Friday Fika: Goat Cheese and Lingonberry Rye Sandwich (and a Few Favorite Nordic Spots in London)
While people have always been interested in Scandinavia, in the last year I have been feeling a serious spike in all things Nordic, particularly in the food world. This may be related to the fact that the Nordic Diet is now a thing (no, really, just Google it) and that in the culinary world all eyes are on the Scandinavian countries to see what they’re foraging, infusing and concocting.
In London last weekend I went on a trek to several Scandinavian-themed places. There was Danish smørrebrød at Snaps and Rye, Swedish fika treats at Scandinavian Kitchen, and even at Hackney’s beloved Broadway market there was a man making open-faced sandwiches out of rye bread and Norwegian salmon, with a little piece of dill as a final touch.
Of course my favorite London discovery was Fika Bar & Kitchen, a cozy space filled with birch branches, flickering candles and bright cushions with classic Scandinavian textile prints. And while the translation of Swedish food in the outside world is often just meatballs and kanelbullar, here the menu was creative and inspiring. A tiny loaf of bread made with beets and served with goat cheese paired well with the Forest Clearing, a cocktail made with elderflower, dill snaps and mezcal.
If I had to pick one reason that Scandinavian food is taking off, I would say it all has to do with simplicity. This is something that’s behind the popularity in Scandinavian design as well; objects that are both beautiful and practical because they are simple.
Just like design, Scandinavian food isn’t showy or pretentious, it’s just a compilation of good, whole ingredients done well. You make do with what you have, you make jams in the summer because come winter you won’t have much more than root vegetables, you use a few exotic spices here and there and you eat dense, hearty breads made from heirloom grains. This isn’t complex cooking, but it is satisfying, bot for your stomach and for your soul. Sit down with a cup of coffee and an open-faced sandwich and you’ll know what I am talking about.
This type of food is inviting. It’s cozy. Hygge as the Danes say and mysig as the Swedes say. It’s comfort food, but comfort food that’s good for you.
With all this in mind, here’s a simple open-faced sandwich that captures a few flavors that I love. Perfect for a Friday fika. As the blackboard said outside of Fika Bar & Kitchen, TGIF: Thank God it’s Fika.
Goat Cheese and Lingonberry Rye Open-Faced Sandwich
Fresh goat cheese
Freshly crushed cardamom
Spread the goat cheese on a slice of rye bread, add a spoonful of lingonberry jam to the middle and sprinkle the cardamom on top. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.
Nordic Spots in London:
161 Brick Lane
London E1 6SB
61 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 7PP
93 Golborne Road
London W10 5NL
Love fika? There’s a whole book on that. Check out Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break.
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