Five years ago, I spent a semester at a particularly Norwegian-influenced university in Northfield, Minnesota, after my parents moved to Minneapolis from Kansas, where I knew nothing of egg coffee or lingonberries. Let me tell you, St. Olaf College ain’t no kind of place for a Scots-Irish girl who still stares bewildered with mouth agape at people who can harmonize.
After meeting 38 guys named Thor Swenson — all wearing ridiculous sweaters — and walking through many a cornea-freezing wind gust while the other Olsens and Nelsons shuffled past me through the snow to practice with their world-renown choir groups, I was happy to hightail it back to Mizzou.
So when a Scandinavian restaurant by the adorable name of The Bachelor Farmer opened up in Minneapolis, I figured it may be just the place to rectify my misgivings about pickled fish and the like.
Here now, is an Instagram recap of the dinner I had with my mama while in town visiting my family.
First off, let us note the blue gingham awnings. If warm wolf urine in a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow spells trouble (if I know anything from History Channel’s Mountain Men), blue gingham is a sure sign of a good things to come.
After one bite of this crispy lefse that was served before dinner, I immediately appealed to the Norse god Odin for forgiveness for ever insulting his people’s eating preferences, and proceeded to gleefully spread salty butter on the beautiful radishes that were grown in the restaurant’s rooftop garden.
In a shining example of Minnesota efficiency, here is the restaurant’s chalkboard that allows customers to purchase glasses of wine from half bottles purchased from other customers.
This salad is made of bibb lettuce, aged goat cheese, cider vinegar and teeny toasted croutons. It’s so painfully simple that it almost as painful to pay for it, but deep down you know it would never taste this good if you made it yourself.
Like Swedish bruschetta, the toasts at TBF are sort of a big deal. The house-baked and toasted slices come out in a silver rack and, in this particular case, a trout spread with arugula, duck livers and watermelon rind pickles that taste as good as any I’ve had here in Georgia.
We liked the toasts so much that we ordered another — this time with duck liver pate, pickled carrots and whole grain mustard.
For our main course we split a piece of bluefish with a corn and summer vegetable salad in a tomato-y vinaigrette. At this point I was in such a state of Scandilirium that I forgot to take close notes on what I was eating. Forgive me. We also had a warm pop-over roll with honey-butter at the behest of our waiter.
In the end, all of the mental preparation I had done to break through my aversion to dill and embrace various meats floating in puddles of lye-like brine, was all for not. It turns out that the IKEA cafeteria menu is not a good barometer of the culinary contributions that Sweden, Norway and Finland have made to the greater world of food.
So instead of meatballs and gravy in serving dishes next to ergonomic shelving units or translucent blobs of salted white fish, I will remember Nordic cuisine as this.
I leave you now with a picture I took at the Minnesota State Fair’s Salem Lutheran Church Swedish Egg Coffee booth.