Lovisa Ingman is a Swedish art school student and a regular in the Stockholm café scene. She is a health food fanatic and loves experimenting with smoothie and vegan pancake recipes. Lovisa talks about how to enjoy fika the Swedish way, where to find the Acne Studios outlet, and the coolest cafés to land your hands on some authentic Swedish buns.
Photo: Felicia Gerdin
What do you feel defines Swedish cuisine?
Traditional Swedish cooking is typified by hearty and straightforward fare. It is meat or fish served with mashed potatoes, with a side of steamed root vegetables and peas with butter and cream sauce. It can also be whole corn-fed chicken cooked in the oven served with green salad, or a fish soup with saffron, creme fraiche and a slice of sourdough bread, butter and a mature cheese. Of course, there are the meatballs with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberries stirred together with a dash of sugar.
These traditional dishes are often seen in restaurants and fine dining places. What they often do is that they alter the dishes in a more luxurious way than what people would do at home. They change the kind of cheese used, add a different type of ham or put something else that traditionally wouldn’t be there, like truffle oil to potato mash.
What is a typical Swedish breakfast for you?
As a kid I grew up having oatmeal with strawberry jam and milk every morning! On the weekends, my dad would go to the local bakery and buy us bread rolls that we would have with butter, cheese, orange marmalade, and salami from the market hall. I would say this is closer to what I view as a traditional Swedish breakfast today.
So I would say the typical Swedish breakfast consist of a sourdough roll with cheese, ham and lettuce, or a boiled egg with Swedish kaviar, which is really weird tasting and not the caviar that contains fish eggs only. Or a large slice of liver paté with pickled gherkin. All this accompanied with a good cup of coffee. In Sweden, coffee is important. If there isn’t a decent cup of coffee around, people get very disappointed, even upset.
Coffee at Café Saturnus. Photo: Felicia Gerdin
Where are your favourite spots in Stockholm for a good cup of coffee?
Café Saturnus is located fifteen minutes’ walk from the Östermalmstorg station. They are known for their large cinnamon buns. Each are made from 400 grams of dough. They have good coffee and the atmosphere is lively, but sometimes very loud. Visitors here are either locals having a quick lunch or fika on their way home from work, or people who come from across town specially for their cinnamon buns.
Kaffebar is close to St. Eriksplan station. They are known for their great coffee, large breakfasts with all the typical Swedish things and I’ve been told that they have their cinnamon buns and sourdough bread delivered from one of Stockholm’s best bakeries, Valhallabageriet. The people who go here are the Apple-loving type of people, youngsters sipping their cappuccinos.
Speaking of Valhallabageriet, it is a small bakery in Östermalm, a ten minutes walk from Karlaplan station. They make the best cardamom buns, serve sandwiches and simple drip coffee as well. It is a bakery, and they have only six seats and a table placed outside. If you plan on visiting them, I would recommend renting a bike and taking your fika outdoors to Djurgården, which is the green area nearby.
Bakverket is in Södermalm, which is a 20-30 minutes walk from Medborgarplatsen station. It’s worth it! They serve an excellent breakfast where you get a brimming bread basket, a variety of toppings, homemade strawberry yoghurt and good coffee. They also have amazing, large cinnamon buns since they are founded by the same owner as Café Saturnus. Moreover, they have excellent lunch choices that will make you satisfied.
What is fika?
It is not a dish, but it is definitely a Swedish thing. It’s the “fika” tradition. People take fika breaks all the time. Pre-lunch fika, post-lunch fika, early afternoon fika, you get it. The list goes on. Basically you can have it at any point during the day and it can be just a cup of coffee and a small cookie. But I would recommend that you to go to one of the more ‘nerdy’ cafés or bakeries and have a good cup of coffee and a cinnamon or cardamom bun. Traditionally, you would dip your cookie or bun into your coffee before you eat it, but not everyone like that of course.
Where are your favourite restaurants or cafés in Stockholm?
Nybrogatan 38 is located a five minutes walk from Östermalmstorg station and it is one of my favourite restaurants in the area. They have a fresh spin on traditional dishes while keeping it solid and grounded. They have an equivalent in Södermalm, which is named Nytorget 6.
Where are your favourite shopping areas in Stockholm?
Acne Archive is sort of an Acne Studios outlet in Vasastan near St. Eriksplan station. Here you can find a mix of women’s and men’s clothing, jackets and shoes at a slightly lower price compared to their main stores around town. The people working there are very helpful.
Humana Second Hand is located in Södermalm and is near to Mariatorget station. In the area you will find good coffee shops and bakeries as well. They have everything from college shirts and Levis jeans to dresses and shoes. You can easily spend three hours in there. What is even better is that it is charity shopping!
What beauty products do you use to keep your skin in tip-top condition in Sweden’s cold weather?
Name your favourite swimming spots in Stockholm?
It was long time ago since I did this, but I remember going to Smedsuddsbadet with my friends once before. I know a lot of people go there during the summer, but it is still possible to find your own, more secluded spot.
Photo: Felicia Gerdin
As a local, what would you recommend travellers do to get the true Stockholm experience?
Since Stockholm is a small city at least in comparison to other European capitals, to walk from one part to another doesn’t take too long. To walk along Strandvägen on an early autumn’s morning when the sun is soft and the air is fresh, and to watch the city change as you work your way through is something that I find very relaxing and meditative. You can give yourself a goal even – a good café that will greet you with a wonderful cup of coffee when you arrive.
Where can we go to see your favourite view in Stockholm?
It is definitely Waldemarsudde out on Djurgården, where you can see across the water to Södermalm and Nacka. It is really beautiful on summer evenings and after you have watched the sunset, you can work your way back, strolling alongside the water.
Photo: Felicia Gerdin
WHERE TO EAT IN STOCKHOLM
Where: Eriksbergsgatan 6, 114 30 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Large cinnamon buns
Where: Bysistorget 6, Stockholm, Sweden
For: Coffee and large breakfasts
Where: Valhallavägen 174, 115 27 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Cardamom buns
Where: Bondegatan 59, 116 36 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Homemade yogurt and bread
Where: Nybrogatan 38, 114 40 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Traditional dishes with a modern twist
Where: Nytorget 6, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Eggs and meatballs