Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Swedish Lunch with the Ambassador

We had lunch with the Swedish Ambassador at his residence. I forgot to take a photo of him!
A small group of us had a most privileged lunch with the Swedish ambassador and his team at His Excellency's residence. The Ambassador Mr Ingemar Dolfe gave us a short overview of Sweden and how it aims to become a culinary nation.

Sweden is surrounded by much water and this means lots of fresh fish and seafood. Their light spring and summer seasons yield plentiful fruit and berries. And the winters have trained them to become excellent preservers. Think pickles, smoked meats, gravad lax as a start.

There are some such products available in Singapore, but not a full-fledged Swedish restaurant where we can try really authentic Swedish cuisine. For most of us, our most common encounter  with 'Swedish food' is the IKEA cafeteria. But as you can guess, Swedish food is more than just meatballs.

If you're curious about specific dishes, check out Swedish culinary classics and their recipes here:
http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Lifestyle/Food-drink/Swedish-culinary-classics/
They include Toast Skagen, Strömmingslådor, Gubbröra, Kanelbullar (and yes, Köttbullar too).

Jamie Oliver raved about Swedish cuisine in his book "Jamie Does... Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Spain, Sweden and France". He was blown away by the clean, refined flavours that he found.

It's interesting too that the Swedish have boldly embraced spices (e.g. cumin, cardamom, caraway seeds) in so much of their cooking and baking. I am also surprised to find the Swedes one of the biggest coffee consumers in the world. Cafes and pâtisserie are big in Sweden. You'll find breads too, of all kinds. And of course, the Smörgåsbord!

So yes, there's wonderful food, great markets, a vibrant coffee culture, lovely islands to visit in the archipelago, the great outdoors plus "snaps" and "glögg" (aquavit and hot mulled wine). Sounds like a destination to explore!

But back to our Swedish lunch in Singapore...


Swedish Chef Jakob Esko, Executive Chef at Capella
We were most fortunate to have Swedish chef Jakob Esko, Executive Chef at Capella Singapore, cook for us that day. His was a fairly contemporary take using certain signature Swedish ingredients as highlights.

The same three-course Swedish menu will be available for lunch on the 13th of July 2011 at Capella’s The Knolls Restaurant, priced at S$65++.


This is the same crockery used by Swedish royalty. It bears the three crowns present in their national coat of arms.
At the ambassador's home, we dined on the same kind of crockery used by Swedish royalty. It bears the three crowns in the national coat of arms.


Swedish Seafood Cocktail
Havscocktail med kräftsjudna skaldjur, morotsskum och dragon 
frusen gräddfil, vit sparris och gelead gurka
Swedish Seafood Cocktail, Tarragon-infused Carrot Foam
Frozen Sour Cream, White Asparagus and Cucumber

A very pleasing start to the meal. The whole combination of carrot foam and sour cream complemented the fresh seafood well.


Spiced Veal Loin with Morels
Kryddfärserad kalvrygg med toppmurklor. 
Tartlette med vårprimörer och kalvbräss. 
Potatisfondant samt rödvinssås
Spiced Veal Loin with Morels
Young Spring Vegetable Tartlette
Sweetbread, Potato Fondant and Red Wine Sauce

The veal was tender and it was wrapped together with some sausage of sorts. The lingonberries added a tart zing to the sauce. Portions were very hearty.



Textures of Almond and Pear with Cloudberries Ice Cream
Päron, Mandel och Hjortronglass
Textures of Almond and Pear with Cloudberries Ice Cream

Now, cloudberries - exotic, no? That's one there in the foreground, the rich orangey fruit topped with gold foil. I popped it into my mouth and it tasted like...sunrise! There is a beautiful complexity to the berry sweetness that totally defies description.



Elderflower drink concentrate, available from IKEA
If you can't make that lunch at Capella, here's a little bit of Sweden you can always enjoy at home. We had a taste of chilled white wine or sparkling water with a touch of elderflower concentrate. It's tangy like berries, but with a hint of floral fragrance. I found it remarkably refreshing, especially in our hot weather. The elderflower juice concentrate is available at IKEA.

Warmest thanks to the Swedish Embassy for their lovely hospitality and opening our eyes to Sweden's culinary potential.

And whatever you're eating, enjoy your meal today! Or as they say in Swedish: Smaklig måltid!


CAPELLA SINGAPORE
1 The Knolls
Sentosa Island
Singapore 098297
T: +65 6377 8888 F: +65 6591 5049
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8 comments

  1. Not a full fledged Swedish restaurant? How about http://www.fikacafe.com/ ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry, no, that's not really true Swedish cuisine...we checked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know I'm a bit late regarding your comment here, hahaha. But you're very wrong.

      Fika swedish cafe & bistro is the only restaurant in the world by this date that serves authentic, home-cooked Halal Swedish traditional and non-traditional food, something that we have done since 2009 in Singapore. Saying anything else is an insult. All recipes in the menu are old family and friends recipes. All traditional ones dates back decades in my family. All dishes are food that I have grown up with and learned to love. So it's really sad to see a self-acclaimed "food" blogger showing off their complete lack of knowledge in culture, traditions and traditional cuisine in Sweden.

      Joakim Smidhagen (yes, I'm Swedish)
      Owner,
      Fika Swedish Cafe & Bistro

      Delete
    2. Hi Joakim! Thanks for dropping by. I am really sorry, I did not mean to offend. As you correctly pointed out, I'm not an expert in Swedish cuisine, so I can only ask the Swedes whose opinions I trust - that's what I meant when I say we checked. Maybe I should have worded it more clearly and in a less curt manner. And perhaps I should have asked more people. But I guess ultimately opinions differ on many things, especially on what is authentic. As you say, you also serve non-traditional food, so maybe that's a gray area. Kudos for making your cuisine halal too, by the way. More people can enjoy it.

      Delete
  3. The meal you had was very refined/modernised Swedish cuisine. Only few restaurants in Sweden would sell that kind of stuff. I think it would have been also interesting if some unaltered traditional cuisine was presented

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, thanks, I meant to say it's a bit on the modern side. Let me add that!
    Hey, what are you guys doing up past 2am?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I live in Sweden, its early evening here

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey cool! Sorry, for some reason I keep thinking you're in Singapore. A Swedish food blog...now that should show us what Swedes really eat!

    ReplyDelete

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