Get a taste of Scandi cooking in London at the ScandiKitchen café and shop. We speak to owner Bronte Aurell about lingonberry jam, Smørrebrød and more…
What made you decide to open the ScandiKitchen?
My Swedish partner Jonas and I, a Dane, were both living in London. We love living here but missed the food from home. So, we decided one day that it was time to open our own place and bring Scandinavian food to the people of the UK.
Why should Londoners put down their Pret sandwich and head to the ScandiKitchen for those delicious-looking Smørrebrød (open sandwiches)?
In Scandinavia, we use a lot of dark rye breads – these are a lot better for you than the mass-produced white loaf. Also, we like to see what we’re eating, so we tend not to add bread on top – so you end up eating less bread. Plus, you can’t hide cheap toppings on an open sandwich – so you get all the good stuff – and it looks pretty, too.
If you eat rye bread open sandwiches and salad for lunch, nobody is going to tell you not to have a nice piece of homemade cake afterwards. It’s all about balance.
How would you describe Scandinavian food to Londoners who haven’t tried it yet?
Simple, wholesome and good for you.
Of course we eat cake, too – but if you eat open rye bread sandwiches and salad for lunch, nobody is going to tell you not to have a nice piece of homemade cake afterwards. It’s all about balance.
Anything new that visitors can try for spring/summer?
We’re working on a new book at the moment and we’ll be starting to introduce a lot of the new recipes from the book once we have finished shooting. Can’t tell you too much at the moment, but it will involve quite a lot of new cakes.
What products can we buy from the ScandiKitchen shop to add to our kitchens for a taste of Scandinavian food?
Headline stuff? Add Swedish Crispbread as a staple – it is not a diet food, we just eat it as we would bread. Try Leksands, it is a great brand and it works so well with pâté or cheese.
Then I’d try out some of our special jams – like lingonberry or cloudberry. We don’t use these on toast, but more with savoury dishes. Lingonberry for meatballs and cloudberry for cheese. Delicious.
Lastly, dressings such as Remoulade – a Danish piccalilli type sauce we use for everything – beef fish, fries and sausages… It’s so delicious. There is a whole new world of stuff in the Scandinavian cuisine that people can use to give their store cupboard a fresh new feel.
Where do you love to go for food and drink in London?
I love Dabbous and The Ledbury when I can afford something special. If I’m meeting friends after work, I’ve been known to occupy one of the bar stools at the Spanish place Ibérica on Great Portland Street and sample its big range of gins. The staff there are so very friendly – and they know their gin!
Do you have any personal British twists on Scandi cooking when you’re in the kitchen?
Promise not to tell? I add Yorkshire puddings to any dish possible at home, I love them.
But on a day-to-day level – we make quite traditional stuff so it doesn’t work to mix things too much. I do however love traditional British food.
What is your favourite recipe?
Cinnamon buns, hands down. Now I don’t have to keep writing the recipe down for people – it’s super handy! The recipe really works and people feel they can use the recipe as a base from which to make their own versions. It can evolve.
Growing up in Denmark, a visit to the bakery is never to be underestimated. Going to pick up freshly baked, flaky Danish pastries on a Sunday morning – it doesn’t get better than that.
You grew up in Hong, Denmark. Do you have any favourite food memories that you can tell us about?
Absolutely – my entire childhood is full of food. My grandfather was a famous cheese maker. I loved being in the diary, watching him and my grandmother work. I’m a real turophile – cheese is the best thing. A visit to the bakery is never to be underestimated while growing up in Denmark: memories of going to pick up freshly-baked pastries on a Sunday morning with my dad… Well, it doesn’t get better than that.
Fika and Hygge is by Bronte Aurell and published by Ryland Peters & Small.
A follow-up to the successful ‘The ScandiKitchen’, this new book features over 60 recipes for cakes, bakes, and treats from all over Scandinavia. Fika is a Swedish word meaning to meet up for a cup of coffee or tea over something delicious. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a word that originated in Norway but is now mainly used in Denmark. It means “a sublime state of cosiness you feel when you are with loved ones and nothing else matters”. Hygge can be enhanced by the addition of a log fire, a good movie, a cup of something warm, and a sweet treat…hence the ideal combination of the two terms.
The Scandi Kitchen Cookbook is by Bronte Aurell and published by Ryland Peters & Small.
The Scandi Kitchen | 61 Great Titchfield Street London W1W 7PP
Feeling inspired? Check out our Copenhagen Eats guide.