My next food adventure was totally different from what both Jeanne and Denise experienced – Visit Sweden arranged for three separate afternoon activities, one for each of us. I’ll leave it to them to let you know where they went but I was headed for Helsingborg, one of the oldest cities in Sweden and the closest point in Sweden to Denmark (across the Öresund Sound from the city is the Danish city of Helsingør). Karin Erlandsson of Skane Tourism very kindly drove me up to the city, about an hour’s drive away, but if you’re not driving, the train connections are also very good.
We met with Jenny and Malin (they’re sisters!) of Food by the Way, a company running food walks throughout the city of Helsingborg, and I would be spending my afternoon with them. Each tour lasts about 2.5 to 3 hours and takes in a few food stops in the city and it was clear as the day went on that they both knew everyone in the food business in Helsingborg, having experience in the restaurant industry themselves.
In addition to the food stops, they tell you a lot of the history of the city as you go along, making it a good option to keep in mind should you only have a few hours in Helsingborg.
While we were chatting, and of course walking, it transpired that they’d gone through my blog, trying to tailor the tour to my interests (it would be the same if you booked them for a private tour); rather than just trying the more traditional cheese and chocolate shops, we were going to try some of the more unique eateries in Helsingborg. Our first stop was a good example – Brooklyn, an American restaurant in the centre of the old town that the owner Richard had based upon Peter Luger. Richard had lived in the States for a number of years, evident in his big, open and friendly manner. The restaurant was, in a way, like him – warm and open and friendly – and it was buzzing. A table had been reserved for us.
When we sat down, glasses of Brooklyn brown ale were first brought to us by Richard followed very closely by serious-sized sample portions of pork ribs and cowboy beans. There was obvious pride in his restaurant and the dishes and pride he should have for they were delicious. Looking around at the other tables, it was obvious that portion sizes are American-sized too – we watched as a family struggled to finish two gigantic slices of chocolate fudge cake.
We couldn’t linger as we still had a few more stops that afternoon. Next was Ebbas Fik (Ebba’s Diner), a 50s diner serving both Swedish and American treats, run by both Ebba and her husband Henrik. Every little detail in the cafe/restaurant was authentically from the era and the place was totally packed that Saturday afternoon.
Three huge cases of cakes and sweets were on display and I was mesmorised by it all. It’s not just sweets for fika though – there’s also a wide variety of sandwiches and hamburgers available.
Ebba told us to choose our cakes and after noting my preferences, I left it to Jenny and Malin for the rest. They came back with a lot! Of particular note was the fantastic blueberry crumble with cream and the vacuum cleaner (dammsugare, and so called because you use leftover cake and cookie crumbs to make it). Ebba came to join us as well with snacks of brown bread topped with herring or salmon. The salmon was utterly delicious with its cream cheese base with horseradish.
I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never leave Ebbas Fik hungry – Ebba doesn’t believe in small portions at high prices! Ebba is fantastic herself – a very go-getting woman who’s also doing good in her community; apart from serving the usual customers, she’s preparing lunches for students from a number of local schools (I’ve been reading the menus on her site each day and they make my mouth water). Her diner is a fantastic place for a meal or for fika. Needless to say, we couldn’t finish everything on the table and Ebba very kindly packed up the leftovers for me to take back.
Our third stop, Pitcher’s, was only a stone’s throw from Ebbas Fik and to my surprise, was a British pub in the middle of Helsingborg!
Here we were to sample beers from Helsingborgs Bryggeri (Helsingborg’s Brewery). As we all were not big beer drinkers though, we decided to only taste two of the more uncommon offerings from the brewery – lakrits (Swedish liquorice) beer and chilli pepper beer. While the former seemed promising as it was made in collaboration with Lakritsfabriken, unfortunately, it did not taste of any liquorice; the chilli pepper beer, on the other hand, had a great kick to it. It’s probably better drunk on its own than with any food.
It shouldn’t have surprised us but, of course, it wasn’t just about the beer! We were brought a selection of bar snacks and a variety of their homemade sauces: cheddar, cream cheese, bbq and aioli (and truly, we were not expecting this!).
It’s a lovely place to spend the afternoon but again, we had to get going. Anyway, we were surrounded by very upset men, all fans of a local football team, watching their team lose on the televisions…
On our way to our final destination, we stopped by Fahlmans Konditori so they could show me its beautiful space. I adore cafes and this would certainly be my first destination should I return to Helsingborg.
It was very kind of them to give me a one minute tour of the bakery/kitchen. Now I have no idea how the food is but I reckon it has to be good for them to be open since 1914.
And finally, we rolled onwards to our final destination: Helsingborgs Glassfabrik, a local ice cream company with a stand by the docks. As it was late in August and the days were getting cooler, they didn’t have as many flavours as usual – in fact, they were about to close for the summer.
I sampled two flavours – sea buckthorn ice cream (the orange one) and a lime sorbet. While the latter was just too lip-puckeringly sour, the sea buckthorn was a lovely combination of sweet and tart, perfect for perhaps hotter summers!
And that was where my tour of Helsingborg’s food scene ended. Thank you so much, Jenny and Malin, for the great afternoon! It was great to see this range of traditional and international places in Helsingborg. Do check our their website for their schedule of tours (all priced at 295 SEK per person or about £28) or to arrange for a private tour.
As I mentioned previously, train connections are very good. One option that I’d like to try in the future is the Around the Sound ticket, giving you one round roughly from Malmo to Helsingborg to Helsingor (on the ferry) to Copenhagen and then back to Malmo. It’s possible to stop off anywhere along the route (taken in either direction) with the ticket that’s valid for 48 hours. The ferry between Helsingborg and Helsingor (which is also home to Kronborg Castle aka the Hamlet castle) is also of interest – a popular activity is to sit on that ferry and have dinner on it as it goes back and forth between the cities!