Aloë – Luxury in the Suburbs

If you want to go out for dinner in Stockholm you really are spoiled for choice, no matter your budget. There are many affordable restaurants and quite a few high end luxury places are popping up here and there. What is not so common though is high end restaurants outside the city center.
Aloë is in the foreruns to change all that. Situated in the southern suburbs of Stockholm they bring luxury dining to those who either don’t want to go into the city or who are willing to take a trip from it.

When my boyfriend and I first visited Aloë two years ago we were already impressed with their high standard and attention to details in flavours and plating. Last Friday we, along with my mother as this was her Christmas gift last year, experienced first-hand how much they have stepped up their game. During our first visit they offered two tasting menus of different length. Today they offer only one, but by no means is it a small one. If you book a table here you better not have anything else planned for the rest of the night. That’s not a bad thing though as the entire dinner is an experience in itself. They also change the menu every now and then so what was served last week may not be what is served this week.

Two years ago the menu was a combination of Nordic and Continental flavours, beautifully executed with as local ingredients as possible. During our visit last week we found it to be heavily Japanese inspired (both in entire dishes, individual ingredients as well as plating) with Continental touches here and there. The Nordic feel was also present, especially in the choice of certain ingredients, like the squid that comes from the Swedish coast and is caught along with other fish. I’m not usually a fan of eating squid but this one, in combination with iced coriander, jalapeño and a green bell pepper soup was incredible and cooked to perfection.

4 Hjort, jordärtkockspuré, svamp, bakad lök, äppelmos, grönkålschips & sojasmör m tryffel
Aloë 2015: venison with Jerusalem artichoke purée, baked onion, apple sauce and truffled soy flavoured butter.6 Bläckfisk, grön paprika & jalapeño
Aloe 2017: Swedish squid with jalapeño, iced coriander and green bell pepper soup.

Now, I won’t give the entire menu away as I want your experience to be as much a surprise as it was for us. So instead I will show some of my favourites and try to describe the overall evening. The dinner started off with us being placed right by the open kitchen in order to be treated with a selection of “snacks”, or smaller treats. All three of us agreed that one of our favourites among these was the shawamushi made with halibut stock and served with Jerusalem artichoke purée, caviar and rice crisp. Shawamushi isn’t something you see on the menu very often in Sweden so to finally try it was really fun and the dish itself was amazing, so smooth and full of flavour!

1 Shawamushi m jordärtskocka & kaviar
Shawamushi with Jerusalem artichoke purée, caviar and rice crisp.

Once we were done with the treats we were led to our table where the non-stop flavour journey continued. Watching the staff changing cutlery, bring out new dishes and remove the finished plates was like watching a perfectly choregraphed dance, no one missed a beat (with the exception of a fork that shouldn’t have been placed out and needed to be changed). And the dishes that were placed before us were no different. Everything was so finely tuned, every single ingredient worked in perfect harmony with the rest and even though the dishes are very small they all pack a flavour punch.
The first dish was a perfect example of this, a baked char with kimchi and cucumber placed on a shiso leaf that you ate with your hands.

4 Röding, kimchi & ssäm
Baked char with kimchi, cucumber and shiso.

While this particular menu focused a lot on fish and seafood there were some meat dishes as well. One of these was my absolute favourite, the one thing I can never say no to: fois gras. Here it was served with a meringue cover and a kumquat purée which bitterness perfectly balanced the richness of the fois gras. The meringue was a completely new touch for me but of course you want something crispy to go with your fois gras and it worked like a charm.

11 Anklevergateau & kumquat
Fois gras gateau with kumquat purée and meringue.

I love a menu that surprise me and there was no end to all the surprises that we had. Everything we tasted had that “wow” feeling that left us talking about it up until the next dish arrived. You know how you sometimes feel a bit let down by the desserts? Like it doesn’t feel that they put as much love and care into them as the savoury dishes? Well, not at Aloë. Here the desserts are as meticulously thought out as all the previous dishes and we were not disappointed by neither flavour nor texture. There were two before the smaller sweet treats and I think my favourite was the first one, an apple parcel with Amontillado and raisin served with an apricot ice cream that really tasted of apricots.

14 Äppelpaket m amontillado & russin, choklad och aprikosglass
Apple parcel with Amontillado, raisin, chocolate twig and apricot ice cream.

Aloë is definitely one of my all time favourite restaurants and even though it’s expensive you do get a lot for your money. You don’t get just a dinner, you get a food experience together with an opportunity to interact with the chefs and owners. They are working hard at what they do and it shows in every single dish that they put up. It is obvious that they aim for a Michelin star and to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if one is waiting around the corner.


Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren – An Affordable Star

A couple of weeks ago it was my mother’s birthday and as is our tradition we all went out to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. The place she had chosen was Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren, a restaurant that has been on my own personal “Must Visit” list for some years. The restaurant has one Michelin star and it’s easy to understand why. The atmosphere is happy and carefree without beeing bothersome (especially for someone like me who has hearing problems and don’t like it when there’s too much noise), the staff is incredibly friendly and happy to answer all your questions and the food is cooked to perfection and plated in that sort of laid back high-end style that’s so popular right now (and that I like very much).
What I also like about Matbaren is that they always keep a number of seats open at the bar so that you can just drop in if you’re nearby and feeling hungry. More of this please!

Like so many other restaurants right now, Matbaren creates what we in Sweden call “mellanrätter”. A “mellanrätt”, or medium-sized dish, is something in the middle of a starter and a main course and the whole point is that you eat around three (well, two and up depending on your appetite) different ones in order to get a full meal. I’m one of those people who likes this as it gives me a better chance to try the menu but it also means that every little thing has to be on point. And trust me, at Matbaren it is.

The menu is laid out in front of you at the table and because it’s printed on paper it means that they can quickly make changes and notes that are needed. For me that meant getting a few dishes containing gluten crossed off my menu and a few marked as being able to exchange the gluten parts. I hate having to ask for every dish so this made me happy!

Foto 2017-10-28 18 01 21
The menu and a bag of crisp bread that was ready on our arrival

I like to start with something lighter and usually go for something vegetarian, or the occasional seafood. This time I decided for vegetarian and ordered their pumpkin and broccoli dish with cheese and almonds, a flavour and texture combination that was spot on and that I still can’t get out of my mind. For my second one I opted for their special of the day, duck breast with confit duck leg, corn and truffle. Whenever I go out and see duck on the menu I just have to have it, it’s one of my favourite proteins of all time! For my final dish I ended up with the almond cake (“mazarin” in Swedish) with mandarine, goats cheese and pine nuts. Definitely one of the best desserts I’ve had this year!

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Broccoli with pumpkin purée, almond, cheese and truffle.

Foto 2017-10-28 19 16 52Duck breast with confit duck leg, creamy corn and truffle.

Foto 2017-10-28 20 07 26Swedish “mazarin” (almond cake) with goats cheese ice cream, pine nuts, mandarine ice and lemon thyme.

Foto 2017-10-28 20 26 27After dinner treats: different chocolate truffles.

Not only was the food delicious, the wines that were suggested to all our dishes were perfect. They really know what goes with what and could even recommend dishes that would go well with specific wines. And the fact that they didn’t mind answering my sister’s extensive questions about certain dishes and wines is a huge plus point in my book! And it’s all very affordable, something that’s needed in our day and age. In Stockholm more and more people go out to eat but not everyone can afford to go to the really expensive ones. So affordable high end food with the opportunity to just drop in is something that I hope we will see more of in the future.

So if you ever get the opportunity to stop by Matbaren and have dinner, do it!

A Trip To Sichuan at Surfers Stockholm

I know I haven’t been blogging for a while but work and life pretty much got the best of me these past few weeks. I hope to be more consistent in my writing soon.

In late September, the week before I went to London (a post will be up about this trip soon!), my sister took me out for my birthday dinner. Since last year we have a tradition to give each other a restaurant visit as a birthday present present. And for my birthday my sister gave me a dinner at Surfers Stockholm, a Chinese restaurant that focuses on the Sichuan kitchen. I love Sichuan food, when my mother and I went to China in 2009 we occasionally got the opportunity to try some traditional Sichuan dishes and the way it balances the heat, spices and flavours is mind blowing.

We started with a couple of cocktails and then it was time to choose our dinner. I was very happy to find out that at Surfers they serve their food like they do in China, all at once and then you take a bit from each dish. We went with the recommended amount for two people, which is six, not including dessert and it was quite enough for us. Pictures will follow at the end of this post.

The restaurant itself is very cozy and it doesn’t feel kitchy, even though the interior is Chinese inspired. The staff is incredibly friendly and service minded and had no trouble with my coeliac which was very appreciated on my part. They even had gluten free beer! Now, I didn’t really drink beer before I got my diagnosis but when I was in China all we got to drink during meals was jasmine tea and beer, and I really wanted to relive those memories, so beer was the obvious choice.

Even though we didn’t quite manage to finish all of the dishes, both my sister and I loved everything. My sister is not that fond of spicy food but was pleasantly surprised, as was I, with how they had managed to balance the warmth of the Sichuan pepper, chili and the natural flavours of the ingredients. The chefs there know what they’re doing and I felt comfortable in knowing that verything that was placed in front us had been cooked with passion and a love for Sichuan food.

But enough with all this, let’s move on to the food!

1 Lu Long cocktail
Starter cocktail, Lu Long

2 Judasöron m lotusrot
Judas ears fungus with lotus root, shrimps and soy beans

3 Fläskdumplings
Pork dumplings

4 Stekt ris m krabba
Egg fried rice with crab, dried shrimp & mungbean sprouts

5 Tofu
Ginger scented crispy tofu (our favourite!)

6 Anka m endiv
Duck leg served in endive leaves with hoisin sauce & spring onions

7 Aubergine
Egg plant with garlic, ginger and chili bean sauce

8 Mangomousse och mjölkchokladkräm
Mango mousse with whipped vanilla cream & freeze dried mango and milk chocolate cream with Chinese apple and almond biscuits

Delicious Layers at Adam & Albin

Last week my boyfriend and I met up my mother to go out to dinner at this small place called Adam & Albin. As all three of us love to go out to eat and try new things this was my mother’s late birthday present for my boyfriend. My love and I had had a taste of what they could do at Adam & Albin a few years ago at a food festival here in Stockholm and so it was very exciting to finally sit down to eat at their restaurant.

The venue itself isn’t very large but at the same time it’s not very noise creating (unless you’re very sensitive). Its interior is best described as “nordic simplicity” with a hint of Japanese and this is something that runs through the dishes. The food doesn’t look very complicated but there are many layers that build them up.
They always start with a selection of snacks (I counted seven, including one extra addition that we chose) and then you choose your own four courses from the menu. As I have celiac’s disease there were a couple of things that I couldn’t have at all but the rest they did a very good job at adapting. I was especially surprised at the deep fried stick of soy flour pastry that I got as one of the snacks and the delicious chocolate ganache for an after dinner treat. We all chose slightly different things so prepare for a picture spam below with all the info about the dish underneath each photo.

What I found really interesting here though was the fact that it was so clear which ingredient it was that tied the whole dish together. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell and sometimes you can tell something is missing but you’re not quite sure what. This time I had two dishes (king crab and guinea fowl) that when I tried them without a certain ingredient (shiso and grape respectively) there was no mistake that these were needed to make the dishes whole. It made me think about the trick that is balancing and finding the perfect ingredients for a dish, and I never say no to a dish that does that to me.
I was also very impressed with the wine pairing. We chose to have the same red wine to all of the dishes (except for the snacks to which we had some champagne and to the dessert) and it worked just as perfectly to the crab as it did to the lamb and the guinea fowl.

I really loved it here and it’s clear why they have become rising stars in Stockholm’s food world. I definitely recommend a visit to Adam & Albin, and if this text isn’t enough to convince you, then maybe these photos will.

Foto 2017-09-13 09 57 22
Snack selection, including a miso treat, nori butter for the home baked bread, scallop, salad with pumpkin seed dressing, langoustine & iberico pork taco, deep fried squid balls & soy pastry with lemon dip and horseradish treats,

Foto 2017-09-12 18 44 31
Lamb tartar with crispy rice, cucumber salad and cress (this dish was my favourite!).

Foto 2017-09-12 18 44 37
Creamy mozzarella with avocado, smoked figs and oregano.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 06 54
King crab with broad beans, butter sauce, pine nuts and shiso.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 07 35
Yellow beet tarte with lovage, kale creme and pickled onion

Foto 2017-09-12 19 33 36
Guinea fowl fried in lots of butter with cabbage, macadamia nuts, grapes and pan juices.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 33 48
Chargrilled forest mushrooms with corn brioche, leek, fried egg and spinach.

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Ice cold white peaches with raspberries, sabayone and flower ice cream.

Foto 2017-09-12 20 26 05
After dinner treats of miniature chocolate cakes with licorice meringue and a chocolate ganache with cocoa nibs and olive oil.

The Importance of Taste

(Long post ahead, please bear with me on this one as it’s the first of its kind on this blog and I’m very much testing the waters here. Hopefully I will be better at writing these more philosophical posts with time.)

When asked what their best advice is to home cooks who want to cook good food, the answer from the professional chefs is that we taste, taste, taste. But what happens when it disappears? And I don’t mean like when you’re getting used to loads or no seasoning, killing everything that is basic flavour. I mean what happens when you lose your basic sense of taste or it changes profoundly?

If you, like me, have watched the show “Chef’s Table” you have probably seen the episode featuring Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea in Chicago. In 2007, two years after Alinea’s opening, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. The cancer was already in stage 4 when it was discovered and he was first told that he would need extensive and radical surgery in order to get rid of it. In the end that wasn’t needed, instead he went through a tough regime of chemotherapy and radiation treatment at University of Chicago. The side effect of this treatment, though, was that he lost all sense of taste. In the show he says that his taste buds were practically burned off because of the aggressive treatment. After the treatment had stopped he eventually and gradually got his sense of taste back, starting with intensely sweet and salty and working his way back to the delicate nuances of flavours he knows today.

I have seen this happen in my own family. About two years ago my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. One of the side effects he suffered (like many cancer patients do) was that nothing tasted the same anymore. Everything tasted too harsh, too sharp, too much, which made it difficult for him to eat as he missed what food used to taste like. That knowledge, that he would never be able to experience or do the same things like he used to, in the end is what took the most toll on him.
A couple of years ago my sister had her tonsils removed as they had caused her a lot of trouble during the years. She also suffered a strange side effect after the surgery as suddenly everything started to have a metallic taste to it. Now, my sister is a pretty picky eater and doesn’t like it when things don’t taste the way that they should so for her it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to eat anything because she knew it would taste weird. Her sense of taste is now back to normal, although she can still be a fussy eater.

Last November I went in for surgery on the inside of my right ear to get rid of a cholesteatoma that was wreaking havoc on my ear and hearing. Before the surgery I was informed that there is a taste nerve on each side of the face and that nerve just happened to be situated in the exact spot behind the ear where they would have to go in. Unfortunately it is so well placed that the surgeons can’t help but poke it during the procedure and it does happen that it gets cut. So I was warned that I probably wouldn’t have a normal sense of taste for a while. After the operation I got a pear juice to drink and all I could taste was… Pear. The juice tasted the same way it always had. It even surprised my surgeon until he realised that this meant that the taste nerve on the right side had probably been severed a long time ago because of the cholesteatoma. The only reason I had never noticed was because the left nerve had compensated during all that time. I still don’t know if the nerve will ever heal up but if it does it will surely be an interesting ride.

In the world of food taste is everything. And I’m not just talking about the taste we sense with our taste buds. We also eat with our nose, our ears and our eyes. If something looks and smells like it will taste good we in general are more inclined to eat it, whether it’s a dish we’ve had before or not. This is also why we can feel disappointed if a good-looking dish lacks in flavour and pleasantly surprised when something that doesn’t look that appealing reveals a complex combination of flavour and texture.

But it’s not just our five senses we use when we eat something. We also eat with our memory. I think that Vladimir Muhkin, of White Rabbit in Moscow, said it the best when talking about Russian cuisine: “Ask any Russian, ‘Do you like dressed herring?’ and they will say, ‘Yes! I love dressed herring so much!’ Even I am under the spell of that crap. When I see dressed herring, I understand that it is a complete piece of shit. But I take it and eat it. That taste it’s in our heads. Russians suffered 75 years, two and a half generations of Soviet time, when people were fooled into eating this gray urban grub. And our mentality has remained the same ever since. I really hate that period because it destroyed all Russian cuisine. And I will do whatever it takes to bring the genuine Russian taste back to the people.”

Because it is true, we learn about flavours when we are very young and that forms the basis of our palate as well as distinction between what we like and dislike. Sometimes we stick to that for the rest of our lives and sometimes we become adventurous as we grow older and will try everything we’ve never had before. Or we end up somewhere in the middle. We learn all this from our family, our friends and at school. I’m sure there are a fair number of you who have good and/or bad memories from school lunches, I know I do. My mum use to tell me that when I was little and we were eating out I would never go for the kids menu but choose something from the ordinary menu instead, simply because I thought it sounded more interesting. I still do that today. When given a choice I will go for the dish that stirs my curiosity. I love trying new things and experience new flavour combinations and while I can choose a core ingredient that I know and like it makes me happy when it is paired with something I don’t normally eat. For example, earlier this spring my boyfriend, my mum and I was at Lilla Ego (one of the most popular restaurants in Stockholm) and on the menu they had lamb with aubergine and veal with baked celeriac. While I love both lamb and aubergine I just had to have the veal. One reason was because I don’t eat veal that often (it’s actually quite rare to find it on a menu) and the other was that I knew that I had to try the baked celeriac. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten and the accompanied thyme gel was something completely new to me.

2 KalvVeal with salt baked celeriac, celeriac puree, chorizo sauce, thyme gel & mustard surprise.

Taste is important to make us enjoy eating and cooking and it has also been important for the human race throughout history. Because of our constant curiosity we have spent our existence tasting things and learning what we can and can’t eat as well as how certain foods can be prepared in order to be able to eat them. Along with the other four senses taste has kept us alive and helped us evolve and grow.

Dining by the Bridge at Bistro Barbro

This past Friday my boyfriend and I went out to celebrate his birthday. We decided to eat at a place we hadn’t been to in a long time: Bistro Barbro.
Bistro Barbro is a small-ish restaurant situated almost underneath Liljeholmsbron in Hornstull. They have a distinct Asian theme with “tapas style” dishes and the point is that you order a couple of them and then share. I like that as it makes the dining experience a lot more relaxed and you can try different things more freely. They are also very accepting towards food intolerances/allergies and will tell you which dishes will be unavailable for you (that is, that they can’t adapt for you) as long as you have let them know beforehand.

Now, I love things that I can eat with my fingers and one of my favourite dishes here is one that you don’t need knife, fork or chopsticks for. It’s seared fois gras on top of deep fried lotus root with figue compote, pistachios and balsamic vinegar. It’s decadence in a single bite.

Anklever m lotusrot
Fois gras, deep fried lotus root, pistachios, figue compote and balsamic vinegar

The cooking style is a mix of Asian and European and it really works here. As always it’s all about balancing flavours and textures and at Bistro Barbro they know what they’re doing. A while ago it could be tricky to get a reservation here because it was so popular but they have now an area downstairs so as to make room for more visitors.

Their signature dish though I would say is the sushi. While they occasionally will change up the rest of the menu a bit the sushi stays pretty much the same. The attention to detail is just as present here with how the dressing is added and perhaps a scatter of tempura pieces on the top.

Halstrad laxmaki
Seared salmon maki with yuzu kosho, cream cheese, chipotle soy and tempura crisp

If you’re not a fan of sushi though I highly suggest you try their deep fried dumplings. I can’t eat them myself but my boyfriend loves them!

Friterade shiitakedumplings
Deep fried dumplings filled with shiitake, edamame beans and parmesan, served with a miso broth.

Like many other restaurants Bistro Barbro also a keep a list of signature cocktails where half of them are more standard combinations with European flavours and the other half are Japanese inspired. It’s a very nice touch as they all work well with the different dishes so they complete the dining experience.

Asiatiska drinkar
Cocktails with Asian flavours such as ginger and shoshu

Vanliga drinkar
Cocktails with a more European base including bourbon, lime, vodka, rosemary and elderflower

So if you like food to share as well as both European and Asian flavours, Bistro Barbro is the place for you!

Eating Out When You Can’t Eat Everything

Sorry for the radio silence these past couple of weeks, life has been a bit hectic and I have also been busy working on a draft for an upcoming post about taste. I’m still working on it and won’t post it until it feels perfect so in the meantime I’ll post some other stuff.

For this post though I’d like to talk about something that affects everyone with a food intolerance of some sorts, like lactose or milk protein intolerance, egg allergy, coeliac disease, soy allergy etc. Namely, eating out at a restaurant.
We’ve all been there. Trying to find a restaurant that will fit our desired budget while being able to cater to our needs and not cause us to leave the venue feeling horribly sick because someone forgot to check all the ingredients in a dish or thought that “it’s just a tiny bit, surely that can’t be too bad?” Well, in case you’ve ever been that person to have that thought here is a news flash: for some it can be near fatal.
And we as sufferers don’t always want to make demands because we don’t want to be seen as “difficult”. The trouble is, once we start seeing ourselves as “difficult” we stop living our daily lives and quit putting pressure where pressure should be put: on the restaurants, cafés and coffee houses. We are not difficult just beacuse we want to eat food that is safe for us.

I have coeliac disease and I am one of those who don’t experience symptoms when I accidentally eat gluten. I might feel a little tense but nothing more. On the other end of the scale I have my sister who gets terrible stomach problems when she eats milk protein.
When I first got my diagnosis I was deflated and though that I would never be able to eat out again. Today we go out to lunch or dinner every other week and it works totally fine. If you’ve suffered from a food intolerance/allergy for a long time you are probably, like me and have devised a routine for going out to eat. If your diagnosis is new, however, you might find these tips useful:

  1. Call the restaurant prior to making a reservation and ask what can be done in regards to your particular intolerance/allergy.
  2. State you allergy/intolerance when making the reservation. Some restaurants have an option where you can leave a special message after choosing party size, date and time, others will want you to send them an email if you have any special requests.
  3. Remind them on arrival and let them know who it is who has an intolerance/allergy. They don’t know that when you’re making the reservation (unless you write “I” instead of “One of us”) and it makes things easier for everyone when ordering your food.
  4. Ask about the menu! A good (even decent) restaurant should be able to either recommend which dishes you should go for or what could be tweaked in order to make it safe for you. While some things will be difficult to adapt to your specific requirement, other things will be perfectly safe. But if you don’t ask you won’t for sure. Knowledge is the key to everything, never forget that.

I also always check out the menu (if it’s available online) prior to the visit. Although this is mostly because I’m curious about what they have and what I might be in the mood for, it also helps me rule out dishes that I know they won’t be able to fix for me.

Eating out should be an enjoyment for everyone, no matter what you can and can’t eat. Restaurants are constantly getting better at seeing and understanding food intolerances and we as sufferers need to be better at letting them know what we want from them. If we don’t communicate they won’t be able to learn and improve.
And to all you chefs and restaurant owners: please don’t see us as a pain in the ass. All we want to do is to live our lives the same way everyone else does, and that includes eating. We want to have the same experience as all your other guests, nothing more. While I understand that easy route is to just remove the particular allergen, more often than not it is apparent that this is the easy way out. I want to be able to taste all the different textures my dinner company is tasting. Crunchy crumbles usually can be replaced with something else that’s crunchy, such as nuts and seeds. I don’t want to feel that something was left off my plate because it was “the simplest way to fix it”. Please ask us if you’re not sure what can be done. When you’ve had a diagnosis for a couple of years you learn things and we’d love to communicate our experience with you so the next customer will feel as happy as we did.

I love to go out to eat and will keep doing that for the rest of my life. And I look forward to see the restaurant world evolve and make it easier for us with food intolerances and allergies to eat out.

Foto 2016-07-14 19 58 04
Dessert at Ekstedt, June 2016, almond cake (instead of honey cake) baked in the wood fired oven with raspberries, birch ice cream and buttermilk cream.

Cooking as a Therapy

I do nearly all of the cooking at home. And it’s not because my boyfriend doesn’t like to cook or have some strange idea that I should do all the cooking, he actually enjoys it and would like to be in the kitchen more (I’m learning to let in him). It’s because I come home earlier than he does, sometimes several hours earlier depending on his work schedule.
This means I spend most of my kitchen time alone with no one else to keep me company except for myself and my thoughts. I don’t mind it though as this has given me an opportunity to talk the day over with myself, rant about all the things that have annoyed me and discuss whatever problem I’ve had or things that worry me. I find that if I say things out loud and not just think it a problem gets easier to solve and something that at first seemed like a huge worry cloud ends up getting a shrug and a “Whatever, it will work itself out somehow”. Add to that the fact that I always think better when I’m doing something that requires focus and I have my own winning combination. Cooking gives me the opportunity I need to think, philosophise and go over the same thing again and again until I either find a solution to my problem or just say “Screw it, it’s not my problem so I don’t care”. It has in a sense made me aware of how my own brain works and how I solve my issues.

Cooking has also made me more physically aware. I will go deeper into this in another post though, or else I will lose focus on this one. But I am more aware of myself, my breathing, how I move my fingers etc when I’m in the kitchen. In other words, this is my form of mindfulness. No matter how sad or angry I am, cooking makes it better – or at least easier to handle.
I think it all comes from my connection with food and cooking as something enjoyable, something that’s done because we like to do it, not just because we have to. If I do something that I enjoy, like reading, having a cup of tea or going for a walk I feel happy and at peace. That’s what I feel when I’m cooking. It’s a bit like yoga, I guess, calming, awakening, focused and strengthening. I love the smell of something frying in a pan and hear the bubble of cooking water, a sauce or a stew. It makes me smile to know that I’m doing something that I’m good at and that it will taste good once it’s done. All my problems go away in that one area of my home, the only thing that beats it is my boyfriends embrace, however cheesy that sounds.

Cooking is my therapy. Some years ago I used to write in my journal to get all my worry and annoyance out. Today, I cook and bake. If I come home feeling upset about something it immediately starts to feel better once I start prepping for dinner. Doing something as simple as chopping an onion helps me focus my mind in the right direction and I can see what has upset me in a new light. If I didn’t cook I don’t really know what I would do. I might write a journal again but sometimes I find it hard to find the time to sit down and just write on my own. Cooking is something I do nearly every day (that is, when we don’t go out to eat) and for me it has done my brain good.


My Foodie Story

Yes, I know the title sounds a bit pretentious but it was the best I could come up with for this post. It’s an important post for me to write though because I feel that if I want to set the stage for upcoming posts that might be more philosophical and questioning (there is one in the works as I’m typing this) I need to explain why I feel the way I do about food and what my own food philosophy is.

If you have read my very first post, you might remember that I wrote that I grew up in a very food interested family. This is no understatement, ever since I was a little kid food has been a huge part of my family’s life, it’s one of the things that keep us together.
All of my grandparents have cooked and baked. My paternal grandfather would make a yummie strawberry compote that I would eat when I visited them after school every Thursday. My paternal grandmother baked amazing biscuits and ginger bread that had the perfect snap. My grandmother on  my mother’s side though, she always made the best baked cheesecake and a complete turkey dinner on Christmas Day, a tradition my mother took over when she passed away and that my sister accepted responsibility over last year. While my maternal grandfather didn’t cook much (that was my grandmother’s domain) he loved cakes and would often make his own sponge cake.

My parents are no different, food is such a major part of their lives and something that they have managed to pass down to my sister and me. I remember my dad once telling me that if he had had the opportunity when he was young he would have become a chef. He loves to cook and makes the most amazing roast dinners, stews and casseroles.
While my mum has never expressed any similar wishes she has always been eager to experiment and learn about new flavours, cuisines and techniques. She is the more “progressive” and experimental one of my parents, my dad is more “old school” and traditional in his food preferences. I’m happy though that they are different in their views on food, for me it just means that I have got the best of both worlds because I love both classic as well as more modern cooking.

When I was younger I would always be in the kitchen helping out with the cooking and tasting sauces and casseroles but I didn’t start to cook for myself properly until my late teens and early twenties. I have always enjoyed watching cooking shows on TV. I remember Jamie Oliver’s “The Naked Chef” being one of the very first ones that I saw and at the same time felt that I could try my hands on the recipes.
As always when you first start doing something for real you make mistakes but I am a perfectionist in everything that I do so I never gave up. I kept on trying until I was happy with the end result. And that’s how I still do things. I do more research nowadays though to find the best ways to cook an ingredient or the best flavours that will go with it. And from that I create my own recipes, whenever I’m not using someone’s of course. My cookbook collection is ever growing as is the list of restaurants I want to visit – and these span all over the budget scale.
Because I don’t just love to cook, I love to eat. I always think about the next meal and food I want to try. One of my main interests (that I also share with my loving boyfriend) is to go out to eat. There is always a new place I want to try and I get incredibly excited when we manage to get a reservation. We have even discussed future travels on the basis of restaurants and food regions we want to visit.
I am a foodie in the respect that I love to eat all kinds of food, from rustic classics to super modern fine dining and molecular gastronomy. I don’t see one style as being better than the other, they all have their place in the food world. Although, if you don’t know your classic techniques how can you then expect yourself to produce ground breaking dishes? This is no matter your cuisine, all countries have their own techniques for certain types of food. Knowing your basics makes it easier to experiment and I feel that you can sense this on the food that is presented to you. If you know what you’re doing then you can do practically anything, the sky is the limit. But if you don’t, then be sure that your diner will call you out on it.

The only thing I really ask of a plate of food is that everything that is on the plate is there for a reason. It is there because the dish changes entirely if you take it away. Regardless of the dish one of my major pet peeves is when something is there because “it looks cool/modern/interesting/whatever” but doesn’t really do anything for the dish itself. My other one is when a certain allergen (in my case gluten as I have coeliac disease) is removed but not replaced with an equivalent. There are many alternative ingredients out there it shouldn’t really be an issue. And yet it keeps happening. Which is why I always get ecstatic whenever I get offered gluten free bread at a restaurant and/or gluten free components on a plate in exchange of the original components that contain gluten. It means my chronic illness is being taken seriously and that means a lot.
This is probably a reason why I have become more scrutinizing whenever I go out to eat. I see the details more and analyze for myself how they work together. It might be expensive in the long run, but hey, I’m doing something I truly enjoy so it’s all worth it in the end.

I feel like I’m rambling at the moment and this blog post is running the risk of becoming a massive wall of incomprehensible text. I hope that I have been able to explain at least something about my view on food but I suppose it will become more apparent in future posts.
So I will end this one with a photo of one of the best gluten free desserts I have ever eaten: a sugar coated deep fried socca with caramel ice cream and chili syrup at Ekstedt in 2015.

Foto 2015-06-04 19 40 27 (1)
Desserts at Ekstedt early summer 2015. Sugar coated deep fried socca with caramel ice cream & chili syrup (gluten free), next to what was actually on the menu, donut with flambéed peaches.

Clean and Natural at Restaurang Volt

Last year my sister took me out to dinner as a birthday present, something which since then has become a tradition for us (she decides a restaurant for my birthday and I decide one for hers). The restaurant she took me to was one that had been on my bucket list for a little while, namely Restaurang Volt. They received a Michelin Star a couple of years ago but they don’t let that put too much pressure on them. Instead they stay true to their form and beliefs in regards to food and cooking. The produce they use is mainly organic and they work closely with small farms and growers in order to get the best there is. Even their wine is organic from small vineyards all over Europe, including many eastern European countries.

The philosophy at Volt is to keep everything as clean and uncomplicated as possible and at my first visit there that philosophy really shone through. When a plate of charred beans with a sour cream dipping sauce arrived for us to nibble on we knew we were in for a treat.

1 Nibbles m bönor & dip
Charred beans with a sea weed flavoured sour cream dip.

At Volt you choose between two set menus, one with four dishes and one with six, and to that you can order a set of matching wines. We chose to have four dishes, something I think is a fairly good idea when you visit a restaurant with set menus for the first time. That way you get a good idea of what they can do while not feeling overly full. We also opted for the matching wines and were pleasantly surprised. Each wine matched its dish perfectly and when my sister at one point mentioned that she wasn’t that fond of Muscat they switched a planned wine for another one. Now that’s what I call customer service!
They also provided me with their own home made gluten free bread that was filled with blueberries and one of the most delicious breads I have ever eaten!

When you’re used to seeing complicated plating with lots of different elements and edible flowers everywhere going to Volt is like a breath of fresh air. The plating is clean, without any fancy shapes or spheres, and with the focus completely on the ingredients. The flavours are both subtle and intense without fighting each other. Everything just works and it all looks beautiful.

2 Röding m purjolök, gurka & tall
Char with leek, cucumber broth and pine

3 Fänkål m mandelmjölksglace & rivet späckBaked fennel with almond milk glaze and grated salted lard

4 Lamm m gröna tomater & basilikaLamb with fried green tomatoes and basil

5 Råmjölk m höparfait & vilda björnbärColustrum pancake (simply colustrum milk that’s been heavily reduced in a pan) filled with hay infused parfait and blackberry jam.

Even though I love an imaginative and surprising presentation I also love it when restaurants dare to go uncomplicated and just focus on the components at hand. And if you prefer simplicity over elaborate then Restaurang Volt is the restaurant for you.
Myself, I feel that a new visit is long overdue.