What I miss from Sweden and a **GIVEAWAY**

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When people ask me if I miss Sweden my answer is always no. I mean, I love Sweden and my family and friends there but they aren’t that far away and with the invention of Skype and Viber they don’t feel further away than if I lived in a different city back in Sweden.

Of course I can miss my family and friends once in a while but they are only a phone call away, so what I end up missing the most are things like triple glazing windows, mixing taps and less bureaucracy. And food of course.

Pearl sugar, mjukost, PICK ‘N MIX, cheese doodles, crispbread, crayfish…. The list is long. So when Inntravel contacted me for a possible collaboration about what I miss from Sweden to promote their trips to Sweden, it was too good to turn down.

I received a My Sweden Kit last week, consisting of typical Swedish food products that one miss when living away from home. It contained crispbread, a spice blend, O’Boy (chocolate drink mix which brings back childhood memories), sauce packets, mjukost, a soft flavoured cheese (sounds weird I know but it’s nice), chocolate balls (YUM!), pick ‘n mix (hurrah), chocolate pudding mix (you just add milk, another childhood favourite), dip mix, Anna’s ginger bread (again yum) and lots of chocolate (score).

Some of these items are definitely things I miss, like the pick ‘n mix (Britain is just not a contender in this field), chocolate, crispbread, cheese and chocolate balls. Other items like the sauce packets and spice blend I’ve never actually used and as a food blogger and decent cook I’ve never had the need for them, but I realise that lots of other people like these short cuts. The two sauces are real classics in Sweden; cream sauce which we serve with meatballs, boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam and bearnaise sauce that we even eat on pizzas.

Inntravel also want to treat one of you, my dear readers, to the same My Sweden Kit of goodies I received as well as a Guide Book to West Sweden. So if you are a Swede (or Scandinavian) away from home or someone who would simply like to try some Swedish food, this is your chance.

Simply click on THIS LINK to enter the competition! You have until midnight on Wednesday 1st October GMT to participate. A winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

NB: This is a post in collaboration with Inntravel.

Lunch at Rekondo, San Sebastian, Spain

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Our second day in San Sebastian we had a normal lunch (compared to the four hour feast the day before) at Rekondo. It was Caroline who had found this place and when two American girls that we met at Mugaritz said that the place was recommended by Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Bouchon och Per Se), one of my favourite chefs, we were super pleased we had it booked.

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Rekondo is a very cosy restaurant, especially the outside area where we were seated this glorious day.

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It is also known for its large wine celler and huge wine list (as you can see it was a proper book!). We settled for a bottle of white Rioja which worked really well with our meal.

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The amuse bouche was a cod croquetas each, lovely creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The cod flavour was quite subtle which I liked.

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To try and balance the gigantic meal the day before both Caroline and I were drawn to the seafood, in hope that it would be fresh and light. It was indeed fresh but maybe not as light as we’d hoped – but delicious! Carolines prawn carpaccio was a little eccentric flavour wise with fruit, pomegranate seeds and guacemole but it was absolutely delicious. And quite large.

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My lobster cocktail with scallops was also amazing. And huge! The lobster was perfectly cooked and great in flavour but was actually overshadowed by the big juicy raw scallops. They were the best scallops I’ve ever had. The pine nuts, olive powder and grassy olvie oil were the perfect accompaniments.

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For the maincourse Caroline had a local speciality; kokotxas, fish cheeks served in a parsley sauce. It was a mild dish and the cheeks were very tender and almost silky in texture. Very good.

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I had another local speciality, baked crab, which was amazing and incredibly rich.

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We chose to share a cheese plate instead of having a sweet pudding and that was perfect to finish off the meal. The cheeses were very good, especially the Brie de Meaux, the Roquefort and a local creamy cheese made from ewe’s milk. The comté and Pecorino were quite good but the Morbier was quite dull.

We decided to slowly walk back down to town to help digest the food but also enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

I really liked this place and of course the food. The service was not perfect but I’ll still come back. Especially for those delicious scallops. And the wine list. You find Caroline’s write-up from the lunch here.

Rekondo, Igeldo Pasealekua, 57, 20008, San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain

24 course lunch at Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain

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The world’s sixth and eight best restaurants right now, are both located in San Sebastian in the north-east of Spain. On my visit to the region on the bank holiday in August my friend Caroline (as keen on nice restaurants as I am), we had a fabulous lunch at one of them; Mugaritz. We would have loved to go to Arzak too, but we’ll save that for next time.

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We more or less went straight from Bilbao airport, via the hotel, to the restaurant and as soon as we were seated at our table we were shown into the kitchen (amazing) where we also got to eat our first course.

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It was a marshmallow made with pig’s blood. The very charismatic chef told us that pig’s blood has the similar properties to egg whites and can also thicken and be used for meringues and marshmallows. This marshmallow was flavoured with onions, pine nuts and black pepper and it was really good. And interesting.

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One we got back to our table we had wine and water and also got a warm wet towel to have at hand as the first couple section of dishes should be eaten using only our hands.

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The blue cheese round with anchovies (left) was actually a bit tame in flavour, I would have preferred a stronger flavour from both the cheese and the anchovies. The mussel with parmesan which was also lightly smoked was spot on though; so delicious.

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Next up we had tendons. Not sure if it was from pork or beef, we realised quickly that the amount of information given about each course depended on the waiter. Some were confident in explaining it to us in detail in English were as some only sad a word or two. This was more interesting than tasty, fun texture though, much softer than I expected.

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After that we were put to work. All the guests (about 40 per sitting) received a pestle and mortar at the same time and got to work their arm muscles turning the corn into a paste.

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We were then given a square of jelly with herbs and flours that melted in the warm mortar and turned the rough paste into a smoother one. We then had a delicious dip to either eat with a spoon or dip the bread in.

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It was fun to participate in something and the smell was amazing, just like the finished dip. It had several dimensions with different textures and lots of subtle flavours all coming together.

2014-08-23 14.28.58Next up was duck neck, cleverly illustrated by the special plate. It was crisp, a little sticky and very tasty.
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We then had Chinese chives tempura with what I guess was a chickpea puré. Also very nice.

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The eighth course was a soft soft dumpling topped with crispy Iberico pig skin and a chutney. I loved the difference in texture and the flavours were great.

2014-08-23 14.44.45Having finished a third of the menu we got a palate cleanser consisting of fresh chickpeas in their shells with sea salt and olive oil. Very fresh and light!

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Next palate cleanser was very far from a sorbet, instead we had mud and dirt. The mud was made from pine nuts though and we got to dip this moss looking plant called deff in it. I especially liked the plant, which was very fresh and subtly fragrant on its own.

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After the mud course we got proper cutlery and the first maincourse; tomato in a gelatinous broth. It was incredible! The tomato was quite firm but soft at the same time and the broth was very intense in flavour.

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The ox cheeks with powdered sauerkraut were also very good The powder was interesting, while it tasted like sauerkraut the texture made the flavour dissolve quickly.

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In the middle of the main courses we got to play a game with plastic knuckles. The winner received a little plate of caviar and I am very grateful Caroline wanted to share her winnings with me.

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Airy bread with cream quite similar to clotted cream, but a bit sweeter, perfectly balanced the salty caviar. This was absolutely divine and one of my favourite courses. Bröd med grädde inte helt olik clotted cream i smak och konsistens, men dock sötare, gav perfekt balans till den salta kaviaren. En av mina favoriträtter helt klart. Helt makalöst gott!

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Poached aubergine with white miso was more interesting than tasty, The texture of the aubergine was phenomenal; form but soft, but the miso was a bit too sweet and the herb on top very pungent and sharp and actually not very nice. Does anyone know what the herb is called?

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The hake with milk pearls melted in the mouth and was fantastic. Very subtle in flavour (I actually couldn’t taste the white asparagus) and the fish was cooked to absolute perfection. A joy to eat.

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This dish doesn’t look very appetizing but it was a fun take on surf and turf. Underneath the crisp chicken skin was a catalan cream with lobster. Like a savoury creme brulée – love it.

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The next course was just amazing! It was definitely the best steak tartar I’ve ever tasted. The meat was incredibly soft and tender, the caviar was a fun (and delicious) contrast and the pickled mini onions added the perfect amount of acidity. Perfection!

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The maincourse was eucalyptus smoked lamb loin with its wool. The wool was soft and the meat perfectly cooked but with quite a strong smokey flavour, so it worked well as the last course.

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The first pudding was stracciatella with sheets of dark chocolate. Not my favourite, I liked the chocolate but not the cream.

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The lemon sorbet in edible lemon skin was a pure delight. Fresh lemon flavour and amazing texture. Loved it!

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We read cronuts on the menu and got very excited but instead of the croissant dnut hybrid we got cronut shaped airy biscuits. I think they may have been made with rice starch, and flavoured with chocolate and caramel. Nice and different but not incredible.

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The least sweet desert was a grilled green fig injected with marine preserve made with sea urchin. Such a fun and different combination and very very tasty.

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The last pudding was a warm and crisp little cigar filled with custard. We also got to grate sugar on them using the rocks in the table decoration (which was pure sugar). Both fun and delicious!

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After are long lunch we went outside and got even more treats with our coffee. A whole tower of petit fours. We didn’t exactly need them but we still managed to eat them, we’re such troopers.

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The tower had seven compartments that each represented one of the seven cardinal sins. As you can see above, I forgot to take a picture of one of them, but the ones I remembered were chocolate coins covered with chocolate dirt, candied ginger dipped in cocoa, chocolate covered corn kernels, white chocolate with rose cream and dark chocolate with caramel.

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I was incredibly happy (and extremely full) after this meal. It was such an experience! Some dishes were absolutely delicious and others more interesting in texture or techniques used but I loved the whole experience. I also like the relaxed atmosphere and the fun elements of making our own dip and playing the knuckle game. The service was good but not flawless, which I would have expected. Sometimes dishes were stacking up on the table and if one of us went to the restroom (which is needed during a four hour lunch) they had already put out the next course before we got back to the table.

With that said, it was still incredible. It was so fun to see the kitchen and experience this type of cooking, and Caroline and I had a blast! And I still dream of some of the dishes.

Mugaritz, Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Raspberry and passionfruit mess

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In Britain Eton Mess is a real classic and I thought it would be fun to introduce it to some of my Swedish friends. Strawberry season was over in August though so I used raspberries from my parents’ garden and passion fruit to flavour my mess. Homemade chewy meringues further added the va-va-voom. This went down such a treat among my Swedish friends that I was surprised. I thought the amount of whipped cream would put them off!

Raspberry and passionfruit mess, serves 4-5

300 ml whipping or double cream

4-5 meringues

2 passionfruits

100 ml raspberries

melissa or apple mint (regular mint will of course do too) to decorate

Whip the cream. Break up the meringues and add them to the cream. Add the passionfruit pulp and the raspberries, mix carefully. Divide between four bowls. Decorate with melissa or mint and serve. 

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds

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In the midst of excursions and heavy rainfall in Skåne, I actually managed to cook a little. Among other things this delicious aubergine dish courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour’s amazing cookbook Persiana. I definitely have a thing for aubergine and absolutely loved this and so did the few friends that got the opportunity to try it!

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted and translated from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

2 large aubergine

olive oil for frying

2 good pinches saffron threads

1-2 tbsp boiling water

250 ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 lemon, the juice

sea salt

2-3 tbsp pomegranate seeds

parsley

Rinse and slice the aubergines lengthways. Either fry the slices in olive oil in a frying pan on the hob or on a baking tray in the oven until soft. Mix saffron and hot water and leave to cool. Mix yoghurt with the saffron water, season to taste with salt (maybe a tad of white pepper) and lemon juice. Chop the parsley. 

Distribute the aubergine slices on a platter, drizzle with saffron yoghurt and scatter pomegranate seeds and parsley on top.

Seafood feast, Swedish caviar and girolle toast

IMG_8610In my family, we don’t need much of an excuse to have an extravagant dinner, but celebrating my belated birthday with my parents we went all out on the stuff we love – seafood.

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Girolles are usually in abundance in August, although the first little ‘shrooms can be found in the woods as early as June. In Sweden we worship girolles as their season coincide with the crayfish parties. The first ones I eat every late summer has to be served like this; fried in butter with garlic and parsley, served on bread also fried in butter (or at least toasted). So delicious!

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Then we went outside to the barbecue to grill some oysters. I love oysters regardless of how they are prepared but my parents prefer them warm.

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Simply place the opened shells on live coal until the juices start to bubble. Remove with a thick glove as they heat up quickly. Add lemon juice and tabasco and eat.

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After that exercise we had löjrom (Swedish caviar; vendace roe from Kalix) served in the classic manner with butter-fried toast, creme fraiche and chopped red onions.

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After that we got started on the seafood. We had smoked cold-water prawns, Swedish crayfish, langoustines and crab claws. All washed down with Taittinger Brut Réserve. Needless to say we did not need any pudding after all that…

Homemade pinxtos

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Mother and I made pinxtos for our guests at two separate occasions this summer. I often serve crostini or bruschetta at dinner parties and this is obviously similar. Only difference is that you usually don’t toast the bread for pinxtos (which we did) and the toothpick securing the toppings. In Spain you can serve almost anything on or as pinxtos, but most common are crab and mayonnaise, prawns with mayonnaise, baby eels, morcilla or jamon.

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Ours were pretty simple, like tomato (from my parents’ garden), basil (also from the garden), buffalo mozzarella and olive oil.

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Cold-smoked ham with grilled peppers in olive oil.

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And one with crayfish, dill and rosé pepper. At the second dinner party we varied ourselves with toast Öjeby, which also worked really well.

Crayfish pinxtos with dill and rosé pepper, makes about 8

8 slices baguette

olive oil

1 tub crayfish tails, drained 

100 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tsp crushed rosé peppercorns 

chopped dill

salt, white pepper

lemon and dill to decorate

Place the bread slices on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 200C for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool. Mix creme fraiche and mayo in a bowl. Chop the crayfish tails and add to the mixture. Then add in rosé pepper and dill. Season to taste. Divide between the baguette slices. Decorate with lemon and dill and serve immediately.