March 25, 2015

Restaurant Nook

Last week I had a Concierge colleague visiting from Denmark. She celebrated her birthday during her visit and she wanted to go out and eat somewhere special. I decided on the restaurant Nook! The restaurant hasn't been open very long, but has already garnered a lot of good press & rave reviews and I was eager to try it. One reason for the positive reviews is the fact that this charming, neighborhood restaurant manages to offer a great gastronomic experience at humane prices in a relaxed setting. Love that!
The kitchen's concept is also very interesting. While they do ride on the wave of the trendy New Nordic cuisine, they also add Asian influences to the dishes in an intelligent and interesting way. For example, in the dishes you will find ingredients like wasabi, nashi pear, rice noodles and hoisin sauce alongside seasonal, local produce.
Casual ambiance.
The menu is a bit limited. Besides "snacks" they have two set 3-course menus. You are, however, allowed to mix between the two or just order a part of the set menu. I opted for the menu that consisted of lightly seared scallop (with pickled daikon, hollandaise and Chinese spinach) as the appetizer, followed by lamb roast beef (with celeriac, crispy black kale and hazelnut butter) for the main course and licorice ice cream (with rasberries and roasted white chocolate) for dessert. Delicious!
Main course...
The restaurant is located on Södermalm, the same island as the Rival Hotel, near the SoFo district. Nook is not a large restaurant and is quite popular... so booking in advance is recommended. If you are staying at the hotel, contact me for help. Click here to see my other recent restaurant visits...
...and dessert.

March 14, 2015

Easter in Stockholm 2015

Easter Lunch!
Photo by Marie Andersson/Skansen
(EDIT: This is information from 2015, click here for an updated article) To start off with... the Swedish word for Easter is Påsk (good to know when visiting the city on Easter weekend). While Sweden is one of the least religious countries in the world, it has loads of bank holidays that are religious in origin. On Easter weekend (first weekend in April this year) we have two bank holidays, besides the obvious Easter Sunday, or Påskdagen: Good Friday (Långfredag) and the Monday following Easter Sunday (Annandag Påsk). Even Thursday (Skärtorsdag) is somewhat special as many office workers take a half day off ahead of their 4 day holiday. Once upon a time this meant that the city came to a standstill for 4 days... but these days it isn't that bad. Banks, liquor stores, cafés and smaller shops will be closed or have changed opening hours. Many restaurants, most larger department stores and shopping centers will be open as normal. Though perhaps with shortened opening hours. The Rival BistroBar and Café are all open all weekend long!
Children dressed up as Easter witches (påskkärringar)
Photo by Marie Andersson/Skansen
As for the museums, the big ones (VasaFotografiskaABBASkansen and Moderna) are open as normal. Some others are closed on Friday (April 3rd); these include the Royal Palace and Maritime (Sjöhistoriska) museums. The History Museum (Historiska) is closed on both Friday and Saturday. While these closures can be bad news, there is some good news as well. Monday is a day in Sweden when many museums are closed, however some of these museums are staying open on Monday, April 6th, as it is a holiday. They include HistoryMedievalMillesgårdenNatural History and Drottningholm Palace.  Keep in mind that I haven't checked ALL the museums in Stockholm... just the top 20 or so of the 85 museums in the city. Talk to me directly, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, or check the individual websites if you are interested in other, smaller museums. Sightseeing tours operate as normal.

Scene from Skansen. Photo by me!

If you want to experience Swedish Easter traditions then you should definitely visit Skansen (open-air museum, park and zoo). Don't be surprised if you see little children dressed up as cute witches (påskkärringar)! Here you can learn about, watch, listen to or partake in traditional Easter activities. These are all of special interest if you have children with you. They also have an Easter Market, open (11am to 4pm) from Thursday to Monday, where you can purchase traditional Easter handicraft, decorations, toys and food. For a full calendar of activities at Skansen... click here. I did mention that Sweden isn't a very religious country, but that doesn't mean that it is devoid of religion! There are, of course, many churches (mainly Lutheran and Catholic) that have special Easter services and masses. Contact me directly, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, for service/mass times at different churches. Several churches offer services in languages other than Swedish.

March 12, 2015

Goût de France - Good France

In 2010, French cuisine was added to UNESCO's intangible world heritage list... and rightly so! Very few nations have such a gastronomic cultural identity as France. On March 19th 2015, this cultural heritage will be celebrated in a big, big way: Goût de France. This exciting international gastronomical event will take place in 1300 restaurants in 150 countries on 5 continents. Each chef will offer their own French style menu... French digestive, a cold starter, a hot starter, fish or shellfish dish, meat or poultry dish, French cheese (or cheese plate) and a chocolate dessert along with French wines and digestives (naturellement!). All types of restaurants are taking part, from neighborhood bistros to gourmet establishments.
Good France. Photo by (c) Pierre Monetta
Sweden has long had a close relationship with France, even before the time of Axel von Fersen and Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, and is well represented in the Goût de France. 17 restaurants in Sweden are taking part, 7 of them in Stockholm, and all of these restaurants applied and their menus were approved by an international committee of chefs. The Stockholm restaurants are:

So, if you are visiting Stockholm on March 19th... book a table and help celebrate French cuisine. And if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me if you need any help booking a table or translating a website (some are only in Swedish). You should be able to find their special Goût de France menu on their websites linked above, otherwise visit this website where you can search for ALL restaurants taking part and their special menu for the evening.
Good France. Photo by (c) Pierre Monetta

But you can enjoy great French cuisine year-round in Stockholm, not only on March 19th. Besides the fine establishments above, here are several other recommended French restaurants in the city: Pastis, Delikatessen, Bistro Bon, Á la Crêpe, Mister French, Naturligtvis, Chez Betty, Brasserie Godot, Napolyon and Grand Escalier. Bon Appétit!

March 10, 2015

Best Restaurants Awarded in the White Guide 2015

White Guide 2015
Hot on the heels of the Michelin Guide comes the White Guide. One big difference between the two is the fact that the White Guide is a guide for all of Sweden, by Swedes. This guide also looks at all different categories of restaurants and not just the most exclusive. While the White Guide for Sweden still is only in Swedish, they recently released a White Guide Nordic which is in English and for all the Nordic countries. But on to this White Guide. While many restaurants from other parts of Sweden did very well this year (including Best Restaurant to Fäviken Magasinet), for our purposes let's look at how Stockholm restaurants fared at the top of the lists in 2015...

Best Dining Experience of the Year: Gastrologik
Best Wine Experience of the Year: Operakällaren
Rising Star of the Year (awarded to young chefs with great potential): Lina Ahlin Olofsson at Frantzén.

The gang behind Gastrologik. Photo by Marcus Möller.
Stockholm restaurants that made the list of Swedish restaurants with the highest rating of International Master Class (number in parenthesis is their position on the list of Swedish restaurants):

Stockholm restaurants that made the list of Swedish restaurants with the rating of Master Class (number in parenthesis is their position on the list):
Click here for past guides and lists! 

March 4, 2015

Finally... New at ABBA the Museum!

And speaking of new museum exhibitions... I was invited yesterday to the grand unveiling of the new exhibition at ABBA the Museum. This is the biggest addition to the museum since they opened in May 2013. The museum has been a popular attraction in Stockholm and it is great with a new addition. Click here if you want to read my blog article about my original visit to the museum.
The figures arriving by helicopter...
Finally... together again! The new exhibition consists of life-size, silicon figures of the four ABBA members wearing exact replicas of their (Owe Sandström designed) stage costumes from 1979. In fact, the backdrop to the silicon figures is also a replica of part of their set decor from the 1979 North American tour. The idea for these figures has been around since 2011 when plans for the museum were being made. But it wasn't until the fall of 2013 that plans for the figurines started in earnest.
...before being unveiled to the international press.
Göran Lundström of EffektStudion was given the commission and it took him and a team of 35+ persons about a year to create the figures. I must say that they are eerily life-like... very impressive work. Though this is perhaps not surprising given that the four ABBA members actively participated in this project, helping with measurements, creative opinions and more.
So... another good reason to visit ABBA the Museum! Or revisit? The museum is located on the island of Djurgården, near other popular attractions like Vasa Museum, Skansen and Gröna Lund. It is quite easy to get to the museum from the Rival Hotel using the Djurgård Ferry. Entrance tickets for the museum can be purchased in advance (time allotments) on their website. If you are staying at the hotel, talk to me if you need help purchasing the tickets. And don't miss the fun museum gift shop when you are there...

March 3, 2015

Art Museum Exhibitions- Spring 2015

As we move on to March, it is a good idea to look ahead and see what will be showing at the main art museums and galleries in Stockholm this season. Looks like some interesting exhibitions to choose from! After each museum/gallery, I have written a descriptive word about the type of art they show (modern, classic, etc.). Please keep in mind that it is just a generalization of what they usually show. There are many more smaller galleries. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, please contact me for more information.
Prince Eugen painting. Photo by: Kaleb Torin.
Prins Eugen Waldemarsudde.

Pattern for Mah-Jong by Veronica Nygren, 1968. Thielska Gallery. Photo: Carl Johan de Geer