“We’d begin with an after work in the cosy Wasahof bar, where you can buy oysters for only 12 kronor a piece and a glass of champagne for 124 kronor”. Sofie Strandberg explains her perfect evening with friends to me over a crispy Albariño and a half dozen oysters at Riche one spring afternoon.
“After that we’d go for dinner at Urban Deli at Nytorget, it’s casual and you can order all different kinds of seafood for a decent price. Their great value seafood platter costs only 595 kronor for instance. If someone in the company don’t like seafood, they have other good dishes there as well. With the lobster, shrimps and crab, we drink a refreshing Austrian Riesling or Grüner Veltliner. When we’ve finished the dinner we would head down to Lilla Baren at Riche to just hang out for a beer or two. If you want to party some more we’d hit Boqueria to indulge in some chilled Cava or Estrella and listen to some good music”.
Sofie Strandberg is a total out and about person and someone to trust when it comes to a good time out in Stockholm, especially when it comes to wine and seafood! Growing up in a seafood crazy family outside Malmö, Sofie’s early memories include vacations in the family car to Mediterranean destinations, filled with exciting food, fresh from the sea. Now, years later, Sofie runs the seafood filled Instagram account @soffans_skaldjur as well as being a columnist specialising in relationships, nightlife and shopping. As an avid seafood lover myself, we have a lot in common when it comes to love for oysters, lobster, shrimps, prawns, mussels, crab and crayfish and what you pour in the glass next to it, from Champagne to Muscadet sur lie.
“Every time I eat seafood is a good seafood experience in my world, I really mean that!”, Sofie explains to me whilst slurping down an oyster followed by a sip of the Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes in her glass.
“However I have had three horrible seafood experiences, the first was being really sick in Barcelona after eating clams and I was throwing up at the airport into a taxfree bag. Secondly after eating bad oysters at a restaurant in Stockholm and getting rushed in an ambulance to the hospital – back then I didn’t know you could get so sick from oysters. The third horrible experience was eating a seafood platter on a ferry to Finland, that was just the worst seafood I’ve ever tasted.”
How did you get into your preferred wines? Was it through seafood or the other way around? And do you drink other beverages with seafood?
Just like anything else, you have to try a lot of wines to know what you prefer. When I was younger I preferred beer to wine, but then I got my gluten intolerance diagnosis and had to cut down on the beer and I started drinking white wine instead. I didn’t know what I liked so I just started buying different white wine at Systembolaget. My brother is a real wine expert so he helped me out a lot!
Where do you shop for seafood in Stockholm?
Östermalms saluhall is a very good spot with both Lisa Elmqvist and Melanders fisk, who have great selection of seafood. Hötorgshallen is also a good place with three shops – Fiskeläget, Hav and Melanders. Close to where I live, the Ica Kvantum at Liljeholmens galleria has a fantastic seafood desk too. One of the guys who works there, Franck Alfvin, is very experienced and he has worked with seafood for a long time, both at the seafood restaurant Pontus and at Lisa Elmqvist, among others. He is a real oyster pro and takes good care of the seafood as well as the customers.
And what restaurant would you say is the number one spot for seafood?
I think there are maybe five restaurants in Stockholm city that serve really good seafood. But the most classic, and my all-time favourite, is Sturehof. I have never been disappointed after a visit there. The staff are highly professional and the seafood is always fresh and tastes like heaven.
How often do you go out to eat or spend time at bars and restaurants and how often do those times include seafood in one way or another?
It depends, but maybe twice a week at least, if we are talking about evening visits. I choose a seafood dish half the time. My favourite way to eat seafood is ‘raw’, but when I’m out and about I like to order seafood that’s been cooked in different ways, for example grilled or in a dish.
Any other foods or beverages you are passionate about?
I have always been a big fan of meat and when I was living in Argentina for a while that passion grew a lot because of the meat culture there. I can get really hard cravings for a good piece of meat, served rare of course, with just a simple avocado salad. I’m also a big fan of cheese. When it comes to other beverages I love a bottle of Carlsberg Hof or a Tuborg, preferably in the original glass bottles from Denmark, sparkling dry wine and a good dry cider.
According to your Instagram-account @soffans_skaldjur however, you seem to drink mostly white wine with your dishes, what makes white wine the best choice would you say?
I don’t like to drink white wines that take the taste out of the seafood if you know what I mean. I like light, crispy wines with a bit of a sparkling feeling.
If you were to impress someone with your ultimate seafood dish, what would it be, and what wine would you pair it with?
Maybe I’m boring but I think a good seafood platter with crab, lobster, clams, prawn, oysters and crayfish is the best. I would serve it with maybe three different white wines so we would experience the difference in taste between having a Riesling and having a Sauvignon Blanc with the crab.
Relationship advice is another of your specialties. Swedes tend to like their white wine and prawns, at least historically, as their Friday date night candle light dinner, but is seafood really a great dinner choice for a first date?
Personally I would never date someone who didn’t like seafood, how would that work? Joking aside, I think seafood is great to eat on a first date, why not? People are so afraid of being sticky and dirty. However, I’d never go on a date with myself if I were a guy, because I’m not social at all when I’m eating seafood. I’d probably be the worst date ever, just focusing on eating my oysters and my crab.
The crayfish parties in August are another Swedish tradition, what’s your take on that?
I think it’s a great Swedish tradition, of course! But for me, as a mad seafood lover, it’s also a bit stressful to see all that the crayfish people tend to throw away just because they had enough, people are just crazy! But my friends know me well, so nowadays they always make a doggy bag with the leftovers so that I can eat them in front of the telly the next day. The ultimate value of good friends, haha! As a matter of fact, I always stock a few packages of crayfish in the freezer just in case I get cravings during the rest of the year.
When is the best time to eat seafood?
There is always room for seafood, all year long. But of course there are better months to eat crab or clams for examples.
And worst… if ever?
When you have food poisoning…
Sofie’s three top wine tips for an ultimate seafood platter dinner:
– Loimer Lenz Riesling 2015 Austria, nr 4350, 95 kronor
– Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2014 USA, nr 2690, 129 kronor
– Pouilly Fumé 2014 France, nr 5284, 155 kronor
Words: Pär Strömberg