A couple weekends ago, I joined Jeanne of Cook Sister and Denise of The Wine Sleuth on another trip to Sweden, this time to the southernmost region of Skåne (or Scania). Remember the Swedish Blind Date in which I took part? Skåne Tourism and Visit Sweden very kindly invited me to visit this region.
It was with great excitement when I received the news that in addition to seeing what Skane has to offer, we’d be going to a traditional kräftskiva, a Swedish crayfish party. These are traditionally held in August, when in the past it was the only time it was legal to harvest the grubs, and we were going to one taking place the evening we landed in Malmo. First, though, we checked into our hotel in the centre of Malmo and then immediately hit great temptation on our doorstep. It was the last day of the Malmöfestivalen, a week-long music and food festival all throughout central Malmo, and Gustav Adolfs torg, the main square outside our hotel, was filled with international food stands.
Hunger pangs did hit prior to our departure from Malmö so we shared a lángos, quite a popular festival food judging from the number of people partaking in this treat. Here this Hungarian lángos, a fried soft puffy flatbread, was topped with very Swedish ingredients – sour cream, shrimps, chopped onions, and caviar.
This did lead to a minor fear that I’d ruined my dinner but luckily, it wasn’t too bad when split three ways! We’d be laughed at about this later on as we’d done quite well to choose the most typical Malmo festival food! An hour later we were on our way out of Malmo in a taxi and about half an hour later, we arrived at the beautiful home of Anna of Malmö Turism (she hosted us on the Blind Date and it was great to see her again!) and her husband Torbjörn in Södervidinge. They were also joined by Sara from Skåne Tourism and her husband Patrick.
Their two gorgeous and ridiculously happy and friendly dogs also welcomed us and kept us company the whole time. Oh my goodness, I loved them and wanted to take them home with me.
Anna had made sure we got the real Swedish crayfish party experience – from the crayfish place settings and hats to the snaps and snapsvisor, songs sung when drinking snaps and these were mostly based around the crayfish. And what a spread too and almost all the products/produce was from Skane!
A huge bowl of boiled crayfish with dill made up the centrepiece of the buffet and though it looked like we’d barely be able to finish it, Anna announced that this was only half of all the crayfish that had been prepared for her by chef Andreas Larsson – she had allocated a good kilo per person. There would be no shortage of crayfish.
Alongside were two beautiful cheese quiches, one plain and one chock full of chanterelles. There was also a big salad and three kinds of bread: my favourite knackebrod, brown bread and a big brown sourdough bread that was utterly gorgeous when toasted and spread liberally with butter.
There was a wonderful cheese board too with the varieties including Malmö aqvavit, Österlen ädel and Hyby port. It’s very Swedish to accompany your seafood with lots of cheese!
The snaps to accompany the food were Skåne aqvavit, made in Skåne of course, and a blackcurrant one made by Torbjörn’s mother. The latter was like extremely alcoholic Ribena – it’s not for the kiddies!
That below was my first of many plates. To eat the crayfish, rip its head off its body and then suck the insides of the head. If you have patience, crack into the big claws where there’s a small nugget of meat. If not, go straight for the tail, peel off the shell and pop that juicy morsel. Repeat until you’re stuffed. We found out the next day that there was proof that the crayfish we ate were from Sweden (ours were from Skane) – the yellow dot at the joint in the claw is that proof!
Oh, but don’t forget those gorgeous quiches – Anna’s cheese and chanterelle quiche was mainly chanterelles bound together with the minimum of cheesy eggy mixture and was utterly stunning. Her regular cheese quiche was equally fantastic; she had used Västerbottenost cheese for both of them.
Bites of salad are necessary for freshness and it’s impossible to resist the fantastic breads. It wasn’t just all about the eating – we broke often to sing one of the snapsvisor and then drink snaps. And the whole while, the two little darling dogs were running around underneath our feet, hoping for a scrap to fall.
When we just couldn’t eat any more crayfish, Anna brought out dessert. Berries were all in season in Sweden, as evinced by market stalls selling punnets and punnets of them, and we had them here with blueberry ice cream from Ottos glassfabrik and whipped cream.
To end the meal, Anna passed around coffee and chocolates from Malmo Chokladfabrik, with very original Swedish-inspired flavours. Ah, shame we couldn’t do those chocolates justice – we could barely fit a bonbon in, we were all so full.
It was such a fun night with much hilarity at my confusion of when to drink during the songs! We learned later that most Swedes now have their kräftskiva at restaurants instead of at home, making this quite a special treat. Thank you so much, Anna and Torbjörn for welcoming us into your home and putting on an amazing party and Sara and Patrick too for making us feel so welcome! And thank you very much for having us!
It’s possible for anyone to join a family in Malmö for a meal. A Slice of Swedish Hospitality is an initiative for visitors to the region to join a local host/family for a meal. I can’t promise a crayfish party but it’s likely to be fun and an eye opener to Swedish food and culture.