11 Apr Rutabaga & the Green Rabbit: Swedish lagom style
I revelled in the feeling of lagom during my visit to Stockholm last month, including at Rutabaga, where Mathias Dahlgren, one of Sweden’s best-known chefs, is creating the next generation of lacto-ovo-vegetarian cuisine. Lagom is the Swedish concept of being ‘just enough’, ‘not too much.’
Mathias closed his 2 Michelin-starred Matsalen restaurant and reopened it as Rutabaga last year. That sounds very lagom to me. In any case, he still has a one Michelin-starred restaurant next door – Matbaren, or ‘Food Bar’, for the fish and meat eaters. Here I spotted a couple of wines from producers I knew from my photo shoots in France for Clos Driver Wine Tours – notably Champagne R Pouillon and Claire Naudin in Burgundy.
I also visited Matthias’ new bakery, the Green Rabbit. Here it’s about organic rye sourdough, a large communal table, newspapers, flowers, art, coffee, breakfast and lunch… and a few touches of fish and meat.
Which food tribe are you?
We are increasingly defining ourselves by how we eat. At home, I am whole foods, plant based: lots of vegetables and fruit, no refined products, and minimal meat and dairy. When I eat out… I go for the best, the best croissant in town, the best meat in town, and so on.
At Rutabaga, it’s about no meat or fish, but a yes to eggs and dairy.
Rutabaga – overlooking the water
Rutabaga is located via a side door to the Grand Hôtel, with views over the waters towards the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan island. Once inside the grand 19th century hotel – founded by a Frenchman – it’s right to Rutabaga and left to Matbaren.
A rutabaga is a swede or a Swedish turnip. In Swedish they say kålrot. You can’t get more Swedish than that – together with rye, crayfish, cherries and cardamom buns (my favourite Swedish produce).
My experience at Rutabaga
Like all good restaurants in Stockholm, Rutabaga gets booked up. I managed to sneak in right at the beginning of the evening. The tasting menu is at Skr 845 with wine (around £70 or US$100). As I had already had a substantial lunch, I went for 5 dishes for sharing.
My dishes included: Apple, Kholrabi, Mint & Goat’s Cheese; Deep-Fried Avocado, Kimchi Emulsion & Soy; Grated Carrots Vietnam; and Creamy Polenta, Truffle, Fried Mushroom.
Across the bridge from Skeppsholmen
The Green Rabbit – perfect lunchspot
Arriving at Stockholm Central Station from the airport, I wheeled my suitcase along the snowy streets of the Norrmalm district to the Green Rabbit rye bakery – my first eating place in Stockholm.
My featured photo on the Home Page is of one of the Green Rabbit’s versions of Danish smørrebrød – smoked salmon on rye. The perfect lunch together with a bowl of (vegetarian) soup.
The rye flour for the bread is milled as and when the Green Rabbit needs it. I even bought a bag of spelt flour to take home. When I got stopped by airport security on my return to London, I knew instantly why… and yes it was the bag of flour!
More about lagom
The Green Rabbit makes for the perfect breakfast and lunch spot in central Norrmalm, with a real lagom atmosphere. It’s about not overindulging, while at the same time not depriving yourself.
The story that I like to believe about the origin of the word is that it comes from the Viking laget om – ‘around the team’ – derived from the custom of passing a horn of mead around and ensuring there’s enough for everyone.
True or not, I like the analogy – we need to ensure that there’s enough food produced in keeping with the rhythms of nature to go round the whole world… the intensive farming route is not lagom.
For my other blog posts on Stockholm.