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Sweden: Would you like to Fika?

Sweden: Would you like to Fika?
Tiffany Kaba: In Malmö, the city’s first Restaurant Day is in full swing. The only way to get the full experience is to hop on a bike and spend the day cycling from one place to another.
 
Surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Kullaberg in Mölle, I am making my way along the scenic Kullaleden trail. Breakfast, lunch and dinner await us along the five kilometre food route known as the Kullabergs Matvandring.
 
Every kilometre is punctuated by a food stop and a chance to sample local food from small-scale artisan producers. The food comes with folkloric tales and anecdotes about the surrounding area, which is dotted with 17th century local farms and Viking relics. Kullaleden is 70km long, running from Helsingborg via the Kulla Peninsula all the way to Utvälinge, wending its way through picturesque villages, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and for us, a bounteous culinary feast. It forms just one part of the much longer 1000km Skåneleden Trail that winds its way through the entire region, enticing both the unseasoned and the inveterate nature lover to discover its unique landscapes.
 
Emerging from the Kullaberg Nature Reserve into a coastal meadow I am met with picture perfect views of the bay of Skälderviken. A pop up picnic has appeared and we are flanked by undulating fields of rapeseed, the Denmark border is hazy in the distance. Our guides Mia and Mats Håkansson are preparing the table with Hven cheese, tomato chutney (tomatmarmelad), crispbread (knäckebrod) and freshly pressed apple juice (äpplemust) for our first meal of the day.
 
At a rustic half-timbered house reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel's abode, we are offered a southern speciality of fried herring with rye bread (Stekt sill och kavring), marinated in a deliciously rich sauce of fresh cream, fish eggs
Sweden: Would you like to Fika?
and västerbotten cheese. Potatoes are sourced in nearby Viken where the supplier is known to cultivate over 200 types in a bid to keep every variety alive in the region.  Lager comes from the Kullabrygg Brewery in nearby Arild. Mia tells us that every ingredient is produced within a five kilometre radius of the trail, reflecting a region that is truly able to feed itself.
 
We drink brewed nettle juice and eat gravad lax with seasonal asparagus and sweet tomatoes with beetroot tzatziki. If you really want to go back to your roots, asparagus safaris and tomato tours are popular here; such ingredients are a cornerstone of the local cuisine. Visitors to southern Sweden are also expected to try the spättekaka, (a cake on a spit), considered a Skåne specialty made of eggs, potato starch flour and sugar.
 
For hardy fans of the outdoors, the Kullaleden trail offers shelters en route or you can check yourself into to one of many hotels. For us it was to be Flickorna Lundgren, one of Sweden' most famous and historic cafes since 1792 for 'Fika' (tea, sweet treat and conversation). So popular is the fika that it now translates into a verb: Do you want to fika? Flickorna’s specialty are Vaniljhjärta, traditional vanilla heart shaped pastries.
 
For a gourmet taste of Skåne, the Sofiero Palace and Gardens, once a summer residence to the crown prince Oscar and his wife Sophia in the mid 19th century, boasts award winning chef Marcus Nemrin's delectable seafood menus of raw halibut with sockerkrispat rye bread and Kalixlojrom (Caviar from Kalix) alongside grilled pike perch, artichoke, roasted garlic cream and sjökorell (sea coral). A chocolate mousse with sea buckthorn sorbet completes our culinary tour of Öresund’s shores. All that’s left is a short walk back to our charming hotel, Villa Thalassa, located in the heart of the Pålsjö forest. It feels home-grown in every way from my luxurious cabin in the woods to the resident chef, owner and forager Christian and his hospitable family.
 
It’s also worth a visit to the historic coastal town of Helsingborg which houses the oldest pedestrian street in Sweden, a 600-year-old medieval fortress and a growing food industry. The Helsingborgs Bryggeri, an old slaughterhouse turned micro brewery produces award-winning lagers infused with elderflower, fresh ginger and liquorice. My favourite is one made from a coffee blend in collaboration with a nearby coffee factory, yet another faithful sign of local suppliers giving each other a helping hand.
In Malmö, Sweden’s third largest town, a smörgåsbord of classic Swedish treats are on offer at Kicki and Bjørn’s home, part of a new concept which gives guests the chance to experience a slice of Swedish hospitality by dining in locals' homes. A true gastronomic 'Midsummer' menu starts with a tasty mustard herring served with boiled potatoes (no doubt one of the 200 kinds we encountered in the countryside!), sour cream and caviar.
 
‘Jansson's Temptation’ casserole with potatoes, breadcrumbs, cream and onion is accompanied by Äggakaka, a delectable fluffy pancake dish with bacon and lingonberries.  We toast our visit with shots of the powerful Skåne akvavit.
 
Back on the streets of Malmö, the city’s first ever international 'Restaurant Day' is in full swing and the only way to get the full experience is to hop on a bike and spend the day cycling from one place to another eating until you’re full to bursting.
 
Known as the Swedish ‘City of Parks', Malmö has high ambitions in urban sustainability. Armed with the youngest demographic of any Swedish town and 175 nationalities, it feels like the southern gateway to Scandinavia from Europe.  In ten years, tourism has increased by 50% thanks to its dynamic, innovative and achingly cool vibe. During Restaurant Day a strong Lebanese influence is particularly felt as almost half the stalls serve mana'ish, halawyat and fattoush. 'On the roof' (PåTaket) proves a little tricky to find but once we’re comfortable seated on Madeleine's 7th floor roof terrace we tuck into goats cheese salad with Vitlöksvinägrett and her mother’s recipe from Estonia, Russian ice cream cake.
 
Skåne feels like a real success story; a generous community harnesses a progressive approach while staying true to their 'back to the land' movement.
 
Villa Thalassa in Helsingborg
Rooms cost from 900SEK (£80) per night based on two sharing on a room only basis.
http://www.villathalassa.se/
Kullaleden food trail / Kullabergs Matvandringar
Guided food tours in Kullaberg
Rica Hotel in Malmö
Rooms cost from 590SEK (£52) based on two sharing on a bed and breakfast basis. WiFi is also included in the price.
https://www.rica-hotels.com/hotels/malmo/rica-hotel-malmo/?lcn=en
A Slice of Swedish Hospitality
Costs 550 SEK (£50) for adults and 250 SEK (£23) for children (5-12), a 25% VAT is included in the price as well as beverages.
To book visit  http://www.mication.se/
Restaurant Day
Visit Sweden
www.visitsweden.com
http://www.malmotown.com/en/
http://www.familjenhelsingborg.se/sv/Visit/
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