Skåne is Sweden’s most southerly region, and often dubbed the country’s pantry thanks to its vibrant producers and a prime position, surrounded by forest and farmland, between cutting-edge Copenhagen (just across the water in neighbouring Denmark) and the Baltic Sea.
In culinary terms, there is plenty to satisfy both traditionalists (bakers following century-old recipes for cinnamon buns, the use of ancient Swedish grains, a commitment to classic Swedish dishes) and more adventurous diners (you’ll find Italian wines paired with Swedish pasta, exotic ice cream flavours and farm shops selling herb mixes inspired by Asian and South American countries). Such a breadth of choice allows Scånians to push culinary boundaries and create their own, distinctive, cuisine.
Skåne has two other great selling points for foodie visitors: its diversity (the region caters for those who want to explore edgy, urban Malmö as well as the scenic countryside of Österlen and the area’s wild, white-sand-fringed coastline) and its easy-to-reach location (even the furthest coastal town is only an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Malmö, and it’s only 15 minutes more, over the Oresund bridge, to Copenhagen airport). So, whether it’s an in-depth road trip or a fleeting weekend getaway, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the region’s imaginative producers, unpretentious inhabitants and diverse food and drink scene.
Here are some of the reasons why Skåne is the next foodie hotspot:
Over the past few years, increasing numbers of craft breweries have opened across Skåne, just one reflection of its small-scale artisan food movement. With more than 30 breweries now scattered across the region, here are some of our favourites…
In the far west, Landskrona’s popular Brekeriet brewery conjures up unique sour beers and wild ales – Lucifer fermented with passion fruit and saffron, Pink Passion with passion fruit and hibiscus flowers, and Wild & Juicy with notes of lemon peel, pineapple and bread. The town is also home to Brygghuset Finn, which brews everything from raspberry wheat beer to fruity California lager and malty brown ale.
For ales brewed in the centre of Malmö, try Skåne’s largest brewery, Malmö Brygghus. Its craft beers are available at Malmö Brewing Co & Taproom, in the city’s buzzy Möllevången area. On a smaller scale, the tiny island of Hven has its own brewery, and even MJ’s Hotel in Malmö has created its own Pilsner.
Skåne’s hip towns and stunning countryside are peppered with artisan micro-bakeries, where bakers use ancient Swedish grains to make unique flours for perfect loaves and iconic buns. Some of the best-loved buns come from Söderberg and Sara, which has a shop and café in Malmö and another in Ystad. The team uses a well-rehearsed combination of spelt and sourdough, topping its creations with sweet cinnamon and fragrant cardamom.
There are many smaller operations, but our favourites include Byvägen 35, where Mati combines durum wheat, roast potato and seeds to create his fluffy devil’s loaf. Mati’s original plan wasn’t selling buns, but his sourdough cinnamon and cardamom swirls have gained popularity due to their extra-sour edge, gleaned from a 48-hour fermentation before baking.
For something slightly different head to Hven Bageri, which makes extra-squishy cardamom buns using durum wheat from the surrounding fields. And, if you’re passing through the coastal town of Simrishamn, pop into Kin’s bakery for buns made using spelt, sourdough and brown sugar (or, for the full Swedish fika experience, drive 15 minutes inland to Kin’s café and garden).
Many dedicated professionals have been drawn to Skåne’s countryside. Seek out tiny pasta factories in old tractor repair halls, or chocolatiers in former school buildings, and take time to listen to the inspiring stories of these passionate twenty- and thirty-somethings.
Österlen, Skåne’s southeastern corner, is a hotspot for producers. Ulrika at Österlenchoklad is super geeky about chocolate and all things cacao – she can tell the smaller Sri Lankan beans from the Peruvian, and is exacting when it comes to sourcing. She and her partner travel the world to track down the finest beans to blend with Skåne’s unique ingredients and create super-smooth pralines – Kivik’s iconic apples, aromatics from nearby farmshop Österlenkryddor, aronia berries picked every October after the first frost, and citrussy sea buckthorn foraged from the shoreline.
A Scånian trio – Per, Tilde, and Pär – have recently opened a pasta factory in Österlen. At their pizza place in Malmö’s Saluhall, the team uses locally-grown toppings, many from their own vegetable garden in Hedvigsdal (which the pizza place is named after), including overnight cabbage with butter and pecorino, savoy cabbage with soy sauce and mozzarella, and green beans with Skåne cheese and brown butter.
Though Skåne may be home to more than its fair share of rustic restaurants and earthy cafés, there are plenty of high-end options, too. Its close proximity to Copenhagen means Malmö, in particular, boasts several destination restaurants.
In the city centre Bastard has long been a place to be seen, offering meat-heavy small plates and punchy cocktails in a party atmosphere, while field-to-fork restaurant Bloom in the Park has a Michelin star. Contemporary SAV and French-focussed Sture also hold stars, while intimate Vollmers boasts two for its seasonal tasting menus, which elevate Scånian ingredients to gourmet levels.
The place of the moment during our visit was Västergatan, a cosy restaurant on a cobbled street of the same name in the centre of Malmö. Mini loaves of cold yeast bread with homemade butter kicked things off, followed by mixed meat tartare with smoked paprika, oven-baked celeriac with anchovies, wild garlic seeds and radishes, and slow-baked trout with burnt leek oil, roast chicken stock and pickled shiitake mushrooms.
Elsewhere in the region, foodies flock to Daniel Berlin’s yellow-brick restaurant in Skåne Tranås, where the innovative chef serves his sophisticated take on vegetable dishes (there’s also game during the hunting season, shot by Daniel himself).
Fran jord till bord (from soil to table) is a deep-rooted approach in Skåne. The region lives up to its nickname of Sweden’s larder, with passionate producers and chefs making the most of the Scånian soil and diverse terroir (coast/farmland/forests) to bring local produce to life on the plate. Pralines made with forest herbs, intricate fine-dining dishes created from an on-site farms, and contemporary tasting menus using ingredients foraged from Malmö’s suburbs are par for the course in this part of Sweden.
THE SWEDISH WINE ROUTE
Skåne boasts its own wine route, linking more than 20 wineries that make the most of gentle south-facing slopes and a proximity to the sea. At Hällåkra vineyard, you can spend time picking plums and pink apples from the trees, peering into the greenhouse and admiring striking statues made by local artist Joakim before settling in for a wine dinner overlooking beds of yellow and orange marigolds. The vineyard capitalises on the unique flavour profile of Scånian terroir, with high acidity due to the short season and crispness from the Baltic Sea, and uses new grape hybrids (solaris developed from riesling and pinot gris, and rondo developed from St Laurent) to produce clean and crisp organic wines.
Or, carry on to Nordic Sea Winery’s sleek tasting room in Simrishamn to sip some of Sweden’s most acclaimed wines in an ultra-contemporary setting.
Written by Alex Crossley