EuroTrip 2012 Food: Stockholm

Our train pulled into the Stockholm station at about 6:15a. Thankfully we had the foresight to set our alarms for 5:30a to make sure we were up and ready to hop off the train when we arrived at the station. Since we were so early the hotel didn’t have any rooms ready for us, so we dropped off our bags and headed out to find some coffee and get started on sight seeing.

Since it was so early not a lot was open, but we did stumble upon a coffee shop, Espresso House, that I would later learn to be the equivalent to our Starbucks (looks like I’m finding those everywhere). I ordered my new favorite drink, a vanilla latte, and we sat and enjoyed our drinks surrounded by cozy decor. After finalizing our plan for the day and wasting about an hour and a half, we set out to knock a few sights off of our list.

We headed to Stockholm’s city hall building, where we took an informative tour (they won’t allow you to trapse through the building on your own, since it is an active building with people working), and then we took a stop for lunch. The temperature was warmer than Copenhagen, but still not as hot as home, so we enjoyed our lunch al fresco; I enjoyed some fish and chips while the hubs ordered a lunch special of grilled chicken with chorizo and mashed sweet potatoes.

After lunch we took a short stroll up to the royal palace, where we were able to walk through the treasury, royal apartments, gallery, and a mini-museum. As I was traipsing through the halls, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like to actually live there. I mean, to have your “bedroom” be smattering of 5+ rooms, to have marbled staircases, and beautiful gardens and rooms full of sculptures. Every time I would look in one of the less than shiny mirrors, I couldn’t help but think about all the other people that have also looked in those same mirrors. It’s pretty cool if you stop and think about it! We also stumbled upon the changing of the guards, which included a little concert from the royal band – it was perfect timing!

For dinner, we headed to Herman’s, a vegetarian buffet, which was like my heaven. They had a grill out back where they were grilling tofu and all kinds of veggies, and then both hot and cold food inside. I loaded my plate with as many grilled vegetables as I could fit and a ton of their salads as well. Everything was delicious, and I had said that I would have been totally fine eating all of my meals there. It was a nice change of pace from all the rich and heavy foods we had been eating for the majority of our trip. I also had some grilled eggplant slathered in BBQ sauce that I fell in love with and recreated as soon as we got home.

Our go-to dessert was ice cream, or as it’s called over there, glass. They had tons of shops throughout the city, and the majority of them had homemade waffle cones. So on our way back to the hotel most evenings we stopped to get some – my favorite flavor was the maple walnut.

For dinner on our second day, we headed to a traditional Swedish restaurant, Pelikan. It was my goal to have Swedish meatballs while in Sweden, so I knew this restaurant was going to be my best chance at that. I read reviews about their food, and knew that the food would be good – they only have 8 main dishes, so it was easy for me to make my decision; Swedish meatballs with gherkin pickles, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes. The meatballs were huge and so full of flavor, and it made for an excellent meal paired with the sweet berries and salty pickles.

After starting our third day at my beloved Espresso House and taking a look at their photography museum, we worked up an appetite. Since we were heading over to to another island (Stockholm is a bunch of little islands, for all you non geographers), we stopped at a little stand that seemed to be bustling for lunch. Turns out we stumbled upon one of the weirdest, but delicious combinations ever. It was a wrap filled with mashed potatoes, and a hot dog with all the fixin’s (relish, mustard, and ketchup). It sounds totally bizarre, but it was really tasty – you could even get one with seafood salad if you wanted. Who would have thought that would be a delicious combo (obviously the Swedes)?!

Dinner that night was at Garlic & Shots, a restaurant my husband had actually visited while he was in England a few years ago. I ordered a huge black bean burger and garlic fries, while the hubs ordered a spicy beef chili skillet. And of course, we had to try their garlic beer. That’s right, the beer actually has little pieces of garlic floating in it! It sounds weird, but I promise it’s actually quite delicious. They also have an impressive shots list (hence the name), and while I didn’t order any, there were definitely a few I would try.

Our last day started with a buffet brunch cruise around Stockholm’s archipelago islands. It’s here that I tried the fried pickled herring that I actually enjoyed. I also had some grilled vegetables, smoked salmon, some cold salads, bread, and some breakfast sausage and ham. They also had a phenomenal dessert buffet that I forgot to snap a picture of, but trust me it was delicious.

One thing that I enjoyed in both Copenhagen and Stockholm was the elusive chocolate ball, known as the chokoladboll. It’s a little chocolate ball that is covered in shredded coconut, and is absolutely delicious. I found a few recipes online, and definitely plan on recreating them myself. My mouth is watering just at the thought of them! So of course I ended the trip with one at the airport.

It was  a great 12 days away, but it was certainly nice to get back home into a normal routine, and to of course spend time with the kitties. It was definitely an experience I’m so glad I got to have, and can’t wait for my next vacation (Disney in January)!

Olympic podium at the photography museum… I’m a winner!

Have you ever been to Sweden? 

Eurotrip 2012 Food: Berlin

The first stop on our 12-day European adventure was Berlin.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the trip there was off to a rough start, but we made it eventually. If we want to get technical, my first meal of the trip was a shared black bean Smash Burger before boarding the plane (for the first time – we had to deplane for a bit before finally taking off).

Since it was an evening/overnight flight, we were served dinner, and I opted for the vegetarian selection. I assumed it was either going to be a bunch of bland steamed vegetables or a variation of pasta primavera, but I’m happy to report I was pleasantly surprised; it included some chana masala, basmati rice, and palak paneer. While it wasn’t the prettiest of meals, it was much more than I expected for in-flight food – I’m used to just a bag of mixed nuts and my choice of soda. It was surprisingly flavorful, and despite it’s own questionable appearance, looked a lot better than the chicken or beef options.

Once we arrived in Berlin, (even though it was the middle of the night at home) we got down to business and set out on foot to do some sightseeing. We checked out the Berliner Dom, and just wandered around for a bit to try and get a baring of where we were. Our first meal in the city was at Maximilian’s, where we learned the hard way that you seat yourself in Germany. We walked into the restaurant and stood there like deer in headlights as waiters and waitresses walked past us as though we didn’t exist. After realizing we were supposed to seat ourselves, I cursed myself for not looking up dining etiquette prior to the trip. I quickly Googled the information (thanks to my husband buying a cheap data plan once we landed), and learned that in addition to seating yourself, ordering a glass of “still water” is frowned upon. I usually drink water with my meals, so this was a bit of a disappointment. I supplemented the water with a liter of weissbeir, as any logical person would.

Knowing a little bit about the food culture of each city prior to visiting, I knew right away what I was going to order – currywurst! It’s a big deal in Berlin, and they have little shops and street vendors selling it everywhere. I like curry, and I like wurst, so I had no doubt I’d enjoy the concoction. It was served with pomme frites, and I ate it like a true European – knife in my right hand and fork in my left! My husband ordered their version of meatloaf which is nothing like what your mother makes – it tasted more like a delicious ham steak to me, and he devoured every last bite.

For breakfast on our first full day, we went to Chipps at the recommendation of a friend who had visited Berlin a few months earlier. They have a lot of really delicious vegetarian and vegan options, which in a city that loves their meat is appreciated by someone like me. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, but I eventually settled for some scrambled eggs with baked beans, veggie bacon, toast, and a mixed salad.

It was the perfect fuel for a day full of sightseeing, including an amazing walking tour that highlighted all the notables in the city. We actually got really lucky and had a tour guide that was a history Ph.D student at Humboldt University; I learned SO much, and the tour was completely free! As a side note to all the food, I would definitely recommend checking out these tours if you are thinking about traveling abroad. But back to the food…

While our dinner the second night was far from traditional (I wound up ordering a burger and my husband had sliders), it was enjoyed at a table that provided us our very own beer tap at The Pub. That’s right – Paulaner weissbeer was right at our fingertips; we had glasses, could fill them up on our own, and paid per liter. The even cooler part was that the ordering of food and getting the waiter/waitress’ attention was also done through the computer attached to the tap. I’m all for the “experience” of dining out, but sometimes it’s nice to not be asked how I’m doing right as I take a giant bite of food, or equally as annoying be unable to get the waiter or waitress’ attention when you need them.

The rest of our mornings were spent at Starbucks for a few reasons – there was one on every corner (no different from around here!) and they had free wi-fi, which allowed us to plot out our day’s plan of attack. While it isn’t a glamorous sidewalk café, one of those Starbucks does happen to be right across the street from the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out a window, a mere stones throw away from the US and French embassies. Go figure.

For dinner on our last night, we headed to Jedermann where I enjoyed some super creamy and delicious spätzle while the hubs had weinerschnitzel; I figured it was necessary to end the trip with a more traditional dinner.

We had an evening flight from Berlin to Copenhagen, so we had a pretty full last day. I made sure to take a trip to Fassbender & Rausch for some much needed German chocolate, and some really delicious Indian food at Amrit. It was the perfect end to an awesome four days.

By the time we were ready to part ways with Berlin, I felt as though I was really getting a handle on the city. I was able to differentiate between East and West Germany, I could generally navigate to the larger landmarks, and I was getting the hang of pronouncing different things (like the ß letter is pronounced as a double S, so straße is strasse – the word for street!), and it felt like a city I could live in.

There is no way I could do any of the sights we saw justice in a recap – there is just SO much history in the city – it’s a pretty great place, so that’s why I decided to just stick to the food. You’ll have to go check it out for yourself to see all the amazing sites and learn the history!

Have you ever been to Berlin?