Got back from my European vacation a little over two weeks ago and am overdue on a blog post. To my credit, I’ve tried to sit down and blog about the trip. Several times. And I just couldn’t do it. There’s simply too much to talk about — four countries, multiple cities, several flights, a few train rides, all sorts of food, and loads of fun experiences - I couldn’t possibly fit all of it in one post, it’d be the definition of tl;dr. So my plan is to break it up into segments, by country, starting with the first country I visited…
In all honesty, I wasn’t too jazzed about Sweden — We only flew in there because Norwegian Air (Oakland to Stockholm) was insanely cheap. Our Business Class tickets only cost $1700 and Economy would have been a mere $389 round-trip. Unreal. And even though it is/was a budget airline, I was highly impressed with Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliner: Extremely comfortable seats, new age lighting (to reduce jet-lag), and a plethora of entertainment options. The in-flight meals left something to be desired, but I’ll fly with them again and stock up on food at the airport.
I wish I could say I got off the plane and was ready to explore my new surroundings, but I needed a nap first. By the following morning I had my wits about me and went downstairs to have breakfast. First thing I noticed about Sweden was that I was under-dressed. Seriously under-dressed. Everyone was wearing button down shirts and sportcoats. Me?
I mean that; a woman looked me directly in the eye and frowned. My attire made her sad. In my defense, I had just finished a workout but it’s not like my normal clothes (A collection of graphic tees) would have been much better. I’m still not sure if the unmentioned dress code is a part of Swedish culture or had more to do with our hotel’s location in Stockholm City, an area known for business.
My mom’s very much into the ‘historical stuff’ so we took a walk around Stockholm’s original city center (Gamla Stan). Gamla Stan had these narrow streets lined with cobblestone that were quite charming. The streets weren’t marked so we kept getting lost, but we didn’t mind — kept our strength up by tasting a few pastries at local bakeries and at some point we ran into the Royal Palace.
I don’t remember all of my meals in Stockholm, but I distinctly remember one. On our last night, we randomly picked the restaurant across the street from our hotel, called ‘Tradition.’ We didn’t expect much — We were tired, already thinking about the next adventure, and then were subsequently blown away by the amazing food that was served.
We started with the Smoked Reindeer with Roe.
Okay, so it looks a little weird. That’s what I thought when I first saw it. Almost like sweaty fusion sushi. I still had to try it and I’m glad I did. The Reindeer meat was very flavorful, the fish eggs provided a nice salty crunch, and that was complemented by the slightly sweet (wheat?) bread on the bottom.
How good was it? Well, for the rest of the trip my mom told everyone who would listen about the delicious reindeer she had in Sweden. She absolutely adored it, I’m certain it was her favorite thing she ate on the entire trip which says a lot considering we were in Italy and the woman loves cheese (possibly more than her own son).
For my main course, I asked the waitress to decide for me. I do that a lot, actually, so much so that my girlfriend (who currently works at a restaurant here in Vancouver) has told me that I should stop doing it. Oops. The waitress highly recommended one of my two choices, the Braised Beef with Horseradish. I expected a brownish meat to come out with a side of the horseradish dipping sauce, resembling something like a Prime Rib. And boy, was I wrong.
Looking at this makes my mouth water all over again. That’s shaved horseradish on top of succulent corned beef, a combination I had never even imagined before. Absolutely amazing. Would eat again, five out of five stars.
Up next: The Netherlands