We hit the road early for the hour's ride south from Villa Sjötorp to the island of Klädesholmen, I decided to test out the cruise control. You have got to love a car that knows when you're approaching another vehicle and adjusts your speed accordingly!
Even if you're not a herring fan, a trip to Klädesholmen is like getting steeped in Sweden's food history. The fine fishermen of this island have been canning herring here for over 100 years. The island is also home to Salt & Sill, Sweden's only floating hotel, where we popped in for a morning pickling lesson. The hotel offers a number of herring-related activities, from tastings to schnapps pairings. In the open kitchen attached to the hotel, Chef Jonas Espefors showed us how to preserve herring with traditional ingredients like dill and then got creative with less traditional ingredients like Laphroaig whiskey and liquid smoke.
For lunch we headed back to Gothenburg, to the sun-drenched, white-buttressed sanctuary of the Fiskekyrkan, or Fish Church. If Gothenburg's fish market is the place to worship all things piscine, you'll find yourself singing its praises after a meal at Gabriel's. Situated in the would-be choir loft, this father-son restaurant shows a reverence for its ingredients. We ordered the daily catch: a delicate filet of poached hake served with a leek-potato mash, roasted tomatoes and an ultra-delicious cupful of shrimps cooked in horseradish beurre noisette. The house fish soup and herring were other favorite dishes of ours, but the highlight was watching Chef Johan Malm show off his champion oyster-shucking skills. Besides, who can resist an oyster splashed with vodka and a dollop of bleak roe served up like a shooter on an iced shot glass?
After lunch we paid a visit to the estate of Gunnebo, a sprawling 18th century estate once owned by one of Sweden's wealthiest families. With its organic café and restaurant, where the chefs change the menu daily based on ingredients at hand, it was the ideal place for an afternoon fika, or coffee break in Swedish, and a long walk along the trails that crisscross through the grounds.
For our last meal in Gothenburg we took part in the revelry at a Swedish brasserie, whose name means "The Family," the servers treat you like an old friend at Familjen and the atmosphere is as laid-back as the name suggests. When the couple seated next to us departed, they said good-bye! We enjoyed the salad of white asparagus with baby pea shoots, and the grilled pike-perch from nearby Lake Vänern tossed in wild garlic, nettles, and spring onion left us with a feverish nettle craving. We ended the night with a little nightcap at Marcus Samuelsson's Norda Grill in the brand-new Clarion Post Hotel, where bartenders served us from behind the old post office counter windows.
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Salt & Sill
471 51 Klädesholmen, Tjörn
tel: +46(0)304 67 34 80
+46 (0)31 13 90 51
Moderately priced; closed Sundays and Mondays.
Christina Halls väg
tel: +46 (0)31 33 41 600
For guided tours of the house or garden, book ahead.
Familjen Arkivgatan 7
tel: +46 (0)31 20 79 79
Norda Grill at the Clarion Post Hotel
tel: +46 (0) 31 61 90 00
West Sweden Tourist Board
For more information on traveling to West Sweden.