Our final day in West Sweden started with a boat ride (on a boat called Evert) down the coast to Grönemad, Grebbestad, a town on the coast well known for its seafood – oysters, crabs, lobsters, langoustines. It’s estimated that 90% of Sweden’s oysters are from the waters around this town. Now, I say boat ride but it was more like a thrill ride for us landlubbers sitting on the back of the boat, with the brisk wind on our cheeks and us squealing every time we hit a wave of considerable size. I heard it was quite a bumpy ride for those sitting inside but closer to the front.
And we saw a seal – how thrilling! This was an adult sunning itself on a rock; it seemed very unimpressed by us.
About an hour after we started (with stops to see the seal and to see a couple of traditional fishing villages on the way), we arrived at this boathouse – Everts Sjöbod (Evert’s Boathouse), owned and run by brothers Per and Lars Karlsson. It was they who picked us up that morning.
Inside, it’s decorated exactly how I’d expect a Swedish boathouse to be decorated – it was gorgeous and, y’know, nautical (and warm). While the downstairs was comfy but practical, upstairs was bright and spacious and apparently can be hired out for parties.
To give us a moment to catch our breath and rest, we were brought coffee and cake upstairs – our last fika in Sweden. I miss this custom already.
After, we descended back down the stairs to take part in our Oyster Experience. Per had already started raking up oysters from underneath the boathouse while we were partaking in fika and he had quite a collection already when we went down to join him. There’s a small net attached to the rake and every scoop he brought up had at least a few oysters in it. He later explained that he harvests them all around Grebbestad but brings them back to under his boathouse where the oysters love to live.
The native Swedish oysters are easily identified – round and rather pretty. See that mutant in the top right of the pile in the photo below? OK, it’s not a mutant but just a different kind of oyster – a Japanese species. As I may have mentioned before, I like the meatiness of the native oysters over the creaminess of other oysters that I’ve tried in the past: the Japanese oyster looked like a creamy one.
They were brought inside to a demonstration table already setup for us. We learned to shuck oysters (interestingly, it’s a different oyster knife used for the natives versus the Japanese one) and I even had a go at it. It’s trickier than it looks (especially when demonstrated by a man who takes part in Grebbestad’s annual Nordic Oyster Opening Championship) but I got it open in the end.
After we had a go, he shucked the remaining ones and we gathered round the table and feasted. Ah, nothing like an early morning oyster or two.
Alas, there was no photo of the oyster I shucked as that went straight down my gullet!
While we were still digesting our oysters, there was no rest for Per and Lars. They immediately started setting up their other boat, Tuffa, pictured below, a gorgeous wooden boat built in the 50s.
And why were we going out on the water again? Well, to make up for the lobster safari that did not go as planned the day before, we were going out on another! They leave their lobster traps close by and so it was only a short trip out to see what lay in store for us. Per had even brought a bucket of salted herring bait to refill the traps.
The first trap pulled up had two crabs inside. A lovely catch but they ain’t no lobster.
And then with the second trap – success! A lobster! And even another crab or two, making for what I consider a pretty good haul from only two traps.
We came back to a seafood lunch set out for us. This was our last meal in Sweden for we were heading for the airport straight after.
Boiled langoustines (what the Swedish call saltwater crayfish, as opposed to freshwater crayfish) and crabs were the bulk of our meal and we spent a jolly hour cracking and slurping and gnawing away at those shells.
One cannot forget the cheese! That cheese and sauces and breads and crackers rounded out our meal.
A dozy bus ride later and we were again at Gothenburg airport to catch our flight back to London. Gosh, I miss all that seafood and fresh air and fikas. It’s still surprising to me how close West Sweden is from London and it is doable in a weekend. While we were driven around in a hired minibus for our weekend, I did notice that public transportation is very good and there’s a whole network of buses that can get you from Gothenburg to Grebbested, Strömstad or Lysekil.
My fellow food bloggers’ posts on this trip can be found here: Jeanne of Cook Sister, Chris of Cheese and Biscuits, Helen of Food Stories, Lizzie of Hollow Legs and Nadia of Food Fanatic (though if you don’t read Danish, you’ll need Google Translate for Nadia’s posts!). And as usual, all my photos from this trip can be seen in this Flickr photoset.
Thank you again to the West Sweden Tourist Board (Facebook page, Twitter, Blog) and Visit Sweden (Facebook, Twitter) for this amazing Shellfish Journey. Thank you also to Stephanie, Malin and Ann-Charlotte who arranged the trip and accompanied us there – they were great.