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!

 

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Food: Eating Vegan at The SWiGG

 

When describing Swansea to anyone new the fact that it’s by the sea will probably come up at least once. It’s great for surfing, long walks along the sands and generally admiring in all its beauty. I’d imagine “vegan” isn’t the first word that comes to people’s’ minds when they think about Swansea.

The SWiGG however has an exciting new menu that includes, not just vegetarian options, but SFV options too. The recently reopened bar and bistro has been working hard to tempt new custom down to the waterfront for a unique take on Welsh cuisine. Situated in the shell of the National Waterfront Museum’s older wing, directly opposite the iconic lighthouse and tugboats in the heart of the marina, The SWiGG is inarguably more sophisticated than ninety percent of the bars and restaurants around. It offers the chance to sample something a bit different – a Welsh take on tapas. Well, more like ‘small plates’ than anything, but it’s an opportunity to try something uniquely Swansea but crucially, with a Vegan twist.

To begin with a glance at their coffee and daytime options, if you’re looking for delicious and SFV then look no further than their cakes and chocolate cups from Naturally Kind Food, washed down with some Coaltown Coffee (Soy milk available, of course). If you’re sticking around for a drink then how about some of their SFV beers like the award winning Cwtch from Tiny Rebel Brewery. For the more sophisticated try a gin cocktail with Dà Mhìle seaweed gin. They also stock a great range of soft drinks and juices like Hartridge fruit juices.

FOOD Swigg

For lunch or supper there’s the Beetroot Hummus, Crudité and Pumpkin Seed Salad is a riot of colour and flavour. The hummus itself is big on colour but delicate on flavour. Their Laverbread and Leek Stuffed Mushrooms are gloriously meaty (forgive the expression), with a zingy filling that bursts with lemon zest. Finally, their Vegan Salad is laced with ribbons of carrot, with tangy hits of crunchy peas, dotted with jewels of pomegranate seeds and crunchy peanuts, dressed with a soy rich dressing. They also have a Tabbouleh Salad with bulgar wheat, tomatoes, pomegranate, parsley and lemon and they’re working on a new breakfast of avocado, tomatoes and mushrooms stuffed with laverbread and lemon on toast.

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So, whether you’re chilling in the Cwtch Corner under the bespoke artwork, sitting at the bar, basking in the sun outside or inside at a table, you never feel like you’re just another customer. If you’ve ever wondered what Wales can offer the world beyond a SFV take on cheese on toast, then The SWiGG has the answer.

Vegan Salad

Food: Jamaican Jills

Jamaican Jills has been one of Neath’s best kept secrets for some time. Now it’s migrated west to Swansea and taken up residence at the bottom of Wind St. You’d be forgiven for thinking Jills was a chain restaurant as the scale and the impact of the place screams success. Perhaps it helps that the previous residents left a shell that could easily be adapted, but it’s really the heart and soul of the cooking and the people who cook it that shines through.

 

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Using the Jamaican flag and the Caribbean as its decorative cornerstone the restaurant is bright and cozy, with splashes of Patois overhead and her signature hot wing challenge on the wall near the kitchens. The design lover in me also noticed the Artek A330S lights, designed by my favourite Architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. Probably a repro, to have something Finnish in the place, seems odd but the glow of the brass on the lights does suit the warmth of the place.

The whole place sings with its unique selling perspective – cosy, good value and gloriously Jamaican. Building on the reputation of its parent restaurant, this bright new light in Swansea’s culinary spectrum looks set to set many a tongue alight with its big flavours and great atmosphere.

 

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The menu sports the dishes one would expect of a Jamaican restaurant but I think, and I’d hope, that people would be brave enough to go off piste and try some lesser known delights. Standouts for me included the wonderfully tender and spicy goat curry, served with rice & pea, her Ackee and Saltfish is also deliciously moreish, served with gorgeous fried dumplings. Lunch menus and seasonal special menus are available too (like the recent one for Valentine’s Day) and are as varied and interesting as can be. Typically, the Jerk chicken is bold and punchy, the wings big and juicy. If you’re feeling brave you can try the Spicy Wing Challenge and get a t-shirt and your face on the wall. If you’re bold enough to sign the disclaimer then bragging rights come at the price of 7 hot wings in fifteen minutes with a 5 minute cool down – no drinks!

 

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Their bar is fully stocked with regular favourites (including Red Stripe, naturally) with a particular emphasis on cocktails for that Caribbean dimension. Two for one exists on most of the favourites with the Rum Punch being a particularly delicious and unique offering. They also offer a range of “smoking” cocktails served over dry ice for that added wow factor. The Children don’t get short shrift either, their meals echo the adult menu but come in Small Portions or Big Portions so you can gauge them by the appetite of your child. They also come with unlimited drinks and a dessert, which is a nice touch.

 

It’s so easy with new restaurants for them to have a muddy and confusing atmosphere, like they don’t know what they’re about, but that definitely isn’t the case with Jamaican Jills. From the bubbly staff to the slick management, Jills has hit the ground running and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Locally grown successes like this should be sung from the rooftops and supported wherever possible, but when the food is this good it’s all the more satisfying to just go along and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

Drink: Beer Revolution, Hay-on-Wye

Set up two years ago by local team, Emily & Rob, Beer Revolution has become a true Tour de force of the craft beer world, and is my personal favourite bottle shop. Originally situated in Hay Castle, they have recently moved to a new (and warmer!) premises on 7 Market Street, right in the middle of Hay town.

With a huge bay window at the front, it lets you see their quality product from the opposite side of the street! Opulently framing it with the great period features of the building. It also floods the space with light, so the interior is light but cosy.

As you walk in you are met with a mish-mash of table tops, (some old reels, some with hairpin legs) stools & comfy burgundy Chesterfield sofas that are just asking to be sat in as you quaff a pint. The floor, of stripped floorboards, lends nicely to the laid-back, effortlessly cool atmosphere of the place.

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To the left, you have the reason you came in for! The beer!

Rows of refrigerators, jam-packed with interesting brews & ales. From the biggest selection of Welsh beers & ales I’ve ever seen to interesting international picks like Dugges, Beerbliotek, Poppels, Stigbergets & Brekeriet breweries from Sweden, Euskadi outfit Basqueland, Norwegian Haandbryggeriet, Stone from Germany or Oedipus brewery from The Netherlands.

As I am Scandinathan, I must add you can get the Scandi greats here like TO ØL, Omnipollo, Evil Twin & Mikkeller as well!

Their Welsh section is worth travelling for alone. Considering Hay is a border town you wouldn’t think that they’d have such an extensive Cymraeg collection. Think again! Coming here has led me to learn & discover up and coming breweries I’d never heard of. Like the Pontypool based Mad Dog,  Gellioedd based Geipel or Cowbridge based Tomos a lilford.

They also stock a great selection of local Herefordshire ciders.

Unlike many places these days that don’t offer many Vegan options, Beer Revolution has a surprisingly wide range, and interesting new finds like Good Chemistry Brewing or Cloudwater Brew Co.

At the bar, you can get this weeks selection on draught.

Can’t get to Hay? No bother, they offer an online bottle shop on their website http://www.beerrevolution.co.uk/

If you do come to the shop, (which I highly recommend), after you’ve bought your beer, why not peruse the room in the back with their side business, selling  Vintage clothes. Soon they will be opening their kitchen and serving food, becoming a hub of great beer, tasty food & vintage fashion. Sounds like Heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite album of 2016

I don’t usually write about music, but I just have to tell you about this artist -if you haven’t heard her already!  My top album of 2016 would be by Chaleur Humane by French chanteuse, Christine And The Queens.

Having been on the radar since 2012 for those in the know, it’s amazing that Héloïse Letissier, or ‘Christine And The Queens’ is finally getting international recognition..and what an album to do it with! Taking her name from her time with a group of drag queens in london (Russella to name but a few!). Christine takes inspiration from Vogue and Ball culture, often incorporating it into her performances.

Chaleur Humane is a 12-track album that doesn’t seem to have a dud. Mixing English with her Native, French you don’t have to understand every word to appreciate and feel the impact of the music. Great singles ‘Tilted’ and ‘iT’ flow well with more emotional, softer tracks like ‘Here’ and ‘Jonathan’ her collaboration with Perfume Genius. The track ‘Paradis perdus’, written by French musical legends, Cristophe and Jean-Michel Jarre even has Christine do a rendition of Kanye West’s ‘Heartless’!

‘Narcissus Is Back’ is a great tune with a synth heavy instrumentation, giving  post-80s  electro realness, yet Christene’s vocals are strong enough to rise above it and carry you through this vintage audio experience.

‘No Harm Is Done’ featuring rapper Tunji ige acts as a great mid-track anthem. With a great rhythm and catchy hook- it’s great for getting your jam on!  She even gives Michael Jackson-like  echoes on ‘Science Fiction’ with its funky chorus.

It’s a great album for anyone into the quirkier side of pop music and to begin the foray into French music!

Favourite track: ‘Narcissus Is Back’

For fans of:

YELLE, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor