A trade show at Earl’s Court isn’t necessarily a sexy location for all things Norse, Scandinavian, Nordic, or what have you. And not necessarily a location you would think to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But this was the Scandinavia Show. And, as a general rule, where there is Nordic there is quality.
Food, alcohol, home furnishings, jewelry, kids’ and outdoor clothing, films and, of course, liquorice. Brands with Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic backgrounds came together to give a tease of some of the beautiful products to come out of the region, all here and readily available in the capital and the UK. Here is what I managed to devour in ninety minutes.
Danish Food Direct had the most return visits from me for its tasting portions of pølse (with remoulade and crispy onions, no less!), herring and traditional mead. Right opposite the Scandinavian Kitchen sold fresh cinnamon buns and imported candies. Amathus boasted a collection of booze including the King of Sweden’s favourite drink – Facile Punsch, a delectable mixture of Indonesian and Carribbean rums – a delicate gin from Norway called Hammer and a range of Finnish liqueurs made from flora of the Arctic Circle – cloudberry, lingonberry and buckthorn – which are recommended enjoyed splashed into a chilled glass of champagne.
Briska cider from Sweden were selling bottles of their original version and also a new pomegranate-enhanced variety which eschews the overly sweet quality of compatriot brands Koppalberg and Rekorderlig. After a warm up bottle of the softer stuff, I moved over to Mackmyra Svensk Whiskey’s stand to test out some lovely varieties. A cocktail bar hosted by Fulham Road’s genuinely Scandinavian Kosmopol bar (go there to step out of the Smoke and into Stockholm) offered Rob Roys or Whisky Sours. I opted for the later. I slurped it as I walked on to guzzle biscuits, cakes and pies.
Bageriet – “The Bakery” in Swedish – were selling liquorice meringues, cardamon cookies, chocolate cookies and a gorgeous buttery cake with jam that tasted like the Cartier version of a Jammy Dodger. You could buy freshly ironed waffles from the Norwegian Church. The Finnish church flogged Moomin paraphernalia and Karelian pies. My reindeer meat topped one was just about the most heart warming gastronomical experience I have lived. Salty, creamy, cheesy and (somehow) fishy all at once, without any of the remorse you might anticipate from indulging in such a treasure.
Treasure also came in the form of vintage Scandinavian jewelry and non-vintage hand-made accessories from artisans who were there to market their wares.
Full-on meals were being whipped up by Madsen, the Swedish Deli and the Scandinavian Kitchen giving visitors an idea of what they could expect from stopping by their bricks and mortar venues. Not bad venues for the Yuletide festivities. The only obvious omission from the show was an appearance by the Nordic Bakery. (Yet, I do suspect they may have had something to do with the Karelian pies!)
After food came film. Rolf Lassgard, the original Kurt Wallander from the eponymous crime drama series, was there being interviewed by Scan Magazine’s (there with their stand of glossy editions) Lars Tharp. Star of political series Borgen – Birgitte Hjort Sorensen – was at Arrow Film’s area. Box sets of all our favourites (The Killing, The Bridge, Wallander, Borgen and one-on-the-way Sebastian Bergman) were available alongside the Lund jumper. It might be hand-knitted with Faroese wool, but £225 was a little steep for this Scan-noir stalker. I am already getting worked up at the prospect of The Hunt and False Trail, released later in the year. And then there is the Nordic Film Festival which begins on 30th November in London.
Pressure Point massage were on hand to knead away the tensions that come with London dwelling – my only complaint was that my masseuse was an Italian gentleman, as opposed to the Viking I would have liked. But given the Whisky Sour in hand, friendly faces, delicious treats and alcohol content of the afternoon, I decided to let that one slide.
TENDER FOR WORDS!
Someone who writes about Scandinavia as much as I do needs a sizeable bank account of synonyms to refer to the region. I am starting to run low, and so I propose a competition. Who so ever supplies me with the best substitute words will win a chance to spend an afternoon with me at any Scandinavian locale of your choosing.
Submissions to email@example.com