H&M, IKEA, meatballs. Swedish.
It is when people find out you are heading to IKEA that you will start hearing comments, “Try the Swedish meatballs!,” discounting the fact the you’re in Singapore, Hong Kong or even the US Does that count as authentic Swedish meatball?
|Craving staed. My Svenska köttbullar med potatispuré, pressgurka, lingon & gräddsås|
I have abstained from eating meat but on very rare occasions, I bend my strict diet rules. This visit to Sweden was one of those.
After watching the Royal Guards go through their ceremonial march, I had the sudden urge to get some Swedish balls, the meatballs.
It was lunchtime, the body clock was signaling hunger. That should explain the craving.
In Gamlastan (“The Old Town”), the historic 13th-century old quarter also known as Stadenmellanbroarna (“the city between the bridges”) in Stockholm, was a very discreet the restaurant that we chanced upon while walking the length of Osterlanggatan, the Eastern Long Street.
|Would you think this is a restaurant? The Den Gyldene Freden along Osterlanggaten.|
Among the uniformly designed building on the block, the corner one had a white flag waving perpendicular to its edifice. It reads “Den Gyldene Freden 1722” and the logo printed above it. Anyone oblivious to what it was could mistake the place to be a residence of importance or perhaps, an office.
Honestly, if the words were translated in English, I still would not get what it was. Den Gyldene Freden translates to “The Golden Peace”.
|Yes, it this is a dining place. Thanks to the posted menu by the door.|
Wouldn’t that be like Green Peace or an organization like it? – Fingers on lips, deep in thought.
The give-away was the posting by the double doors. A menu. Luck was on my side. It listed “Svenskako’ttbullar”-Swedish meatballs.
|Heavy, old wooden door.|
Enter. We were totally caught off guard with what greeted us behind the heavy wooden doors. It was like passing through a portal to the Twilight Zone.
|Dimly lit interior. It was stepping into the Twilight Zone & getting transported to the past.|
The interior of Den Gyldene Freden belongs to the past. Much of the place was wrapped with wood, the tone of which seemed darker with the dim lighting of the rooms.
|The bar on the left taproom.|
Apparently, this place is one of Sweden’s most noted restaurants and the oldest running restaurant in the world with an unaltered interior, an impressive feature that listed them on the Guinness Book of Records.
|The stairs leading to the lower level|
|This one leads to the kitchen.|
Since its birth in 1722, nothing much has changed, even when it became a hotel at some point in the 1800s. The place still exudes the feel of an 18th century tavern.
|This restaurant is Guinness Book of Record’s oldest running restaurant in the world with an unaltered interior.
|Everything as it was. Mind the patina of the wooden floor and furniture.|
Den Gyldene Freden, or Freden to the locals, acquired its name from Swedish history, the peace of Nystad. It was a time of great joy, thus the name “golden.”
|With grace. Freden’s stewardess setting table wares on crisp white linen.|
More than the saving the interiors and its atmosphere, tradition is preserved. Through the centuries, it was a favorite hangout for the Stockholm’s cultural elite like Carl Michael Bellman, the national poet/songwriter wrote songs about the place, influential visual artist Anders Zorn, who saved Freden from closure and demolition by purchasing the place in 1919, and is still a favorite among the new generation of artists.
|Very old world.|
Securing Freden’s future is its current owner and regular diner since the dawn of the 1900s, The Swedish Academy, the institution that nominates the winner of the Nobel Prize. It holds its Thursday dinners in the privacy of the Bellman floor on the upper level of Freden.
Dining for us was in one of the two the taprooms on the main level, where one of the famed novelist had his meals on his favorite table. I ordered the Svenskako’ttbullar med potatispure, pressgurka, lingon & gra’ddsa’s (Swedish meatballs with potato pure, cucumber, lingon berries& cream sauce).
|A view of the the left taproom from the right taproom where we were seated.|
The meatballs have always been served in Freden, an entry in the menu that lists traditional Nordic, countryside home cooking with a modern and personal twist, a concept they still stick to since Day 1. Freden’s philosophy is based on the idea that one must make time to cook, and eat, fine food.
|What Des had. Mine was the meatballs.|
That much we did, take time in savoring the dishes we ordered. It was a welcome break from hours of walking.
Craving sated, we were ready to take on Sweden again. But as I stood up and glanced at the menu on last time, I noticed an item I missed earlier, an aperitif named “Mark the Vampire.” What did I tell you about this gorgeous race again?
|This menu lists an aperitif called “Mark the Vampire”. I may be right about this race after all.|
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 25, 2015.