Shortly after Lou returned from Sweden, we took a trip to the Southbank centre, and enjoyed a Nordic Feast. The food was cooked on open fires, and prepared with authentic regional ingredients. Scandinavian chefs were joined by London chefs who had been on a foreign exchange-style visit to learn new skills, and discover a new ethos. The expansive canvas tent was dimly lit, and there were two gloriously large fire pits dominating the space.
We took the train from Bristol, and then the tube straight to Southbank. Lou had been enthusing about her Sweden experience the whole way. About how the streets have very few advertising hoardings. How its completely normal for nearly every shop and restaurant to be lit at least partly by candles and have an open fire. And about the food, of course.
London is clearly a massive and complicated city, and continues to grow and change as it has done for centuries. Stepping out in to the street, we immediately notice the Helicopter hanging overhead, roadworks encroaching on to the pavement – and we’re hit by yet more adverts. There’s a chill in the air, but as we get closer to the Southbank, we catch a whiff of wood smoke in the air.
The French have lunch breaks away from their desks. The Scandinavians do, too. Londoners are not known for the quality of their lunch breaks. We’re joined at our table by a man from Finland, and his friend from Germany. The food is delicious, and my Gin cocktail is a bit like an Old Fashioned.
We were served about 7 courses, and between each course the host briefly interviews the chef about their food and cooking methods. It feels a bit like watching Eurovision, and is charmingly tongue and cheek. Each chef we heard from wanted to collaborate and share their passion. Before long Lou has brought up the “Let’s move to Sweden” topic again – and I’m smiling and agreeing.
The last time I was on the Southbank, I was eating some sort of pulled pork wrap, and we were watching a Break Dance contest. Our Nordic Feast featured a fish dish from Greenland. Terrific soft rye bread, with three different types of butter, including Bilberry butter. There are pickled vegetable elements and there is Dill. Lots of delicious, buttery, Dill. The meat course was velvety soft, with a sauce that left a satisfying stickiness on the lips.
We then were asked to help ourselves to an apple crumble with lingonberry sauce and a dollop skyr yoghurt and take them through to another tipi for a cup of Swedish coffee also brewed over the fire.
Lou and I had a thoroughly wonderful adventure in London for the Nordic feast. It confirmed our love for the Nordic countries, and we hope one to visit them all fully, from Sweden, to Finland, Norway and over to Iceland and the Farro Islands. Now that would be an adventure.
The Nordic Feast at the Southbank, London is a yearly event. Do check out the Southbanks ‘whats on’ pages to find out more about tickets for next years event.
Collaboration Note: We were kindly invited by Visit Sweden to attend the Nordic Feast. All words are by Dan Taylor, image are by Lou Archell. Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible.