Tuesday, December 8, 2015

First Swedish dinner

IMG 2241
Stockholm, Sweden, December 8, 2015—
WELL, FIRST ONE in thirty-five years, at any rate. And I'm not sure this particular place has changed in that time.

Oh, it's undoubtedly relatively new — this part of the city, Hammarby, is quite new: blocks and blocks of identical apartment buildings, many storeys high, with offices or occasionally shops on the street level. I'm sure this was formerly a working dockside enclave, but it's a new century, resting on a very different economy; from San Francisco's Mission Bay to here in Hammarby, clean lines and technology have displaced steam locomotives and stevedores.

But this place was nothing but nostalgia: smallish dining rooms; chandeliers; mismatched comfortable chairs (some of them — hoorah! — armchairs); candles; stemware.

And then the food came.

IMG 2244We'd ordered moderately: chicken breast for the Contessa; pappardelle "with Italian cheese" for me. But the plates!

My pasta was hidden, as you see, under green asparagus and arugula, and involved also leeks, mushrooms, cream, and a haze of nutmeg. The Italian Cheese was a cows-milk tomino of some kind; it had been dusted in panko and then baked. Faced with such a thing one sets prejudice aside and plunges into the local culture. We didn't come here to eat as we do in Italy.

So why did I order pappardelle? The alternatives were simply too hard to figure out, given lack of sleep and the minuscule quasi-elegant script on the menu. And I wanted to eat light. Oh well.

A toy shepherd at one end of our dining room, and an equally polite little bulldog wandering among the tables — the house dog, I suppose. I have to say that while I dislike dogs in general in the USA I do like the custom of well-behaved little dogs participating in the European urban life.

We didn't even mind the frequent bursts of song from another dining room, where a group of twenty or so were seated at a long table — a Christmas party, no doubt — most of them men, and all of them well versed in drinking songs. Good voices ameliorate enthusiasm. We'll probably encounter more of that, too.

Pinot grigio by the glass
•Hemma Hos Kaj, Hammarby Kaj 18, Stockholm, Sweden; 08-4466560
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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