West Sweden is famed for its wide variety of top-quality, natural, organic produce. The forests of inland Dalsland provide an impressive range of game, berries, mushrooms and fresh fish, while the countryside bordering the Göta Canal is teeming with farm shops selling locally produced fine cheeses, high-quality dairy products, beer and schnapps. Fertile farmland makes the region ideal for growing crops and raising livestock on sustainable and traditional organic lines. Unique culinary highlights include wild garlic in the spring in Kinnekulle, exclusive roe from Lake Vänern in the autumn and fresh seafood all year round. In the cold, clean and mineral-rich water of Sweden’s West coast, shellfish grow more slowly, developing a fuller flavour, which makes these North Sea shellfish some of the best in the world. Visitors can treat themselves to lobster, mussels, oysters, crayfish and prawns, and learn how to catch and cook them on a unique seafood safari.
The region’s capital city, Gothenburg’s coastal location means easy access to fish and shellfish that stand out on quality and flavour. Add an authentic coffee shop culture that prides itself on its cakes and pastries, and Gothenburg is a food lover’s paradise. The city’s chefs work with local produce and seasonal food, preferably organic. Their modern approach to cuisine rests on Swedish traditions combined with new flavours and ideas drawn from all over the world. Today six restaurants in Gothenburg – 28+, Bhoga, Koka, Sjömagasinet, SK Mat & Människor and Thörnströms Kök – have been awarded a Michelin star. But if you’re looking for fabulous food, there’s far more to Gothenburg than that. Gothenburg was named Sweden’s Food Capital in 2012, with the jury citing the vast array of food the city has to offer, its abundance of local produce and high-quality restaurants, not to mention the fact that the food served in schools and hospitals is nutritious as well as sustainably sourced.
Thursday 10 September
Arrive in Gothenburg by 12.30.Taxi transfers or direct bus depending on arrival time.
Check-in at the 4-star Hotel Post, located in the impressive old Post House in the heart of the city.
13.30 Meet Sofie Mantzaris Göteborg & Co and the rest of the crew and walk through the city centre to our lunch destination.
Lunch at the family-owned fish restaurant, Gabriel, where we meet chef Johan Malm, the current Nordic Oyster Opening Champion (World Champion in 2010).
Back at Hotel Post we meet up with chef Frida Ronge, famous for her Swedish-inspired sushi, and Dosa Ivanov who won the title Sweden’s Best Bartender in 2014 and 2015.
Discover the best bars in Gothenburg. We wander through the city tracking down some of the best places for a cocktail or a locally brewed beer.
Dinner at Restaurant Atelier where we meet chefs Johan Ackebo and Anna Bengtsson who tell us about the way they work with local suppliers and let us watch them at work. Hugely popular among food critics, this restaurant is located in the boutique hotel Pigalle and has focused on flavours from West Sweden since the day it opened in 2014.
Friday 11 September
06.15 Taxi to the fish auction (optional, pre-booking required).
Visit Sweden’s biggest fish auction and learn about the Swedish fish industry and local fish species in West Sweden.
07.30 Transfer back to the hotel for breakfast.
10.00 Coffee tasting at Da Mateo. Meet owner Matts Johansson, one of the pioneers of the modern Swedish coffee scene and Christian Gullbrandsson, head of the roastery, in charge of buying coffee from all over the world.
Foodie walk with Jesper from the company “Matvandringen”. This includes lunch at a local food van.
We explore the area of Haga, renowned for its cafés, vintage shops and the biggest cinnamon bun in Sweden.
Free time for shopping, interviews or a well-deserved rest at the hotel.
Pre-dinner drinks at Dorsia, one of Swedens most extravagant boutique hotels with a very interesting cocktail menu and big wine cellar.
Dinner at Koka with restaurant owner Björn Persson. Koka gained its first Michelin star in 2015 when it had only been open a year.
Saturday 12 September
Bus to Ljungskile (journey time about 45 minutes).
Ljungskile is on the coast and offers everything from a varity of experiences with mussels to golf by the sea and beautiful walks on the Bredfjället hillside above the town. In Ljungskile, wander the idyllic streets of the seaside resort of Lyckorna and enjoy the views out over the bay.
Cooking mussels and lunch at the self-explanatory Musselbaren in Ljungskile. Janne Bark, who runs the mussel bar, also offers mussel safaris where visitors get to visit the mussel farms, harvest fresh mussels and then cook them in the restauarant. The mussels he grows are certified organic and are served at the Michelin-starred restaurant SK Mat & Människor in Gothenburg. Musselbaren opened in April 2014.
Bus to Smögen
Smögen is a popular summer destination and its long wooden pier is one of Sweden’s biggest tourist attractions. The town has something for everyone from shopping to cafés and restaurants. Smögen is home to one of Sweden’s few remaining fish auctions, where you can buy fresh fish, shrimps and other fabulous seafood. Smögen is also perfect for walks along the rocky shoreline of the Ramsvikslandet National Park and Hållö nature reserve.
Check-in at Smögens Hafvsbad. Dating from the eighteenth century, the hotel is a popular spa hotel, just a few steps away from the sea. The restaurant is keen to use local ingredients and is certified by “A Taste of West Sweden”.
Crayfish safari in Smögen with Martin Olofsson from Smögen Fishing & Archipelago Tours. Together we’ll be heading out to pull up the crayfish pots before cooking and tasting freshly-caught crayfish on the rocky coast. Shellfish don’t come fresher than this!
Approximately 2 hours free. Explore Smögen on your own or relax in the spa at Smögens Hafvsbad.
Dinner at Smögens Hafvsbad.
Sunday 13 September
Bus to Qvänum Mat & Malt (journey time about 2 hours)
Run by Claes and Annika, Qvänum Mat & Malt is an organic microbrewery. The couple brew several different kinds of beer and spirits. Their beer is also served at the Michelin-starred restaurant Thörnströms Kök.
At the farm, other local producers will also be on hand, including local cheesemaker Sivan whose cheeses are served at the Michelin-starred restaurants SK Mat & Människor and Thörnströms Kök in Gothenburg, and Anna-Lena with her organic crispbread.
Cooking together outside in the grounds.
Bus to the Göta Canal. The Göta Canal is one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in Sweden, and Sweden’s third most popular tourist attraction. Linking Gothenburg and Stockholm, the canal is 190 km long and has 58 locks. The first spade of soil was dug when building work began in May 1810. Twenty-two years later, in September 1832, the completion of the Göta Canal was finally celebrated with a grand opening ceremony. Today the Göta Canal is a popular walking and cycling route and, of course, can also be travelled by boat.
Check-in at Norrqvarn and change for cycling. Qvarn is the Swedish for mill and the building, which dates back to the eighteenth century, was an important mill for the locals. Today it is a popular hotel and conference centre on the bank of the Göta Canal and is also certified by “A Taste of West Sweden”.
Cycling along the canal towpath past the locks. Tradition says that Swedish social occasions must include seven different kinds of cakes or biscuits. We’ll be putting this to the test when we stop for coffee.
Fishing for crayfish in the canal, which we then cook on the jetty outside Norrqvarn.
The last evening rounds off the trip with an authentic Swedish crayfish party, featuring lake and sea crayfish and other local produce.
Monday 14 September
Breakfast and check-out at Norrqvarn.
08.30 Bus to Gothenburg’s Landvetter airport (journey time 2.5 hours).
11.00 Arrival at Landvetter airport