Snapshots from Sweden: Heberleins, a Grocery Store with Soul and a Whole Lot of Cured Meat
From June 5 to June 11, I visited Western and Southern Sweden on a trip sponsored by Visit Sweden, West Sweden Tourist Board, Skåne Tourist Board, and Volvo as part of their CAR + VACATION contest. Here's a look at something I ate during my trip.
On the outside wall of Heberleins under their windows decorated with red checkered curtains reads, "matbutiken med känsla," or "grocery store with soul." And that's what it looks like at first glance: a humble, just large enough, well-stocked mom-and-pop grocery store with produce, dry and canned goods, beverages, dairy products, the requisite wall of loose candy bins...
...Oh, and a long deli counter stuffed with sausages, hams, various cold cuts and cured meats, and more. Yup, that's the ticket.
Heberleins dates back to 1932 when Hilmer Heberlein, son of a German immigrant, bought property in Förslöv, still the site of the store today, and opened a butcher shop there in 1937. What started off as a butchering business grew to include making sausages and other processed meats. In 1961, the business changed hands to Hilmer's son Gert and Gert's wife, Gunnel; 28 years later in 1989, their daughter, Marie, and son, Jonas, took over the business. In 1998 they opened a new production facility to make their sausages, hams, patés, and other meat products.
During the holidays people from all over Sweden visit Herberleins for their meat products made only from beef, pork, and veal from Swedish farms, with no blood, plasma, dyes, or chemicals. Heberleins smoke their meat with beech sawdust, alder chips, and juniper. The results have won awards from the Gastronomiska Akademien and Swedish food magazine Gourmet. Although they do sell some products through wholesalers, to get the full line you have to visit the store. Besides, it's more fun that way; you can ask to taste different things. And with the help of Marie and her daughter Lina, I tasted many, many meat-based things.
One of their best sellers is their prune-stuffed, honey-glazed pork brisket. It's like pork candy—fatty, meaty candy. Something this world could use more of.
I also got a taste of, according to Lina, "the best recipe of meatballs in the world," a recipe that belonged to Lina's grandfather. With my only point of comparison being IKEA, I'd say Heberleins' slightly sweet and peppery köttbullar were about a hundred times meatier than IKEA's version. I think that's meatball success.
Other highlights were spiced chopped minced veal gelatin loaf (good on sandwiches with beet, suggested Lina), tomato basil-stuffed ham, smoked pork sausage with cloudberry sauce (crème fraiche + cloudberries = a mellow, sweet and creamy sauce that goes very well with meat), and spickeskinka, dry salted ham that's a specialty in Skåne ("Our answer to Parma ham," said Lina).
Heberleins also does a mean catering business with platters of cold cuts, cheeses, salads, sandwiches, pates, and roasted meats for all occasions. A party replete with Heberleins meat? Yes, that is a good idea.
If I ever make it back to Skåne, you bet I'll be back at Heberleins for meat logs, slices, and chunks, all served by friendly faces.