As a business that is committed to sustainability I hold the utmost respect for IKEA. They are putting solar on most of their stores and have set a goal to use 100 percent renewable energy for its global facilities by 2020. That said, a trip to IKEA, which involves leaving my North County coastal bubble and making the trek down to Mission Valley and the land of chain stores does not always sound that appealing. That and the fact that IKEA always seems to be insanely busy and makes you navigate the entire store to reach the checkout stand can make it even less appealing.
That said, they have fun, affordable, well-designed products and their café and mini-market full of Swedish food makes the trip worthwhile. I always time that trip to IKEA around a stop for their meatballs on egg noodles with Lingonberry jam in their cafeteria. Lately I’ve been stopping in the market on the way out and loading up on Swedish delights that are fun to have around the house.
I’ll get back to the meatballs when we reach the dinner portion of the column but let’s start our day of IKEA food at home at breakfast with some Swedish style cereal: the Musli with dried berries. While there are a lot of domestic cereal makers that make similar fruit, grain and nut concoctions, something about authentic Musli from the source just makes me feel all-European. Yes, I know, it’s the simple things.
Skipping ahead, my lunch IKEA pick is more of an accessory but a fine one at that with the Gurka Inlagd organic pickles. I’m not sure what it is about these slices of goodness, but they are all that and then some. I put them on a turkey baguette sandwich with a dollop of mayo and I was a happy lunchtime eater.
A mid-afternoon snack of the Knackebrod Multigrain Crispbread and Ost Herrgard, a well-ripened semi-hard cheese that is rich and somewhat bitter always hits the spot. It’s a perfect snack to carry me over to the main event later on.
And of course, the main event is dinner that consists of a bag of frozen Kottbullar Meatballs that make for a quick and easy meal. They are quite simple to prepare, just heat and serve them along with the Graddsas cream sauce mix that requires water and whipping cream. I also prefer extra wide egg noodles; sour cream and the Sylt Lingon Lingonberry jam of course. The lingonberries function like cranberry sauce does with turkey and I consider them an essential part of the experience.
While it may seem like an excessive use of carbs, I included the Rosti Potato Fritters in my last meatball extravaganza. These are pre-cooked potato pancakes that just need to be browned in some hot oil. I could see these being used to compliment any meal where a quick starch is needed.
For dessert there are several options and I would also consider any of these great day or nighttime snacks. The Paj Rabarber Rhubarb crumble pies are frozen yet thaw quickly and are individual portions. I remember picking our neighbors rhubarb as a kid and eating them raw with sugar. I’ll wrap this up with what I consider to be one of the finest dipping snack combinations I’ve come across. Choklad Not Hazelnut Chocolate is a wonderful chocolate bar with a perfect amount of crunch going on. Kex Biscuits remind me somewhat of animal crackers in the shape of letters that are taken to a higher level with dipped in Chokladkrokant Bredbar, a Nutella like chocolate spread with caramel candy pieces. I’m embarrassed to admit I almost put away a box of Kex and the chocolate spread in one sitting. I simply could not stop.
Seafood has a big presence at the IKEA market and while I did not pick any up this time, they had a nice selection of smoked salmon, Herring, roe (fish eggs), crab and salmon spread and seaweed.
Beverages are represented as well and the ever-present Lingonberry has a strong presence in this area as well. It’s in syrup form and mixed in with just about everything. There is also a sparkling pear beverage and an Elderflower drink. Several kinds of coffee are available as well.
So there you have it. A trip to IKEA can be more than just furniture and accessories; it’s a chance to explore the cuisine of Sweden. Make it an educational experience and have the kids do some research on all these items and why they are so prevalent to the Swedes. You can find the menu online at ikea.com
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at [email protected] or ( 858) 395-6905.