Scandinavia for foodies

When it comes to food, Scandinavians know a thing or two

The craze for all things ‘Scandi’ or Nordic in the food world began with Danish chef René Redzepi, who established the now world-famous Noma (short for Nordisk mad – Nordic food) in Copenhagen back in 2003. Today, from Reykjavik to Helsinki and at all other major Scandinavian ports in between, the Nordic food scene is red-hot. And it’s not only high-end restaurants where you can sample great Scandi grub. The effect is filtering down to more wallet-friendly cafés, street stalls and markets…

Danish street food

In the same neighbourhood as Noma is Reffen; situated on a once desolate dockside area it’s now been transformed into a hip maze of colourful food trucks and stalls made from old shipping containers. With its good-value, eclectic menus, you can taste your way around the world one stall at a time. African, Indian and Thai delicacies sit alongside stalls like, Smoke Pit, serving pulled pork sandwiches and the classic Danish dish “brændende kærlighed”; (“Burning Love” in English) hot mash potato topped with bacon and onions. For afters make a beeline to Reykjavik Skyrcake for their delicious cheesecakes made from the Nordic protein powerhouse, skyr.

Cheap eats in Norway

Norway is awash with exciting restaurants – Lysverket in Bergen and Maaemo in Oslo to name but two – but they can be pricey. The craft beer scene is flourishing, with Oslo home to the country’s first microbrewery, Oslo Mikrobryggeri. For a tasty snack as you explore Bergen try Trekroneren, a hot dog stall near the fish market, where you can sample super-sized lamb, reindeer, wild game or cheese sausages in a bun, with cranberry sauce, crispy onions and mustard.

Swedish café culture

Home of hygge – a quality of cosiness and conviviality - you’re sure to feel this in the candlelit cafés, piled high with delectable pastries. Find a cosy corner and take part in the ritual of Fika, the Swedish practice of taking time out of your day to relax and chat with friends over a coffee, preferably with a sticky cinnamon bun in hand.

Odd food, great views in Iceland

Icelandic cuisine might seem a bit of a misnomer when you hear about some of the things the natives eat. Boiled sheep’s head, ram’s testicles and fermented shark are acquired tastes, so focus instead on the fresh fish (try fish ‘jerky’), smoked lamb, and iconic Icelandic hot dogs, made with lamb and piled high with raw and fried onions, ketchup, sweet mustard and remoulade, a mayonnaise-based relish. The capital Reykjavik is the best place to head for top-notch restaurants and a lively café scene (try the revamped Old Harbour area).

Experience a taste of Iceland with a trip to the tiny fishing village of Sudureyri in the Westfjords on the Flavours of Sudureyri shore experience. Locals will be happy to chat and have you sample their local produce, from haddock at the drying sheds to ceviche at the ‘fisherman cooking school’.

And to Finnish… 

There are two fantastic markets in Finland’s capital Helsinki. If you can brave the greedy seagulls, start at Kauppatori right by the harbour. It’s a good spot to get your bearings, and the fish is astoundingly fresh. There are about 30 stalls and some have heated tent areas so you can savour without shivering.

Helsinki's historic Old Market Hall dates from 1889. Pick up amazing baked goods – rye bread, tar bread, potato tarts – plus pickled cucumbers, wild blueberry juice, smoked hams, munkkipossu doughnuts and more from the array of stalls. For a scenic city tour and visit to a local restaurant to learn about (and of course sample!) Finnish food such as smoked fish, cheese and a Finnish pastry take the A Taste of Finland shore experience.