Food: Review: The Occasional Vegan

Sarah Philpott begins her book with a quote from George Bernard Shaw but I’m going to begin with a quote of hers:

“I’m a home cook, not a professional chef, but I’m passionate about inspiring others to eat well, simply, cheaply and above all, creatively.”

There is so much in this book and its origins that I can relate to. It’s the reason I started this blog, it’s the reason I still keep my Instagram, it’s the thing I think about in the shower, on the bus and rolling around at night when I can’t sleep. Food is a big part of my life and has been forever and reading through Sarah’s book I get where she’s coming from as a working class girl, growing up with food being a cornerstone of her life too.

Besides from the fact that we’re both Welsh and grew up in the nineties, there’s a lot in Sarah’s book that reminds me of my own complicated relationship with food. Food hasn’t always made me happy and I’m happy to sing that from the rooftops. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, low self esteem and boughts of depression in my life that have been hard to deal with. Sometimes food has been my friend and at other times it has definitely been my enemy. It wasn’t until a few years ago (early 2015 to be exact) that my true passion for cooking and inventing food became a reality. Until then I’d been mostly living at home and my mother rules her kitchen with an iron rolling pin. Most of my suggestions for a splash of this and a dash of that fell on deaf ears. In fairness my Mam is an excellent cook so a lot of the time it was a case of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!”. That being said I thrived on having my own kitchen and my own ingredients to play around with.

The title of the book belies the fact that Sarah is a full Vegan and she lays out her reasons and the argument for going Vegan right at the start. It’s a book aimed at people who may be on the cusp of going the whole nine yards, who have never considered it before or people who have already made the leap. Stacked from beginning to end with recipes which are self confessedly “easy to make”, her aim was to deliver “proper home cooking” and she achieves that with aplomb. You will find a blast from the past in this book, especially if you’re Welsh!

So, I’ve been lucky enough to get a hold of an advanced copy from Seren and I’ve spent some time pouring over it and decided to create two recipes from the book. The ‘main’, as it were, is her Beetroot Bourguignon, a brilliant and simple take on this classic French dish. For the second I chose and old favourite from my own past, her Bara Brith. I was especially keen to see how both coped with the translation from non to Vegan and I’m delighted to say both are absolutely delicious. I was also keen for something that would make a worthy meal for Easter Sunday, something classy but also casual and not too strenuous. As it happened I’d just returned from an epic walk and needed something that was easy to make and I was not disappointed.

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Beetroot Bourguignon

Both recipes are deceptively simple but this one I was a little more curious to see how it cooked. I’m used to slow cooking everything but this recipe is a wholly hob affair and works brilliantly. The recipe itself is super easy follow, made from ingredients that are readily available and cheap to buy. I halved the recipe for myself and my partner and it still made enough for us to eat the meal twice without being stingy on portion sizes. It calls for the veg to be chunky and this suits doing this meal fast with little fussy prep work beforehand.

One slight deviation I made was making my own stock. It calls for a lot of stock and/or wine and this is where the depth of the flavour really comes from. I made mine by peeling my veg over a simmering pot and chucking in the ends of the onions and the garlic, seasoning with a bit of salt and leaving it to bubble away while I continued with the recipe. After about 20-30 minutes it worked its magic and was ready to be used. It’s a great way of avoiding stock cubes (which can be pricey) and using up your food waste. It’s one of those little cheats you can pick up easily and will quickly become part of your cooking regime. Leftover snag ends of leek or cauliflower or broccoli, stick them in a bag and hide them in the fridge until you’ve got enough to brew away on the stove. You won’t regret it as it will really give your cooking character.

The only time the recipe really takes is the time it takes for the green lentils to finish cooking. Don’t be tempted to go red, they’re way too gritty and don’t have the heft and richness of green lentils when fully cooked. When they’re done the whole thing is, forgive the phrase, meaty and substantial. I love how the beetroot just permeates all the veg with a deep, ruby red quality so the whole thing just glows on the plate. You might also be surprised to know that the beetroot doesn’t overpower everything else, it’s the primary flavour don’t get me wrong, but it’s a deep and complex flavour that goes brilliantly with mash and fresh greens.

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Bara Brith

For the Welsh, Bara Brith is an institution and as it was our first Easter in Malmö I was feeling a little bit of hiraeth (a Welsh word that defies literal translation but in essence means ‘a longing for home’). Translated, bara means bread and brith, as Sarah points out, “refers to the speckles of the dried fruit in the loaf”. It’s a classic, old school soaked fruit cake and is traditionally served with lashings of butter and tea. Traditionally they have egg and milk in them, which are, I’m happy to say, wholly redundant ingredients. It calls for a splash of non dairy milk but other than that all rising and binding duties are handled brilliantly by the rest of the ingredients. I regret to say I was a shade more dubious about this one than the bourguignon, maybe it was the blood of my ancestors crying out, but I’m thrilled to say my doubts were totally unfounded. The bake handles beautifully and the fruit maintain their succulence so each spiced bite comes away soft and sweet and bursting with flavour.

I deviated once more, fractionally this time, from the recipe as I used jumbo golden sultanas, as they are abundant in Malmö. As a variation on a theme they were a brilliant choice as they swell with tea to almost grape sized nuggets. I made sure to use Glengettie, a proper Welsh brew that my good friend Nia sent us in a care package from home, for the recipe as I knew that the common or garden black tea you get abroad wouldn’t cut the mustard. As for the recipe’s execution it couldn’t be much easier than this: soak fruit, measure dry ingredients, combine, stir and pour into a baking tin and cook until done. I would recommend watching over it for the last half an hour or so to check when the knife comes out clean as the fruit and the dough can make things a little deceptive. It makes quite the substantial loaf so it would be perfect for serving your friends and relatives if they come over. As a proud Welshman I couldn’t have been more impressed with the recipe and if you aren’t Welsh then I would recommend this as an alternative to the usual tea cake recipes. Perfect for a Welsh addition to a Swedish Fika (with some vegan butter and a sprinkle of Halen Môn salt, of course)!

Even though I’ve picked two of the more traditional recipes from the book, one of the things that excited me when reading it was the variety of the origins of her recipes. It’s a modern and worldly book and you can really feel her love for exciting and diverse flavours. I really can’t wait to make her porkless pie as it really excites me from a flavour and food innovation perspective. Easy to make, cheap to prepare and packed with hearty flavours, I’ve got to say I will be flicking through this one time and again for inspiration in the future.

 

Published By Seren Books, RRP £12.99

With Pictures by Manon Houston

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Food: Rude Food Recipe 4: ‘Keep the cold at bay’ soup

 

The #Beastfromtheeast has left its mark over all of northern Europe it seems and snowy Malmö is no exception. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands with this stalwart soup that will batten down the hatches with plenty of fresh alium and flush out any lingering nasties with the heat of the chilli. The level of any of these is preferential, but here are the amounts that I used.

You will need:

  • 1 pack of cooked Beetroot, and its juice
  • The zest & juice of 1/2 lemon,
  • 1/2 tsp chilli, (go full tsp if you’re feeling particularly under the weather!),
  • 2 medium potatoes,
  • 1/2 an onion,
  • 1tbs Sauerkraut juice (optional, I used some, leftover from my dear friend Kathe Kaczmarzyk’s pop-up here in Malmö) ,
  • 3 cloves of garlic,
  • 3 rhizomes of fresh turmeric, grated,
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger,
  • Salt & pepper,
  • 500ml homemade veg stock
  • 1tbs dried parsley,

For the orange, ginger & mustard crème:

  • 2tbs dairy free crème fraîche (I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • zest & juice of 1/4 orange
  • Thumb- size piece of ginger, grated

Garnish:

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped.

 

 

The method for soups is always fairly simple, the magic here is the contents and not the process.

Chop the onion, the garlic and the onions roughly, separately chop up the beetroot into chunks and make sure you keep the juices.

Gently soften the onion and the garlic in a little oil and then add the potatoes, stir them through. Begin to add the lemon juice, the sauerkraut, the beetroot pieces, the beetroot juice and then grate in the lemon zest and the turmeric. Be careful with the fresh turmeric as it will stain anything, including your skin, so you might want to use gloves. Add the spices, the herbs and then pour over the stock, season to your taste including the chilli!

Bring the whole thing up to a robust simmer before sticking in the oven at 140 degrees celsius (fan assisted) and allow it to do its thing for at least an hour. Take the whole thing out, stir and check the seasoning. When you’re happy with it you can blast the whole thing with a stick blender or a food processor until it’s thick.

The aroma should be rich and earthy with the beetroot and the garlic, the back notes from the sauerkraut and the lemon should be sharp and punchy. The heat should be there to the taste too from the chilli. The colour should be like you’ve liquidised rubies.

For the punchy crème, simply mix all the ingredients together into a bowl and leave to thicken for 5 minutes.

Serve with a good loaf of your favourite sourdough, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a generous dollop of the punchy fraîche.

Enjoy!

Food: Raw vegan ‘semlor’

As it’s semlor season here in Sweden for Fettisdagen, or ‘Fat Tuesday’, when these buns are traditionally eaten before lent. The traditional semla is a cardamom- enriched bun with homemade marzipan, called ‘mandelmassa’ and plenty of whipped cream. For this raw vegan version, I’ve decided to use persimmon/ kaki/ Sharon fruit in place of the bun. I was going to use peaches, but they seem to be impossible to get at the moment, not being in season.  As I’ve used persimmon, I decided to top it with a bit of matcha powder, a nod to the asian heritage of the fruit,

 

Makes 6 mini semlor bites

To make you’ll need:

  • 3 persimmon/ kaki/ Sharon fruit
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp almond oil
  • 1 shot of amaretto (optional- don’t use if want to make it totally raw vegan)
  • 2 tbs raw agave syrup
  • 1tbs matcha powder, to top

For the mandelmassa:

  • 150g soaked almonds
  • 150g coconut sugar
  • 1-2 tbs water

For the coconut & cardamom cream:

  • The ‘cream’ from 2 tins of full fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbs raw agave syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ fresh vanilla bean

 

Start the night before by making up the syrup. Mix the water with the almond oil, agave and cardamom. I also added in some Amaretto, in the spirit of the decadance of a semla bun, but by all means, take it out.  3 big persimmon will make 6 mini semlor buns. To make them, I’d recommend slicing each fruit into 4 equal pieces and cutting out the middle with a round cookie-cutter. This should leave you with a top and bottom bun for each ‘semla’. If there is any lefover persimmon, simply chop it up and keep in the fridge, it’s a great addition to any curry or jerk recipe. De-leaf the top and place into a shallow dish. Once you have done this with all 3 fruits, cover with the syrup. This should soak up all those cardamom & almond flavours of the syrup. Leave overnight.

The next day, turn the persimmon buns in the syrup and make the mandelmassa. I used the recipe off this blog  to make it, but essentially, de-skin the almonds and blend it up with the coconut sugar in a food processor, adding a teaspoon or two of water to bind.

 

To make the cardamom cream, spoon out the coconut cream portion of 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk into a bowl, adding the ground cardamom, agave and vanilla bean paste. Whip up into a thick and aromatic cream.

 

When you’re ready to assemble your mini persimmon semla, take them out of the syrup and pat dry. roll a little ball of the mandelmassa and squish into the palm of your hands. Top the bottom of the buns with the disk of mandelmassa. Next, spoon on about a tablespoon of the cream. Top with the ‘top bun’ of persimmon and dust with some matcha powder.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Easy broccoli & borlotti bean penne with my Zogghiu

On the weekend I bought a big bunch of fresh mint from my local greengrocer for a Middle-Eastern dish. I was left thinking what to make with still a sizeable bunch left-over. Turn to Sicily!

In Sicily, unlike other parts of Italy, they have a special Eastern Influence on their flavours, because of the island’s special history, this has lead them to use mint as a herb, rather than just a garnish or for sweets. This has produced some real treasures like zogghiu, a minty & pistachio filled pesto. It would normally have some parsley too, but my version still produces a great, fresh & zingy sauce for pasta.

Serves 2

To make you’ll need:

  • 200g dried penne (100g per person)
  • Half a head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained

For the zogghiu (pesto):

  • Bunch of fresh mint (cut the stalks off)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4tbs rapeseed/ olive oil
  • 1tbs pine nuts
  • 1tbs pistachios (unsalted & shelled)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1tbs white wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish:

  • Few mint leaves
  • handful of pistachios

Start with the pesto, simply add the ingredients into a food processor and whizz up into a fragrant green paste. Before blending, keep a few mint leaves aside for garnish. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto. Then remove and scrape into a bowl.

Put a pot of salted water onto boil, as it gets up to speed, place in the broccoli. Poach until they’re tender, but still have a bright green colour. Remove with a scoop. Place the pasta in and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al-dente. In the last minute of cooking, add in the Borlotti beans. Strain and place back into the pan. Add the florets of broccoli and pour in 1/2 of the pesto. You can store the other half in the fridge or freezer for a future meal. Fold the minty sauce through the pasta and vegetables. Then scoop into bowls. Add a few mint leaves and a handful of pistachios as a garnish, a nod to whats in the very special pesto.

Enjoy!

FOOD: RUDE FOOD RECIPE 2: PARSNIP, SAGE & BROWN MUSTARD SOUP

For my second recipe as Rude Food ambassador; as I still had a glut of rescued parsnips and potatoes left, I thought I’d do a take on my roasted parsnip & mustard soup.

these are rescued ingredients I was given for this recipe: rescued parsnips, sage, apples & potatoes.

You’ll need:

  • 4-5 medium parsnips (roasted)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1tbsp German mustard (use wholegrain mustard as an alternative)
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbs dried sage
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • 1 Litre of water
  • Rapeseed oil

Garnish:

  • A handful walnuts chopped and toasted
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 small golden roasted parsnips
  • slice of fried apple (optional)
  • Some walnut oil (optional)

 

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C with your baking tray loaded with a generous glug or two of rapeseed oil, then peel and parboil the parsnips and potatoes. Toss the parsnips in the hot oil and roast for 25 minutes or so.

While they’re cooking, chop and fry the onion in a Le Creuset style deep pan with a little oil until they’re soft and mellow. Next, add in the potatoes. When the parsnips are done, remove from the oven and snip into the pot with a pair of scissors (keep one or two smaller parsnips and leave to one side for the garnish). Pour over the water, stir in the mustards, the dried parsley & sage and season generously with salt and black pepper. Put the lid on and let it simmer for a further thirty minutes.

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When the soup’s done its thing, take a hand blender and blitz the whole thing into a thick, creamy soup. For the topping, chop and toast the walnuts in apotatoes dry frying pan.  Finish with chopped parsley, a slice of fried apple, walnuts, a drizzle of walnut oil and the whole roasted parsnips you kept from earlier.

Serve with with a good hearty loaf; I served mine with a crusty walnut bread and a good beer!

 

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Food: Rude Food Recipe 1: Sage roasted parsnips on a bed of meaty green lentils

New for 2018! I’ve been made the Rude Food Ambassador for the next few months. Rude Food is Sweden’s first food rescuing service and I am lucky that it’s based here in Malmö. They stop perfectly good food from going to waste and promote good food practice to everyone. They usually return the food to the catering world to be used again but in order to help the promotional side of things they have asked me to write two recipes a month using some of their ingredients. Reducing food waste is a massive issue for me, not only for environmental and ethical purposes, but on a practical and economic level too. It just makes sense to make use of what you’ve got, so I’m thrilled to be taking on this role!

This first recipe is for sage roasted parsnips on a bed of meaty green lentils, served with a sour apple purée, blueberry pickled onions, plump sultanas and a sprinkle of fresh sage.,

If you’re wondering, here are the rescued ingredients I was given for this recipe: rescued parsnips, sage, lemons & apples.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the stock and the lentils:

600ml of water,

1 regular onion – ½ cut into half rings; ½ other half finely chopped.

150g of green lentils,

1 tsp of dried sage,

For the parsnips:

  • 4 parsnips,
  • 3-4 tbsp of rapeseed oil,
  • 2 tbsp of cornflour
  • 1 tsp of dried sage,
  • Salt,
  • Black pepper

For the sour apple puree:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 heaped tbsp of sugar,
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lemon

For the sultanas:

  • 20g of sultanas
  • A cup of the stock,

To serve:

  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A handful of fresh sage,

 

For the stock and the lentils:

 

To begin you need to create a stock to cook the lentils in, one that’s imbued with the flavours of the main ingredients. To do this, simply peel the parsnips and the onion and add the skins to a Dutch oven of gently boiling water. Season with salt, black pepper and some of the dried sage. Having peeled the parsnips, cut them into decent sized chips; cutting off the thin ends then quartering the thickest part is best. Parboil them in the stock water for 2 minutes and then remove.

Allow the stock to reduce by a third. Ideally allow the stock to do its thing for at least an hour before taking out all of the skins. You can do this by straining the mixture over a bowl and then returning the water to the heat in the dutch oven. (Keep a small cup of the stock aside for the sultanas).

 

Fry the finely chopped half of the onion gently until soft in a little oil and then add to the water with the lentils and allow them to cook slowly in the Dutch oven for at least 45 minutes. Cooking them low and slow will give them all the time to lose their grittiness and take on all the flavours of the stock, leaving them meaty and moreish.

 

For the parsnips:

 

Preheat your oven to 220°c and layer a baking tray with the rapeseed oil and place in the oven until super hot.

 

Pat the parboiled parsnips down with kitchen towel to remove all excess water. Put the parsnips into a medium sized bowl and rough the skins up a little with a fork. Dust over the corn flour and season with black pepper, a pinch of salt and dried sage. Make sure the parsnips are thoroughly covered with the seasoning mix.

 

Remove the pan from the oven and place the parsnips into the hot oil carefully, they should immediately start to sizzle. Be careful to avoid spitting fat. Make sure the rapeseed oil covers all of the parsnips and return to the oven.

 

Continue to cook for 5 minutes on 200°c before reducing to 180°c. Cook for a further ten minutes before checking them.The undersides should be crispy and golden. Turn them all over and return to the oven for a further ten minutes. When they’re golden and crispy all over you can take them and remove any excess oil with some paper towel.

 

For the sour apple puree:

 

Peel and core the apples, cut them into small cubes and place in a small pan. Cover them with water and add in the sugar, lemon juice & apple cider vinegar. Allow the water to reduce and the apples to break down until you have a thick sauce. When it’s ready, remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender.

For the pickled onions and the sultanas:

 

Quick pickles are really easy to do and they can really add zing to a dish. You don’t need to use fancy vinegars but it is nice if you have a couple of bottles of nice flavoured vinegar ready for dishes like this.

 

Fill a small bowl with a third of water and add the vinegar, break up the half of the onion that’s been cut into half rings and sprinkle into the pickling liquor. Allow to absorb the vinegar for 20 minutes, but ideally a bit longer if you have the time. This can easily be made in advance, in fact they’ll keep in the fridge for a while and can be topped up and reused regularly.

 

For the sultanas, leave some of the stock aside and put in a handful of sultanas in a cup. Let them plump up in the warm stock.

 

To serve:

 

Layer a bed of the lentils in the bottom of a dish and place the parsnips on top. Spoon a little of the apple on the side and sprinkle with the sultanas, the pickled onions and some fresh sage.

 

Food: Madamilen – Malmö 9 December 2017

Recently I was asked by the lovely founders of Madamilen to participate, which roughly translates as “the food mile”. It’s essentially a food tour of the city, where you stop at 10 participating establishments and sample food based around a theme. The movement began in September 2016 and has since had 3000 participants. What with this being the December event, the theme was based around the idea of Christmas gifts. So on a chilly Saturday morning, Tom and I loaded up the camera and headed to the first stop!

 

  1. Ingelsta Kalkon – Östergatan 26

Our food journey began in southern Sweden’s premier turkey (kalkon) delicatessen. You can find their products sold throughout the region in supermarkets and great care and attention is given to quality and ethical standards. It’s a smart and high end establishment in the heart of the old city, not far from the train station. Our offering was a festive selection of turkey products, including a style of turkey ham, with a delicious mustard edge, a prinskorv style sausage and a Swedish style meatball. It was served with a coleslaw of red cabbage, kale and cranberry. It was basically like a miniature Christmas dinner and packed with big, festive flavours. The quality of the ham, which we found out was made from the darker thigh meat of the bird, was almost indistinguishable from actual ham. Quite how you could gift the whole thing was a bit beyond us, but any of the ingredients bought as a gift or collectively given as a hamper would be warmly received by anyone.

 

  1. Mat och Chokladstudion – Amiralsgatan 16

Stop number two took us south of the old city, near Stadshuset (city hall) and one of the only desserts on the menu for today. Joel Lindqvist is a pastry chef, cook and author of a number of Swedish cookery books. He’s been on Swedish TV and has a simple philosophy when it comes to cookery: don’t compromise on quality. This is seen clearly in the artistry and care on show in his work. We were served a Spruce fir flavoured ice cream with cacao soil, spruce emulsion and Italian meringue pieces. The smell and taste of the fir hits hard with wintery freshness, delivered in the ice cream and complemented by the crunchy texture of the crumb and the meringue. We concluded quickly that any gift bought from Mat och Chokladstudion would be incredible. Again, the question of how you’d package the ice cream with all the elements left us both a bit baffled, but as a dessert to a high end Christmas taster menu, this ice cream would be very welcome indeed. I was even lucky enough to meet the incredible Titti Qvarnström, who was helping out in the studio that day. She is not only Sweden’s first female Michelin Starred chef (for Bloom In The Park) but also the co-founder of the collective ‘Malmö Cooking’ and a Malmö food hero, respectively. She is such an amazing person to talk to and reaffirmed in me that Malmö was the right place to move to.

 

  1. OST & Vänner – Ö Rönneholmsvägen 6

Our next stop took us to the cheese course of the day at OST & Vänner near Triangeln in the heart of the city’s shopping district. It’s part of a trinity of quality stores along Ö Rönneholmsvägen that often collaborate closely on food projects and ideas (one of those stores was next on our agenda to visit on the tour!). It’s the brain and love child of Daniel, Elin and Melissa who all have other professional lives but share a passion for cheese and drink. Daniel is a jazz musician, who regularly utilises his music in the experience of tasting the cheese. They are currently up this year for the best bar in Malmö. Here we had a canapé of a Danish blue cheese on a homemade gluten free seeded biscuit, with served with fig jam, flambéed figs in an Österlen VSOP and salted almonds. The smokey richness of the cheese was complemented beautifully by the rich fig jam and the biscuit. The canapé was accompanied by a glass of warm apple Glögg.

 

  1. Ola & Ko – Ö Rönneholmsvägen 6

Immediately next door was the equally charming Ola & Ko, a butcher and meat deli with some truly delicious things on display. Ola & Ko prides itself on being totally additive free and mainly sources from producers in Skåne with a smattering from southern Europe too. The emphasis on quality is paramount and clear in the taste of the products too. We were treated to another capapé but this time of pork rillette, made from local Skånian pork on a slice of baguette from Bageri Leve with a topping of the owner’s sister’s homemade caramelised onion marmalade. Perfect for a winter picnic or a hearty lunch.

 

  1. AB Småland – Södra Förstadsgatan 25-27

Next on the map was AB Småland, again in the heart of Malmö’s shopping district, a well established face on the city’s lifestyle and fika scene. AB Småland are all about green living, contemporary Scandinavian chic mixed with traditional, sometimes recycled elements, in their homeware and fashion. Their cafe is a big draw in the city with its open plan, indoor garden feel. They served a hearty cauliflower soup with saffron and curry. Served with some crusty baguette with a choice of either herb or chilli infused oil to dip in. Big, hearty flavours, indicative of the kind of flair for taste that AB Småland are famous for.

 

  1. Gottelisa – Engelbrektsgatan 20

This little candy store near Gustav Adolfs Torg in the centre of town was one of our shortest stops, but it was arguably the one that hit the brief the best. “Welcome to our world of quality calories!” reads their website and quality is certainly in evidence. Combining well known brands with a range of off piste delights, Gottelisa is a small store but packs a punch. Established in 2002 it is clearly still going strong. They offered a small gift wrapped package of three German chocolates – one white (a lemon truffle), one milk (an apricot truffle) and one dark (A salted caramel truffle). They even threw in an extra morsel of liquorice from Lakrids by Johan Bülow, his 2017 special edition liquorice. Golden balls of chocolate coated, salted caramel liquorice dusted with some gold dust. We weren’t there long but the great service and atmosphere left a great impression!  

 

  1. Lanthandeln, Saluhall – Gibraltargatan 6

Malmö’s Saluhall describes itself as a food lover’s paradise and it’s hard to argue with that description given the amount of quality produce available. It’s certainly earned its reputation and its claim to being one of Malmö’s premier food destinations. Lanthandeln is a (literally translated) “country store” and is a relatively new addition to Saluhall occupying three open units along the north side of the hall. Their offering of quality and diverse grocery products have, in part filled the gap that GRAM once occupied. Their Madamilen contribution was another soup, but served and executed with a twist; a cauliflower cappuccino with pickled Shiitake and crispy black cabbage shard, finished with a drizzle of white truffle oil. which was bursting with flavour. They had the ingredients necessary to create the soup around their display which seemed the most sensible way of answering the brief while providing something which isn’t exactly gift ready! We paired it with a tasty Pale Ale Soda by GBG Soda. 

 

  1. Favvo Glass, Saluhall – Gibraltargatan 6

Technically speaking, this stop was a bonus one as it brings the number of stops to 11. Must have been an eleventh hour offering, excuse the pun! We were glad it was added however as it gave us an opportunity to sample some of their delicious samples of ice cream. Most were festive inspired so we went for the Glögg and saffron flavours which absolutely delivered on quality and taste. But we couldn’t stop long as the day was winding down and we still had three more stops to get to!

 

  1. In the Pink – Neptunigatan 2

Conveniently situated outside Malmö Central station, In the Pink is a small cafe and bistro aimed at health conscious and busy city dwellers who want to be able to go out and eat something but not set back their training regime at the gym! As such, great thought and care has been put into each of their dishes and drinks. It has a flexible dining space that’s ideal for casual customers as well as busy professionals, (it’s even hosted a Creative Mornings: Malmö recently). Their offering for Madamilen hit their own brief perfectly but didn’t quite live up to the brief of the event itself. That said, it was absolutely delicious and hearty too. They served a red lentil dal style soup with spinach, tomato, ginger, garlic, onion, garam masala and vegetarian broth, topped with a mint raita. We decided to pair it with a Roots ginger kombucha, so that it would compliment with the flavours of the dal. The verdict: not really very Christmassy or gift ready but tasty nonetheless!

 

  1. Restaurang KP, Posthusplatsen 4

By now we were pretty tired and the night was beginning to draw in, so we headed across the road to Restaurang KP which is situated overlooking the water near Central Station. The building is opulent and grand but the atmosphere inside was very stale. We ate in the bar and the whole experience was quite cold. Kudos for offering a vegan christmas inspired soup (topped with pumpkin kernels, fried kale and soured red onion) but that’s where the good will towards the experience ended. The food itself was well made and delicious, but again it definitely missed the brief and didn’t really tie in with the Christmas spirit. Altogether a bit of a disappointment. By this point the amount of soups that we’d had in quick succession really made us wonder whether or not the restaurant’s approach to the event was balanced enough, but I’ll return to that later.

 

  1. Vigårda Grill – Centralplan 10A

Fortunately our final stop of the tour redeemed the experience and restored our faith in the spirit of Christmas. Vigårda is one of those restaurants in Malmö that you see on a regular basis as it’s part of the Central Station complex and immediately opposite the bus station. It’s a high-end burger restaurant that offers a wide variety of options that change regularly. Served American style (with fries and dips), their burgers are often guest created by chefs from the Swedish food scene. As it was quiet, one of the three co-owners brought us our sliders, which were smaller versions of the Cheddar & bacon burgers on their menu and talked with us at length about the place, he even threw in some gratis fries! Again, we did wonder how you would gift someone a slider for Christmas, but at least the effort was made to try and adapt the concept to fit the restaurant. And it was delicious, which helped immensely! We paired it with a great Winter ale from local brewers, South Plains Brewing Co. Great flavoured ale!

 

Closing thoughts:

Madamilen is now an established food event in Skåne region, Sweden, especially with two more events planned for the new year in Malmö (February 10th) and Helsingborg (March 10th). The scope and range of possibilities does seem pretty endless, especially in a city that has swollen in size and diversity over the past decade, and in a region that prides itself on being the food producer of Sweden.

 

The offerings we experienced as part of the December 9th event were delicious, every single one. Fine examples of the quality and attention to detail that good food producers put into their craft. From Ost & Vänner’s bespoke canape to the fir flavoured ice cream from Joel Lindqvist, the imagination was there for the most part. What lacked a little more thought was the tendency towards soups. Maybe if they’d been more spread out we wouldn’t have noticed them so much! Don’t get me wrong, the soups themselves were delicious and included some incredible ingredients, but it would have been nice if there had been a limit on the number of similar types of dish.

 

Despite that, it was great fun going round to the different vendors and sampling what they had. We made some great personal discoveries and we certainly have plans to return again in the future, which was, of course, the whole point of the tour!

 

As a newcomer to the city, this is a great way to introduce people to the bustling, independent food scene that Skåne has to offer. It would be a great idea as an early Christmas gift to a loved one, or an experience for someone visiting the city. The only hitch, would be that the ticket website currently is in Swedish only, but with translating programs, it’s an easy one to get around. I’d definitely recommend this tour to my friends, family and to any foodies out there. Thanks once again to Madamilen and Malmotown for letting me take this opportunity!