When I found out my fellow Blogathoner Alexandra Grabbe serves a traditional Swedish breakfast every morning to guests at Chez Sven, the eco-friendly bed & breakfast that she owns with her husband Sven, I saw a cultural food lesson waiting to happen in this week’s interview. Today, Alexandra talks about making yogurt and salmon pate, entertaining for groups, and the food scene on Cape Cod. Also, take a look at some more of her gorgeous pictures, both of Chez Sven and the Wellfleet, Cape Cod area, and visit her blog, where she writes about living in and running a bed & breakfast on Cape Cod. (All images courtesy of Alexandra Grabbe.)
My Morning Chocolate: What is a traditional Swedish breakfast, and why did you decide to serve this at your Chez Sven, your Bed and Breakfast?
Alexandra Grabbe from Chez Sven: I think I have to get my husband to answer this question, because he’s the Swede and the main reason why we offer my version of a modern Swedish breakfast. Here’s Sven: “Porridge and egg. People also eat bread with ham or cheese. The younger generation has cereal, the way we do in the USA, and yogurt.”
Actually, few people request Swedish breakfast. Only intrepid travelers. Most of the time I simply serve homemade granola, fresh fruit, and organic yogurt, which I make myself, along with fresh baked bread, scones or muffins. I try to serve as much organic food as possible, since it’s so much better for health.
MMC: Wow, you make your own yogurt! That sounds fun. Can you tell us about the process?
AG: It is really easy to make yogurt. I start with whole organic milk. You heat it to a certain temperature, add starter, stir and pour into glasses. Then you plug in the machine and leave overnight. I used to use buffalo yogurt for the starter, but then it became too hard to find, so I had to switch to regular organic yogurt. All you need is a large spoonful.
MMC: I’ll definitely try making yogurt in the future now. The salmon pate sounds great too, but also expensive. Is this something people eat every day in Sweden or is it for special occasions?
AG: The pate is easy to make. We only offer it in summer with sliced tomatoes from the garden and fresh bread. Fishermen on Cape Cod make a traditional bluefish pate. I adapted the recipe to smoked salmon instead:
Chez Sven Salmon Paté
1 pound smoked salmon filet
¼ pound cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Cognac
1 – 2 tablespoons minced scallions
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Remove bones and flake salmon. Place salmon flakes in blender with other ingredients. Blend this mixture. Taste and correct seasoning. Chill and serve on crackers or freeze.
MMC: Since you’re professionally serving breakfast to a small crowd every day, do you have any entertaining tips for people who want to serve a traditional Swedish breakfast/brunch (or any kind of brunch) at home?
AG: I only serve two couples at a time at breakfast, since they eat outside in summer, which is our busiest season. I will join them at the table if guests are eating inside the house, since there are more chairs. My only tip is to keep the conversation going and serve yummy food, which makes everyone happy. Our fruit salad is always a hit. Lots of innkeepers do not bother to make it fresh every day or to include organic fruit. This isn’t always an option, but I do try.
MMC: What’s the food scene like in Cape Cod?
AG: Farmers’ markets are relatively new here. We do have one, in Orleans, on Saturday mornings, but it is twenty miles away and traffic gets so bad in summer that I can rarely go. We have local cranberries, but you have to be sure to buy them organic or consume heavy doses of pesticides, and wild blueberries. In summer, I buy produce from Hatch’s, on the town hall parking lot.
Wellfleet’s second industry is shellfishing, so great oysters are available. There are three fish stores in town in the summer. Elspeth Hay, wife of the owner of one of them, writes a local food blog.
Thank you, Alexandra! For the latest news on Cape Cod, visit Alexandra’s blog Chez Sven Blog: Wellfleet Today.