Stockholm, a paradise for the curious

I feel great in the company of food bloggers, probably because I like to cook myself, always trying out new combinations of ingredients. One of my favorite blog is ‘Na tanjiru’ and I just adore Milica’s tasty recipes and food suggestions. Although the two of us have have never met in person, through her posts I felt that we have similar sense of food, and I guessed we might have similar sensibilities for some other things as well. Milica is writing about those things in her article about the city she currently resides and from which she takes the best – the diversity, cosmopolitanism and openness.

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The impact of a city on life, emotions and culinary interest of a food and travel enthusiast

At the very beginning I want to thank Ivana with all my heart, not only for the invitation to appear on her beautiful, gentle blog that is very dear to me, but also for the fact that, while browsing through the photos, I relived some precious moments in places that I could call my own.

I chose to tell you about a nice, very modern, cultural, preserved, chic and cosmopolitan city. This city is almost equally divided into water, parks and urban areas, whose archipelago has about thirty thousand islands, of which the city itself extends to fourteen! As you have already seen the title of this post, you know that the city is Stockholm or, as some call it, the Venice of the North.

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I am one of those who would say they were born to travel, eat and cook. Whenever we talk about other countries, I imagine streets, markets, people, sounds, and I instantly think about what kind of food I might find there – what spices they use or what is the taste of their best cheese. Within five minutes I am on my feet, inspired and on the way to the kitchen. As far as I’m concerned, journeys cannot be separated from food, and I am glad I can practice those two in a package. I had the opportunity to try out life in several countries, and that allowed me to learn more deeply about their culinary traditions.

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Some of these places have taught me to value and appreciate homemade things, while the others gave me a close insight into the world’s diversity. The first ones foster the familiar, local, what would be considered Mediterranean food or ‘family cooking’. The others are the ones that reveal the world as a mix of varieties, twisted together and presented in a relatively accessible manner. I could say that the second ones are closer to my soul and that Stockholm is surely one of them!

Stockholm is a nice, modern, tidy and cosmopolitan city where you can do, see, try and buy everything you can think of! I do really mean that and I am using a bunch of opportunities this city offers, although I know not everybody would agree. Is it cold and dark in the winter, and bright, green and spectacular in the summer? It is! These extremes really exist and complement each other.

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Sometimes I feel like a tourist, sometimes as a local. I catch myself photographing the same buildings and monuments, and, on the other hand, it seems to me that I could make a guide for those who want to experience the city as “insiders”. Different streets, corners, parks, benches, stairs, windows, cafes and restaurants bind me to different moods and atmosphere I felt while living here.

In the terms of gastronomy Stockholm is a very open city. I am often positively surprised when I discover places where you can sample the dishes from various, very distant countries. In addition to European and other familiar cuisines, here I tasted Indian, Chinese, Thai, Lebanese, Pakistani, Ethiopian and Chilean cuisine. Swedish cuisine sounds slightly less exotic, but it’s pretty interesting, although the ingredients and spices are mostly familiar to the rest of us Europeans.

For example, through the Swedish cuisine I learned that the sweet fruit sauces and jams are the perfect complement to meat. I started to love sourdough bread, traditional Swedish crisp bread, herring in many ways, a combination of salmon with sour cream and dill, traditional desserts based on cream and marzipan, different kinds of baked goods with cardamom and cinnamon, marzipan and much more!

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However, because of the extreme openness and mixture of various influences, the ‘typically Swedish’ food is not easy to find. Of course, Swedes use quite of Scandinavian ingredients, but often combined with spices, vegetables or fruits that come from distant places. Diversity in Stockholm has become a way of life and eating.

Although Swedish cuisine does not have a strong impact on my cooking, my life in this city has definitely expanded my culinary and cultural horizons. It overloaded my cupboards with numerous spices, oils and flours. It made me constantly search for new ingredients that I have absolutely no idea how to prepare. It inspired me to learn about food more than ever before. Although not a gastronomical paradise that I experienced while living in Italy, Stockholm could be considered a paradise for the curious!

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As an author of a food blog, I am giving you a recipe that represents what I told you about Stockholm – a blend of tradition and cosmopolitanism. It’s a very simple, yet delicious sandwich, akin to those you may find in a typical cafe or restaurant in Stockholm.

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Smoked Salmon & Sour Cream Spread Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:

4 slices bread of your choice

1 teaspoon butter

80-100g smoked salmon

25-30g rucola (arugula)

For sour cream spread:

 80-100g full-fat sour cream or crème fraîche

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs (dill and chives)

½ teaspoon olive oil

pepper to taste

1 ripe avocado

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

olive oil

flaky sea salt and red chili pepper to sprinkle

 Instructions:

Wash rucola leaves thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl stir sour cream, mustard, olive oil and herbs until smooth. If you prefer, add a few drops of lemon or lime juice and season with sea salt and pepper.

Butter one side of each bread slice (exterior side of sandwiches-to-be). Place bread, butter side down, on a heated pan and cook until golden (2-3 minutes). Spread the other sides of two slices with sour cream spread. Top with two thin slices of smoked salmon and rucola.

You can simply cut and arrange avocado over, and season it with olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt and minced red chili pepper. Alternatively, make an avocado spread by mashing it with a fork, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Optionally sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Top with another slice of bread and serve immediately.

 Enjoy!

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As you can conclude so far, I feel Stockholm as one of “my places”. I often get so overwhelmed by its beauty that I declare it my love very loudly, while walking down the well-known streets that always hide new surprises, just for me. Maybe it’s up to the city, or maybe it’s up to me, who has this habit of falling in love with places, just like Ivana does.

I wish you many new streets and corners, new loves, wonderful discoveries and, of course, good food!

Milica

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