swedish candlesticks+ sheepskin

I promised a quick post on what I picked up on our Scandinavian trip. In all honesty, I could have spent my way through Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. So many beautiful, well designed things from fashion to textiles to ceramics to pillows. However my budget was fairly small (the trip cost us a fair penny not to mention the dinner at Noma) so I had to be fairly choosey about what I decided to bring home. scandi_mhb-2

In Stockholm on the advice of a friend and reader I visited Dusty Deco a vintage store with an eclectic array of finds. The moment I saw these black metal candlesticks with their rusty patina I knew they had to be mine. Everywhere we went on our trip (and particularly in Copenhagen) we saw lighted candles from apartment windows to restaurants to stores. We got in the habit of lighting candles every night when we were away and have continued the tradition at home.

scandi_mhb-1In Iceland I couldn't resist picking up one of the wooly sheepskins. Not only are they bigger and fluffier than the sheepskins I have seen for sale in Canada but they were cheap - about $80. A great find.

My goal when travelling is always to pick up a little something that hopefully I will have for a very long time that will conjure up memories of the trip. Each object has a story to tell and their story is my story. I think I found some pretty good stories this time around.

noma - an eating experience

Twenty-four courses. Yes, that's exactly what you get at one of the world's best restaurants Noma (currently ranked at #2) although it occupied the #1 spot for three years running. None disappointed. Adhering to a strict local philosophy (much of the food is foraged within a 60 km radius of the restaurant) head chef Rene Redzepi uses techniques like smoking, fermenting, pickling and curing to extend a product's life and to bring you the absolute essence of the ingredients.

Below a sampling of what we ate.

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Nordic coconuts a.k.a kohlrabi served with edible greens. You drank the juice through the herb straw.

TMHB_Scandi-18-2This classic Noma dish - quail eggs pickled and smoked in hay - let loose a hazy spiral of smoke when the lid was removed.

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Crispy reindeer moss which we dipped in a type of creme fraiche.

TMHB_Scandi-19-2Monkfish liver served atop of caramelized milk "crackers".

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Tiny shrimp enclosed in nasturtium leaves served in a yeast broth and topped with local flowers.

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Perch head served on a stick. A gooey mess but deliciously flavoured.

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Onions with pear, buttermilk broth and wood ants (which was meant to double as salt). Probably my least favourite dish mainly because of the onions.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.37 PMCauliflower cooked with fresh pine and served with whey yoghurt and horseradish broth. Hands down one of the tastiest dishes.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.59 PMSmall potatoes with fish roe, fermented barley and kelp oil.

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Wild duck with pear. We were warned to look out for pellets as the duck is freshly hunted.

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Even the bread was an experience - fresh sourdough served with sheep's butter and pork lard.

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I can't remember what this was. It looks like egg but it's not. It kicked off the dessert round.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.47.30 PM"Danish pastry" filled with seaweed and fermented barley.

TMHB_Scandi-26Finally the last thing we ate that evening was crispy pork crackling covered in chocolate and topped with berries. It was served with coffee made in a pour over method.

TMHB_Scandi-27As we were leaving we popped into the kitchen for a quick look.

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The lounge side of the dining room was lit with candles and had dried flowers and herbs hanging from the beamed ceiling. It's a place I could easily call home.

{Images are a combination of my own and instagram shots from Edwards Eats - he ate a very similar meal to ours at lunch time which resulted in better daylight quality photos!}

a bit of denmark and sweden

I don't really know where to start with our trip. Perhaps with a big thank you to everyone who gave us suggestions of places to go and things to see. We followed up on many of them and our experience was deeper because of it. Our route across Denmark, Sweden and Iceland gave us a great mix of cosmopolitan cities and stunning landscape. We had more rainy days than not but it didn't dampen our spirits. Below a few of the highlights. In the days to follow I''ll have a few more posts on our days in Copenhagen including our meal at Noma and our time in Iceland.

TMHB_Scandi-4-3Our adventure started in Legoland on their last day in operation for the season. It didn't disappoint especially for our 4 year old Henry - the high point of his trip. The miniature Lego village is a sight to behold.

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TMHB_Scandi-4-2The next day we headed to the city of Arhus with its lovely shopping promenades and then up to the tip of Jutland to Skagen which we unfortunately reached in darkness and amidst the biggest storm to hit Denmark in a decade. Made for some good waves and very rocky ferry trip to Gothenburg, Sweden that evening.

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In Gothenburg we headed across the street from our hotel to a children's cafe and play centre based around the Swedish literary character Alfons Abergs. Travelling with children definitely has some drawbacks but it also has its advantages. In a way, you get to experience more of everyday life.

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After a brief visit to the Swedish fishing village of Marstrand we headed east to Stockholm.

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Stockholm is a city of  many faces. We spent one day visiting the Abba Museum (SO good - Henry became the 5th member of Abba and wowed the staff so much they made him visitor of the day!), ate lunch at a charming cafe in Gamla Stan and then went to the Vasa museum. That evening we got a baby sitter and visited the Fotografiska Museum and saw the very disturbing but brilliant work of Pieter Hugo.

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The next morning after breakfast at Albert & Jack's we explored the cool, hip section of Stockholm - Sodermalm. We shopped (loved Dusty Deco, Grandpa, coffee at Mogen & Grus, Eski Kilim and Acne Studios), and played in a children's park with toys that looked they came from decades ago. In the afternoon, we hit up Svenskt Tenn and headed up to Lotta Agaton in the pouring rain only to find it was closed.

Then it was off to Copenhagen. I'll have that portion of the trip next!

 

denmark + sweden + iceland

In a few short weeks, we're taking off on a family vacation - a sort of belated celebration of our 40th birthdays (which took place way back in December 2013 2012!). We were sitting around one night thinking of ways to mark the occasion when we threw out the crazy idea that we should go for dinner at the #1 restaurant in the world - Noma in Copenhagen. Somehow that nutty idea has become a reality.

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Even more believable is the fact that we actually managed to get a reservation at Noma. (It required waking up at 4am and a lot of nail biting as our 547th number in line counted down.)

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At the moment, our itinerary looks something like Copenhagen to Legoland to Skagen (which is the Northernmost tip of Jutland) ferry to Gothenberg, Sweden over to Stockholm down to Malmo and back to Copenhagen. On the return flight we will take advantage of the free stopovers Icelandic Air offers and stay there for five days. The Blue Lagoon sounds like the perfect end to our journey (with 1 and 4 year old in tow!)

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Other than the trip to Legoland and the meal at Noma we haven't planned much else.

Tell me - where should go, what shouldn't we miss, what must we eat, and what will make the trip unbelievable.

Image Credits:

1-2 - Ditte Isager

3 - Juli Daoust via Kitka Design Toronto