March 28, 2018
Scandinavian Cooking at Home
There is so much going on with Scandinavian Cooking lately—all the talk about fresher, New Scandinavian. And, then we have the good-old comfort zone of traditional Scandinavian like Belgium waffles and Swedish pancakes. Not to mention all those delicious desserts. Can you say cardamom?

And the traditional candies…and the cheeses…

We did a sweep of our store for some Scandinavian products, and came up with our arms full. Here is a list of our favorite staff picks.
Castello Aged Havarti is creamy, with attractive deep notes of butter and fermented milk. It marries a rich buttery aroma with a creamy and slightly crunchy texture. The small white spots that are visible on and within the cheese are the secret to its delicate crystalline texture and subtle crunch. 

Castello Traditional Danish Blue cheese has a fine, nutty, blue aroma with hints of marzipan overlaid on a sourdough flavor, creating a soft and elegant bitterness. This Denmark-made cheese is certified as unique and authentic. 

Finn Crisp has spent over half a century perfecting the art of baking delicious thin crispbreads that burst with healthy wholegrain flavor. We have them in Caraway, Multigrain, Original, and 5 Whole Grains as well as the Siljans, a Traditional Whole Rye Crispbread (the big discs).
Fazer Finlandia Marmeladaja Jellies In 1902, these candies were was sent to King Edward VII in a wooden coronation box. In Apricot, Black Currant, Lemon, & Strawberry.

Panda Soft Licorice is the real taste of Licorice. Made with licorice root extract.

Marabou Mörk Choklad Dark Chocolate is a favorite in Sweden. Mmm…sedan 1916

Göfeborgs Gold Marie Biscuits have a special place in the hearts of many. It is a tender, crisp and wonderfully delicious cookie baked since the company's founding in 1888.

Lund’s Swedish Pancake Mix makes seriously thin pancakes that are finely-textured, tender, and rich tasting. And Lund’s Gourmet Waffle Mix is ideal for making Belgium waffles. 
From our blog, The Cocktail Post

Akvavit (also spelled Aquavit) is a Scandinavian spirit that dates back to the 1500s. It is made by flavoring a neutral spirit with botanicals. Caraway and dill are two traditional flavors. In Scandinavia, home cooks make the spirit with an infinite variety of spices, herbs, and flowers.

The specific herbs and spices used to flavor akvavit are determined by local preference and cuisine. Danish akvavit leans heavier on dill, coriander, and caraway. Swedish aquavit features more anise and fennel flavors. It’s quite different in Norway, where aquavit is barrel-aged and can include diverse aromatics like cumin and citrus peel.

If you want to toast like a Viking, pour your akvavit into a shot glass, raise it high, shout Skaal! while maintaining eye contact, and toss it back in one long draw.

You can also substitute akvavit for vodka in cocktail recipes for a bold and savory kick.

We have posted a starter Akvavit recipe below. And, here are some suggestions for other flavors to experiment with. Many of these grow wild around the Bay Area at different times of the year. You may want to make a few batches to taste test.

A Cookbook Recommendation

By Andreas Viestad
This charming and personal exploration of Scandinavian food and culture from one of public television's most charismatic cooks engages readers with personal anecdotes and flavorful recipes. Andreas shows the best way to cure gravlaks, make butter, prepare a poached salmon feast, and flambé a pork tenderloin with Scandinavia's favorite spirit aquavit.

He shares his passion for traditional recipes such as Pork Rib Roast with Cloves, Mashed Rutabaga, and Norwegian Pancakes filled with berries.

In Kitchen of Light readers are transported to Viestad's Norway―fishing for cod, halibut, and salmon; gathering chanterelles, porcini, and wild berries. More than 100 recipes emphasize fresh, simple ingredients in delicious and elegant dishes such as Pepper-Grilled Oysters and Scallops and Roast Dill-Scented Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes.

This inspired cookbook, a companion to the public television series New Scandinavian Cooking, is perfect for home cooks, armchair travelers, cultural food enthusiasts, and anyone who yearns for the simple life.

Don’t forget to order your holiday meats — Passover begins in just a week on Friday, March 30th, and Easter follows quickly on Sunday, April 1st.

Our butcher department is fully stocked, and ready to receive your call.

For Easter, we have whole or half hams,  leg of lamb, and rack of lamb.

For Passover, you might want brisket or lamb. And remember to ask our butchers for the shank bone for the Seder plate!

To make certain we have what you need, call our butcher department at least a day in advance at (510) 653-8181.

It’s looking like spring in our paper goods aisle thanks to Caspari Paper Napkins and Plates — they make the most wonderful collection to dress up your table with a touch of elegance.

Talk about great designs, vibrant colors, and durable products! Their collection is vast, and we have some special products for spring entertaining and holiday meals.

And, they are printed with non-toxic, water-soluble dies and food-safe inks so the products are fully biodegradable and compostable.

Here are just a few of the designs we have in stock. Come on in and see our entire collection.

News & Events

Signs of Spring
The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season will begin on March 29—the earliest Opening Day in league history. This first day of baseball is the first day of spring for some people. And, this Thursday all 30 teams will be playing.

The full schedule of games can be watched on ESPN beginning at 12:30 with Miami v.z. Chicago. You can find the full game schedule here on the MLB site. And, for a comprehensive description of how to stream Major League Baseball games to all your favorite devices check out this article on Tech Hive .

We can’t all take the day off from work to hang out in front of the TV. So, if you are planning to watch the action after a hard day of work, here are our suggestions for a great ballpark dinner that requires little preparation.

Hot Dogs and Buns
For Hot Dogs we highly recommend Miller Hot Dogs in our meat case. And, always, Cakebox hotdog buns. Cakebox buns have a homemade flavor and are deliciously moist—not just your average piece of white bread.

If you want to go the sausage route, why no try some Saag’s Bratwurst or Polish Sausage on a Pretzilla pretzel bun. Haven’t heard of them? Light and airy with a touch of sweetness, Pretzilla has a unique pretzel flavor profile perfect for building a sandwich.

Maille Mustard sets the gold standard. Try Maille Old Style or Maille Rich Country on your next hot dog or sausage.

Sonoma Brinery Pickles and Sauerkraut can top it off. They create pickles reminiscent of the ones you could grab out of a barrel in a New York deli. And their sauerkraut is delicious.

Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Red Relish is a staff favorite.
The sweet fresh goodness of red cherry peppers provides an ideal kick of heat to liven up a dog, while the mellow onions and red bell peppers offer balance in this perfect condiment.

Cracker Jack is a classic! Candy-Coated Popcorn, Peanuts and a Prize…That's what you get in Cracker Jack!

And wash it all down with some Lagunitas IPA, a favorite local brew that is big on aroma with a hoppy-sweet finish.

Or, if you are going the lemonade route, we love Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade with their amazing array of flavors—delicious and refreshing.

From our recipe blog, The Kitchen Table

Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax (cold-cured salmon)
Adapted from The Spruce

Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches).

Scandinavian Recipes from our Archives

Swedish Ginger Cookies “Gingies” as we call them, are a family favorite. They are easy to make and go great with tea & coffee and you can keep a log in the freezer to cut and bake as needed.

Anise Cakes are hard cookies are meant to be dunked into coffee or tea, like biscotti–only a little bit more dense. If you love the flavor of licorice, give these a try with your morning coffee.

Ebleskiver are buttermilk pancake balls that are cooked in a cast iron pan with divots that make the cakes round. To eat them, we top the pancakes with butter, powdered sugar and strawberry jam (though lingonberry jam is traditional). It’s your basic morning sugar bomb.

Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches).

Akvavit is a Scandinavian spirit that dates back to the 1500s. It is made by flavoring a neutral spirit with botanicals like caraway and dill.
From our blog, The Butcher's Block

Out Like A Lamb
If spring could have an official meat, I think it would be lamb. It’s the first thing that pops into most people’s mind when thinking about spring cooking. What constitutes spring cooking though can be different from year to year as sometimes it’s eighty-degree grilling weather and other times, like this year, it’s raining buckets and in some places, you’re buried under twelve feet of snow.

When the weather is cold, braising is the way to go. And, there are few things better than melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks. Bonus, they won’t drain your wallet.

Lamb shanks come from the lower section of the legs. The meat of the shank can be very tough—since this is an area of the animal that gets a lot of work. For this reason, braising and other slow cooking methods are essential for a fall of the bone result.

The shanks also contain quite a bit of collagen—a great benefit because the collagen acts as a natural thickener for the braising liquid which can be turned into a succulent sauce.

The cooking time of lamb shanks means that these are not a good choice for weeknight dinners. However, with a little mid-week planning and all the possible lamb shank recipes available online or in print, you have time to plan a really fantastic Sunday meal. And, any leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day.

Here is one of our favorite recipes for braised lamb shanks.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Balsamic, Herbs, and Spices
Adapted from Food 52

A Staff Favorite

Make Philz Coffee, One Cup at a Time , in your own home.
Coffee should be something that brightens your day, wakes you up in the morning, and inspires conversation. And this is just what Philz Coffee does.

Philz is a San Francisco institution and a leading local member of coffee’s third wave. It’s artisanal, extra special, and wonderfully delicious. Philz Jaber started on the corner of 24th and Mission where Phil converted his grocery store, Gateway Liquor & Deli, into a full-time coffee shop.

Philz Coffee’s secret recipe blends have charming names that capture the essence of their founder’s experience after his first sip. These blends were created by my Phil over decades, and are made of high-quality varietals from around the world.

Philz’ dedication to quality coffee has gotten them a devoted and rabid fan base. They have some unique custom blends that ad amazing variety to our favorite brewed beverage.

Here is what we have in stock:

  • Tesora
  • Jacob’s Wonderbar
  • Ambrosia Coffee of God
  • New Manhattan
  • Sooo Good

From our recipe blog, The Kitchen Table

On the Lamb
Growing up we didn’t do Easter Brunch. We ate Easter dinner at my Grandmother’s and there were strict rules that had to be followed. Along with the purple water glasses, it wouldn’t have been Easter without some asparagus, scalloped potatoes, and a leg of lamb.

My Grandmother took the traditional approach to preparing her leg of lamb which included stuffing whole cloves of garlic in small cuts all over the leg before roasting and serving it alongside some mint jelly. (Heaven forbid, we  not have the mint jelly.)

As the rebel of the family, I like to buck tradition and butterfly my leg of lamb before I throw it on the grill.
Grilling a butterflied leg of lamb is super easy and you can play around with different flavors with the marinades or dry rubs. You could go Greek, Moroccan, Tejano, or whatever floats your boat.

Of course, everything depends on the crowd. Not everyone wants to be transported to the markets of Marrakech for their Easter dinner—even if a grilled leg of lamb would be very tasty with couscous and grilled veggies. (Sign me up though…)

For Easter, I like to tone it down a bit and go with more Mediterranean flavors like this recipe for Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb. If you are able, try to marinate the lamb overnight. It is a simple yet flavorful marinade that will produce a tasty meal when served with grilled veggies, some roasted new potatoes, and a bit of a chocolate bunny for dessert.

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 8 servings

Our butchers will be happy to butterfly and trim the fat from the leg of lamb for you.

Vendor of the Month

We are taking a moment to appreciate Clover Sonoma (the dairy formerly known as Clover Stornetta) and honor them as our Vendor of the Month for March. They are so reliable, have great quality, and an extensive line of products—so much so that we can sometimes take them for granted.

There is nothing trendy or hipster about Clover. They have been doing it right for three generations. We can find ourselves just reaching for their eggs, milk, and half-and-half without giving it a second thought because we know they are consistently delicious.

And, then Clover has those products that we especially love, like their European Style Butter, Monterey Jack Cheese, Salted Caramel Cookie Crunch Ice Cream, Greek Yogurt, and flavored kefirs. We also love Clover Sonoma’s new chocolate milk—with a bolder flavor and some additives removed—it’s extra-chocolaty and has just the right amount of sweetener.

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4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 653-8181

Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.  

My mother got such a kick out of the fact that I would write this blog every week. Mainly, because she knew all of the players in the family stories I would tell. Her only complaint was that she didn’t get as much credit for my culinary development as she deserved. And, she was absolutely right.

I have often talked about the recipes that my grandmother made, and they are all great. But, my mother was just as talented and prolific. And, the reality is, it’s the recipes my mother made for my sister and me that I serve to my own family on a weekly basis.