If you travel to Sweden in late June don't expect to see anyone in the cities at Midsummer. For our annual summer vacation, I was making plans to spend the weekend in Stockholm with Ursula after visiting IKEA's main offices, but was told no one would be there. No one would be in the city? Nope, I was told, the whole nation heads out to the countryside to their thousands of lakes to eat herring, drink, sing and celebrate the longest day of the year. Luckily I had a Swedish friend in New York who connected me with an old friend, who invited us to his eve at his mother's lake house in Sandreda, near Braas. So we got in our rental car and drove to the country...
Here's a little photo essay of our evening just a few weeks ago, on June 21st, in three parts: dinner, dessert and late night drinks.
Dinner began at 6pm, cooked entirely by our host, Lukas Loughran, who is an actor and a chef in Stockholm (watch his videos right here on YouTube in Swedish). He had worked for a number of days pickling herring in a number of different ways and adding fruit and herbs to bottles of vodka for schnapps. We started at 6pm and ended around 2am. This is what it looked like.
This is the small kitchen in Lukas' mother's house. He was pouring off the water in a big pot of cooked potatoes and it all looked so good when I complimented him on the kitchen. "Oh, the kitchen," he said, "This kitchen is the most difficult kitchen in the world! Terrible trying to cook here. Terrible." The propensity to be honest and not all sunshine about things I discovered is a very Swedish trait.
The table was a very modest one and extended with a number of tables to fit everyone in. Plastic chairs mixed with metal and wood benches down at the end of the lawn by the lake.
Mmmmmm, butter, cheese and this round crisp bread or knäckebröd is a central part of the meal.
Here's a straight ahead pickled herring dish about to be enjoyed by Leoni.
Preserved herring as a side dish.
(Image credits: Maxwell Ryan)