Scandi foodie invasion!
No need to head into Shoreditch, there's an influx of Nordic cool right here, with a new raft of groovy cafés and bakeries. Shall we?
I’m a huge fan of all things Scandi – the mid-century modern furniture, the food, the fashion, the darker than dark TV crime dramas, the fact that hygge made it cool to lounge around in one’s PJs all day, Alexander Skarsgård… need I go on?!
So I’m thrilled to report a flurry of Nordic-style activity in our ‘hood. First up there’s NORSK lifestyle store and café in Haddenham, Bucks. If you ever get a Chiltern Railways train from round these parts, you’ll probably know the Little Italy Espresso Bars, which serve up coffee far better than you’d normally expect from a station caff. The owners Cathrine and Simon expanded their empire with the launch of NORSK last week, a passion project for Norwegian expat Cathrine.
It’s crammed with super-stylish Scandi homewares – blankets, candles, baskets, bowls, even pot brushes (who knew they could be cool?), coffee table books, beauty products from Danish brand Meraki and all manner of gifts and knick-knacks. It’s well worth a browse and – yeah yeah, I know it’s early – but a a super way to shop local for Christmas presents. And you should make time for brunch, lunch or fika while you’re there – new chef Gerd Greaves has a Michelin-starred pedigree, having previously worked at The Oxford Kitchen, The Sir Charles Napier and L’Ortolan in Reading. He’ll whip you up a classic Scandi open-faced sandwich or his not-entirely-Scandi-but-still-delicious coconut and lentil daal.
There’s also a clutch of Scandi dining options in Oxford. Joining KuPP in John Lewis in the Westgate is recently opened Danish bakery Ole & Steen, with its first UK branch outside of London. Then there’s Skogen Kitchen, just off the Oxford’s High Street (go down King Edward St, by Sweaty Betty). I’ve yet to visit (watch this space) but their Instagram has me salivating which is always a good sign. Also new on the block is Hamblin on Iffley Road, a bakery run by a lady with Swedish family connections who previously worked at London hotspots E5 Bakehouse and Moro, as well as in Scandinavia. Be warned, it’s so popular they tend to run out of sourdough and rye loaves by mid morning, so chop chop!
Fancy creating your own Scandi cuisine? Then stockpile smoked salmon and log onto cookery site Nordic Kitchen Stories, run by Marlow-based Louise, whose beautiful dishes are inspired by her Swedish mother. She’ll have you whipping up cinnamon buns in no time.