Gotland: going south

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Our second full day on Gotland we wanted to cover as much of the remaining half of the island as we could. We drove south and the first stop was near Djupvik to try to get a glimpse of the two islands called Karlsöarna. The large one is barely visible to the left but the small one you can see very well to the right in the photo.

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The coast here is gorgeous with wild flowers and clear water. It was too cold for a dip, sadly, but still enjoyable.

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We got back into the car and drove further south, stopping when a photo opportunity presented itself (which it did quite often). The roads here are quite small so it’s easy to stop and get out with the camera.

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Eventually we made our way down to Burgsvik and got out for a walk around the little harbour.

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The local smokehouse had a food truck there, so we bought some lunch to take with us to our next stop.

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Which was Hoburg, on the south-west corner of the island. There are large stone formations here, just by the waterfront. One of the large rocks is shaped like the face of a man and so the rock is called Hoburgsgubben (the old man from Hoburg).

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I struggled to see it though, but apparently this is him, but from the wrong angle.

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It was lovely to just walk around here, though. And grab one of the picnic tables and eat our lunch. We had smoked prawns (they are SO delicious!), aioli and fresh crusty bread from a bakery. So lovely!

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Next we stopped at Folhammar to look at more raukar (the unusual stone formations local to Gotland). It’s so cool to see and so different to the part of Sweden where I grew up.

 

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Gotland: Amazing cider and local produce

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This is a restaurant review I would have liked to post a lot earlier; straight after our visit to Gotland in August. But life happened and suddenly it’s February and about time. 

My childhood friend Karl is a person I very much admire, he has so much drive and passion when he starts a project I wish I had even half. A few years ago he started making cider together with his friend Mikael under the name Fruktstereo (‘Fruit stereo’). It’s made from 100 % fruit, without any additives, so have more in common with crafted wines than commercially made sweet cider.

Mikael hails from Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a real summer paradise, so when my parents and I went there in August, we made sure to book a table at his restaurant Nyplings Mat & Vin in Visby. It’s a summer pop-up serving local ingredients like vegetables from the family farm and meat and dairy from the island.

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It’s sustainable and delicious and we enjoyed our evening here so much! Especially because we started the meal with a bottle of their cider, called Ciderday Night Fever. It was dry and refreshing and so unlike all other ciders I’ve had. In a good way. This was far better!

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We started the meal with a selection of tender raw beans from Mikael’s family farm (picked the same morning!) and a lovely dip.

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Then we moved on to the starters. Dad I wanted to sample them all, and so decided to share two. The ewe tartar with beetroot, cress mayonnaise, wild garlic ‘capers’ and shoestring fries was absolutely delicious!

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But the other starter (which my mother also had) was lovely too. It was a poached creamy egg (almost like a 63 degree egg where the texture of the white and the yolk are similar) with kale, hazelnuts and caramelised whey.

Somewhere here the cider was finished and my mother and I wanted a glass of wine each. We tried to describe what we wanted (two very different wines) to Mikael, and like he could read our minds he poured us a glass each of what we had tried to describe! Very impressive!

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Then we moved on to the main course (we all had the same) of melt-in-the-mouth slowcooked chuck steak with parsnip and radish. We all loved this dish!

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The Swedish summer weather in general was quite poor but we had lovely sunny days on Gotland, although after the sun had set behind the rooftops we got a little cold sitting outside and moved inside the restaurant for our final course.

Which was this humble bowl. Underneath that caramel coloured layer hides blackberries and cookie crumbs, covered by that smooth and fluffy topping of yoghurt, caramelised milk and liquorice. Great flavours and textures to finish off the meal!

We had such a lovely evening here, and it was great fun to try my friend’s cider and meet his very talented business partner. Let’s hope this pop-up is here to stay.

Nyplings Mat och Vin, H10, Hästgatan 10, 621 56 Visby, Gotland, Sweden 

Gotland: Sylvis döttrar café on Fårö

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A real ‘must’ when visiting Fårö, the little island just north of Gotland, is a fika (coffee and cake) at Sylvis döttrar, a bakery and café on the island. My friends mentioned it like an institution; it must have been around for years, so we made sure to visit in the afternoon.

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The place was very popular with a long queue of tourists waiting to buy their baked goods, but we were not all that impressed.

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Both mother and I are keen bakers and we all found the cakes a little basic. And some slightly dry. I got a sense that the café was past its prime, living on its reputation from years ago.

A real shame, when so many people come here for fika all summer long.

Sylvis döttrar, Fårö Bukleks 1526, 624 67 Fårö, Sweden 

Gotland: Lauters wonderful café on Fårö

 

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Driving around the small island of Fårö, looking for sustenance (it was lunch time after all), I spotted a pretty driftwood sign by the road pointing us in the direction of Lauters Café.

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I think it epitomises the island perfectly with it’s ruins, makeshift furniture and laid-back vibe.

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You could play boule, have a siesta in the hammock or even a massage.

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Or have lunch. Which is what we did.

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Mum and dad had the sandwiches to your left with cooked brisket and mustard, and I had one of the wraps in the foreground with smoked salmon, horseradish and rocket.

Simple food, but very well prepared. There was also a huge lunch buffet serving lots of salads, sausages and pancakes for pudding. That was too much for us though, but we couldn’t resist something sweet to finish off our lunch.

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The traditional saffron pancake, typical for Gotland.

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With dewberry jam and whipped cream of course. To my mother this is a little piece of heaven, and this one in particular was amazing. The best one either of us had ever had.

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We also had to have a cardamom bun and it was equally amazing. I think this might be my new favourite café.

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The kind of café I wouldn’t mind owning one day. Set in the beautiful countryside, a place to have good food and just hang out.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it?!

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And the best part, was definitely having that saffron pancake in this milieu; among the ruins.

Lauters Bar Mat Café, Fårö Lauter 1993, 624 66 Fårö, Sweden

Gotland: north, east and Fårö

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Our first full day on Gotland we wanted to discover as much as possible and decided to head north and east (the next day we went south and west) and our first stop was the Lummelunda Cave, one of Scandinavia’s biggest caves.

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It’s pretty touristy, but well worth a visit as it’s both pretty cool to see, but it’s also interesting to hear how the cave was discovered. I remember visiting when I was four years old, and although it was probably more amazing experiencing the cave as a child it was still nice to come back as an adult and experience it in a different way.

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After the cave experience we took the car ferry to Fårö where the nature is absolutely amazing. The island is barren and stony, but also eerie and pretty. And there’s sheep (and sheep huts) almost everywhere (Fårö translates as Sheep Island). 

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We found the most amazing café here, just by following a sign I thought looked promising, that I would recommend everyone to visit, but we also stopped for fika at the famous and more traditional Sylvis Döttrar bakery. Reviews to follow.

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After that we drove back to Gotland and headed east to Furillen, a former limestone quarry that’s extremely beautiful. The restaurant was closed unfortunately, but it was worth stopping here for the nature alone.

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We covered quite a lot of the island just driving around (and stopping when we saw a good photo opportunity).

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Although Gotland is small there are things to see and do (and eat!) just about everywhere, so it’s good to be selective. The Gotland Guide from the ferry over is great to use and we kept one in the car the whole time.

Visby: dinner at Donners Brasserie

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We arrived Visby in the afternoon, having been up since 5am, so we were quite happy just walking around the town for a bit (taking some photos) and then have an early no-fuss dinner.

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We ended up at Donners Brasserie and sat outside people-watching (so much fun when most people were dressed in medieval attire). You could tell it was the end of the season as none of the restaurants were full up but at least we were not alone dining here.

The menu was quite simple and although the smoked prawns for a starter appealed we were all hungry starving and went straight for the main course.

Mother had arctic char with potatoes baked in tin foil and served with a coriander mayo. Not ground-breaking but it was cooked well.

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I had the steak with bearnaise sauce and fries. The meat was slightly over-cooked but still nice.

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Father had the largest portion (so generous!) of lamb racks I’ve ever seen, with sautéed vegetables and a potato salad.

The food was nice, and not very elaborate but I can see it appealing to the crowds in the summer. It was all fresh and cooked well just lacking a bit of oomph.

Donners Brasserie, Donners plats 3, 621 57 Visby, Sweden 

Sweden: The medieval city of Visby, Gotland

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Gotland is the largest island in Sweden and a real summer island. I imagine it’s pretty much only locals here during the rest of the year, but during the summer the tourists come invading – both Swedish and from abroad –  and they’re joined by summer guests making the city all buzzing with parties and people milling about.

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Visby, the only city on the island, is the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and hosts an annual medieval festival in the summer. The city dates back to around 900 AD, which you see traces of all over town.

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The city wall is the most prominent feature, but there are also lots of church ruins, a medieval cathedral and lots of houses dating back to that time. It feels like even the cobbled streets tell a story of olden times. So much heritage!

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We, my parents and I, were here during the medieval festival (by coincidence) and it was great fun walking around the city seeing people dressed in medieval outfits – some more elaborate than others.

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Visby has a modern side too though, with a nice harbour, lots of restaurants and shops and a nice botanical garden.

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They also have these super cute sheep cast from cement scattered all over town which are modelled after the local Gotland variety gute sheep.

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Stay tuned for more posts about this lovely island!