In the far South of Sweden, just over the Oresund bridge from Denmark, the rural area of Skåne – dubbed the breadbasket of Sweden – is a place of undulating, stitched blanket fields, sandy beaches, boat-bobbing harbours, forests, fruit orchards, vineyards and tiny red roofed villages that hide world class restaurants serving menus that reflect the area’s field to fork munificence. Skane is a sensational food spot but the area still feels sneakily under-the-radar, stripped of the pretentions or waiting lists that usually attend such an exciting and delicious food scene.
This is what you should do: fly to Copenhagen then rent a car and drive over the bridge to Skåne. Your first stop is Malmo, the area’s city centre and a former industrial town that has a lively and unpretentious restaurant offering that is as exciting as anything in Copenhagen. (Malmo is the Brooklyn to CPH’s Manhattan.) Restaurants here all do that listing of dishes by individual ingredients ‘Trout. Caraway. Potato’ etc. that is the new Nordic standard – a cuisine and ingredients-first, seasonal approach to cooking that has inspired a million menus across the globe. But Malmo is a city that isn’t trying too hard. There’s something winningly understated about Saltimporten Canteen’s lunch menus of farm-supplied ox cheek stew, cauliflower with leek and charred pear sorbet, all served at long communal tables – the restaurant is closed for dinner so the chefs can have a family life. While, Lyran, a self-styled ‘urban inn’, is currently the hottest table to book, showcasing the best local ingredients - white asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic and rhubarb - and their producers.
Next, head into the countryside. There are charming, owner-operated places to stay like Mellby Klockargård, with seven cheerful bedrooms decorated with flea market finds, or Talldungen, a converted traditional Swedish house with a garden strung with fairy lights and comfortable rooms. Even the smallest B&B seems to boast an imaginative country kitchen. For instance, organic farm Angavallen, which boasts rigorous eco-credentials and animal practices (“our calves want for nothing”) and, of course, a great restaurant where the food miles on your plate are in metres. The latest star is the recently opened Wanas Restaurant Hotel on the Wanas Estate. The estate boasts a medieval castle, organic farm and a sculpture park. Rooms are comfortable but minimalist, all the better to show off the Scandinavian mid-century design classics furnishing the rooms and restaurant.
You’ll need to walk it off, if only to make room for more food. One of the best places is the 12km beach at Sandhammaren, a blissful stretch of Baltic coastline that has white sands to rival the Maldives but a rather more bracing water temperature. Take a picnic and bed down in the dunes for an afternoon. Another favourite: the forests at Stenshuvud, a national park with well-marked trails that climb up rocky heights, the exertion worth it for the incredible views of the wave-bashed shore below. Meanwhile, every village seems to contain a small design store or art gallery set up by a creative who fled to the countryside from Stockholm or Copenhagen – check out Pumphuset, a dynamic contemporary gallery, museum and restaurant in an old pump house in the fishing village of Borstahusen. And as you drive the area, make sure you look out for Loppis signs advertising yard sales or flea markets held in old barns. Here, where farmhouses and estates sell furniture, antique linens and ceramics, treasures can be found.
Where to eat:
Saltimporten Canteen; Grimsbygatan 24, 211 20 Malmö
Lyran; Simrishamnsgatan 36A, 214 35 Malmö
Olof Victors; Glemminge, Österlenvägen 86, 270 21 Glemmingebro
Soderberg & Sara Stenunsbageri; Regementsgatan 2, 271 35 Ystad
Horte Brygga; Hörte Hamn, 274 54 Skivarp
Daniel Berlin; Diligensvägen 21, 273 92 Skåne Tranås
Where to stay:
Mellby Klockargård; Mellby backe 10, 277 35 Kivik
Talldungen; Bengtemöllevägen 7, 273 50 Brösarp
Angavallen; Ängavallensväg 17-9, 235 91 Vellinge
Wanas Restaurant Hotel; Hässleholmsvägen, 289 90 Knislinge