps that we had with the sill (as custom dictates) will put hairs on you chest.

If you're out of town, Delsjön makes a nice day trip and has a few nice cafes around it.  Bertilsons Stugga is one of them.  Only open in winter it rewards those brave enough to go out in the cold, with hot fish soup and delicious pies and buns.  

Buns are a big deal in Gothenburg and a lot of the baking is top notch.  Husserans Cafe in Haga invented the Haga Bulle, a huge cinnamon bun big enough for two.  Down the road is the Petit Cafe.  This is slightly style over substance, with the cakes not being as good as they look.  Having said that it is very nicely put together and an extremely pleasant place to relax over a coffee.  My personal favourite bakery is a little neighbourhood one in Majorna on Chapman's Torg.  Chapman's Konditori looks unassuming from the outside, but does freshly baked bread and wonderful buns and pastries Monday to Saturday.

All in all there's a lot of good food here to explore both at the top end and right through.  Big bold flavours and honest cooking (a horrible term but apt here) predominate, with traditional food remaining popular and the quality of produce always high.

1 comment:

  1. Dina texter är inspirerande daniel! Roligt att läsa om sin hemstad från detta perspektivet:) Särskilt sugen blir jag på lojröm..;) Och indeed, amanda bomans fisksoppa är svårslagen!

    Kramar Frida