Taks for the memory – a food trip to Gothenburg
A mastery of Swedish, gained from watching TV crime dramas, means Nick Harman is well prepared for a great food weekend in Gothenburg
I’m using it all the time since arriving in Sweden; ‘tack’ means ‘thanks’ in English. It’s the only Swedish word that TV has taught me and it’s coming in handy as I try to eat in as many places in Gothenburg as I can.
There is great food to be found all over when wandering the streets of Sweden’s second city, just under two hours flight from the UK. No longer is it all about the herring and the meatballs, although those are still done very well.
At lunchtime in a small square I come acrossStrömmingsluckan(Magasinsgatan), a food truck dispensing fried herrings served with parsley butter, mash and lingonberries, to people of all ages.
It’s a traditional dish, the young man at the fryer, Thomas, tells me from behind his high counter, and much beloved by all. I stand eating and talking to him as he serves fast and efficiently, the sweetly sharp lingonberries cutting the oiliness of the fish perfectly, while the mash is a billowy sponge for all those juices.
It’s not fine dining but it is fun dining. For a taste of something special I head off that evening to Kock & Vin(Viktoriagatan 12). Here there is no menu, you only get what’s in season with a focus on the region’s superb fish and shellfish. The West Sweden themed cooking here from Head Chef Johan Björkman is artistic and creative and it’s no wonder it’s one of Gothenburg’s premier Michelin starred restaurants, but of course it has prices to match.
For something cheaper there is the ‘Fish Church’Feskekôrka(Rosenlundsvägen). Inside this ancient fish market is the small Restaurang Gabriel run by Johan Malm who took over the restaurant founded by his father.
Johan is an imposing presence with his bushy hipster beard and big boots, but he’s a friendly giant and while we drink bitter, powerful espressos and the kitchen sets up for lunch, he explains that with all the remarkable fish stalls downstairs he can always give his customers the freshest of the day’s catch, all cooked with beguiling simplicity. ‘The cold water around Sweden really develops the flavour of local fish,’ he says and swallowing a local oyster I find he is absolutely right.
Of course all this fish can get a bit much so I head over toGourmetkorv (Södra Larmgatan 6). This tiny hole in the wall sells over fifty kinds of sausages to be greedily eaten on the spot with mash, sauce and rather curiously, a slice of baguette that’s been squashed in a sandwich toaster. The average price is £7, including a can of soft drink, and it’s a bargain in this town, especially when you consider that all their sausages are made locally and contain between 85-95% meat and no additives.
Needing some art therapy I found the Art Museum was well worth a visit, especially as the handyGothenburg City Card I was rocking gives entrance to this and many other museums and galleries, as well as travel on buses, trams and ferries.
The restaurant next door to the museum, Mr P (Gotaplatsen 6) was the real masterpiece though. I expected the usual tatty museum café bad food and screaming children, but instead found a wonderfully modern place full of cool locals serving inventive fusion food from a terse small plate menu. Steak tartar with trout roe strewn with a crisp layer of sliced radish was a textural and taste delight and the local impossibly sweet squid with tomato, chilli, lime and avocado was stunning.
In Sweden afternoons are always ‘fika’ time, a coffee break taken very seriously. Over in the pretty old Haga district with its grid of streets of ancient wooden houses and bohemian shops, there are a myriad of coffee houses serving the cinnamon roll that it’s almost obligatory to eat at fika time. At Café Kringlan, (Haga Nygata 13) the home made roll is a welcome sugar rush which, combined with the heavy caffeine hit, had me ready to take on even more walking and eating.
By the time I’d reluctantly left town I had also feasted on superb saltwater and freshwater crayfish, had my fill of quality meatballs, dodged death from a really quite unbelievable number of Volvos, and yet barely scratched the food surface. So tack you Gothenburg for all the food, I’ll be back to dive deeper soon.
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