I have been spending an awful lot of time travelling recently. I am definitely not complaining, business is good and we have a fantastic relationship with a new client, outside the UK, that is taking us back to some of the countries we were working in before the recession.
Our business has changed, and we are now doing more work outside the UK than on our home shores. We are an international consultancy that happens to be based near Heathrow airport rather than a British business doing a bit outside the country. So last month I found myself back in Stockholm, presenting our work on one of the most magnificent new developments in that fine City. Having completed a full day of presentations to the operations and leasing team, my colleague and I headed to the Saluhall, for a touch of foodservice indulgence.
I have long been fascinated by food markets, and as I travel round the world I get to feed that passion, literally, wherever I go. We have moved out of the “dark days” of processed supermarket foods and consumers are well and truly back to finding great, fresh food in “foodie” locations. Saluhall is just that.
Tucked away in Stockholm, The unique environment of the Östermalm Saluhall Market Hall, filled with some of the very best of Stockholm’s culinary traditions, is always a source of inspiration to me. It breaths life into the jaded palette and provides a sensory earthquake every time I go there.
For many years the market has attracted Stockholm’s gourmets and food-lovers. Today, it is one of the most beautiful and best preserved of Europe’s indoor markets and still retains its original purpose and traditions. It is functional and working, but has that magic of being historical as well.
The Östermalm Saluhall market opened its doors in November 1888 only six months after the work on the original building started. Some things never change, and it was reported even back then, that due to high rents, the market got off to a slow start. In 1915 an act was passed in the City prohibiting outdoor selling of food, and so the hall, as we see it today, was soon full and trading very successfully.
Like many other buildings in many other cities, this beautiful building, designed by architects Gustav Clason and Kasper Salin, almost succumbed to the wave of demolition that swept through Stockholm in the 1960s. Fortunately for all “foodies” from around the world, the unique interior with its 28 metre ceiling height was saved in the nick of time. Instead, extensive improvements were made to the hall in the 1970s, followed by careful renovation between 1995 and 1997. Now it sits magnificently proud in the edgy and interesting City that is Stockholm. Sophisticated, chic, young and very expensive, but so worth a visit. I have spent a lot of time there in the last 2 years and frankly find it hard to beat.
So, you want to know about the food right? Well, it is, as I have already said, a fantastic marketplace of product, and nestled at the back is Lisa Elmquist, seafood and fish of extraordinary quality.
If you like fresh fish and shellfish then you must go Since the start of 1926, when the business was started, the sea has provided the raw materials for the Elmquist family business. It is, as you would expect, made up of a few different parts.
The shop offers the traditional wet fish counter, the deli of seafood and a whole range of prepared and semi prepared dishes. The restaurant, located right next to the counter, serves by poaching, frying and baking dishes, using some of the best prime fish and shellfish in town. For a bit of extra information have a look at the web address.
My colleague and I chose some simple things. I have set out below the dishes in the two languages, but in simple terms, we had herrings and prawns.
LITEN SILLTALLRIK – med inlagd, senaps- och vitlökssill, kavring och Västerbottenost
HERRING PLATE – with pickled, mustard & garlic herring, rye bread and cheese.
FÄRSKA RÄKOR – serveras med Rhode Islandsås, Västerbottenost och rostat bröd
FRESH SHRIMPS – served with Rhode Island sauce ,cheese and toast.
With a glass of wine, a bottle of water and two espressos, we managed to spend 488 Kronor, which is about £45 in modern money. Not the cheapest, but that is not what it is about. The fish was stunning, the freshness amazing and the whole environment a massive stimulation to the senses.
The whole of Östermalm Saluhall is a celebration of food. One of the best places to go in the Nordic regions to see great fish and seafood. You really must go, you wont be disappointed – I promise.