Secrets of Sweden

I have visited every Nordic capital city and have found each destination completely enchanting. Most recently I flew to Stockholm for the second time to discover more of Sweden, a beautiful country with exceptional cuisine, unique local designers and beguiling wilderness. I wanted to share a few of my favourite secrets of this city with you…



Swedish cuisine is becoming more and more popular internationally; I’ve spotted several fika and pickling restaurants popping up in London recently. Though these imitations are often delicious, the most authentic dishes are still found in Sweden. On the 24th June, Swedes celebrate Midsummer Day with a feast including, of course, the famous traditional dish of pickled herring and potatoes, a dish I tried in a few restaurants. For an extra special occasion I recommend heading to Gastrologik for an imaginative meal made from the finest local and seasonal ingredients. This pioneering restaurant was opened in 2011 by the talented chefs, Jacob Holmstrom and Anton Bjuhr. In their kitchen they aim to make the most of Nordic ingredients by presenting food that is both stunning and delicious.

Ett Hem, Stockholm


Ett Hem is a different kind of hotel, in fact it is the most beautiful home you could ever wish to step foot in. This fairytale, boutique hotel has flourished under the interior expertise of Ilse Crawford. Indulgently luxurious but with plenty of character and charm, Ett Hem ensures guests feel totally at ease and relaxed wherever they are, whatever they are doing. With just 12 rooms you will always feel special staying at Ett Hem. Enjoy the perfectly designed bedrooms, or the communal downstairs spaces where guests are invited to eat freshly baked cake in the kitchen, peruse the books in the library or borrow a bike from the courtyard.

Stutterheim, Stockholm


The ‘Scandi-look’ is much admired by hip Londoners and the streets of Stockholm are filled with blonde beauties modelling minimalist style with graceful ease. There are plenty of Swedish highstreet designers to spend your pocket money on, COS is the shop that immediately comes to mind. Head to the edgier districts like Sodermalm, to discover brands like Stutterheim, who make classic raincoats in a range of colours. Be bold and pick a ‘dusty pink’ or ‘Stockholm yellow’, or simply stick to the Scandi uniform of black or charcoal. Striking and trendy, they will make you crave the wet weather like never before.

Once you are satisfied that you have covered the city, head out to the lesser-known areas of Sweden to discover the original hipsters who are quietly creating amazing things that you will be thrilled to discover.

Learn more about hipster Sweden here.

See more on Swedish food here:

Gastrologik, Stockholm

It has taken me a long time to write up my meal at Gastrologik as it is a challenge to put an experience like this into words. This pioneering restaurant in Stockholm opened in 2011, a labour of love from young chefs Jacob Holmstrom and Anton Bjuhr. Both men have a background of working in excellent kitchens but wanted to open their own eatery to offer diners a cuisine that celebrated the qualities of seasonal Nordic ingredients.

It was a chilly night when my mum and I stepped inside the small Stockholm restaurant. Gastrologik is located on the corner of a quiet residential street in the Ostermalm district and only seats about 30 guests in the cosy dining rooms. This is a place for keen foodies to relish and enjoy the finest Swedish cooking.

The chefs work meticulously at the open kitchen counter, using various utensils to delicately dress and arrange the dishes. We sat down at the last empty table, and observed our surroundings. The restaurant is clean and minimalist with white walls, oak floor and typically Scandinavian copper light shades, which add a touch of glamour. The menu is similarly stark, open the white menu card to reveal the cheeky message: ‘Let Today’s Produce Decide’, 1295 SEK. And just like that we gave up decision rights for the night and let the kitchen choose our food fate!

We had a vegetarian menu, approximately 13 courses of beautiful, clever and flavoursome food. First campfire bread sticks and Algae broth with lovage in a tiny glass teapot. It was magically evocative of a forest encounter. Smoky bread wrapped around thick twigs and warm comforting broth. Next came a range of intriguing bites, a touch of cheesy sweetness from Goat’s cheese from Lofsta with meringue and apple, a touch of the exotic with the Quail egg marinated in the housemade pea soy sauce. It was evident with each plate that every ingredient was carefully foraged and found from the surrounding environment. Raw mushrooms arranged into flowers with a cream of toasted yeast were exquisite in looks and taste.

Freshly made hot bread was delivered in a hemp pouch with luxuriously thick butter from Kittelberget. Every course was presented in an inventive and creative way. Root celery with nettles was an eccentric pile of contrasting textures and garden tastes. Roasted carrots with onions and truffles from Gotland is a celebration of the humble carrot, the vegetable is treated with such dignity, creating a complex caramelised dish that I loved. Baked egg with ramsons and malt was a bizarre dish, the poached egg was almost jelly-like with intensely flavoured malt sponge and ramsons (a distant relative of the chive).

The sweet courses began with a glass petri dish of circular apple specimens to cleanse and refresh the palate. Smoked beets with hay was perhaps the only course we found a little too bizarre to enjoy, and I noticed our neighbouring table pushing it around the plate too. Unless you adore the distinctive flavour of beetroot this is a tricky dish, especially paired with shards of white chocolate and the hint of hay. Celery root with caramel and whey was a more tempting dessert and we enjoyed the crunchy topping combined with the smooth caramel decadence. Just before we could mourn the end of this exceptional meal, a bowl of pine arrived in which mouthfuls of pine vodka were hidden. The powerful flavours burst in our mouths, like a gasp of tingling cold forest air.

The lovely waiter brought along a wooden box of dried ingredients so we could create our very own blend of herb tea. I didn’t choose the best combination but loved the personalised process nonetheless.

Gastrologik cannot help but inspire diners, with their innovative kitchen ethics and love of produce in the purest form, every meal here is different. The chefs told me that sometimes the menu can even change halfway through the service when one item runs out. So despite reading my detailed review, you never know what will arrive in front of you. Gastrologik offers an exhilarating experience, a culinary journey that I will never forget.

More information and book a table here.

Things to do in Stockholm 2015

Stockholm is an accessible but exciting destination. I visited a few years ago and fell in love with the clean and healthy lifestyle, cutting edge design, captivating sights and stylish culture. This time on my second visit my palate was introduced to the inventive cuisine, my wallet suffered thanks to the influential local designers, and my imagination soared discovering the historic wonders that showcase the city’s past. Just two hours from London, Sweden’s capital is the ultimate Scandi-chic city escape and both times I have visited I have found it utterly enchanting, an endearing combination of old and new.

To stay
Ett Hem – the most beautiful home you could ever wish to step foot in. This fairytale boutique hotel has flourished under the interior expertise of Ilse Crawford. Indulgently luxurious but with plenty of character and charm, Ett Hem ensures guests feel totally at ease and relaxed wherever they are, whatever they are doing. With just 12 rooms you will always feel special staying at Ett Hem.
To eat and drink
Gastrologik – This miraculous Michelin-starred restaurant is the vision of Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr. They work closely with local producers and suppliers to create a magical daily menu that will surprise and delight.
Matbaren – influential chef Mathias Dahlgren has two Michelin star restaurants in Stockholm. Matbaren is the more casual of the two with small plates and a less formal atmosphere. Particularly memorable was Dahlgren’s take on an Asian BBQ steamed bun, it was absolutely delicious.
Gro – Dining out in Stockholm is an expensive affair but Gro is affordable and brilliant. This local eatery only serves two dishes each lunchtime, but what they do cook up is simple and honest, and seriously tasty. The cabbage and bacon was a winner when we visited, which we ate with rustic homemade bread and a refreshing Swedish sparkling berry fruit drink.
Drop Coffee Roasters – this award-winning roastery and cafe in the trendy Södermalm area is known to serve the best coffee in town. I tasted an aromatic blend from Rwanda which had been created with meticulous filter technique, very popular in Sweden.
Lindquists – Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon fika at Lindquists with one of their spiced cinnamon buns and a cup of something warming.
To do
Vasa Museum – The warship Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in Stockholm 1628 and was not salvaged until 1961. It’s the only preserved 17th century ship in the world. This miraculous ship is overwhelming huge and magnificently displayed. Learn about the ship’s story whilst wandering around the giant wooden structure.
Royal Palace – located in the old town (Gamla Stan) this ornate baroque palace is still in use today as the official residence of the Swedish Monarchy. Tourists can wander around parts of the palace and observe the lavish décor and artwork.
Östermalms Saluhall – this old fashioned foodhall has been inspiring locals and tourists since 1888. Today the beautiful hall hosts a range of vendors offering delicious local produce and Swedish delicacies. Visitors can wander around purchasing delicious souvenirs or can sit at one of the little cafés for a light lunch. We bought some typically Swedish cheese to take home.
Selma CitySpa – At the top of the towering Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm is a rooftop spa that will transport you away from the stress of the city to a world of relaxation. Enjoy a treatment before splashing around in the warm rooftop pool, or indulge with some champagne and sushi at the bar.
To shop
Nitty Gritty – This chic shop started out in 1991 in Stockholm as a counter reaction to all of the mainline clothing department stores dominating the market in the early 90′s. Beautifully curated and thoughtful, the shop is a great place to browse through interesting Swedish designers and unique products.
Hasbeens – These wonderful wooden-soled shoes have become so popular that they are now found in shops worldwide. Based on the clog styles from the 70s, Swedish Hasbeens creates traditional handmade shoes that will always be in fashion and will last forever.
Stutterheim – These brightly coloured handmade raincoats are the ultimate Stockholm accessory. Striking and trendy, they will make you crave the wet weather like never before.
Palmgrens – Established in 1896 by saddlemaker Johannes Palmgren this beautiful and luxurious leather designer is a Swedish institution. I loved the iconic leather-trimmed rattan tote, but there are many more styles and accessories to choose from. Sadly the beautiful craftsmanship comes with a hefty pricetag.
Byredo Parfums – This is one of only a few Swedish independent perfume brands and they produce lovely pure scents. The fragrances are made with only five core ingredients, and smell fresh and vibrant. I fell in love with Mister Marvelous, a unisex scent which has won several awards.

Many thanks to the Stockholm Tourist Board for their help with this trip.