I had read that there was a place in Berkeley for Scandinavian food and gifts and so finally this summer, I dragged the kids and grandma to Nordic House on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. My mom is part Norwegian, so that was one of the reasons I was curious to check it out, but also I think Simran and I have both become a bit enamored with Nordic food since dipping our big toes into the cuisine over the last year. It’s kind of funny to think that things like creamy potatoes with dill, smoked salmon, little open faced sandwiches (Danish smørrebrød), crackers (knäckebröd) could seem so exotic compared to Thai curries and Indian biriyanis, but in our case they do. It’s much easier around here to find Shanghai dumplings, South Indian dosas and Salvadoran papusas than an authentic Scandinavian smorgasbord and when cooking at home we both tend to gravitate towards our comfort foods (Southeast Asian for Simran, Mediterranean for me).
Nordic house was a really fun find and it is totally worth checking out next time you find yourself in Berkeley. They have gorgeous, brightly colored table linens; a great selection of children’s books; Christmas decorations and lots of fun little gifts. I’ll be making a return trip to stock up on supplies for a holiday glögg (mulled wine) party. And as far as the food goes (always my favorite part) there was a lot to tempt a curious eater: jams, licorice, cookies, knäckebröd of all types, pickles, mustards, lefse (thin Norwegian potato pancakes), herring, sausages, cheeses….. And they have a small deli in the back which serves up a pretty epic roast beef sandwich. We of course grabbed one to take along to our excursion to Tilden Park and I had to use all my will power to resist sneaking a big bite in the car. My experience of this sandwich was in line with my other brushes with Scandinavian cuisine — familiar but with an interesting twist, in this case a hefty layer of thinly sliced roast beef on a good roll, but trading the standard lettuce, pickles and tomatoes for pickled cucumbers, dill havarti and crispy onions. This is a really great sandwich worth making a detour for, but if driving to Berkeley is not in the cards for you this might be one you could try duplicating at home. I know we will.
- Swedish Sides: Creamed Potatoes with Dill and Cucumber Salad
- Easy as 1-2-3: Swedish Hardtack
- Swedish Meatballs
- Tokyo Fish Market is another one of our favorite ethnic markets in Berkeley