The interest and fascination for Sweden and all things Scandinavia seems to be on a rapid upwards rise. And with the coming season it seems all the more appropriate. Nights staying in watching Nordic Noir, reading another Scandi-pageturner thriller and treating ourselves to cinnamon rolls. The latter has its own day of celebration – cinnamon bun day, which is on the 4th of October. It’s a tradition the Brits are happy to adopt and so we obediently chow down on at least one of these sweet, yeasted buns flavoured with the Scandi-spice of choice.
The Swedish community in London is growing stronger (or perhaps only more apparent) – and has a strong presence here in W1. The Western part of Marylebone – from Marylebone High Street in the east towards Seymour Place, is home to numerous Swedish stops. Walking from the North end of the High Street you’ll first notice Skandium on your right. Filled with all things Scandinavian and Finnish (technically not Scandinavian) you’ll recognise a lot of the furniture in there as true classics – the world of design owes a lot to both Sweden and Denmark, both of which are home to some of the 20th century’s most influential designers. You can also pick up a bag of salty liquorice to keep you going – typically Swedish but may take some getting used to.
Keep walking south until you reach Dorset Street. Turn right, and let the smell of cinnamon lead you into a branch of the Nordic Bakery. Rapidly becoming one of London’s favourite cafés, this is where you head when you want some Nordic minimalism mixed with delicious, comforting food. Rye bread, salmon, coffee and buns. It’s a great spot for a ‘fika’. Fika is the Swedish word which loosely translates to ‘a break in which we drink coffee and eat some cake or a bun and chat with our friends. But you can also fika alone.’ Fika can be both a verb and a noun – you can fika and you can have a fika. Either way it’s something you should do (or have) a lot if you want to be more Swedish.
Once you’re filled up on caffeine, cinnamon and helvetica, it’s time to move on. Keep walking west on Dorset Street, take a right up Baker Street and turn left on Crawford Street. Keep walking for a couple of minutes, until you reach Totally Swedish. A Swedish food shop, also selling some design, books and magazines it is a great place to explore. You can buy Swedish pick and mix, crisp bread and coffee, as well as gravadlax and smoked salmon, cured meats and baked goods supplied by Bageriet (Swedish for bakery), a café-bakery in Covent Garden (also well worth a visit). We suggest you buy a bag of Löfbergs Lila (coffee), some herring and some rye bread for a good, Swedish lunch. A slightly different range is available at the opposite, far east side of Marylebone – head to Scandikitchen on Great Titchfield Street for a delicious Scandi lunch, complete with Swedish meatballs and their extremely delicious brownie equivalent kladdkaka.
If you take a north turn at the west end of Crawford Street you’ll find the Harcourt Arms – a Swedish pub. They sell Swedish drinks, show Swedish telly, host Swedish events and most of them they even speak Swedish if you want to practice yours. They don’t mind speaking English though, if your Swedish isn’t up to scratch. Order a Swedish cider and get into the ice hockey on telly.
If you’re in a spiritual mood, turn left out the pub and walk into the Swedish church. Open and welcoming, it’s a nice place to just relax with a beautiful serene church room. They also have a café and a shop if you need a little pick-me up, or if you fancy a listen to the melodic sing-song of the Swedes that frequent it. Every November they do a Christmas fair which is well worth a visit – this year’s will be held between 20-23 of November. Arts and crafts, food and treats – everything you’d expect and more.
Scandinavian and Swedish has long been popular thanks to design in particular; especially considering H&M (and the numerous brands and shops branching out from it) and IKEA. Since the early noughties there has been an influx of literature and tv-series from the region – and of course, the food.
We suggest you go for a walk in London’s own little Sweden this Saturday. Dress up in your finest H&M and make a stop for a rye and herring sandwich, some coffee and a cinnamon bun. Blonde hair and two inches on the rest of us are optional.