Alright. I don't know how to organize this, so let's just go in order. It should be noted that this is only going to revolve around food and if you care about the rest of my trip you'll have to look elsewhere.
So we flew to Stockholm on Jan1 to visit my mom's brother and his family. I would like to mention that Finnair has fantastic airline food and offers delicious coffee and free wine. They gave me a great vegetarian option. So we landed in Helsinki, Finland on Jan2 and had some breakfast, which was scary because we were paying in Euros and had no idea what we were doing. Then we hopped on over to Stockholm. We went to my relatives' house and had smörgås (root of smörgåsbord - not like the ones in Vegas though!), which kind of means "open sandwich." This was our first introduction to the flatbread that I am now obsessed with, which is Knäckebröd. We spread it with butter, but I also tried some fish paste (unknown what it is, but it was weirdly salty). We were also feeling pretty adventurous so we had some pickled herring. No joke. It didn't taste too bad. Really sugary. Very bizarre texture. I can check that off my list and never have to try it again. We also tried JulMust, which is kind of like a Swedish Dr. Pepper. Gibby was not a fan.
We then trekked out to Stortorget, where we had hot chocolate and chai and apple cake in a 400 year old cafe.
When we returned to their house, we had Swedish meatballs (a vegetarian version for me!) and potatoes and peas and more JulMust, and a deliciously wonderful ice cream with gingersnaps in it. OK. So that's the extremely long Day 1.
Day 2: We went to my uncle's church, where we were introduced to the phenomenon known as FIKA. Fika, as defined by Wiki, is the "practice of taking a break, typically with a cinnamon roll and/or some biscuits or cookies, or sometimes a smörgås or a fruit on the side, is central to Swedish life, and is regularly enjoyed even by the government." Fika went on to become one of my favorite things ever. I miss it. /deviation. Then we went out for Indian food where I had some wonderful butter paneer masala (similar to my recipe!).
Day 3: A day of sightseeing, particularly notable for our very long lunch at Kafé Vurma, in Hornstull in Stockholm.
I had some lentil and potato curry with a smörgås on the side and it was wonderful.
Gibby had a panini with chicken, apple, walnuts, goat cheese, and spinach, which he was definitely enjoyed.
At Kafé Vurma, we also had our first kardemummebullar, which are like giant dense cinnamon buns except with cardamom and chunky sugar. So freaking good. I like the kardemommeboller better than the kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), but looooove them both.
We also went to a market to get some raclette cheese, so of course we poked around and looked at the cheese counters, meat counter (eww they leave the heads and feathers on the poultry!) and produce. It's always fun to explore markets!
Day 4: Another day of sightseeing! We had some tasty lunch at my uncle's church, including a pasta salad with crawfish tails that my aunt made. Once the sun went down (....at 3PM....) we went to have some fika at Espresso House, which has succeeded in keeping Starbucks out of their country, with the exception of at the airport. We got a kanelbulle, hot chocolate (for Gibby) and coffee (for me). My uncle ordered an espresso and it actually came in a tiny, proper-sized espresso cup. So very different from Starbucks!
When we got back to their house, we had...raclette! I heard of this a few months ago when my cousin was talking about it. It's like fondue. Kind of. Raclette is a French cheese that melts beautifully. So you put it in a special raclette machine, which melts the cheese while you cook stuff on top, and then you pour the cheese over whatever you want (in our case, potatoes!). It is AWESOME and makes me want to buy a machine. I think I might at some point!
Day 5: We went to McDonald's! Gibby got a Big & Tasty, which he said was kind of like a Whopper. Interestingly, there are no sizes at their McDonalds. You order a meal and you get the standard size of fries and drink (which are moderately sized). Fascinating! No super-size? What is this? Wonderful! Then we went on a tram ride and then went for fika at Dieselverkstaden, a converted factory building. We got another kardemummebulle, as well as a chokladboll, which was awesome and the internet tells me I can easily replicate them at home. Also more hot chocolate! Swedish hot chocolate is made with real chocolate and isn't overly sweet, so we happily drank it regularly throughout our trip.
For dinner, my aunt made a shrimp stirfry. It should be noted that my aunt is an excellent cook and we had some very yummy food at her home during our visit!
The next morning, we packed up and headed to the airport. Tear. I had my last fika at the airport.
And now we are home, sans one suitcase which was errantly sent to Barcelona and has yet to be returned to us (Finnair may have excellent food and movies, but I'd prefer to have my luggage).
Upon doing research since getting home, I have acquired a kannelbullar mix from our local grocery store's international aisle, some knäckebröd from the airport, and I have learned that there is a fika cafe, aptly named Fika, in New York City that we may have to hit up sometime! All in all, a wonderful trip and wonderful food and I am happy to have had the experience.