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For my birthday this year, my husband Mr. English took me on a weekend escapade to the great white north. Only Stockholm wasn't particularly white—in fact, it was warmer than it was in London. But it left me breathless from the whirlwind of windswept, steel-watered lakes; sleek, angular design; and food that was exactly as I'd pictured it: a tangle of land and sea, with a Germanic flair, but made charmingly distinct by unexpected combinations of ingredients, of spices, of attitude.
I had many great meals. Reindeer salami. Wild boar sausages with knodel. Gravlax and cottage cheese. The most refreshingly not cloying cinnamon buns. And, of course, Swedish meatballs replete with creamy gravy, lingonberries, and pickles. I ate from morning to night, but the lunch on the day of my birthday, held at the iconic seafood restaurant Lisa Elmqvist in the famed indoor food market Östermalms Saluhall, was one to never forget.
As a seafood fanatic, I wasn't sure how to tackle the many-paged menu plus specials board, but somehow I'm convinced I chose the best thing in the house: a whole lemon sole, cooked meunière-style in brown butter, and served positively swimming in it, topped with a fine brunoise of beets and capers. On the side were simple boiled potatoes with dill, which were promptly dunked in the fishy, lemony brown butter. What elevated it from the typical French meunière was the cleverness of the topping. The sweetness of the tiny specks of beet was countered by the saltiness of the capers, and both cut through the richness of the butter and roughened up the edges of the high-end, gold-class fish.
It was wonderful, in the true sense of the word, in that it filled me with wonder. All the more so when I looked down to see that, after an entire weekend of reindeer salami and cinnamon buns, I had managed to finish the whole thing—for lunch. This is my version, to remind me of my travels.