Travel

Fish, forage and fika: how to eat in West Sweden

Whether you’re scouring the forest floor for chanterelles or kicking back with coffee and kanelbullar, a culinary trip to West Sweden is all about life’s simple pleasures.Friday, August 9, 2019

By Zane Henry
Edible Country picnic table set up with a sea view at Ramsvikslandet.

The Edible Country

This new initiative turns the countryside itself into a gourmet restaurant while celebrating wild resources and championing sustainable cooking. Book one of the chic picnic tables available across the country, grab the cooking kit provided — along with a special recipe put together by a top Swedish chef — and set off into the wilderness. You’ll forage for your own herbs, catch your own fish and cook everything over a portable stove in the great outdoors. Recipes on the menu include poached perch, forest broth and broiled herb butter. 

Why: Experience the joys of a woodland or lakeside walk while proving to yourself that you could survive in the wild. The concept forges a powerful link between the food we eat and where it comes from. And while you can do it solo, The Edible Country really comes alive as a shared experience, with friends or family sitting around the table together.

Where: The picnic tables are set up at a number of West Sweden’s most scenic locations, including the peaceful banks of the Göta Canal, the boulders of Ramsvikslandet and the splendour of Gunnebo House.

When: Available on Thursday-Saturday between May and September.
Who: Book at bookatable.com. More details at westsweden.com/ediblecountry

Fika

Every day at around 3pm, Swedes across the country take a break from whatever they’re doing to sit down with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and a biscuit, sandwich or kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) and just relax. Fika is the bedrock of Swedish social life, providing valuable opportunities to connect with people. There are some rules, though: no hot food, no alcohol and no bad vibes.

Why: The ritual of slowing down to enjoy strong coffee, good company and beautiful surroundings is a central tenet to the West Swedish philosophy of appreciating the simple, unalloyed pleasures of life.

Where: The town of Alingsås in West Sweden — the self-appointed ‘capital of fika’ — is home to around 30 cafes and bakeries, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Gothenburg is also crammed with great spots, including Flickorna på Färjenäs, a dog-friendly cafe that offers treats for pups as well. Alternatively, take a packed lunch for a fika-on-the-go.

When: It’s popular year-round, but there’s something special about rebelling against the elements with buttery cinnamon buns and piping hot coffee in the colder months.

Who: Take a 90-minute guided fika tour of Alingsås, where you’ll hit up the best cafes and delve deep into the history of the tradition. Email turistbyran@alingsas.se   

Snacking on homemade bread and edible seaweed.

Seaweed safari

Paddle out to sea in a kayak and get to grips with one of nature’s superfoods: seaweed. The waters off the Bohuslän Coast are incredibly rich with it — the area is home to around 325 types, of which around 20 are edible, each with their own texture, characteristics and ideal food pairing. Catxcalot’s seaweed safaris were launched to show just how delicious and versatile seaweed can be, while also showcasing the beauty of the Swedish coast.

Why: Seaweed grows wildly and is loaded with nutrients and vitamins. The safaris focus on sustainability, with tips and tricks for harvesting seaweed in a way that’s kind to the environment. You’ll also be taught recipes for some easy, delicious dishes. Seaweed crisps, anyone?

Where: The waters off the Grebbestad archipelago on the Bohuslän Coast are sparkling, relatively calm and packed with varieties of seaweed.

When: Dates are highly dependent on weather, so it’s best to check in with the organisers. 

Who: catxalot.se/en-GB

nautopp.com

Three to try

Meatballs 

Arguably the best in Sweden, the köttbullar served at Smaka in Gothenburg are smothered in a creamy sauce and accompanied by tart lingonberries and pillows of mashed potato.

Seafood

The waters off the Bohuslän Coast are home to prawns, oysters, langoustines, lobsters and mussels. Enjoy in any of the top-notch restaurants or try a seafood safari. westsweden.com/seafood-safaris

Cheese 

Swedish cheeses aren’t nearly as famous as they should be. Falbygdens Osteria in Falköping is a family-owned business offering 160 varieties of cheese, including ‘whisky cheddar’.

Published in the West Sweden guide, distributed with the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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