There’s More to Sweden than Meatballs

When one thinks of  haute cuisine, the usual countries come to mind: France, Belgium and perhaps Spain. But not for long – affectionados of European cuisine are increasingly turning North for their foodie delights.  Far North like Sweden for example.

More known for meatballs than high class cuisine, Sweden is fast becoming the next foodie hot spot. With its fresh arctic seafood and wild mushroom and berries combined with root vegetables and pickles, Swedish food combines stodgy winter comfort food with a touch of the exotic.

On October 26, Swedish Ambassador Teppo Taurianen hosted an evening at his residence to present Swedish cuisine at its finest. Chef for the evening was none other than 2010 Swedish chef of the year and head chef of Gothenburg’s chic Restaurant Sjomagasinet, Gustav Tragardh.

Swedish chef, Gustav Tragardh, outs the final touches on a dish

As expected, the evening was a seafood gourmet’s delight. Taste buds were warmed up with traditional Swedish hors d’oeuvres of venison tartar before plunging into three main dishes, each more interesting than the first. For starters was lobster and chanterelle mushrooms served as ragu with sea coral and dill crown-svecia cheese mousse. It was as exotic and delicious as it sounds – a taste of the ocean that started with a slight crunchy texture of sea coral and made its way through the layers to a smooth creamy lobster base.  The matching wine was a light Pinot Gris Reserve Trimbach Alsace 2007.

Next on the menu was the main course of salted cod back served with baked farm egg and pickled vegetables, grated horseradish, browned butter and brined anchovy, cod belly and oyster fish and chips. The centre dish was typical Swedish cuisine with a modern twist. The sour and sweet taste of pickled vegetables and horseradish merged with the tang of salted cod back and was balanced out by the bland smooth flavors of the oyster fish and chips. Matching wine for the main course was Beaune Premier Cru Beaune du Chateau Bouchard Pere et Fils 2008.

Melt-in-the-mouth venison tartar

To round off the seafood heavy palate, dessert comprised of a traditional Swedish favourite – cloudberry pie seasoned with bitter almonds and served with vanilla sauce, mousse and ice cream. The tart flavor of the berries were offset by the crunch bitter almonds and sweetened by the vanilla. In keeping with the sweet theme, the tartness of the dessert was complimented by a Canadian wine – Inniskillen Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula.

Along with the haute Swedish cuisine, Swedish beer and new single malt whiskey were also presented during the evening. Introduced to the guests was the award-winning Mackymra whisky, a 46% alcohol content whisky cured in very small quantities in barrels made from fresh Swedish oak.  The result is a whiskey featuring a hint of vanilla, citrus, caramel and dried fruit. Also featured was a micro-brewed beer from Sigtuna Brygghus. Both are expected to be marketed in Canada in the New Year.