Today we celebrated Mr. Charlie's one-year birthday with local venison for dinner and a jordgubbstarta/cream cake with strawberries. Happy birthday to our littlest guy!
Jack was very complimentary of his father's master grilling and praised Charlie for his choice in cake. He was a pretty good sous-pastry chef, too. Jack has been a total culinary champ in Sweden--trying new foods and I think no *food-related* meltdowns so far.
Our home exchange family has directed us to all sorts of charming dining destinations we would never have found without them. We drove miles down back country roads to Ekenas Kvarn, a cafe and antique shop with little tables set up on a riverbank and a resident bunny rabbit for the kids to enjoy. When I had to choose from the dozens of different cookies on offer, the owner directed me to a favorite cashew cookie, a surprising chili chocolate biscotti, and a "midnight inspiration" she was proud of.
In Vrena there is one cafe, Pilgrimsbo, and we made plans to visit on one of the few days of the week it's open. Their specialty is cake in a cup: the blueberry was perfectly moist without being doughy and adorable in it's antique tea cup. We got their vegetarian sandwich with brie-like soft cheese, vanilla and rhubarb and gobbled it up. So unexpected and tasty!
While we certainly found pickled fish and other Swedish staples at these little cafes, we went for a really traditional Swedish smorgasbord at Ambrosia Restaurang in Nykoping. We got the isterband smoked sausage--they weren't kidding, we've never eaten something so smokey before--and the blood pudding served with lingonberries and bacon. The quantities were enormous, and of course supplemented with the smorgasbord salad bar and bread station. We had to roll out of there.
But one of the best things about this home exchange thing is having a real, equipped kitchen with spices, staples, and cookbooks to inspire. We pick up interesting ingredients at the grocer, farmer's market, or butcher, do some online research and translations (thanks, internet!) and put together some version of Swedish fare. The dinner of pea soup and pancakes with cream and lingonberries (a Thursday thing apparently) is definitely going to be a keeper. I guess we'll be doing more grocery shopping at Ikea in the future.
Up next: what this family is doing in between meals.
Click here for more pictures from our Sweden travels.