Sivan’s Cheese Shop

delicious kinds of cheeseIn here there’s room for a number of both known and unknown types of cheese, carefully turned for months to then, at just the right time, be opened up and sold.
Many have now discovered that cheese is like a good wine – it changes character when it’s matured for just the right amount of time. Find Sivan and her cheese shop in Oljeberget, outside Stora Leverne in Vara!

Wednesdays 2pm-8pm on August 17, 24 and 31

Food Festival in Skövde

a variety of flavorsThe restaurants are moving out on the streets, parks and squares and serve food from around the world. More than 80,000 servings of food consumed by visitors during two intense days. Here you can really tell that the food is at the center. There is a lot going on at Skövde food festival. It offers not only food but also entertainment and dancing.
Festival 2011 will take place August 26 and 27

Way Out West – The Grand Finale

The grand finale of Way Out West was indeed grand. If Prince used all the tools in the box, peaking with laser beam explosions and guitar solos for his extra numbers, Kanye West was all out from the start. Not being much for humble gestures, he managed to use a massive amount of confetti, fire of a golden rain and rise above the crowd on a mobile platform – all within the first ten minutes of the show. And from there, he took it to even more ambitious levels, showing of all the hits that people were expecting, while still flowing naturally on the stage.

Earlier in the day we had enjoyed the extravagant Jarvis Cocker, being in a good mood and even surrendering to playing Pulp’s super hit “Common People”, but it was natural that the talk of the festival site centered around Kanye, of course a major booking for Way Out West.

If Friday’s main show, Prince, ended with people trying to leave the area as soon as possible in order to go dancing at the festival’s different friend clubs, Saturday was something different. Now we all wanted to stay a while, to really feel the vibe of the place before the 2011 edition officially closed around three in the morning. But since we at Explore West Sweden are curious visitors, we did of course enter the night and we chose to go to Storan, the former grand theatre now used as a kind of hub for all things cultural.

There we enjoyed Mattias Alkberg, grand old man of the pop scene in Northern Sweden. We have seen him many times before, performing on all sorts of stages, but he is the kind of musician you really want to enjoy in a smaller club area than on a big stage. He is also an entertainer in a very Swedish (or even norrländsk) sense, funny and dry in his reluctant small talk between songs.

After Jonathan Johansson from Skåne and Robyn from Stockholm, it felt natural in a way to let a man from Norrland be our last performer and thereby cover the Swedish musical map. Not many artists from Gothenburg this time around though, but that’s another topic…

When Alkberg had left the stage, we were encouraged by eager rumors suggesting that Kanye himself was at Yaki-Da, a five floor clubbing palace on main street Avenyn. It later turned out he was there Friday (eyewitnesses confirm) but once we got inside we didn’t really care that he had left the building. The place was full and there’s always a special air when a big party such as this one is about to end. It felt like all the hundreds of people inside had had a great couple of days and didn’t want it to end and more than once you could hear “Skål för Way Out West” (Cheers to Way Out West).

The crowning of the night was an “espresso martini” at the coffee bar on the fourth floor and once you start craving coffee, you normally realize it might be time to admit that there’s a new day pushing for attention and that you really should consider heading home. The walk home was just as beautiful as Friday night’s and there’s something very poetic about this time of year on the west coast, when fall is about to hit us and the sun is slower to rise than in June, when it’s virtually never set.

Now, a couple of hours of sleep later, it’s time for the mandatory fika, gossiping about the last few days. We will be at Egg and Milk, an Americana-styled diner just down Linnégatan from the festival site, with great bagels and super pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. If we don’t see you there, now is the time to say goodbye and start looking forward to Way Out West 2012. One more thing: if you were in Gothenburg during the festival, I think the city officials and organizers would like to thank you. The local police issued a statement giving the festival the highest mark for security and tidiness and even though there were a record number of visitors, it’s the cleanest urban festival yet. All in all, a great success.Thank you!


A Lobster Safari in Western Sweden

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica Mueller

Jessica Mueller from Intermezzo Magazine, toured the seas of West Sweden on a lobster safari excursion. Read the story of her incredible adventure here as told in her own words:

“Thursday didn’t seem like a good day for a “lobster safari.” Sheets of rain made for bad driving from my guesthouse in Ljungskile to the fishing village of Grönemad, and a boat ride seemed impossible. But, as the morning wore on, the rain eased up, the clouds parted, and the “yellow house by the sea” I’d been told to look for popped obvious and bright through the mist. There were no signs and no parking lot—just a friendly-looking guy in a wool cap, coming up the weed-lined walkway to meet me. In soft-spoken, perfect-but-cautious English, he introduced himself as Per Karlsson.

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica MuellerI followed Per into the tidy fishing cottage. But the prettiest part was just outside the sliding glass door. Grönemad is located on the Bohuslän coast, in the province of the same name, just north of Gothenburg. The waters are dotted with about 8,000 islands—some inhabited, others little more than hunks of rock.

Also outside, tied up to the dock, was the lobstering boat—all twenty-eight feet of it. Before boarding, Per instructed me to put on a gigantic, waterproof, buoyant bodysuit. It was black and orange and very ugly, but very comforting. I couldn’t have drowned if I tried.

I climbed onto the boat, named Tuffa and built in 1952, and we set off. Per’s brother Lars is at the rear, steering. The brothers own the boat and the house, and operate the whole coastal experience—collectively, the business is called Everts Sjöbod (“Evert’s boathouse”).

At first, the water was pretty smooth. But after we rounded a big island the conditions became, by my standards, rocky. Between reassurances that the boat would definitely not capsize, Per told me about this gorgeous slice of coastline. Bohuslän is a big vacation spot for Swedes, and in the summer these waters are chock full of recreational watercraft.

But we were after the lobster. Beginning the first Monday after the twentieth of September and running until April 30, Swedish waters are open to the lobster harvest. The rest of the year, Per and Lars take visitors out for mackerel fishing, crab harvesting or just swimming and island-hopping.

Jessica MuellerAfter about twenty minutes, we came to our first lobster trap (there are twenty-eight in all), identified by a bobbing red buoy. Hand over hand, Per hauled it up, and success! Inside the trap was a black lobster, speckled with red around its tail and claws. Per took it out and let it (actually, her) walk around on the seat cushions and snap at his gloves while I took scores of pictures. But before he could officially harvest this lobster, Per needed to measure her. The requirement is eight centimeters from about the lobster’s roving, bulbous eye down to the end of its head, and Per had a special ruler for making the calculation. Our lobster passed the size test.

At our next stop, Per told me I would be hauling up the trapho. About two seconds into this endeavor I handed back the rope and informed him that the trap was caught on the bottom, and what would we do to untangle it? He smiled, shook his head no, and handed me the rope. I tried again, and it was like playing tug-of-war with an elephant. Per insisted that was just the strength of the mighty ocean and that eventually the crate would come up. It did, but not before my arms were like jelly.

But we got another lobster! Per and Lars talked to each other in rapid Swedish—apparently, it’s pretty uncommon to get two in a row.

We checked a few more traps but found nothing but crabs, all of which we tossed back. By law, we could have taken them, but there was just no need. Lars and Per are in the tourism industry, and they don’t actually sell anything they catch.

Instead, they cook it for guests like me. Back at the cottage they boiled our lobster (the female) and split it in half to reveal bright white flesh. There was lemon and butter but mostly I ate it plain, as the meat was too sweet and pure to mess with. There was also a pasty, greenish-beige “something” up in the abdominal area that Per told me was the “best part,” though I was skeptical. It turned out to be the tomalley, part of the lobster’s digestive system. Our lobster also had abundant bright orange roe, another delicacy. I tried a little of both, but was happiest by far with my white meat.

Food definitely tastes better when you grow it or catch it yourself. And though I’m thankful I personally wasn’t the one who had to drop our lady lobster into the pot of boiling water, this ocean-to-table experience is undoubtedly the best way to taste the west of Sweden.”

Recipe: Lobster Pot au Feu with Hake, Serves 4

For cooking lobster:
1 live lobster, about 10 to 14 ounces
4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dill seeds

For lobster sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 teaspoon dill seeds
Roasted lobster shell
3/4 cup white wine
Water, as needed
1 cup cream, or to taste
Splash brandy (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

For finished soup:
1 1/3 pounds hake, cod, or other firm white fish
Meat from 1 lobster
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 kohlrabi
2 cups lobster sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill, finely chopped (to taste)

Lobster soup1. Prepare lobster. Combine water, salt and dill and bring to a boil. Put live lobster head first into boiling water, cover and boil 20 minutes. Remove lobster and cool.

2. When cool enough to handle, remove all flesh and set aside. Reserve shell.

3. Preheat oven to 450°F.

4. Place shell on a baking sheet and place in oven. Roast about 15 minutes, tossing and stirring a few times. Remove and cool.

5. Prepare lobster sauce. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

6. Add tomato purée and dill seeds and stir to combine. Add lobster shell and wine and cook for 2 minutes, then add enough water to cover shell. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

7. Remove and discard shells. Simmer until stock is reduced by half. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean pot. Add cream and brandy (if using). Briefly return to a boil, then remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

8. Prepare soup. Cut hake into 1-inch cubes. Chop or shred lobster into slightly smaller chunks.

9. Peel and finely mince or julienne carrots, parsnips and kohlrabi.

10. Preheat oven to 350°.

11. Place fish, lobster and vegetables in an ovenproof dish and pour sauce over. Bake about 10 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Season to taste, garnish with dill and serve.

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica Mueller.

Exploring West Sweden’s Islands

Photo: Mikael Almse/West Sweden Tourist Board

Photo: Mikael Almse/West Sweden Tourist Board

Follow in the footsteps of Alistair Wearmouth from as he is coasting through West Sweden’s Koster Islands.

The Koster Islands are Sweden’s most westerly inhabited islands and have long been a summer haven for Swedes. Here you’ll find small fishing villages, surrounded by an amazing marine landscape. The waters around these islands are the most biodiverse in Sweden, therefore the Koster Sea has been recognized as the nation’s first marine national park. Here you’ll also find lobster, a Koster Islands’ delicacy. Read more about Alistair’s adventures in this breathtakingly beautiful maritime world here.

Celebrate Midsummer with Swedes

On Midsummer eve the Swedes pick flowers and make wreaths to decorate the maypole and young girls wear flower wreaths in their hair. Photo: Conny Fridh, Image Bank Sweden

People pick flowers and make wreaths to decorate the maypole and young girls wear flower wreaths in their hair. Photo: Conny Fridh, Image Bank Sweden

Are you curious about how the Swedes celebrate Midsummer? Visitors can now take part in this very Swedish tradition, which hasn’t been as accessible in the past. Join Swedes in Gothenburg as they celebrate the longest day of the year with singing and dancing around the maypole, whilst indulging in a delicious and typical summer Smorgasbord!

GOT TOURS have created a Midsummer Special that is new for 2011 and held on June 24 at the magnificent Gunnebo House and Gardens.

Read more here

Cured Fish at Salt & Sill

Photo: Jonathan Brown

Photo: Jonathan Brown

Salt & Sill, Sweden’s first floating hotel, has a restaurant that is well know for its high quality food based on local raw materials and being influenced by the coast and the sea. Salt & Sill means “salt and herring” in Swedish which is rather appropriate given that Klädesholmen, where the hotel is based, is also known as “herring island”. They’ve been catching and preserving herring here since the fifteenth century.

Read Jonathan Brown’s report from a smorgasbord at Salt & Sill loaded with pickled herring, smoked mackerel, salmon and much more.

Mussel Safari at Lysekil

Photo: Jonathan Brown

Photo: Jonathan Brown

Meet blogger Jonathan Brown who got to taste both fine food and adventure during a shellfish safari off the coast of Lysekil. He explains why the west coast of Sweden should be included in any food lover’s ultimate fantasy. The Big Five in the region are lobster, crayfish, oysters, prawns and mussels, which can all be sampled through safaris at various locations along the Bohuslän coast.

Read Jonathan’s full story here.

Way out West: Day 4 (FOOD)

food way out west
Today was a hot and humid day and your correspondents tried to get something chilly to drink. There was wine and there was beer. So we changed our minds and went food-hunting, perfectly contempt with our plastic bottles of water. The snack selection did however get us dizzy. We ran into a blonde Swedish girl named Ingrid (such a cliché!) who was trying to talk us into eating wild boar kebab but the act felt a bit too much of a viking feast and we settled for the Hungarian delicacy langos, which essentially is fried bread with sour cream and different salty/fat toppings. Yummy! In the process we turned down everything from Swedish meatballs to Fish and Chips.
During the day, there was one thing besides the omnipresent discussions about weather that occupied the minds of Way Out West-crowd: Håkan Hellström. At eight, he will enter the stage. We can’t wait for the local poet’s return!