I am not sure I’ve mentioned this, but autumn is probably my favorite season.
I am also aware of the fact that I say that I love a lot of things – to eat, to do, and different weather, and… the reason for that is probably just me: I love a lot of things and I don’t feel the need to pick necessarily. I really do love different seasons for different reasons, too, but autumn is a little more special, perhaps because of my fascination with harvest, and the fact that there are so many beautiful colors around that aren’t there the rest of the year. Sweden is truly spectacular in the autumn, and while the leaves have barely started to show streaks of gold here and there, there is already plenty of gold and orange and purple and red to go around.
But, our first port of call in the city wasn’t the market, though it beckoned as we passed it by on the way – it was the old Swedish spice shop I’ve mentioned yesterday, Essencefabriken. The place is nestled in a cellar of an old building a few blocks away from the noise of the market, near a lovely old church and its tiny park, and it’s really easy to miss unless you are looking for it – which we were.
If you are looking for it, especially from the opposite side of the street, it’s rather evident – and it is even better inside than the facade promises.
Now, I may be biased, but in my opinion, no supermarket spice lineup can beat this. They shouldn’t even try. In addition to standard food spices and a few (ok, many) proprietary spice mixes, the place sells various liquor-infusion spice sachets, rose- and assorted herb and flower waters, and flavors. It was rather difficult not to overspend, but in the end we went home with some of their Cajun spice mix, a packet of traditional Swedish bread spices for tomorrow’s batch of sourdough bread, some rose pepper, and a 1dl bottle of natural rosewater – the latter to make facial toner, and perhaps if there is any left over, to be used in ice cream and sweets. We’ll see.
They also have both, real (Ceylon) cinnamon and cassia cinnamon, so anyone in the Stockholm area who wants to see the difference and buy the real thing, this is your place for it. Important note is that they told me they only sell cassia ground, so if you want your own ground Ceylon cinnamon, you may have to shop elsewhere or buy and grind the sticks at home. Personally, I plan to buy a stack of bark sticks for Christmas drinks, and now I know where the real ones are to be found. I will definitely be back.
The next part of our trip was the Haymarket, which on Saturday afternoon is characterised by desperate sellers trying to sell what they have as fast as they can before market-closing time. The result is that they nearly haggle for you rather than for themselves – the longer you stand near them and look unsure, the better the price for what you were sort-of staring at.
I was (as ever) interested in chanterelles. Chanterelle mushrooms are probably my favorite wild mushrooms overall. Yes, porcini have a better scent, but they are either too mushy if fresh, or a bit too stringy if rehydrated, whereas chanterelles are not far off in terms of scent and flavor, but they have an amazing texture and can be fried in butter and eaten just so, without anything more than a piece of crusty bread to go with them.
That, and they are just downright gorgeous to look at.
So, having found the prettiest display of said chanterelles, I spent a few minutes staring at them critically, and we walked away with a 1.5kg bag of mushrooms at about 60% of listed price and a bonus box of blueberries which we happily ate while we wandered through the underground butchery and food market halls.
The results of this shopping trip were a load of prepared and frozen chanterelle mushroom freezer bags for the winter, a gorgeous silky chanterelle-and-cream soup with sherry eaten with sourdough toast and wild boar salami, and a small string with the prettiest mushrooms drying in my kitchen.
All in all, a fantastic Saturday market outing, which culminated in a visit to a bookstore and a huge mug of coffee before heading home, followed by making the aforementioned soup, and a long evening talk with Niklas and Tobias over coffee, almonds and Bénédictine – it’s finally gotten cool enough to drink it!
Now, do you agree that autumn in Stockholm is amazing? I hope so! I certainly do, if I did and do say so myself!
P.S. Yes I’ll post the mushroom soup recipe soon. As soon as I manage to make a batch of it and photograph it before it all disappears… it has that tendency, never any leftovers!
P.P.S. I’ll also post about how sourdough bread with Swedish bread spice mix turns out. I’ve refreshed the starter and it should be ready to start the dough tomorrow. We’ll see in a few days!