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

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Classic Swedish fare at Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm

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Den Gyldene Freden in Stockholm is probably the most classic Swedish restaurant I have ever visited, and having dinner here was a very enjoyable experience.

The restaurant is located in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and is several floors deep with cave-like vaulted ceilings. The ambiance is both cosy and a little formal.

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The food here is classic Swedish (this is where to go if you want proper meatballs), but still up to date enough to not feel stuffy.

For our starter my mum, dad and I all had the same; a traditional landgång sandwich. Yes, it’s a glorified open sandwich, but a seriously delicious one! It’s named after a gangway plank, probably because it’s longer than a regular sandwich, and has more toppings. This long slice of rye bread was adorned with eggs, prawns, cured salmon, hot smoked fish, asparagus, wild garlic crème and pickled onions.

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Dad also had a snaps with his starter – very traditional – and something not many restaurants serve nowadays. Mum and I were happy with our wine but dad was in good company as two tables nearby also had snaps and sang snaps songs.

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Dad and I chose the same main course as well; duck sausage with thinly sliced duck breast, seasonal vegetables and a deliciously smooth potato purée. This dish was a lovely mix of rustic and gourmet. Delicious!

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Mum chose the catch of the day; fried pike-perch with new potatoes tossed in butter and chives and it was also absolutely delicious. The portions were very generous here as you can see, and no, I couldn’t finish the whole sausage even if I made a good attempt.

We were too full for pudding but lingered with our wine for a while before I went on to meet a friend and my parents headed back to the hotel.

Dad had been to this place before and really liked it, so that was the reason for going, but we all really enjoyed it! Everything about this place is classic; the interior, the food, the service. And the snaps.

A little gem I hope can stay in its spot for many more years to come, looking after our culinary heritage. As a tourist I urge you to go. Try this and a place serving New Nordic cuisine to get the whole range of Swedish food. Because this is traditional, but done very well.

Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51, 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Venison mince buorguignon

Not evry long ago I saw that Annika at the Swedish food blog Smaskens.nu had been making a boeuf bourguignon with beef mince and I thought that was a nice thing to try. But then I remembered I had a kilo of lovely venison mince (from fallow deer) in the freezer from Sweden and tried the recipe with that.

As usual though, I made a few changes, but not all of them because I wanted to. For starters I had to use streaky bacon instead of lardons, because I couldn’t find any lardons in my local supermarket. Shame on you Sanisbury’s.

I also cooked the dish in my slowcooker while I was at work, and that worked really well.

Because venison mince is very lean (like all game) it really works to either cook it with some more fatty ingredients, like cream or to serve it with something richer. I went for the latter, because you should not have cream in a bourguignon! Instead I made a very creamy potato purée with lots of butter to serve with it. It was the perfect combination and also how Annika served hers with beef mince. Thank you for that suggestion!

Below is my own version of this dish, but I found all the inspiration here. If you fancy a proper Boeuf Bourguignon instead, then try the ultimate recipe by Julia Child.

Venison mince buorguignon, serves 4- 6

1 kg venison mince

1/2 bottle red wine

200 ml water

2 tsp concentrated beef stock

1 bouquet garni

3 whole cloves of garlic

2 sprigs thyme (taken off the stem)

2 tbsp tomato purée

salt, black pepper

Step 2:

another dash of red wine

2-3 slices carrots

2 tbsp maizena (corn starch to thicken)

1 tbsp tomato purée

season to taste with stock, salt and pepper

100 g button mushrooms

100 g lardon (or streaky bacon)

Brown the mince in butter and transfer to the slowcooker. Add wine, stock, water, garlic, herbs, tomato purée, salt and pepper. Turn it on low heat and leave it for 8 hours. Transfer the pot to the stove (or pour the stew into another pan) and add the wine, carrots, tomato purée and maizena/corn starch. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes to thicken and for the carrots to cook. In the meantime, fry the mishrooms in butter on high heat, then the lardons/bacon and add to the pot.

Season to taste with sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Serve with a buttery potato purée (cook waxy potatoes until very soft, mix with a plenty of butter with a stick blender, season with salt and pepper) and creme fraiche. If you have leftovers the stew will only taste better the next day.