Dining in Stockholm

Here’s another cuisine surprise – Swedish is more than meatballs and pickled herring.  And even these plebeian offerings are delightfully presented.


The presentations are uniformly excellent
Meata balls!
breaded chicken- they eat quite a bit of this dino










The cuisine centers around sour cream and other cultured dairy products.  The grocery stores packed huge blocks of cheese and rows and rows of yogurt, Kefir and I don’t know what. 


cheese, glorious cheese! You need help lifting them.


They make gorgeous breads, hearty, seedy, crackery.  Mighty fine!  

Deserts are a delight.  There are lots of fruit deserts as well as creamy and there are lots of cookies. 

And there’s lot of cherry desserts!

Watch out for your purse in the cafes, though.  Our first cappuccino, espresso and basic cookie cost us $20.00.  Eating out is everywhere through the roof.  This is a soup eating culture – a bowl will easily run you $10.  They make thick fruit soups including rose hip and blueberry.  Lingonberries are made into a jam and served with various dishes.  It is on the bitter side, not as bitter as cranberries though.  Dishes are prepared with butter and margarine, although you can get olive oil in the markets but these are not traditional.  Fish is plentiful and not too crazy expensive if prepared at home.

Oh, did I mention that the Swedes have a sweet from time to time?


You find aisles and aisles in the grocery stores.


Alcohol.  There’s plenty and it’s taxed highly so the $2 bottle of Spanish wine is $12 (not that different from what you’d pay in the US).  Some of that is from transport costs but largely it’s tax, the government’s way of trying to discourage excess consumption.  I suppose things might be worse if they didn’t,  but the Swedes are known for weekend binges.  Have a glass during the week, though, and you might raise eyebrows.  The day-to-day is beer.  You can buy beer in grocery stores if 3.2% or less.  Everything else comes from the state-run liquor stores.  

Few people associate Swedish cuisine with the world’s finest, and it might not be, but it’s no slouch either, and their chefs are very well-trained even in inexpensive places.  As Joel Gray put it in Cabaret, in Sweden, “Even the orchestra is beautiful.”

The Treasures of Stockholm

Just a two hour flight from St Petersburg and an hour to Riga, Stockholm is built upon a scad of islands (17 in all) with a wealth of architecture set against a slew of harbors, lakes and canals, with much fine exterior decor as well as art, history and more in its many museums.  The most famous of its museums is not about art – the Vasa Museum contains the 17th century ship that sank on its maiden voyage, leaving behind a storehouse of information about its time.

Most important structures show foreign influence as French and Italian architects were brought in during the 18th century.   Simon de la Vallée designed the Riddarhuset, the House of Knights . His son Jean de la Vallée and the German-born Nicodemus Tessin became a leading architect with buildings such as Södra  City Hall , Axel Oxenstierna Palace , Katarina Church , Stenbock Palace, and  Wrangelska Palace.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_in_Stockholm

City Hall is the site for the Nobel Prize banquet, except for the Peace Prize which is awarded in Norway.  The structure is in the style of the Italian Renaissance, though it was built in the early 20th century.  It’s interior is astounding, by far the most impressive of the city and competing favorably with others of its ilk in other countries.  It’s a fitting venue for the Nobel Prize award dinner, that it seats 3000 or so being a minor advantage. The Queen of Lake Mälaren mosaic is my favorite piece in the hall.  The guide said it is in the Byzantine style, but I do not see it that way, having never seen anything quite like her and finding little in common with the Byzantine aside from the gold mosaics. 

These mosaics were made in panels in Germany.  There are some 8 million tiles, the gold sandwiched between each one before it is attached to the panel.

Queen of Lake Mälaren mosaic in the Golden Hall of the Stockholm City Hall
Queen of Lake Mälaren mosaic in the Golden Hall of the Stockholm City Hall
Smaller but in the same style as the main figure of the hall
Stucco figure
Stucco figure in City Hall
section of tapestry
section of tapestry elsewhere in the building

Gamla Stan, the oldest part of the city, dates from 13th c, shows the influence of the architecture of northern Germany.  It retains the narrow medieval streets of the small island.  

Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan







Mårten Trotzigs Gränd
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, an alley in Gamla Stan

In 1697, the Castle of the Three Crowns was severely damaged in a fire, replaced by the Castle of Stockholm. 

Stockholm Castle
Stockholm Castle

Stockholm’s many waterways make for a natural charm  to contrast with man-made beauty. 

Stockholm harbor area
Stockholm harbor area



outdoor sculpture
Sculpture at City Hall
















There are many ferries to take you around town


Art Nouveau Architecture

It would not be at all surprising if you were not sure what constitutes Art Nouveau.  Literally the term means “New Art,” new being relative to around 1890 (lasting to about 1910).  Part of the problem arises from the diverse terminology used to refer to that general style.  The Czech term is Secese, Danish Skønvirke or Jugendstil,  German Jugendstil, Art Nouveau or Reformstil, Hungarian Szecesszió,  Italian Art Nouveau, Stile Liberty or Stile floreale,  Norwegian Jugendstil, Polish Secesja, Slovak Secesia, Russian Модерн (Modern), Swedish Jugend.  These various countries produced variations on the general theme and can be difficult to categorize.  Here are some photos of the Swedish version.  



I’ll add posts on the cuisine – surprisingly good- as well as the museums, also excellent.  Even without those added delights, and the friendly English speaking populace – you’d swear you were talking to Americans – Stockholm is a great visit.