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.
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