Perhaps we were marked. Perhaps the fact that the Swedish tourist bureau sent us made us special. Perhaps. Or maybe it was the fact that spring had come to Sweden that made it seem like everyone was smiling at us.
Though we arrived late and didn’t manage to connect with our car service, our host Karin met us at our hotel with open arms. It was a good thing we weren’t tired, because as soon as we’d introduced ourselves, the tour began.
Although most of Gothenburg’s historic market, Stora Saluhall, is closed now for renovation, we took at quick peek at the cheese shop and snagged a sea salt truffle at the Kanold sisters’ chocolate shop. Then we headed over to Magasinsgatan, a newly renovated shopping quarter that is home to chic shops like Artilleriet, Grandpa and Acne. On the way we passed by Gourmet Korv where you can get high-end, house-made hot dogs and even a whole meal for 69 SEK. Mothers with baby carriages, old folks and a throng of middle-aged guys were huddled in line here. Equally popular was the herring truck. I would have stopped and tried it, but I had a feeling there would be more than enough herring in my future. I also would love to have lingered at da Matteo (Magasinsgatan 17A) where the smell of roasting coffee falls over the room in a thick haze and you can sample different flavors of sourdough, like lemon and parsley. But we were on a mission. We were on our way to Gabriels.
After lunch we wandered through the more residential neighborhood of Linné. At a cheese shop we sampled some of Sweden’s latest artisanal cheeses (Linnégatan 46). Then we went around the corner and discovered Alvar & Ivar – yet another place to get sourdough bread (Kastellgatan 11) – where a smiling young woman opened up the just-closed shop to give us a beautiful round loaf.
There was clearly a sourdough revolution afoot. Every restaurant we went to boasted their own house-made sourdough and at 80 SEK and up, the price for a loaf is often more than your lunch. It’s so popular that according to Karin, most Swedes have a sourdough starter at home. In Stockholm there’s even a hotel where you can have someone babysit your starter when you leave town.
Dinner that night was at the Michelin-star restaurant, Fond. Then we had a final drink at Marcus Samuelson’s bar in our hotel. At Norda Grill bartenders serve you from behind the old post office counter windows. The homesick can get Brooklyn lager on draft. Or you can order a glass of Swedish cognac. If you are still hungry(!), you can get a taste of that hot dog mania as there’s one on the menu here.
THINGS TO TAKE HOME WITH YOU
- At Kök Etcetera, you can pick up a super practical Swedish spice grinder by Skeppshult. A few twists of the wrist and you can pulverize anything from nutmeg to cumin. Be forewarned, however: your luggage will be heavier.
- At Grandpa and other stores around Magazinsgatan, you’re likely to run across Lotta Lundgren’s highly acclaimed book, “Om jag var din hemmafru” (If I were your housewife.) Rumor is, the English translation will be out soon. One glance at the Swedish version will have you longing for it!
- Goteborg Havsaltstryffel (Sea salt truffles) from Flickorna Kanold, located at at Södra Larmgatan 14, as well as in the Stora Saluhallen.
Grab a copy of “The New Face of Gothenburg.” This well-written little book will give you a great overview of the city’s cultural mix as well as ideas for what to see and do, and shop for.