Local rhubarb and ginger jam from Golden Fig
Kringle from Denny's
Wedding cake from Taste of Scandinavia
Olsen herring from Coastal Seafoods
House-smoked rollepulse and ham from Ingebretsen's
Sausages from Ready Meats
Strawberry fruit spread from Native Harvest
Weisswurst and other sausages from Kramarczuk
Hope, Rochdale, and Nordic Creamery butters from Seward Co-op
Marianne's Kitchen allspice-pickled beets from Golden Fig
Bread and Pastries
The most important small fact for a Nordic food fan in the Twin Cities to understand is this: Blackey’s, the legendary nordeast Minneapolis Danish bakery, did not vanish from theface of the earth, as many assume. Its recipes were bought by Denny’s, a Bloomington bakery south of I-494 and west of Portland Avenue. All the Blackey’s treats—immense buttery kringle, cinnamon-rich kransekage, and the oh-so-perfect Danish—are available daily. Additional specialty items show up for the holidays. 7840 5th Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-881-4445
The Swedish limpa rye from Grandma’s in White Bear Lake is an everyday delight: A little candied citron is scattered through the good tangy rye and adds just enough sweet-and-tart surprise to remind you of Christmas, but not in a full-throttle way. If you want full throttle, stop by Grandma’s during the holidays for cardamom bread, julekake Norwegian Christmas bread, Norwegian kneip bread, Oslo rye, Swedish rye, and even kransekage bars, in case you’d like to revisit the taste of a proper Scandinavian wedding. 1765 Buerkle Rd., White Bear Lake, 651-779-0707; 2184B 4th St., White Bear Lake, 651-762-2900
Soile Anderson founded the Taste of Scandinavia Bakeries nearly 15 years ago and eventually sold all but the St. Anthony Park one, keeping it as her taste of home. Now every day you can go there for a Finnish breakfast (perinteiset) of salmon, herring, cheese, crisp-bread, and much more, and leave with a Finnish rye as heavy as a ham (in a good way) or the renowned strawberry Scandinavian torte. 2264 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-645-9181
With three suburban locations, Taste of Scandinavia has the area’s widest selection of Scandinavian pastries, bar none. You’ll find Norwegian almond kringler,cardamom almond pulla rolls and longer pulla braids, three sorts of Scandinavian rye breads, Norwegian milk dinner rolls, and more. That’s not all: The cafes attached to the bakeries sell Norwegian and Swedish breakfasts (so those of Ole and Lena–style “mixed marriages” can dine together), including Swedish pyttipanna. Lunch and dinner offerings include Swedish hamburgers (with Swedish meatbally gravy, of course), Norwegian Jarlsberg-topped “Jarlsburgers,” lefse sandwiches, and, of course, Swedish meatball dinners. 845 Village Center Dr., North Oaks, 651-482-8285; 2900 Rice St., Little Canada, 651-482-8876; 401 W. 98th St., Bloomington, 952-358-7490
Cheese and Butter
Icelandic skyr (rhymes with here) is a fresh cheese that’s halfway between a yogurt and crème fraîche. It’s ubiquitous in Nordic countries, served with berries for dessert. This new version, made from the milk of a herd of sheep that grazes due west of the Twin Cities, is a treat straight from the Viking culinary repertoire.
Bread and butter are as important to Scandinavian cuisine as tomatoes and olive oil are to Italian cooking. Possibly the best butter in America is made by Al and Sarah Bekkum and their six children, who live on the land their family homesteaded in Wisconsin in 1917 after emigrating from Norway. Their butters are made at their on-farm dairy. Look especially for the Harvest Gold, made of the milk from cows grazing on summer wildflowers, and the “Spesiell Kremen,” a best-of-the-best, tangy, cultured version.
Cheese is a key element of the Scandinavian table, and our best local cheeses present the wild taste of local meadows. Those from Rochdale Farms and Uplands Cheese Co. are truly Scandinavian wild in spirit.
Sausage, Meat, Fish
Ingebretsen’s makes all its own sausages—from hot dogs to the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish sorts—from meat from local Minnesota farms. It even makes old-fashioned specialties, such as lamb rollepulse, an intensely gamy and savory dried sausage that’s something between Italian braesola and headcheese. It’s so authentic, and so rare even in Scandinavia, that native Scandinavians have been known to smuggle it home in their luggage from U.S. trips. 1601 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-729-9333
A Northeast Minneapolis institution since 1946, Ready Meats sells a wide array of Scandinavian specialties, including its own housemade Swedish potato sausage, Swedish meatballs, lefse, lutefisk, pickled herring, lingonberry sauce, and so on. What, you thought there was only one metro Swedish-specialty butcher? Nope. 3550 NE Johnson St., Mpls., 612-789-2484
Heartland is by no means New Nordic—the chef who oversees the market is of Italian descent. But on the other hand, Heartland is entirely New Nordic, entirely focused as it is on presenting the true product of the northern farm and northern wild for your culinary delight: Try the Mangalitsa prosciutto, lamb terrine, or wild-boar liver sausage beside some house-pickled gooseberries for further insight. 289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536
Minneapolis-based importers since 1910, the Olsen Fish Co. is responsible for most of the United States’ lutefisk and lingonberry imports, plus a good portion of our herring. Olsen specializes in the good-quality, North Atlantic premium variety of herring, and its products can be found in local markets such as Lunds and Byerly’s, in premium markets nationwide, and at just about every Sons of Norway hootenanny. 2115 N. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-287-0838
Nothing says New Nordic like local herring, and Coastal Seafoods, with locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the only place to reliably buy Lake Superior herring, from the ever-improving local fishery. Look for the fish but also for the herring roe, a splendid bright orange, light, and energetic form of caviar. 2330 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-724-7425; 74 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-698-4888, coastalseafoods.com
Pickles and Jellies
Chef Lucia Watson is one of Minnesota’s founding locavores, and the jams, preserves, and jellies offered at the Lucia’s To-Go part of her operation, from plum-fennel ketchup to yellow raspberry jam, are one of the easiest ways imaginable to eat wild. 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-825-9800
North of the Twin Cities stretches an expanse of pine and water that continues unbroken till the Arctic. What the heck is there to eat in there? That’s the question we’d be asking if we were truly eating New Nordic. It’s a question already answered by the Native Americans who call those lands home. The Anishinaabeg people of the northern Minnesota White Earth reservation sell some of those answers online and in local co-ops and stores. The chokecherry syrup is profoundly flavored, winey and deep. The wild rice is unequalled. And the maple syrup is truly gorgeous.
St. Paul’s Golden Fig is widely known for its house-made spice blends, sugars, drink mixes, and vinegars, but the storefront also serves as a gallery for small-scale food artisans. It’s a veritable wonderland of homemade pickles, jams, chocolates, and honeys—honey so good and Nordic-spirited, in fact, that when Gustavus Adolphus needed honey to serve to the king and queen of Sweden for this fall’s visit, Golden Fig is where they got it. 790 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-0144, goldenfig.com
This shop also imports dozens of Scandinavian packaged goods—everything from chocolate and jam to rye crisp and fish spread.
From pastries, cheeses, and meats to toys, clothes, and gifts, get our editors' list of must-try Nordic shops and restaurants across the Twin Cities. GO »