Meet a Local –Per Karlsson Owner of Evert’s Boathouse

Evert’s Boathouse was built in the 19th century and has recently been refurbished with several unique objects and details. The boathouse is located in Gröndemad, close to Grebbestad in West Sweden, and is the starting point for all excursions they offer.

Per Karlsson at the Boathouse. Photo: Mikael Almse

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Easter Witches, Seafood Safaris and Giant cinnamon buns! The Winner of a Seafood-themed Trip to West Sweden, Marie-Charlotte Maréchal, Describes her experience…

What did you see and do on your trip?

On the Friday, I met my sister, who lives in Corsica, at Paris-Beauvais Airport and we took the flight to Gothenburg. Our first stop was the coastal town, Lysekil (an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg on the west coast). On the road we enjoyed the landscape. A few minutes before arriving, our GPS told us to take a “road” on the water. Indeed, at the end of the road we went onto a boat that took us to Lysekil. We put our suitcases at the lovely Strandflickornas Havshotell and took the ferry to the island of Fiskebäckskil, where a table was reserved for us at a restaurant. I’m not very familiar with seafood so it was a great introduction for me, and it was really delicious. At the end of the feast we returned to our lovely room. I really loved the houses on the island and felt like I was in a movie. It was magical.

Lysekil from the Sea. Photo: Jonas Ingman

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Oysters – On the Lookout for a Popular Festival in Grebbestad

How do you get a really popular festival? A festival that celebrates food and leaves visitors with a warm and genuine feeling. This is something that must have been up for discussion many times in Grebbestad, where the Nordic Oyster Opening Championships will soon be held. This year, the aim is clear! The competition will be a true celebration. Not a concept that feels forced or artificial. Instead, a festival that everyone can enjoy right in the middle of the picturesque fishing village of Grebbestad. More genuine than ever, and with focus on the best oysters in the world. I’m talking about the tastiest oysters you can imagine – freshly caught in Grebbestad. Just imagine!

Oysters. Photo: Jonas Ingman

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Meet a Local – Ali Davoodi, founder of the Fresh Fish Fashion Fair

Fresh Fish organizes an annual Fashion Fair & Competition in Gothenburg for promising designers. The idea for Fresh Fish was born in 2005 when the founder Ali Davoodi had the desire to create a platform geared toward promising designers, within different creative professions, to support them in their career. The first platform took shape as a fashion platform which then grew into Fresh Fish’s’ first fashion fair in 2007. Since then exhibitors from all over the country have come annually to show their clothes, accessories and jewelry.  In 2009 the fair moved to Eriksbergshallen in Gothenburg and grew into a three-day-fair.

Exhibition at Fresh Fish. Photo: Angelique Johner

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Meet a local – Patrik Sewerin executive chef at Gunnebo House and Gardens

Gunnebo House and Gardens is one of Sweden’s primary establishments from the 18th century. It is charmingly situated between the two lakes “Stensjön” and “Rådasjön”, in the city of Mölndal, just 10 minutes south-east of Gothenburg.  The landscaping and the house itself were designed by Carl Wilhelm Carlberg, a city architect from Gothenburg. The Gunnebo area has been a cultural heritage area since 2003, and the whole park is run organically and has been organically certified since 2006.  Today, Gunnebo is a beautiful cultural environment with a coffeehouse, restaurant, shop and farm.

Gunnebo House. Photo: Lina Ikse

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Cabbage – on the look-out for this year’s most prestigious vegetable

Did you know that cabbage is one of the best loved vegetables in Sweden? Think about it: cabbage bake, cabbage rolls, and cabbage soup. What would traditional Swedish cooking be without these great rustic dishes?

White cabbage is definitely the king of all ingredients in Swedish cuisine. It’s healthy, crispy, and cheap. And if white cabbage is the number one ingredient, it is closely followed by its relative, cauliflower – used throughout history and ‘Vegetable of the Year 2013,’ according to many top chefs and food writers!

Swedish Cabbage. Photo: Lisa Nestorson

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Walk in the footsteps of Camilla Läckberg’s crime fiction characters

Fans of Scandi-crime fiction won’t want to miss Fjällbacka during a visit to West Sweden. Neither will fans of beautiful scenery. The famous Swedish crime writer, Camilla Läckberg, sets her novels in this idyllic fishing village on the west coast, 1.5 hours drive north of Gothenburg.

Camilla Läckberg, Swedish crime writer from Fjällbacka. Photo: Bingo Rimer

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The Crane Dance at Hornborgarsjön

Cranes at Hornborgarsjön. Photo: Jonas Ingman

Every year several flocks of cranes (in Swedish “tranor”) gather at Hornborgarsjön, an inland lake in the west of Sweden that is considered to be one of Sweden’s best bird lakes.  The first flocks usually arrive in the middle of March, but their exact arrival depends on how far a long spring has come.  It is then typical to see thousands of cranes gathering by the lake until the end of April, when it is time for them to fly further north to their nesting areas. Continue reading…

Meet the Winner!

California resident Eva Crose won a “road trip of a lifetime” in the Car Plus Vacation Contest presented by West Sweden, Volvo Overseas Delivery, and VisitSweden. Eva and her husband Gregory just returned from their long-awaited trip to Western Sweden, where they spent ten days touring the region in a rented Volvo. We called her up to hear about her trip.

So first of all, tell us a little about your trip to West Sweden.
Wow—everything was absolutely wonderful! The trip was very well arranged, the weather was perfect, and the accommodations were exemplary. And just seeing so much green and water all around us was very relaxing. We just had a wonderful time.

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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.