Stockholm: fika at Mr Cake

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On the top of my to-do-list for the long weekend in Stockholm was, of course, fika. And not just anywhere, but at a recently opened café by Roy Fares, incorporating American pastries with Swedish fika.

It’s a concept that totally works, and it’s nice to find things like American pancakes on the menu, as well as deliciously looking doughnuts and more traditional Swedish buns.

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We came here on the Sunday morning, rather late as I’d had to work a bit, and after a chaotic few hours it was so nice to sit in the sunshine and enjoy our (very) late breakfast. We had some bread rolls with ham and cheese, American pancakes with maple syrup (so yum), smoothie, juice and of course some sweet pastries.

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The piece de resistance here is definitely the red velvet croissant. And it’s utterly amazing. Imagine flaky pastry filled with the cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake. It’s butterly, sweet (but not too sweet), flaky and creamy all at the same time. Yum, yum, yum!

We also shared a rhubarb and strawberry custard bun with crumble on top that was lovely, but nothing could beat the hybrid croissant of dreams. This place is a must for anyone visiting Stockholm.

Mr Cake, Rådmansgatan 12a, 114 25 Stockholm, Sweden

 

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Full on!

Last week went by so quickly, but was filled with fun things! Apart from maybe the baking I did on Monday night. A warm flat due to the lovely British summer gets HOT with the oven on for hours. But the cake turned out great, luckily! And I had ice lollies to cool me down.

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Apart from that I’ve just been enjoying the sunshine (I seldom get too warm) and made the most of it. Wednesday evening was spent in the setting sun in a beer garden sipping rosé with one eye on the Brazil game and then pizza afterwards.

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For the England-Belgium game on the Thursday we had rosé in another pub and delicious burgers. Afterwards we enjoyed the beer garden till closing as it was such a lovely evening.

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Friday I went down to Surrey for the weekend where some friends were having a party and I was cooking. It was a great party on Saturday with games in and out of the pool, lots of prosecco, nibbles and a proper dinner in the evening.

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I stayed over that night too and enjoyed the pool a bit more on the Sunday before heading back to London and going to the cinema to see Ocean’s Eight.

Such a great week all around – loving the weather and hoping it’s here to stay!

Recipe: proper spaghetti carbonara

 

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Recipes are not protected by copyright law, probably as they are evolving all the time. And as much as I like to keep to tradition when it comes to certain dishes I love to experiment with others.

When it comes to pasta there is no reason to always stick to the traditional recipes, but I think it’s good to try to master them first.

Growing up in Sweden in the 1980s and 1990s, we had a lot of traditional Scandinavian dishes, usually including meat and potatoes. Italian dishes then, when the world seemed a bigger place, were often (very) bastardised versions of the real thing, and therefore not of great inspiration to me. Because I only had the school dinner version of lasagne to sample I thought for a long time I didn’t like the dish. But it turned out it was just that terrible (yes, terrible) version I didn’t like. It was the same with ravioli (and other non-Italian dishes); my reference points were bad. Whereas everything my mother (or grandmothers) cooked was always delicious, but more Scandinavian in heritage.

Now my relationship with Italian food is quite different. I have been to Italy a few times and tried the real thing, and also cooked proper Italian dishes at home. And the emulsion of water and Parmesan keeps fascinating me. First of all, it’s DELICIOUS, but also, once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult at all as this recipe proves. And once and for all, you do not need cream to make a creamy carbonara, just a little patience and using the method below. But I must admit I added one tablespoon of it during my first attempt, although it’s not needed. As always Gennaro Contaldo’s recipes are spot on. Grazie.

Spaghetti Carbonara, serves 2

Adapted from Gennaro Contaldo’s for Jamie Oliver recipe.

3 large free-range egg yolks

40g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

150g good quality pancetta, diced

200g dried good quality spaghetti

1 clove of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

black pepper

Put the egg yolks into a bowl, finely grate in the Parmesan, season with pepper, then mix well with a fork and put to one side. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Fry the pancetta in a little oil over medium-high heat. Peel the garlic and crush it and add it to the pan for flavour – remove if it browns or when finished cooking. Reserve some cooking water and drain the pasta and add it to the pancetta pan. Toss well over the heat so it really soaks up all that lovely flavour, then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the pasta back to the spaghetti pan, season and add a splash of the cooking water, then pour in the egg mixture (the pan will help to cook the egg gently, rather than scrambling it). Toss well, adding more cooking water until it’s lovely and glossy. Serve with a grating of Parmesan and extra pepper. 

Stockholm: dinner at Hillenberg

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Saturday night in a sunny Stockholm. After a long day walking around the beautiful city we had a little breather in my friend’s flat before we got ready for a night on the town. It was actually a relief for my tired feet to swap my flats to heels, and taking a taxi to the restaurant obviously helped too.

Hillenberg, the restaurant I had booked, is the more relaxed one of Niklas Ekstedt’s (quite the frequent guest on Saturday Kitchen in the UK) two restaurants and I was super excited to try his cooking.

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On arrival we were shown to our table (with a sofa each to sit on) and started to study the menu. The service was a little slow at times, but that meant I had enough time to translate the menu and plenty of time to ponder it too.

Although I would have liked to try many things, I couldn’t resist the classic Toast Skagen, which I expected would come with a little twist. And indeed it did, as it was a deconstructed version. It was really lovely and I especially liked the dill dust on the side. Amazing mayonnaise too. Yum!

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My dinner companion had the nettle soup with äggost (a type of curdled cheese) and trout roe. Delicious!

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I was really indecisive when it came to my main course and so let our waiter influence me to try the monkfish bourguignon. It was really delicious and the “meaty” fish worked well with the powerful flavours. But the highlight was almost the velvety potato puré that was served alongside it. So rich, but beautiful!

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My dinner date had the lamb and was presented a very generous portion with lamb rack, artichokes and aubergine. Really lovely as well!

Unsurprisingly, we were too full to even be tempted by pudding. Instead we sat back (loved those sofas!) and finished our bottle of wine and just enjoyed life. Very content we weren’t completely finished with our night out and so walked around the corner to Riche for another glass of wine and lots of people watching.

Hillenberg, Humlegårdsgatan 14, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden

Summer is here!

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FINALLY! It’s summer in London and I’m loving it. Plus it’s the World Cup and I’m of course supporting both Sweden and England. And soon Wimbledon starts too.

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London summers are always busy, probably because we try to embrace every outdoor eating and drinking opportunity we can find this time of year! And that’s exactly what I embraced the past week.

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On Tuesday it was lovely and sunny in the evening, so a friend and I had pre-dinner prosecco and snacks on the roof terrace. So lovely and something I hope to enjoy many more evenings this summer. As it was a work night and I hadn’t have much time to prep, I for once used shortcuts. Something I’m usually reluctant to do, but it was actually really nice to avoid the last minute scramble I usually have to endure to get a dinner going. Instead I turned to the supermarket for nibbles so all I did was take it out of it’s packaging, which meant I only had an easy main course and some whipping to do. Amazing!

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The main course was a proper Spaghetti Carbonara (will post the recipe soon) served with a simple green salad, and for pudding I made Eton Mess with store-bought meringues.

On Thursday two colleagues invited me along to a work event so it was networking, champagnes and canapés all evening (part of it outside!).

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On Friday I met up with Gaby and Rowena for an al fresco dinner at Ham Yard Hotel. So lovely. Eventually it got cold but then we moved inside to a comfortable table with a sofa.

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Saturday and Sunday were more relaxed; I could catch up on chores and sleep. Had time for face masks (very important), sunbathing on the roof terrace, watching the football and a nice long walk at dusk. Oh, and a trip to the cinema. I feel thoroughly recharged and ready for the next few busy weeks until I go home to Sweden at the end of July.

Stockholm highlights

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Unless you’ve been to Scandinavia in the summer, I don’t think you could understand how magical the summer is there.

Of course, summer in Britain is gorgeous too, but in Scandinavia summer is what everybody lives for. The dark and cold (and frankly, rather miserable) winter months are so depressing that summer is the goal; the light at the end of the tunnel.

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It may sound dramatic, but it’s true. So to experience the gorgeousness of Swedish summer already in the beginning of May was such a treat, I don’t think I can explain the elevation I felt.

Stockholm is a pretty city all year round, but in summer it really comes to life and is more beautiful than ever.

So the highlights I am about to share with you, are in majority linked to this beautiful summer weather. We didn’t see the point of being indoors in a museum when the sun was shining. Alas, there are many many more great things to do in Stockholm, especially in other seasons, this is just a selection.

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Brunch with friends

On the Saturday dear friends of mine invited us over for a delicious brunch in their home, and afterwards we sat in the sun on their balcony, sipping rosé and eating a crumble with strawberries and ice cream. Such a wonderful start to our weekend!

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Exploring Gamla Stan (Old Town)

I’ve been to Stockholm many times before but as it’s my capital I have not explored it the way I have London. Therefore it was great fun seeing the city through a non-Swede’s eyes. We found beautiful churches and statues I had never heard of, and obviously checked out the palace and Storkyrkan as well.

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Fika!

We do eat a lot of fika in Sweden and it’s so easy to walk to a bakery, order something yummy and sit in the sun to enjoy it. We had amazing cinnamon buns at Fabrique, who also have a café in London.

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Exploring the city by foot

Stockholm is perfect for walking or cycling and it’s by far the best way to explore the city. When we felt we “knew” the way pretty well we went on detours to explore some more.

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Visiting friends in the suburbs

An old friend of mine has recently moved to Täby with his family, so we went to visit them and it was so cosy and serene outside of the city. I would recommend visiting Zetas Trädgård (a beautiful nursery with a café) for a similar experience.

Djurgården

This beautiful island is easy to get to by tram or boat and is Stockholm’s equivalent to Richmond Park. The nature is beautiful and you can go for amazing walks here. There is a beautiful nursery with a café/restaurant; Rosendals Trädgård, as well as the fairground Gröna Lund and several museums.

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Good restaurants

We had lunch at Rolfs Kök and nibbles and wine at Tranan.

I have a few more great places to tell you about, in more detail, so stay tuned!

 

Book Club, Street Party and a relaxing weekend

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The summer weather seems to have disappeared, but that’s completely normal for midsummer, which is later this week.

Sadly I won’t be celebrating it, but I’m meeting up with friends so it will still be a nice day. There are of course midsummer celebrations in London, but celebrating with lots of people in Hyde Park doesn’t appeal to me.

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Monday last week was a quiet one (that’s how I like my Monday’s – the shock of getting up early and going to the office is enough for me) and I made a yummy pasta with cream, sherry and last year’s girolles (picked by my auntie) from the freezer. So yummy and a perfect start to the week!

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Tuesday we met up with the book club at Marie-Lou’s and she has prepared a feast as usual. It was lovely to meet up and discuss the book and catch up!

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On Wednesday I went to the Motcomb Street Party which was lots of fun with entertainment, charity auction, food stalls and flowing prosecco. All the food stalls looked good but I decided on a brioche bun with roast beef and creamed horseradish. Really yummy!

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The rest of the work week was quieter; on Friday I watched the Portugal-Spain game at home and just chilled out. Saturday I met up with Laura in Surbiton for a walk along the river, lovely lunch and a cheeky ice cream. So nice to catch up!

The remainder of the weekend was unplanned which was just lovely. I can’t remember the last time I could catch up on sleep like this, binge on TV series and just chill. Such a treat!