A straight shot two hours south of Gothenburg took us to Skåne. As we drove down the narrow lanes, passing old farmhouses, pastures full of shaggy-haired highland cattle and gleaming white-stoned churches, it was easy to see why Swedes call this area their Provence. We stopped first in the town of Båstad, famous for hosting the Swedish Tennis Open, and ate lunch at the Sand Restaurant in the Hotel Skansen. The traditional buffet was rife with all kinds of salads, like root vegetables tossed in olive oil and parsley, and there were Swedish-style deviled eggs with little shrimps on top. This 100-year-old former warehouse-turned-luxury-hotel offers a variety of spa packages; we were tempted to spend the day relaxing in a hot tub with a view of the sea, but instead decided to visit a potato farm.
We had already noticed that Swedes tend to wax romantically about their beloved "skinless" new potato, which they traditionally eat at Midsummer along with pickled herring. But at this unassuming potato chip factory, Håkan Paulsson and his colleagues at Bjäre Hembygd have taken the new potato to new heights through their collaboration with Börje Karlsson, one of the creators of Absolut Vodka. The result is Karlsson's Gold, distinctively flavorful vodka that tastes a lot like grappa. Before we left, Paulsson poured us a traditional Bjäre fika, a coffee with vodka in it. (According to him, you put a coin in the bottom of the cup and pour the vodka until you see the coin again!)
After our tour and coffee break, we discovered where-just down the road in Förslöv-four generations of the Heberlein family have stood behind their unassuming shop counter, selling sausages that have been smoked in the old style, over smoldering piles of juniper brush. Ida, the youngest in the family, has been working in the business since she was a little girl. If you stay at Heberlein's long enough, she may tell you a few stories about her eccentric grandfather. After hearing her tales, we made sure to taste the Rackebajsare sausage, loosely translated as "hellraiser", which her grandfather invented when he dumped a whole package of cayenne pepper in the mix.
Back on the coastal road, we drove until we reached Rusthållargården in Arild, a medieval fishing village by the shore. We'd booked dinner at the newly-opened Malmgrenska Matsalen, where the food made me swoon. We were served a popover-like pastry topped with buttermilk foam, encircled with little mounds of bacon dust, apple chiffonade, mackerel roe, and fennel fronds as a first course, followed by coppa from a local farm, served with toast dusted with sundried tomato powder. The third course-a mélange of roe, morels, thick German asparagus, turbot, buttercream, and breaded, deep-fried Marcona almonds-tasted and looked like it came from a basket just hauled in from some forest glade. We ended with a cheese course that again shown a light on the ever-present new potato: a local washed-rind served with a new potato, toasted caraway seeds, and sauerkraut.
Photo (3) credit: Miriam Preis/imagebank.sweden.se
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Sand Restaurant in the Hotel Skansen
269 33, Båstad
tel: +46(0)431-55 81 00
Bjäre Hembygd AB
269 95 Båstad
tel: +46 (0)431 754 20
260 91 Förslöv
tel: +46 (0)431-45 00 58
Rusthållargården & Malmgrenska Matsalen
263 73 Arild
tel: +46 (0)42 - 34 65 30
West Sweden Tourist Board
For more information on traveling to West Sweden.
Tourism in Skåne
For more information on traveling in Skåne.