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 

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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!

Recipe: salmon en crôute

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When I had friends over for an al fresco luncheon at the summer house in August, this salmon en crôute was a great success. I have Gordon Ramsay to thank for the excellent recipe, although I tweaked it slightly, using puff pastry instead of shortcrust and doubled the recipe.

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I served the salmon with buttery amandine potatoes with peas and dill, provencale tomatoes and a lovely sauce I will tell you all about in another post. Everybody liked it, including the children!

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It was just the perfect summer’s day to sit outside sipping rosé and catching up with dear friends.

I did make too much salmon though, but that just meant I had lunch for the next day. And heated up in the oven (a microwave will make the pastry soggy) it was as good as the day before!

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Salmon en crôute, serves 4

Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe.

I doubled the recipe and made two parcels, and also substituted the shortcrust pastry for puff as I like the buttery flakiness better.

1 side of salmon (as even as possible), about 900 g, skinned

a little olive oil

60 g butter, softened

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

generous handful of basil leaves, chopped

small handful of dill leaves

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 roll puff pastry with butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

Check the salmon for pin bones, removing any that you find. 

Mix the softened butter with the lemon zest, basil, dill and some salt and pepper in a bowl. 

Pat the salmon fillets dry with kitchen paper, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the herb butter over one side and place the salmon with the buttery side down on the rolled out puff pastry. Spread the mustard on top and bring up the edges and tuck them in before folding the rest of the pastry over to form a neat parcel. Carefully turn the whole thing over so that the seam is underneath and place on a parchment lined baking tray.

Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Lightly score a herringbone or cross-hatch pattern using the back of a knife. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover loosely and chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C. 

Bake the salmon for 20–25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Rest the salmon for 5 minutes, then cut into portions. 

 

Sweden: dinner by the beach at Badhytten

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My first night in Sweden was sunny and glorious and I spent it the best way possible: with dear friends having dinner at the beach.

This restaurant, bar and nightclub is our favourite place to go in the summer as the setting is beautiful and the place has a fun atmosphere. In recent years it’s been rebuilt, so although the charm from when I was younger is gone it feels a lot more modern and grownup in it’s current design.

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We all enjoyed our meal here, it’s not a place where you come just for the food, but combined with the decent wine list, helpful waiters and lovely atmosphere it’s a lovely place.

For the starter, we all ordered exactly the same, the Scandinavian classic Toast Skagen. It’s essentially prawns in mayonnaise and dill served on toast. Here the toast was brioche  (nice!) and it was nicely presented with a ribbon of cucumber holding the prawns in place. Extra plus for the generous size!

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For our main courses two had the cod loin with pea purée, new potatoes and carrots, two steak and fries with bearnaise sauce and one fish stew.

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We were all pleased with our choices, and although the menu is very similar to last year, it’s consistent. My only remark was that my steak was rather overcooked, but still nice.

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After the two courses each we were far too full to have pudding, so instead we moved to the lounge area of the restaurant to finish our wine and have teas and coffees. Then later on we hit the bar and dance floor upstairs!

Badhytten, Skanörs hamn, 239 30 Skanör, Sweden

Swedish summer

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What happened?! It’s been over a month since I got back to London after my lovely holiday in Sweden and it’s been NON-STOP, until now. I finally feel like I can breathe a little now. In this past month I’ve had a cold for three weeks (sigh), moved house and been really busy with work.

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So sorry for the delay in sharing this post with you; the first little glimpse of my lovely two and a bit weeks in Sweden in August. I have lots more to share with you so STAY TUNED!

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My time at home was mainly spent in Skåne, in the South, where I’m from, in my parents’ summer house. But I met up with friends, had people over for lunch and dinners, went to the opera, and the beach, went to Copenhagen for a day, had as much ice cream as I could and indulged in all the things I miss when I’m in London.

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Like Swedish pizza, a real guilty pleasure of mine. It’s greasy, messy and wonderful the two times per year when I eat it.

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As usual there was lots of seafood too, and champagne and burgers on the barbecue. And strawberries, which is unusual for August but so yummy!

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Some evenings we took a nice long stroll along the beach, taking in the wonderful nature.

Thanks for a lovely break, Sweden!

 

Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands!