After TBEXStockholm, VisitSweden had organised a 2-night/3-day fam trip to Luleå for us. In Gammelstad, a restaurant we dined in blew my mind! This is an account of that experience by a non-food blogger!
Here’s a candid admission (and the food-lovers are welcome to shower me with brickbats) – I normally do not write about food. In fact, for me, food is a necessary evil we have to waste time on during our travels. In my nomadic stints, I make do with whatever takes the least time and provides enough energy to keep moving on.
An exception occurred while I was in Gammelstad! This 500-year old Church Town that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, slow-paced our group. We spent a whole day in this one square mile township! While this town was pretty and we learnt a lot about Scandinavian history, we were glad when the dinner was announced!
It was 6 pm and we made our way into a nondescript back alley of Gammelstad. There stood Kaptensgården, a fine-dining restaurant run by Johan Thingvall, who got his chef training working with many a fine-dining restaurant in Stockholm! The restaurant seemed like just another gleaming cottage – the likes of which were lining the many streets and lanes of Gammelstad.
Once we entered the restaurant, we quickly became aware of the immaculate attention to detail all around us! And the biggest surprise Johan announced was that theirs was a live cooking kitchen!
We settled down in our respective places and were greeted by our own individual 7-course dinner menu comprising 3 starters, 2 entrees and 2 desserts! Since the menu was in Swedish (Greek to me!), I promptly sought help and wrote down the names of the dishes and their ingredients in English.
As such, the ingredients seemed exotic enough. Its true magic started to unfold once the live-cooking started. Johan, assisted by his able deputy Evelina, slowly began casting his spells of wizardry.
The first course, a subtly-lemony creation, was a delicately prepared starter of trout and cucumber. As we were slowly nibbling through this course to savour the taste for longer, we found Johan creating some intricate nests, complete with whitefish-roe-filled quail eggshells!
While pecking at this delicacy, we found him skinning a couple of grouse. The next starter was a ptarmigan (willow grouse) topped with a quail egg yellow, served rare. While he served the starter, he shared an interesting tale from the arctic.
He talked about his ptarmigan-hunting expeditions up in the Arctic Circle. Day after day, he would ski for hours and then set up camp for some rest. Some days he was lucky, while the other days would just be a wild goose… er… a wild grouse chase! During the entire hunting expedition, he might land himself a couple of dozen willow grouse, if he was lucky. And here, he had just served almost 10% of his entire season’s hunt!
Soon, the starters were done and dusted and the entrées followed. Whitefish was steamed to perfection and the reindeer entrée was succulent! Though the portion looked small, we realised how scientifically well-worked out they were as we felt stuffed to the gills trying to wade through these delicious entrées!
The dessert listing of blueberries, egg and vanilla hardly did justice to the intricacy of this masterpiece – it was a double whammy of a tart shell and a meringue! The explosion of flavours of the blueberry filling and the creamy sauce together left us all smacking our lips in delight!
Our last course, another dessert, was rustled up with light, sweet-sour cloudberries and heavy, almost too sugary dark chocolate. The combined taste was amazing! As I licked off the last remnants of this awesome dessert, I casually looked at my watch and realised we had been witnessing a showman for three hours! Yes, our dinner had gone on till 9 pm! This dinner made me recall the oft-heard phrase –
‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach‘
Given that such prodigious, almost inspirational innovations are a norm for Johan and Kaptensgården, it is little wonder that this distinctive eatery has been making its way into Scandinavia’s premier and authoritative dining guide – The White Guide – year after year!
If you enjoy magical meals and happen to be around Luleå in Sweden, do make your way to Johan’s Kaptensgården in Gammelstad. But do remember to call +46-920-25 70 17 and make a booking first!
954 33 Gammelstad