- Food & Drink
A week ago, the builders who are refitting the restaurant below my flat carefully cut through the telephone cable, denying my access to The Internet. Fortunately, a man in a day-glo yellow tabard came riding to my rescue and relaid the cable, giving me back The Internet and delivering me from loneliness and isolation.
Because of him, I can talk to you about buns and Sweden. And this is important, because the buns in Sweden are magnificent. If ever there was a reason to throw back the blankets in the morning, it’s the knowledge that somewhere in the city rich, yeasty dough is being kneaded, shaped and plaited. Spice is sprinkled, coffee beans are roasted and a breakfast designed to delight a carboholic, caffeine addicted sugar fiend is made.
Our first bun encounter took place in Café Frankfurt, Pipersgatan. A few brisk strides from our apartment, it’s a nonchalantly cool café decorated in ugly-beautiful tiles and signs that say Caffé Mauro – presumably a previous incarnation who’s signage was too good to lose.
Café Frankfurt’s counter was stocked with little almond biscotti and mini croissants (Kr3), normal croissants and pain au chocolat (kr10), beautiful sandwiches made with Poilâne bread and 4 cardamom buns. There was 5 of us. Tor took the hit and had a pain au chocolat.
The buns were stunning – a rich, but not sweet, dough stickily glazed and liberally sprinkled with cardamom and crunchy sugar nubs. The cardamom gave the buns a fresh, almost medicinal flavour that encouraged the belief that this wasn’t a rushing blood sugar high in waiting but a very sensible way to start the day.
The caffè latte (Kr28) was strong and smooth – when you’re in a country so passionate about coffee that ‘decaffeinated’ is almost a blasphemy, the quality of your morning double shot is almost never in doubt.
On our second morning we abandoned the buns. We’d been drinking and dancing the night before and our beer beaten bodies required something more than mere yeast and sugar.
At Café Mocco, Kungsholmsgatan, my companions ordered the chicken and mushroom pasta – even Leonard, which is a surprise as her usual reaction to chicken in pasta is incoherent raging and physical violence. We were obviously in a parlous way. However, weakened as I was, I was not fooled into ordering pasta (although they all tell me it was very nice). I ordered a sandwich that my hazy translation suggested contained bacon.
When it arrived I gave an involuntary whoop of joy. It was a warm, semi-toasted oval of Frenchish bread filled with thick tomato sauce, bacon, melty cheese, chilli and topped with a fried egg. It was, without question, one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life. It rejuvenated me for at least 3 hours and not many sandwiches can do that.
For our final breakfast, we returned to the warm embrace of the bun at Espressino, Götgatan. An elegant café, the room is dominated by a billowing modern chandelier; the bar is dominated by a humungous coffee machine. As you would expect, the coffee was a work of art and suspiciously easy to drink for something with so much densely packed espresso in it.
The buns were cinnamon this time. Ribbons of mahogany-coloured sweet dough that you could tug apart and unravel were thickly painted with sweet cinnamon and topped with great crunches of sugar. They were so good I slowed down my rate of chewing in order to draw breakfast out for as long as possible.
They weren’t, however, the best cinnamon buns of the holiday. That honour goes to Casja Warg, Renstiernas gata, a gorgeous, oak-shelved grocery store in Södermalm that had a bakery selling bread at frightening prices. The buns, however, were around Kr12 each and I tore into mine when I got home. It was the ultimate cinnamon bun. A Platonic combination of butter, flour, egg, sugar, yeast and cinnamon. Fragrant, yielding, comforting – I should have bought a dozen.