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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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

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!

 

Málaga: Jamon for breakfast and exploring the Alcazaba

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Holiday for me is all about relaxing and not waking up from alarms, but, being a night owl, that means missing breakfast at the hotel every day. So instead I’d get ready and venture outside for breakfast.

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Luckily I had a nice café near my hotel, it’s a chain of cafés in fact, offering everything from sandwiches to cooked food, pastries to cakes and even a delicatessen with cheese and charkuterie.

This ciabatta filled with a general helping of Jamon Iberico was a perfect start to the day and set me up for my day of sightseeing.

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I’m quite choosy on what I spend my time on, but for the the Alcazabar was an absolute must!

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This impressive citadel, overlooking the city and its harbour is very well preserved and an absolute dream to discover.

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It was built in the 1000s and is still standing firm offering incredible views as well as beautiful gardens and amazing architecture.

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I mean, look at this view – incredible isn’t it?!

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And the details to the building. Especially dating back that far is rather incredible.

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But my favourite part was the gardens. So beautiful and serene I could’ve spent all day here.

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But I didn’t, as I had more things to explore.

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Like the ruins of a Roman theatre just below the Alcazaba. It’s been around since the first century BC and is still part of the city landscape. At night it’s lit up beautifully and during the day one can just walk in, sit down and take a break.

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Surrounded by the hustle of bustle of modern life, I find it amazing how this old ruin is a part of modern day Malaga (and not closed off).

Alcazaba of Málaga, Calle Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain

Málaga: gourmet tapas and the best waiters!

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I found Malaga a lot more touristy than Seville, and the type of tourists differed too. In Seville most tourists seemed to be Spaniards from different parts of the country but Malaga with its harbour, seem to attract tourists from all over Europe. And because of this there are copious amounts of tourist trap style restaurants littered around the central parts, which as you know, are not my thing.

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Instead I did some research, and found La Cosmopolita mentioned lots of times as a nice restaurant.

And it was! I had a wonderful dinner here and almost went back a second time. Looking back, I regret not doing that, as where I ended up for lunch was a lot inferior, but I was rather embarrassed from almost fainting on my first visit.

The waiters were very sweet though, and made sure I got a chair (as I was standing in the tapas bar), water and something sugary. One waiter even followed me to a taxi to make sure I got home alright, which was really sweet.

But the service was like that; thoughtful and sincere, even though the restaurant was buzzing with people and all waiters were rushing around seeing to everyone.

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The cooking was on par; and I thoroughly enjoyed the best Russian salad (with Jamon Iberico on top!) I’ve ever had, the most amazing cod tempura with shiso, and bread. I would have liked to have more, but as I didn’t feel very well I thought it best to go back to the hotel and lie down.

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The tapas portions (which were not on the actual menu, but the items were) were quite large though, so I doubt I would have needed much more, but I would have like to try more dishes!

La Cosmopolita Malagueña, Calle José Denis Belgrano, 3, 29015 Málaga, Spain

 

 

Seville: Triana and food market

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My hotel in Seville was located just across the river from Plaza de Armas, so it was close to the centre but still quiet. Every day I would walk across the bridge and explore the centre of Seville, but one day I decided to explore my more immediate surroundings; Triana.

This is where travellers and bohemians lived before, as they were not allowed to stay within the city walls. The past has of course shaped this neighbourhood that offers a different charm than say, Santa Cruz.

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It’s a little run-down, but charming all the same. And of course the orange trees are lining the streets here as well.

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It was actually only in this part of town that I saw actual oranges on the trees. Not many, but it was still nice to see!

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Triana is probably most known for its pottery, and there are several shops where you can see the typical Seville patterns on bowls etc.

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And just like in other parts of Seville some buildings are very ornamental. Some have etchings and some colourful tiles with angels and saints on. So pretty!

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I eventually came to another bridge and as I crossed the river a little further away from my hotel I could enjoy a spectacular view!

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Seville is such a beautiful city, and it was lovely to see it all a bit from afar.

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There was also a lot of activity on the river; people kayaking and cruising along in boats.

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And on the bank on the other side people were basking in the sun amid the palm trees. I didn’t join them though, as I had a destination in mind.

 

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The Mercado Lonja del Barranco; a rather nice looking food hall with lots of seating both inside and outdoors.

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It was rather empty when I arrived in the late afternoon/early evening but that suited me well as I could easily walking around and checking out the different stalls. There were lots of pulpo (one dedicated stall in fact), and several types of prawns (my favourite!).

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But also different types of croquetas…

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… and of course Jamon Iberico!

 

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I had my eye set on the prawns from the start though, so ordered some cooked a’la plancha; quickly grilled and seasoned with salt. They were still a bit raw inside which I love (these are delicious completely raw as well!) and so fresh! From one of the wine bars I got a glass of lovely Albarino to accompany my little seafood snack.

After a little sit down I ventured outside again and walked along the river by the palm trees and thought about how grateful I was to explore this amazing city.

Mercado Lonja del Barranco, Calle Arjona, s/n, 41001 Sevilla, Spain

Seville: amazing Plaza de España, and more tapas

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I had seen photos of Plaza de España before I went to Seville myself, but was still taken aback by its beauty when I went there to see it for myself. Wow, is all I can say. Wow!

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If you, like me, have a penchant for blue and white tiles, beautiful buildings and pretty fountains, you simply must visit. It’s breathtaking. And so much larger than I expected.

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And if you come here during twilight it’s just magical.

 

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It’s so pretty I found myself walking around spell-bound for well over an hour. Plaza de España, which was built for a world fair in 1929, isn’t particular old in the grand scheme of things but still has an almost majestic quality.

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And as it’s such a large open space you can just walk around here and take in the beauty whatever time you like, instead of keeping track of opening hours. Which I learned the hard way when I tried to visit the Real Alcazar. Since when do things close early in Spain?! Oh well, next time.

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All this walking of course made me hungry, so I walked to a restaurant nearby that I had read about; La Azotea. It’s actually a chain with several restaurants around the city, but it doesn’t feel very chain-like at all. In fact, the Santa Cruz location I went to felt like a neighbourhood restaurant. The waiters knew many of the customers which created a lovely atmosphere.

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I had Jamon Iberico. Because, why not?! It’s delicious and I could easily eat it every day.

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I also had an amazing gazpacho, apparently the cold vegetable soup originates in Seville. It was very refreshing after walking around Plaza de España.

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I also had can con tomate which here was served in bite-size pieces. So yummy!

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And last I had some lomo; cured Iberico tenderloin. So delicious!!

Plaza de España, Av de Isabel la Católica, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

La Azotea, Calle Mateos Gago, 8, 41004 Sevilla, Spain