16 minute read

A Nordic Food and Drink Need-to-Know

Food and Drink

Photo: Spencer Davis / Unsplash

Matching beer and food –a culinary experience

Which beer to have with your meal? What we appreciate eating and drinking is highly subjective and also depends on the particular setting, our mood and who we are with at the time. There are some useful tips though, with origin and intensity being key.

By Malin Norman

Beer is a fabulous beverage to have with food. The levels of bitterness, sweetness and sourness in beer make for countless pairings, but the carbonation and the warmth from the alcohol also have a big impact. As a rule of thumb, think of what people are drinking in the country the food originates from: for example, witbeer with steamed mussels in Belgium, hefeweizen with weisswurst in Germany, or bitter with bangers and mash in the UK.

Beer connoisseurs often talk about beer characteristics complementing, contrasting or amplifying food. Intensity is perhaps a simpler approach: go light with delicate dishes and go big with richer flavours. Crisp lagers and wheat beer usually go well with lighter dishes such as summery salads and seafood, as well as ‘smörgåstårta’ (sandwich cake). Malty and sweet, full-bodied ales are ideal with hearty pub food, Scandinavian ‘husmanskost’ (traditional home-cooked fare) and autumnal stews. Hoppy and bitter pale ales and IPAs are fabulous with fatty and spicy food – a beef burger with strong cheddar paired with a hoppy IPA is a classic. Sour and funky beers, meanwhile, work a treat with cheese, and sweet porters, stouts and barley wines are delicious with rich chocolate desserts and truffles.

Most importantly, have fun while exploring the world of beer and food. Breweries, brewpubs and taprooms are experts on their beer and will be able to recommend which beer to pair with their dishes. And if you have the chance, why not take part in a beer tasting? This is a great opportunity to try different beer styles and understand how best to match them with food.

Malin Norman is a certified beer sommelier, beer judge and member of the BritishGuildofBeerWriters. She writes about beer for Scan Magazineas well as international beer magazines, and creates beerrelated content for beer suppliers.

Culinary habits of Scandinavians you need to be aware of

It’s not all pickled herring, open sandwiches and meatballs in Scandinavian kitchens. From lacking inhibitions to very specific rules for crisps and sweets, here are some dining-related Scandinavian habits you might not be aware of.

1. Don’t make the cheese into a ski slope A lot of people will recognise the allimportant cheese slicer, which all truly Scandinavian kitchens have at least one of. But not everyone will know exactly how to use it. Whatever you do, when your Scandinavian friend invites you over for brunch, do not slice the cheese block into the shape of a ski slope; it is as close to a mortal sin as culinary behaviours go in the Nordics. The trick is to turn the block of cheese around every now and then and slice from both sides.

2.Fish for breakfast Alright, we said it’s not all pickled herring, but sometimes it does get fishy in Scandinavian kitchens – and not only at midsummer. How about mackerel on toast for breakfast? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many Scandinavians will boast, and so no sugar-coated wheat puffs will do. Healthy fats, wholegrain and protein –what’s not to love? It’ll keep you going for hours, like a real Viking.

3. Tacos – the most Swedish dish in the world Don’t get us wrong, we’re not pretending to have come up with pico de gallo or guacamole. No, Swedish tacos are actually nothing like the Mexican origi-

Photo: Shutterstock Cheese slicer. Photo: Alexander Hall, imagebank.sweden.se

nal – but the corn shells and salsa are enough to make us cling to the word, and in recent years, some people have even started adding fresh coriander and lime. Anyhow, the point of Swedish tacos is less about the culinary experience and more about ‘fredagsmys’, the laidback couch get-together in front of the TV of a Friday night. Chop stuff, lash it into different bowls and let people help themselves and take what they like. It’s easy, it’s delicious (or delicious enough), and everyone can just chill.

4.Sour dairy “It’s like yoghurt, but runnier. Like milk but thicker – and sour. No, not gone off, but almost.” If you’ve ever heard a Scandinavian try to explain ‘filmjölk’ or ‘surmelk’ to a non-Scandinavian, you might have been confused, and that’s OK. Suffice to say, milk is not very filling, the live bacteria in products similar to kefir work wonders for your gut, and that’s our case made. Don’t give us sweetened yoghurt, please. We want the sour stuff.

5.Bucketloads of coffee It’s not just the global happiness and trust indexes that Scandinavians tend to repeatedly top; we’re the best coffee drinkers in the world, too. At least if, like us, you think that more is better (that’s in the case of coffee – don’t go overboard with other stuff). Consuming an average

Photo: Unplash

of four cups of coffee per day, Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, closely followed by Norwegians, Icelandic people and Danes. Now you might begin to understand why most of us prefer filter coffee makers over those supposedly fancy one-espresso-at-a-time machines…

6.We like big bags (of crisps) and we cannot lie Scandinavians will tut at your lunchbox with crisps, but join them for a Eurovision party and the big bags will come out. In fact, because crisps are not acceptable as a daily snack, it’s often tricky to find snack-size bags in Scandinavia. Instead, you’ll find supermarket shelves stocked with party-size bags – but because Scandinavians can have stingy tendencies and like to pay for their own stuff, everyone will have their own. Sure enough, the Scandinavian approach to healthy eating can be confusing; you frown at my snack bag on a Monday and down a full party bag of your own on a Saturday? But look, if you had salad and coffee for lunch every day during the week, wouldn’t you make up for it in front of the year’s biggest TV event, the Eurovision Song Contest?

7.Saturday sweets Speaking of Saturday binging, that’s when Scandinavians eat sweets. Yes, the tradition of Saturday sweets means that

Photo: Shutterstock

children learn never to ask for sweets on any other day, while they expect as their God-given, constitutional right to get to choose a handful of favourites from an entire supermarket wall of a pick’n’mix assortment every Saturday.

8.Salty sweets Oh yes, and sweets are not always sweet, because we’re awkward like that. Salty liquorice is a bit like marmite, but Scandinavians who like it will definitely force you to try some and watch in great anticipation to read your facial expression when the intensity of the saltiness hits. It’s an experience.

9.No inhibitions ‘I’m going for a pee,’ your Scandinavian friend will inevitably announce in the middle of a meal, before leaving the table as if nothing’s happened, leaving you to choke or cry or both. And sure, you can have some nudity with that, if you like – either in the form of a flatmate in nothing but underwear during breakfast or in conversational form with anecdotes from a gruesome surgical procedure or intimate bedroom tales. What’s over-sharing for you is not over-sharing for your Scandi flatmate, but whatever it is, expect to get it with your mackerel on toast.

10.Drink lagom It was a tiny victory that ensured, during a referendum back in 1922, that alcohol wasn’t banned in Sweden – the key argument being that you can’t have a traditional crayfish party without booze. But the suspicious attitude towards inebriation has remained, and Swedes can only buy alcoholic beverages in a stateowned off-licence with limited opening hours and finger-wagging posters about the dangers of excessive drinking. That’s not to say that Swedes don’t drink a lot; they just work very hard on keeping up the appearance of not drinking a lot. This is done, among other things, by talking obsessively about the qualities of your alcoholic beverage of choice, as though you’re only drinking it because you’re a true connoisseur. A few hours in, you can drop your guard and relax as people will be too drunk to notice.

Saturday sweets. Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs, imagebank.sweden.se Photo: Shutterstock

Rawsome: dairy like no udder!

Rawsome began as a project of passion when Kjell-Christian Thorsen realised the lengths one had to venture to access tasty, long-lasting, quality raw dairy. Years later, with award-winning products under its belt, the Norway-based company has become the world’s largest producer of raw yoghurt.

By Celina Tran | Photos: Rawsome

For those seeking a healthier, ecological, raw diet in Scandinavia, the market looks rather bleak. Or so it did until 2017, when Rawsome’s products first hit the shelves. Since its establishment, Rawsome has become the producer of award-winning Michelin-star butter, as well as the only EU-approved raw yoghurt, and more.

From sour to super Founder Kjell-Christian Thorsen, an avid supporter of healthy lifestyles and well-produced organic food, was looking into raw dairy for personal consumption. The process to access raw milk was long and difficult, and more often than not, the milk didn’t last very long. In an attempt to make raw yoghurt, Thorsen mixed some raw milk with traditional, store-brought yoghurt. However, he found that the concoction was a foul-tasting disaster. This sour yoghurt inspired him to create his own brand, which has since developed into the raw dairy empire we now know as Rawsome.

“We initially started out at home, in a tiny, 15-square-metre shed,” Thorsen chuckles. “Now we’ve upgraded a bit, to say the least. In our new factory, we’re able to produce up to 72,000 litres a day.”

After countless trials using existing bacteria cultures, Rawsome’s first yoghurt finally hit Norwegian shelves. On the very same day, the yoghurt won a bronze medal at the Matstreif Food Festival.

No compromises, no short-cuts “Rawsome started as my personal contribution to what I believe food production should be: tasty, healthy and organic,” says Thorsen. “We don’t produce anything we wouldn’t eat or buy ourselves.”

In order to make dairy products last longer, most traditional dairy producers add additives such as milk powder. “The journey has been long, and it has at times been hard not to cave in and add additives,” Thorsen admits. “But we don’t compromise on quality. This means no short-cuts.”

The Rawsome founder describes “optimum quality” as their goal. And that quality applies to not only taste and nutrition, but also the animal welfare, sustainability and ingredients behind it all. The Rawsome team insists that raw products enhance nature’s own flavours, which is why they seek to produce ethical, nature-friendly food.

“Once we’ve expanded and have the power to do so, we would like to set certain standards of animal welfare for the farmers we purchase our milk from.”

Another reason for their focus on animal welfare is that the company regards sustainability and the climate as incredibly important. They wish to ensure that every aspect of production respects nature and the environment we’ve been handed down. Taking part in the looming fight against climate change, the Rawsome team uses recyclable glass containers in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, they’re in the

process of producing vegan-friendly options for those who choose a vegan diet or simply cannot consume normal dairy.

Raw dairy for everyone The small, northern country of Norway is not only known for its beautiful scenery and magical nature, but also for its sporty, healthy population. In 2019, Bloomberg rated the nation the ninth healthiest country in the world. That lifestyle of exercise and organic food is not just reserved for the country’s long list of Olympic medallists, but is also considered important to many Norwegians. It’s no wonder then, that Rawsome has become both popular and successful.

“Often, those with a special interest in healthy eating or health and wellness generally are drawn to our products,” says Thorsen. “And of course, they often come back for more.”

However, Rawsome is not just for the exercising part of the population. The founder explains that they often get customers who experience or know others with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a group that can easily feel excluded by the traditional dairy market. Thanks to a production like no other, the company can offer alternatives for those sensitive to traditional supermarket dairy.

“After a long, tiring workday, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that our products can genuinely help people out there. It keeps us going and gives us the motivation to develop more products,” Thorsen reflects. “We’re incredibly thankful to our customers for this.”

Fro-yo, cream cheese and world domination Rawsome’s product range has until now been limited, but as a result of its success, the company is finally able to continue developing more exciting products, such as a new vegan line. Other products on the horizon include clean, guiltfree frozen yoghurt, cottage cheese and cream cheese.

Despite their success in Norway, the Rawsome team has no intentions of

halting the expansion. With a strong drive, clear plans, and a wish to be a force for good on the market, they look to world domination next. “We’re looking to bring our healthy, Norwegian lifestyle to other places, such as the US, and we aim to be world-leading within the field.”

Asked to describe Rawsome using just three words, Thorsen simply says: “World’s. Best. Yoghurt.”

Web: www.rawsome.no

Rawsome is currently working on a crowdfunding project, which will allow them to further develop their products and brand. For more information about the fundraiser, visit their website at www.rawsome.no

“We promise to continue to do our utmost to produce food of the finest quality and flavour, based on conditions and methods that are also nature friendly.” Kjell-ChristianThorsen, founder of Rawsome

Kjell Christian Thorsen.

Arctic Blue Oat bottle.

Arctic nature in a bottle

Founded in 2017, Arctic Blue Beverages has gained international recognition with its gins, made from botanicals grown in the stunning, pure forests of the Finnish Arctic. Having recently launched the world’s first gin-based oat liqueur, the company is constantly on the lookout for innovative new takes on drinks.

By Ndéla Faye | Photos: Eeva Mäkinen

Arctic Blue Gin was born out of a vision to capture Finland’s Arctic nature in a bottle. Master Distiller Asko Ryynänen spent more than a year trying and testing 400 different recipes to fulfil the vision. Finally, on the 400th attempt, things fell into place – and Arctic Blue Gin was born. The ingredients were just right, bringing it the unique taste of the Arctic with juniper berries, bilberries (also known as wild Arctic blueberries), bilberry leaves, as well as the young bright-green tips of a spruce tree.

“As soon as the bottle is opened, you are greeted with the aromatic scent of the botanicals. Our distinguishable flavours come from Finland’s pure nature, with some of the world’s cleanest air and purest waters, as well as Arctic botanicals and the wild berries that grow in Finland’s pristine forests,” says Sara Käld, the company’s marketing specialist.

The bilberries used in Arctic Blue Beverages’ gins grow wild in the forests near Koli National Park. Thanks to Finland’s harsh winters and polar nights, and the endless sunshine of midsummer nights, they have a succulent, mouth-watering taste and high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants. Because of the way the gin is distilled, all the natural aromas and essential oils of the bilberries are preserved in it. “This is also why the gin turns into a stunning, cloudy-white shade when it’s topped with cold tonic water or ice,” Käld explains.

All of the company’s spirits are handcrafted in the distillery, located in the small town of Ilomantsi, in the North Karelian region of Eastern Finland.

The company has gained widespread international recognition and has won a number of awards internationally. In 2018, Arctic Blue Gin was awarded doublegold. In the World Spirits Awards, the gin was both recognised as the best gin and awarded the coveted title of Spirit of the Year 2018. “It’s great to be recognised for the passion and quality craftsmanship that go into every single one of our products,” Käld says.

The world’s first gin-based oat liqueur (and it’s dairy-free, too!) The company’s Arctic Blue Oat is a vegan and gluten-free gin-based liqueur, made from organic Finnish oats. Arctic Blue Oat can be described as aromatic and herby with a creamy mouthfeel and undertones of chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla spice.

In 2021, the liqueur was awarded bronze in the renowned International Wine and Spirit Competition. “In Europe and the United States especially, customers are increasingly looking for dairy-free products. Oat is expected to become the largest plant-based raw material in its product field – even exceeding almond. We want to be at the forefront of innovation,” Käld explains.

Dive into the world of Arctic mixology If you are serious about cocktails, Arctic Blue Beverages has got you covered, too. “As Arctic Blue Oat is dairy-free, it’s ideal for cocktails and innovative mixology,” says Käld.

In addition, the company’s product range includes Navy Strength gin, which is the same as the company’s classic Arctic Blue Gin, but stronger. “Our Navy Strength gin is especially popular among mixologists. At 58.8 per cent ABV, the Navy Strength version of our gin has been designed to elevate ginbased cocktails to the next level,” Käld asserts. The company’s products are sold across the Nordics and elsewhere in Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Australia, and there are new products launching later this year. “We’re keen to be at the forefront of innovation with our products. Instead of doing things that have been done before, we are always looking for new approaches, and ways to reinvent drinks. There are some very exciting things in the pipeline,” Käld concludes.

Web: www.arcticbluebeverages.com Facebook: Arctic Blue Beverages Instagram: @arcticbluebeverages LinkedIn: Arctic Blue Beverages

Oat macchiato. Photo: Mika Levalampi

Oat macchiato recipe

Ingredients: 40 ml Arctic Blue Oat 20 ml Arctic Blue Gin Top up with coffee or a shot of espresso.

Garnish: Cardamom

Glass: Lowball or cappuccino glass

Method: Shake the bottle of Arctic Blue Oat well before use. Measure the Arctic Blue Gin into a glass, and foam the Arctic Blue Oat in a milk frother. Pour over the Arctic Blue Gin and top up with coffee or a shot of espresso. Garnish with a pinch of cardamom.

Arctic Blue Gin bottle.