Thursday, July 05, 2012

Stockholm, Highbrow and Lowbrow

I guess it's fitting that I spent day two in Stockholm experiencing a mix of highbrow and lowbrow culture. After all, these are the people that gave us Ikea and H&M: high style at low prices. Turns out it's hard to escape Stockholm without being buffeted between the two.



I started the day with a walk over to the Stadshuset, which is both Stockholm's City Hall and also where the Nobel Prizes are awarded. I got up at 6am without an alarm (it really doesn't get dark at night) and wandered over there since practically nothing opens until 10am.

I believe this is some kind of symbol of Stockholm. I like it because it reminds me of one of my favorite Matisse line drawings:

(Fata with Hat of Light, Memory of Mallarme, 1933.)


Nobel Prizes awarded through these doors.
Proof I was here.

You can kind of see Gamla Stan (the Old Town) over my right shoulder. You would have been able to see more of it but the stranger who took my picture clearly doesn't know anything about framing a shot.

Here's what the view really looked like:



Then, I walked through the Kungsholmen neighborhood (which is fairly normal and non-touristy) to a supermarket, because I always think it's so interesting to see where the locals buy their food. You can tell a lot about a culture by what's in its grocery stores. The Swedes love cheese, fish, bread, and bulk bin candy.


They do actually have Swedish fish in Sweden. Only they are just called "pastelfisk" and, oddly, they are not all red but are a variety of mixed colors. Unfortunately, my attempts to photograph them failed.



Next up was a visit to the Moderna Museet, followed by a jaunt over to the Historiska Museet, i.e. the Viking Museum. Sadly, there were no hats with horns in the Viking museum, although I did see a lot of old gold jewelry and treasures. Very fancy.


At this point, I was starving and tired from walking around for the last 5 hours. I was hoping to lunch at an outdoor cafe in Ostermalm but couldn't find one that was crowded enough to probably be good, but not crowded enough that I could get a seat outside



So I caved, and went to McDonald's.


I know, I know. Here's the thing.


McDonald's in Sweden actually has gluten-free buns for its burgers. I couldn't resist.


As you can see by the glop of ketchup on my hand, the Swedes are very into their condiments. I somehow managed to get ketchup in my hair (!) while eating this thing...ketchup that I only discovered the next morning. Classy.

Also, the bun...the bun was spongy. It's hard to get the full effect from this picture, but when I say "spongy," I mean, literally like an object which might absorb soap and clean dishes. It had the kind of texture that causes one to wonder if it is actually digestible. Oh well.




Post-McDonald's picnic, I did a bit of shopping, including a trip to Marzio which had fabulous shoes and bags but unfortunately not in my size, as most of the store was on sale (a benefit to traveling in July). I also made a trip to NK, which is like Swedish Harrod's. Very cool and lovely.


Dinner that evening was at B.A.R., a restaurant I read about in a few places, including in a recent Elle Decor guide to the city.


I sat outside and enjoyed the loveliest meal.


To start, I chose the Ocean Plate, which featured cavian, smoked char, pickled herring (obviously), a langoustine, and some shrimps.

Also, because this is Sweden, where they don't act like you are a pariah if you can't eat wheat, the restaurant quickly swapped out the normal bread basket for some gluten-free bread THAT WAS DELICIOUS.


Seriously, I can't express how good this bread was. It was nutty and wheat-y and multi-grain-ish and awesome. America needs to figure out this bread.


After the feast of fishes, I had some reindeer, because when in Scandinavia... and also, I'd never eaten reindeer before.


This reindeer was so tender and delicious. Really incredible. Like beef, only less..beefy. You know how sometimes you can taste beef up in your nose? Like that charred beef-ness gets up way up in your palate? Reindeer doesn't do that.


Then I realized that the reason that the reindeer was so tender was because this was not a reindeer that had spent any time pulling a sleigh. This was reindeer CALF.


Oh my god, I ate baby reindeer.


Well anyway, it was delicious.

1 comment:

Kathleen Dames said...

We have a couple of "viking helmets" complete with blond braids courtesy of the Swedes in Door County that you could come visit. Of course, they are plastic and child-sized.
Looks like the temperature is pretty moderate there.