We started our day venturing to the Östermalm Saluhall (food hall) to begin our four-hour, classic Swedish food tour. I couldn’t resist the fresh berries from the produce stand just outside!
Our guide, Dara, briefed us on the history of this great hall, which was founded in 1888, and named one of the top 10 food halls in the world by Bon Appétit. The original hall is under renovation, so our tour began in the temporary facility across the street. We began by tasting three different types of Swedish cheeses: Västerbotton (a cross between sharp cheddar and Parmesan), Boxholms Kryddost (contains cumin and cloves), and Hushållsost (standard household/table cheese). Our favorite was the Västerbotton.
We then moved onto sampling cured meats: hot-smoked elk (favorite), cold-smoked reindeer (least favorite), and a bear salami stick (decent). Check out the display case!
No foodie tour here would be complete without stopping for Swedish meatballs, so our next stop was Ingelsta Kalkon for turkey meatballs with gravy, new potatoes, and fresh macerated lingonberries. So delicious!!
From there, we walked to the Hötorget (Haymarket) in the city center and business district to a little food stall that served award-winning fish soup. We sampled it – delicious! We also had fried herring on rye crisp – very good and much better than the pickled herring we tasted our first night, and shrimp salad on toast.
The second half of our tour focused on sweets. First stop was a licorice stall, where we sampled sweet, salty, and smoked licorice. My favorite was the salty; Mark tried them all, and then proceeded to discreetly spit them out – not his thing!
Next up, one of Stockholm’s finest chocolatiers – Chokladfabriken. There, we had a small scoop of deep, rich, dark chocolate sorbet – probably the richest cocoa flavor I’ve ever experienced in ice cream. We then tasted two truffles – the first was a light and lovely raspberry truffle. Then their specialty Lakritskola – licorice caramel sea salt truffle. Incredibly rich caramel with a hint of licorice – it was so good! Needless to say, no one spit these out!
Dara shared much of Stockholm’s rich history with us as we walked through the royal area and into the old town, Gamla Stan.
Our final stop was in Gamla Stan at Under Kastanjen for fika, of course! Coffee, tea, and Kanelbullar (a less sweet version of our cinnamon bun).
After some serious walking off all the food we tasted, we headed back to our hotel for a little siesta.
We had dinner reservations at a top-rated restaurant, but ended up in the hotel’s club lounge for happy hour…or two…or three. Who knew playing Uno and eating bar snacks while overlooking the city views could be so entertaining?! Again, laughter abounded from our group of four!
Our evening culminated with a final snack and drinks with our dear friends, David and Shona, who arrived from Scotland this evening. Several additional friends who are joining us on the cruise arrived yesterday and today, with our final friends arriving late this evening (due to a delay – American Airlines strikes again).
Tomorrow, we board the Regent Seven Seas Explorer and leave lovely Stockholm! Next stop, Helsinki, Finland!