My Best Tourist Tip in Town – The Flying Elk

I often get questions from friends visiting Stockholm: where would I recommend to eat. You would think this is a question I love answering, however, I actually find it a bit hard. I could recommend tons of places, but I run into hesitation. Why? Three things. Firstly popular restaurants in Stockholm require advance booking. A lot of advance booking. So all of those who are not extremely well planned (90%), will just hit a wall when trying to score a table. Which is a bit discouraging. Second, many visitors will find the Stockholm price level for food high. I find it inconsiderate to suggest something that will cost an arm and a leg, so I need to really think of those price worthy places that are easy on the wallet . Third, people like eating different things, and I am generally suspicious of restaurants that think they can master several cuisines (if you advertise that you master everything – I suspect you master nothing). And as you know, I never, ever, recommend something that I don’t think is good. Continue reading “My Best Tourist Tip in Town – The Flying Elk”

Wineweek 88: Summer in the City

It is the peak of the summer here in Stockholm. Sun has been shining almost all week and traffic is slow. Perfect. There have just been two things hindering us from sitting outside and enjoying a lot of wine: the flu (of course it comes when you relax a bit) and a curse called Pokemon Go. M has become obsessed with it, and of course spread the addiction to me as well. It is so funny to observe how other people are so hung on it as well. I notice many adults like us walking completely transfixed, heads bent over their phones, hunting for Pokemon. There were also a huge number of people (adults) sitting at a kids playground fiddling with their mobiles because there was a Pokestop there. I suspect many of them did not have their child with them. If you don’t understand what I am talking about, good! You are lucky. Do not download the game.  Continue reading “Wineweek 88: Summer in the City”

The Best Wine Bars in Stockholm

It is almost 1am in the morning when I am writing this post. I have just arrived at my hotel in Poland, unpacked and answered the most urgent emails. I was actually considering going to sleep (as I should), but then thought I cannot leave the blog empty until Friday. Without putting major effort into the writing, this is my olive branch to you: a comprehensive list of the best places for wine in Stockholm. I really gave some thought to this list that I made for my travel site, Tripsteri. So it is definitely not a quick fix. It is THE list you should consider when coming to Stockholm for wineventures!

Enjoy!

19 Glas: Stora Nygatan 19
AG: Kronobergsgatan 37
Bar Nombre: Odengatan 36
The Burgundy: Yxsmedsgränd 12
Corvina Enoteka: Kornhamnstorg 47
Cultur: Österlånggatan 34
Eriks Vinbar: Stadsgården 6
Garage del Gusto: Västmannagatan 54
Gaston: Mälartorget 15 ja tavaratalo NK, 4. kerros
The Green Queen: Norr Mälarstrand 64
Hornstulls Bodega: Hornsbruksgatan 24
HTL Lounge (Cava-baari): Kungsgatan 53
Monks Wine Room: Lilla Nygatan 2
Naturligtvis: Kommendörsgatan 23,
NOFO Vinbar: Tjärhovsgatan 11
Vin Valvet: Södermalmstorg 8
Wijnjas Ost & Vinkällare: Scheelegatan 3
Xarcuteria: Hantverkargatan 40

xx Soile

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Gaston in Gamla Stan
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Corvina Enoteca
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Corvina Enoteca
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Cava served from low glasses at Monks Wine Room (big dislike)
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Visiting 19 Glas in Gamla Stan
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Hornstulls Bodega
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Hornstulls Bodega

Wineweek 76: Cherry Blossoms and More Exploring in Gamla Stan

Something special is in the air every spring when the cherry trees of Kungsträdgården (Kings Garden) blossom. The park is located in the middle of the city, right next to the “Harrods” of Stockholm, Nordiska Kompaniet. The park has about 40 something trees. They were a gift from Japan to the King of Sweden in 1998. Continue reading “Wineweek 76: Cherry Blossoms and More Exploring in Gamla Stan”

Wineweek 40: Xarello on My Mind

Very little has happened this week. Plans have not progressed and I have had very little good food or wine. I haven’t even taken that many nice pictures to share with you (thus the poor number of shots in this weeks post). There is only one true explanation to this lack of enthusiasm, and it is that M has been away on a business trip. We are a team and wine as well as wine related things are best enjoyed when having company. Not saying I cant open a bottle of wine just by myself (last night I did) but I want to save the good ones for sharing.

There is however something I want to share with you this Sunday, and that is my new profound interest in the grape Xarello. We are old friends, Xarello and I. I have been drinking cava (where Xarello is most often present) since I came of age, and my love for the Spanish sparkling has not faltered even after I fell into the ranks of the winecurious. On the contrary, I respect cava even more. Lately (this summer) I have been trying out quite many white wines made with Xarello as the main grape and I must say they have been excellent. My most recent encounter with a Xarello white was on Friday at my favorite wine bar in Stockholm Gaston.

Having breakfast and writing this weeks post
Having breakfast and writing this weeks post
Home alone..enjoying the warm August evening on the balcony.
Home alone..enjoying the warm August evening on the balcony.

Xarello is one of the most grown white grape varieties in Catalonia. Xarello has a thick skin in more ways than one: The grape literally has a thick skin, and it is popular among the growers for being able to tolerate a wide range of climatic conditions. Xarello is also not too fussy about the soil composition, so it produces a solid yield year after year. The juice has an excellent balance of sugars and acids and it is highly regarded for its ability to age well. The taste is textural with lemon-acidity and stonefruit. The nose is fresh, slightly misleading with it’s floral notes. I think the taste profile goes wonderfully together with some more meaty seafood, like crab or scallops, or even some fresh and spicy dishes, like Vietnamese Pho (with lots of koriander, nomnom).

Fresh Xarello white at Gaston wine bar
Fresh Xarello white at Gaston wine bar
A night with wine  is incomplete without some snacks.
A night with wine is incomplete without some snacks.

As we are soon going to Catalonia, I am actually planning to spend a day in Alella, a small town just a few miles north-west from Barcelona. This town is known for its excellent Xarello whites with lime-blossom flavor and aroma. Sounds perfect for summer 2016 doesn’t it? Now I just need to do some reading up to find the right producers to visit. What are your encounters and experiences with Xarello, and do you have any favorites to share with me for my trip?

Short but sweet, that was wineweek 40. Next week I hope we can pick up with our projects. We have planned open tastings for the 3rd and 12th of September, but we need to make a few arrangements first, like reserve the space, send out invitations, make the materials (tasting sheets) and agree on a new delivery window with out freight forwarder. September is closing in, so procrastinating further is not an option. Have a great week you all!

Wineweek 38: The End of Summer

The first full week of August is almost gone (there are only minutes left), and so is my “so called” vacation. I have what they call, restless feet. I always need to have a project going on (while I dream about a completely project-free vacation). This summer I have been writing my Stockholm travel guide, and I am almost done. This is my friends one of the reasons this blog has been slightly quieter lately. The second reason is, I seem to be nearing the one year crisis. Every relationship has one; a point where small things start getting on the nerves or you tire, and it is the memory of the good times that keeps things alive. Perhaps they are coming back, perhaps they aren’t. Blogging about wine, food, coffee and all kinds of experiences has been great and rewarding, but with all my other “little projects” I don’t always have the energy to keep up the quality. I have been concentrating a bit too much on restaurants and too little on wine. So let’s see. Either the blog will have a face-lift in the fall, with more posts about the business, discovering wine and prominent producers, or I will have to scale it down significantly. One thing is for sure, I will be concentrating on quality more than quantity.

Enough chatter about feelings. What have we been up to his week with wine? We had some (very) winecurious guests from Finland, so it was a good opportunity (excuse) to open up some of our nicer bottles of wine. I always love it when I have people over who can appreciate the bottle. It makes the drinking experience more fun. We finally decided to try a bottle of Agrapart & Fils Mineral. Agrapart is a medium-sized grower producer and an interesting house to keep ones eyes on. The bottle of Mineral was fantastic btw. fresh, but with some nice complexity. We also opened a Tarlant Cuvee Louis and a Savart L’accomplie. Both were absolutely wonderful, especially the Tarlant.

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Savart L’accomplie, a fresh start to Tuesday evening. Why not!
The wine tasting experience at Gaston
The wine tasting experience at Gaston

We also visited a few wine bars this week. Gaston has a new great concept, the sommeliers tasting menu. It costs 120 SEK and includes three small glasses of wine (3 x 4cl). The choice of the wines will be made by the sommelier our of the menu for wines by the glass. Basically, I told the sommelier which wines in the menu interested me and she picked the ones she would be best together. We were a party of four and everyone got a tasting tailored to their preferences. What a great concept.

On Saturday, we visited Nook, a restaurant serving Scandinavian food with a Korean twist. The food was yummy and beautiful, and actually wonderful value for money (not common in Stockholm), and the sommelier had over 40 glasses of wine by the glass. My only disappointment was that I could not browse the list as it was in his head. So I had to rely on the sommelier for the wine pairings. I had some wonderful white Bourgogne and white Burgundy, and M had some Riesling from Pfaltz. All good selections and went great with the food. So the restaurant is forgiven for the missing wine list. After we were done at Nook, we wen’t to enjoy the last warm days of the summer to the terrace of NoFo (review here). It was a perfect warm summer evening with a warm wind, the wines were well chilled, and the courtyard of NoFo was peaceful. Perfect!

Some White Bourgogne and Riesling by the glass
Some White Bourgogne and Riesling by the glass
The beautiful dessert
The beautiful dessert
Warm summer evening in the courtyard of NoFo
Warm summer evening in the courtyard of NoFo

To these pictures I end this wineweek. Next week will be busy. We will be traveling to Finland for the weekend to attend Restaurant day. It is a day when anyone can open their own restaurant, so the parks of Helsinki will be filled with food stalls and the whole town will be snacking. We have been meaning to go so many times, and finally this August we were able to keep the weekend free. There will not be any wine served on Restaurant day, but I am sure I can sneak some in before Sunday.

Wineweek 33: It’s Getting Hot in Here

As per tradition, I will start with the weather report. It might seem like an irrelevant part of my weekly posts. But on the contrary, I think it is an important note for setting the right mood. The kind of wine I drink is heavily influenced by the weather. So it is no coincidence I have been drinking a lot of light reds, white and rose this week as it has been HOT. Sweden has been showing it’s best with 25-30 C and sun, and I have been doing my best to enjoy the hot weather with some cooling drinks.

Wednesday we went to check out the second location of our favorite wine bar in town, Gaston at Nordiska Kompaniet. NK is one of the finest department stores in town and the top floor has recently been taken over by the king of Swedish fine dining, Björn Franzen. Gaston wine-bar is also a part of Frantzen’s culinary empire and one of the most notable wine-hangouts in town. While the location in the old town of Stockholm remains my favorite (it also has a more extensive list of wine), the NK location is also a place worth to visit. The style of displaying the wines in fridges along the wall with pricing written with a white marker reminds me of Paris and it’s many wonderful wine bars. So on a rainy day, head up to this comfortable oasis for wine in between shopping. The two go well together (I have experience)!

Relaxing at Gaston Wine Bar at Nordiska Kompaniet
Relaxing at Gaston Wine Bar at Nordiska Kompaniet
The beautiful bar at Loka Izakaya
The beautiful bar at Lokal Izakaya
Strawberry, champagne and black pepper. Omnom!
Strawberry, champagne and black pepper. Omnom!

On Friday we went out for some drinks and Asian food at a new restaurant in town, Lokal Izakaya. The Japanese inspired Izakayas are the new food trend in town. Sushi and Asian inspired dishes combined with some yummy cocktails and a list of Sake makes up for a concept I very much enjoy. Sadly every single Izakaya in Stockholm has the same problem, they are not Izakayas. Don’t get me wrong, I like the restaurants as such. I just don’t like that the concept has been so grossly miss-interpreted. An Izakaya is a simple Japanese eatery, like a tavern or pub, a kind of after work place that serves some food to accompany the drinks. The so called Izakayas in Stockholm remind me more of Asian fine dining than a local.  Lokal Izakaya, like the first on the izakaya scene in Stockholm, Shibumi, is a fun restaurant. The cocktails, sashimi, and hot dishes all very satisfying. I was just expecting something more simple.

As many cities in Europe, Stockholm will partly close for summer vacations. July is prime time for Swedes to head to their cottages and travel around in Europe, so many small restaurants and bars close their doors. We went to enjoy the last opening day of Hornstulls Bodega, a wine bar and restaurant close by to where we live. After Gaston, I would say this is THE place to come for wine. We enjoyed some Spätburgunder rose, reds from Loire and an amazing peppery Rioja.

Last wine of the summer at Hornstulls Bodega
Last wine of the summer at Hornstulls Bodega
Celebrating 4th of July at Nya Carnegiebryggeriet
Celebrating 4th of July at Nya Carnegiebryggeriet

I will miss the Bodega, but the summer will go by fast. Next week we are heading for Helsinki, my home city; to rest, meet friends and relatives, and to drink some more wine of course. The blog will not be taking a holiday, but summer vacation will mean that there will be a slightly slower pace (maybe). And perhaps I have the chance to finally really consider what to do with the look and layout. All ideas and inspiration are more than welcome! Hope a warm and sunny week to you all!

Wineweek 29: The Last Stretch Before the Summer

Summer in Sweden is short. The spring basically starts in April and turns into summer in June. That is how it should be. Every year, however, the wait for warm weather is so intense that it seems like June is just a tease. It looks like summer when you gaze outside of your window, but a cold wind usually pushes for wearing several layers of clothing. July and August are warm (and hopefully not too rainy) and by September the cold winds return. All this introduction brings me to one point, that is one must enjoy all the good weather one can and take a long summer holiday. So after our last boxes of wines have reached their new owners, that is what we will do, take a vacation.

We returned from Shanghai late Wednesday evening. As it was a day flight, it was not a problem at all to adjust back to European time. On Thursday we were already holding tastings and taking more orders for or pre-summer delivery window. It has caught us partly by surprise what has been popular. We have selected all of the wines based on what we like, but one never knows if others share your opinion. This said we were cautious with the number of boxes we ordered from our suppliers. We were especially cautious with the more expensive wines and Rose, as one does not want to be left with a lot of stock with those. So this of course resulted in us selling out of the Quinta de Saes Rose and Rimarts 100% Chardonnay Cava almost at once (and the great red from Antonio Madeira we are also running low on). You live and you learn.

We also tried some nice wines ourselves this week. On Friday we opened a bottle of Louis Barthelemy Champagne, a bottle bought from London in January. It was slightly different, a very orange zesty champagne with some brioche on the nose. Not bad, but not a favorite. A review will follow. We also visited our old friend, Gaston Wine bar, and restaurant Volt on Saturday. It was a great night out with some interesting wines and beautiful food. If you look at the photos they are taken with my new baby, the Samsung Galaxy S6. I am so pleased with the quality of the camera. The iPhone really pales in comparison.

That is it for this short Wineweek. Coming up next week, we will be working with shipping of wines for the Midsummer celebrations, M will be visiting our accountant and Noma (not jealous at all) in Copenhagen, and we have a booking at a new restaurant in Stockholm called Punk Royale. I suspect (with 99% certainty) that there will also be some wine. Have a great week you all!