10 Apr Swedish fika at Fabrique in London
Swedish people eat the equivalent in cake & pastries of 316 cinnamon buns a year, & that doesn’t include what they bake at home.
I discovered just how good their cakes & pastries were when I went for Swedish coffee time, or fika, at Fabrique Stenugnsbageri, or bakery, in London’s Covent Garden, conveniently close to stocking up on cheese at Neal’s Yard Dairy.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FIKA
Fika is the third most useful word to learn when visiting Sweden, after tack (thank you) and hej (hello)
As Magnus Nilsson, Head Chef of Faäviken, one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, writes in his 768-page The Nordic Cook Book: “It is a cherished time to spend with friends, colleagues or just on your own.”
Nilsson has fika twice a day, but his father will fika 7 times a day, starting with a pre-breakfast fika in solitude; fika is both a verb & a noun.
So I went to Fabrique to fika, having discovered their cinnamon buns, or kanelbullar, at Monocle Café in Marylebone. These buns are so popular in Sweden that there’s even a Cinnamon Bun Day on 4 October.
Then there’s the ‘hipster’ version, the cardamom bun, or kardemummabulla… even better, with the cardamom adding a peppery, citrusy taste.
Fabrique’s buns ooze sugar & butter. They are substantial in a satisfying rather than a filling way. But it’s OK, as butter is now said to be good for us & sugar is such a great feel-good treat as long as it’s now and again, says I.
SOURDOUGH BAKED IN A STONE OVEN
Fabrique bakes their bread in a stone oven using a mix of sourdough, time, and tender loving care, as they say… and they sure do.
What I ate here for my afternoon coffee-time was of vastly superior in quality to the afternoon tea that I had recently been served in a not-to-be-named London 5-star hotel.
WHAT I ATE AT FABRIQUE
- Cardamon bun
- Hallongrotta – a typical Swedish cake with raspberry jam.
- Cranberry bar – not so typical but once you’ve tasted this, there’s no going back to buying them anywhere else.
And then I bought, for a picnic the next day:
- Walnut rolls – their walnut bread is the best, with walnuts said to be particularly good for the brain & they look like a brain, my son said.
- Rye & cranberry loaf
The coffee was the traditional bryggkafee, or brew coffee, a filter coffee taken with or without milk.
At Fabrique, the coffee is served in chunky, etched glasses, reminiscent of Scandinavian Christmas decorations… a Fabrique ‘innovation’ rather than a Swedish tradition.
The music was jazz, the Swedish waitress was warm, chirpy & pleasant, & cool-looking people, people in the know, came & went for buns, while two Swedish women sat chatting in the corner. It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour in the afternoon.
Fabrique has 11 bakeries in Sweden, as well as in Shoreditch and a new one in Notting Hill.
An excellent source for all things Swedish: www.sweden.se