October 19, 2012

Best Pubs, Sports Bars, Spas and Julbord!

Photo by Yanan Li, Stockholm Visitors Board
Well... I'm headed off for a week long vacation. This time to NYC! I thought I would leave readers with a few interesting lists provided by What's Up Sthlm. This is a great website dedicated to entertainment of all types in Stockholm and one which I use quite a lot in my line of work. It is in Swedish so, unfortunately, I don't think visitors find it when surfing the internet looking for information. What's Up Sthlm does, however, offer the ability to translate their articles into several languages. But you have to know what you are looking for in Swedish so I thought I would point you in the direction of the articles that are of interest. Just click on the flag representing the language of your choice in the top right hand corner of the article. Be warned that the "translator" can produce som hilarious Swenglish!

If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further help or additional information, just contact me directly. I will be back from my vacation on Tuesday, October 30th and will get back to blogging then.

October 18, 2012

Restaurant E.A.T.

"Eat" might sound like a too obvious name for a restaurant, but it is actually an acronym for European Asian Taste... and on their menu you will find both Asian (mainly Chinese) and European favourites. I was curious about this concept so I visited the restaurant yesterday evening with a few friends for dinner.
To start off with, I have to admit that my visit didn't make me any wiser to their concept. I am a fan of fusion cuisine, but this isn't fusion in the regular sense where you might have a European dish infused with Asian tastes. Instead E.A.T. feels like two kitchens in one. For example, while a friend and I shared the "spicy but not too spicy Sichuan" multiple course menu another friend enjoyed a Salad Nicoise. I found it a little schizophrenic and for someone like me, who has a hard time making decisions, choosing something from the menu was a bit difficult. That being said, the food was delicious and the service was friendly and spot on! I especially enjoyed the seared scallops with mango, pickled chilli, cucumber and Chinese parsley. So... you could say that this is a good choice if you are several people who can't decide which restaurant/cuisine to choose for dinner. The perfect compromise?
The location is also a plus. It is located in the Mood shopping center in the downtown area, which I have blogged about earlier, and you can enter the restaurant either through the shopping center or it's own street entrance on Jakobsbergsgatan. It is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just four short stops on the subway (red line to Östermalmstorg, exit Stureplan/Birgerjarlsgatan), otherwise it is about a 8 minute taxi ride.

October 16, 2012

A 2 Star Michelin Opportunity at Restaurant Jonas!

I have blogged earlier about newly opened Restaurant Jonas. One of my favourite new restaurants, it has been named in the pretigious White Guide as 2012's "shooting star" in the Stockholm culinary world. While the cuisine here is definitely Michelin class... this November 7th it will be Michelin 2 star class! That evening, chefs from Oslo's Maaemo restaurant will be guest-starring in the kitchen at Jonas. Maaemo made a name for itself when it entered the Michelin Guide with 2 stars (14 months after opening)... the first Nordic restaurant to accomplish this feat! If you are in Stockholm, don't miss this opportunity to taste their cuisine and meet the people behind Maaemo! One five course menu will be served, including drink package, for 1,995 SEK. Very few tables left! To make a reservation, contact the restaurant directly. Visit their website for contact details.

October 12, 2012

Chocolate Festival This Weekend!

Taste sample from one of the chocolate suppliers
One of Stockholm's most popular festivals is going on all this weekend at Nordiska Museet (Museum of Nordic Culture)... the Chocolate Festival! This year should prove to be even more popular than usual as they are celebrating their 10th anniversary.
Table of chocolates
Three days (October 12th-14th) of chocolate, chocolate and even more chocolate! The festival opens its doors today at 10am to 8pm and then continues this Saturday & Sunday 10am to 6pm. Entrance is 130 SEK for adults, 60 SEK for children 6-18yrs old, and tickets can be purchased before hand online at Ticnet. There will be plenty of entertainment going on... competitions (including Pastry Chef of the Year) for professionals and amateurs, baking/cooking demonstrations and plenty of child-friendly events. Patisseries and chocolate suppliers will be displaying their wares for you to both taste and purchase.
Josefine Baummann won Pastry Chef of the Year 2011
Located on the island of Djurgården, it is pretty easy to get to the museum from the Rival Hotel. There are regular ferries (Djurgården Ferry) taking you to the island from Slussen... which is just a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The ferry ride itself is only 9 minutes!
Nordiska Museet
All pictures in this blog article were taken by Peter Segemark @Nordiska Museet

October 10, 2012

Some good news...

Photo by Jeppe Wikström, Stockholm Visitors Board
I like spreading about a little good news in the middle of the week! And we have had some great news in Stockholm this week.

  1. First of all, a big congratulations to the Swedish team for winning the gold medal in the Culinary Olympics! Not only that, but this team is now the "winningest" team ever... they have won three gold medals (2000, 2004, 2012) and one bronze (2008) since the new millennium started. Swedish culinary skills have come a long way since the Swedish Chef entertained people on the Muppets. Michelin stars, gold medals and even preparing the Obama's first state dinner (Marcus Samuelsson).  Interest in Swedish chefs and restaurants is great. In fact, the top three posts viewed (all time) in this blog are Michelin Guide, White Guide and my own restaurant recommendations
  2. The cruise season is officially over in Stockholm for 2012... and this past season has broken records again! 273 ports of call between May and October brought approximately 470,000 passengers to Stockholm. The Rival Hotel was popular with cruisers starting or ending their cruise in Stockholm... and we look forward to welcoming the next batch in 2013!
  3. Finally... some good news from our modern art museum (Moderna). I recently blogged about their new exhibitions and now they are extending their opening hours on Fridays, starting October 12th until January 18th. The Tillmans exhibition will be open until 8pm and... free entrance between 6pm and 8pm! The fun continues on certain Fridays in the new Moderna Bar (next to the museum restaurant) where they will have film showings, DJ's and other events. Art in the evening... so civilized!

October 9, 2012


Palaces surrounding Birger Jarl Square
One of the central islands of Stockholm and, along with Gamla Stan, one of the most historic, Riddarholmen is often overlooked by visitors. Located just adjacent to Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen is the home of some of Stockholm's most beautiful buildings including Riddarholmen Church. The fact that the main central highway separates the two islands may deter visitors, but a bridge over the highway connects them making a visit to Riddarholmen quite easy. The lack of shops, restaurants and cafés also makes it much quieter than neighbouring Gamla Stan. This makes it the perfect place to escape the crowds and soak up some history.
Statue of Birger Jarl, Stockholm's founder
Many Swedish noble families had their palaces here during the 17th and 18th centuries. These days the buildings house the appellate and Supreme courts as well as many Swedish government agencies. The fact that it was the nobility that lived here means that the cobblestone streets are much wider and brighter than Gamla Stan (where the working class lived before Stockholm expanded). There are great views of Stockholm from the waterfront of Riddarholmen... especially the north shore with views of the City Hall.
Riddarholmen Church
The Riddarholm Church dates back as far as the 13th century and is the only remaining medieval monastery church in Stockholm (built originally as a grey friars monastery). It is most famous for being the final resting place of the kings & queens of Sweden up until the 1950's. Every regent from Gustav II Adolf to Gustav V is buried here... with the exception of Queen Christina who is buried in St Peters in Rome. It is also the resting place of many nobles and a few of the medieval kings. It is, unfortunately, only open to the public during the summer months. Another fun, and adventurous, thing to do on Riddarholmen during the warmer months is one of the roof top tours... not for people afraid of heights!

October 6, 2012

New Exhibitions at Moderna Museet

Yesterday evening I was invited to the opening of a new exhibition of the work of Wolfgang Tillmans at Moderna Museet (modern art museum). Tillmans is a German fine arts photographer with a penchant for finding beauty in every day objects and events... tree fungus, Berlin club kids, clouds, Venus passing in front of the sun, and so on. The exhibition was interesting not only in its wide range of subjects but also in his techniques... from styilized portraits to casual snapshots. The exhibition opens today for the public and will run until January 23rd, 2013.
The big news at Moderna this season is "Picasso vs Duchamp: He Was Wrong". Two of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, together in an exhibition for the first time. I'm looking forward to seeing this exhibition. In fact, I was secretly hoping that I would be able to visit it yesterday during the Tillmans showing (2 birds, 1 stone and all that), but no luck... I'll have to go back! Picasso/Duchamp runs until March 3rd, 2013 so I have plenty of time.
Poster Picasso/Duchamp - He was wrong, 2012
© Moderna Museet
Moderna Museet is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. To get there from the Rival Hotel, it is either a beautiful 20-25 minute walk through the Old Town, bus 43 or 55 to Kungsträdgården and then a short walk across the bridge or take the Djurgården ferry from Slussen (just make sure you tell them that you wish to get off at Skeppsholmen when boarding the boat). Click here for a list of the major art exhibitions going on in Stockholm this Fall.

October 4, 2012

ABBA The Museum... Coming Soon!

Photo by Bengt H. Malmqvist @ Premium Rockshot
Well, finally the news all ABBA fans have been waiting for. In a news conference today, Björn Ulvaeus (one of the B's in ABBA) announced that ABBA The Museum will be opening in April/May of 2013. It will be part of the larger Swedish Music Hall of Fame, dedicated to Swedish pop-music history. Should be a real draw for visitors to Stockholm. Half of the exhibition will contain objects that have been part of ABBA World, the traveling exhibition that toured cities in 2009-2011. The other half will be never before seen/displayed items! All of it looking at the band's history, from conception to their solo ventures after breaking-up. Many parts of the museum will be interactive. The museum is currently under construction and will be located on the island of Djurgården, near the Gröna Lund amusement park. It will be easy to get there from the Rival Hotel (owned by the other B in ABBA)... just a 10 minute ferry ride from nearby Slussen! Sweden has a great history in pop-music. Besides ABBA, you have Roxette, Ace of Base, Robyn, Kent and many more international stars... so the Hall of Fame should be quite interesting as well. Can't wait! Another great reason to visit Stockholm next summer! In the meantime, the Stockholm City Museum organizes ABBA walking tours (though just for prebooked groups at this time).

October 3, 2012

Restaurant Esperanto

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to try Esperanto's new menu "Carte Orientale". Esperanto is one of Stockholm's best restaurants and has, over the past 6 years, racked up the awards... including a Michelin star (since 2007) and third place ranking for Swedish restaurants in White Guide this year. (Edit: Esperanto nabbed the first place ranking this year- 2013!)
While they do offer a multiple course tasting menu based on the season, their Carte Orientale menu is made up of medium sized dishes, allowing diners to compose their own meal. Esperanto also runs a very popular sushi restaurant called Råkultur (raw culture) which is located on the ground floor of the same building as the restaurant. They have taken inspiration from Råkultur when creating Carte Orientale. You will find tastes of Japan in each of the dishes on the menu, like pickled daikon, wasabi, miso and udon noodles. The menu doesn't feel Japanese at all, instead they are combined with other menu components for intriguing and delicious taste combinations. Don't miss the red beet ice cream and licorice meringue dessert... to die for!
Seared scallops, foie gras, caviar with pickled daikon served bento style!
Esperanto is located in the downtown area and the easiest way to get there from the Rival Hotel is either by taxi (10 minutes) or subway (green line from Slussen to Rådmansgatan). Esperanto isn't large so prebooking a table is definitely recommended!
Sidenote: The newspaper DN agrees with me. They recently wrote a review and gave it a 5 out of 5.
red beet & licorice dessert... shockingly good!

October 2, 2012

Stockholm Jazz Festival 2012

Photo by Yanan Li, Stockholm Visitors Board
For many years, the Stockholm Jazz Festival has been a popular outdoor event during the summertime... bringing thousands of jazz fans to the city. Many moons ago, I actually had the privilege of seeing Ella Fitzgerald perform! This year the powers-that-be have decided to move the festival to the Autumn as well as indoors (October 1st through 7th). Not sure if they just got tired of fighting the weather gods in June. Instead of having all of the performances in one venue (as before), they are split up between several venues... mainly Konserthuset (the Concert House), Kulturhuset (the Culture House) and the jazz club Fasching, though smaller performances will be happening at around 10 other venues throughout the city (map). All in all, there will be 60 concerts in 7 days. I truly hope this new set-up will be successful, though I have to admit I do find it a bit confusing and I miss being able to buy one festival pass for all of the concerts (now one has to buy individual tickets for each show). We'll see! At any rate, if you happen to love jazz and are visiting Stockholm this week... you are in luck. Tickets can be purchased online through their website (linked above) or, when available, at the different venues. Unfortunately, the English webpage isn't too informative. If you need further information and tickets, stop by Kulturhuset or the Tourist Information Center. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, you can contact me for more information!