Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stockholm, weeks 3 & 4

May 1-14, 2016

Weeks 3 and 4 of my Stockholm trip were split by Cindy's arrival and our long weekend in Basel. Before we met up I ate my way through a big pile of leftover Singapore noodles and squeezed in a couple of quick outings.

I worked at home on Wednesday and wandered the neighbourhood in search of lunch, settling on Bengali street food at Gossip. It's run by the same people who run Shanti (see below) and was buzzing at 12:30 on a sunny Wednesday. I nabbed a seat in the window and ordered the Monsoon rain sabji from the lunch menu - it's a combination of veggies (carrot, zucchini, sweet peas, pumpkin), lentils, papaya and a mildly spicy sauce, served with salad, rice and a fried egg. The standard lunch also includes a mango lassi and at 90 krona ($15), it's pretty decent value.

That evening I met up with some work friends for a speedy bird photography outing to Djurgården and we continued on afterwards for dinner together at Calexico's in Hornstull. It offers the kind of trendy Mexican food that Melbourne's been pumping out for the last five years in a bright, airy space down by the water.

My chimichangas with sweet potatoes, black beans, grilled veggies and a mild salsa verde (178kr, $29.50) were an excellent vegan option, and the atmosphere and company made for a lovely outing. 

My last meal before heading to Basel was a return visit for lunch at Chutney - Cindy followed suit soon after we arrived back in Stockholm, breaking up one of her days working from the apartment.

I'd eyed off the veggie burger (120kr, $20) on my previous visit and really enjoyed it on this visit - the patty is 'meaty' and rich, and the burger is a delicious mess of sauces and salads. The side spuds were fantastic as well - it's a hearty lunch though, so make sure you're hungry. On Cindy's trip she ordered from the set lunch options - for 98kr ($16.30) you get your choice of one of three main dishes, plus salad and bread. She ordered the tikka masala, a creamy dish of beans and veggies on some A-grade fluffy rice. Chutney isn't going to blow too many minds food-wise, but it's a reliable lunch place in a very convenient location.

We came back from Basel on a Sunday night and lacked the energy to shop and cook something for dinner. Luckily, Shanti is just down the street - it came recommended by a colleague at work and my successful lunch at Gossip (above) meant I had high hopes.

The menu is impressively varied - we could easily come back two or three more times to try all the dishes on our wish lists. We started out with a serve of the palak paneer pakoras (80kr, $13.30), an innovative attempt at combining two of my favourite Indian dishes. It worked brilliantly too - these crisp little balls are probably the best way to enjoy palak paneer. Cindy ordered the nawabi kofta, fried veggie balls flavoured with ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander, served in a creamy korma sauce. I managed to sneak a taste, and was impressed by the fresh veggie chunks evident in the kofta balls.

My main was the sak sabji dal - a similar dish to the great lunch I had at Gossip, with papaya, lentils, spinach, potato and coriander in a spicy curry sauce. It was superb, although the pick of all the dishes was probably the standard dal that came with both mains - a simple but perfectly spiced lentil curry. Shanti is a step above most Indian places we've been to - the veggies feel fresher and more central to the dishes - it's easy to see why they've built a little empire in Stockholm.

Tuesday night we took advantage of the late hours at Moderna Museet for a quick wander through their collection, before stopping for a pizza on the way home. Denniso Pizzeria is recommended on Happy Cow for its separate vegan menu, so we decided it was worth a visit.

There are five vegan options, with three relying on mock-meats and a couple of more vegetable-focussed offerings. We split the difference, with a funghi (mushrooms, red onion, vegan cheese, 100kr/$16.50) and a kebab (seitan kebab meat, onion, tomato, iceberg lettuce, pepperoni and garlic sauce, 120kr/$20).

These were decent vegan efforts - nice thin bases, a bio-cheese style cheesiness and a decent array of toppings. The recreation of a classic kebab in vegan pizza form was particularly impressive - the garlic sauce and chilli peppers gave this a very authentic kebab vibe.

The final blog-worth meal of the fortnight was all Cindy's - a solo lunch at SoderManna, another nearby casual vego place.

The menu offers a standard range of burgers, wraps and salads, mixing up mock-meat, haloumi and falafel as the main ingredients. Cindy ordered the veggie burger, with a side of potato wedges and salad (59kr/$10).

The thick potato wedges and garlicky dip were the best parts of the plate, with the burger a decent 'meaty' patty generously slathered in tomato sauce. Sodermanna isn't sophisticated or fancy, but it's super cheap and you won't leave hungry.

We skipped out on Stockholm after this meal for a long weekend in Helsinki - stay tuned for a quick tour through the veggie restaurants of Finland (and Estonia!).

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