Food Tourism in Sweden – The Culinary Paradise of Bjäre Peninsula

What I eat is as important as the air I breathe. Cooking is my sanctuary, my experimental lab, and my happy moment, meditative in a sense. Knowing my area and what it has to offer is therefore paramount. We spend a few months in Båstad, south of Sweden, every year and already, on my premier visit, I went on a farm tour. You see, Båstad is a town on the Bjäre peninsula, which is part of Skåne; a region of open landscapes, abundant fields, first-class soil, and a rich food culture. In essence, the pantry of Sweden, and the perfect place for food tourism.

Båstad attracts vast crowds during the summer, drawn to the beach and the international tennis tournament. As of late, it’s made a concerted effort to diversify the visitor profile with nature and gastronomy related events, in other words, develop more sustainable tourism flows. Food tourists can be a powerful catalyst, linking cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions. When promoting regional specialities and ingredients, destinations create a unique aspect for travellers to choose a particular spot. In addition, it helps to preserve diverse ecosystems and acts as a support mechanism for local farmers.

The hunt for the finest ingredients is something I grew up with. As a little girl, I joined my mother on her food tour where she had a specialty store for most items on her list. The meat came from a local butcher, the fish from a family friend/fisherman, vegetables and fruits depended on the season. And let’s not forget the dairy farm, and the fragrant spices, fresh-ground and sold in gunny sacks. My mother’s philosophy on food boiled down to two things, which now form the foundation of my cuisine;

  1. You get out what you put in, so choose wisely.

  2. The importance of local and seasonal ingredients.

Field of wheat

Growth season in Bjäre

Båstad attracts vast crowds during the summer, drawn to the beach and the international tennis tournament. As of late, it’s made a concerted effort to diversify the visitor profile with nature and gastronomy related events, in other words, develop more sustainable tourism flows. Food tourists can be a powerful catalyst, linking cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions. When promoting regional specialities and ingredients, destinations create a unique aspect for travellers to choose a particular spot. In addition, it helps to preserve diverse ecosystems and acts as a support mechanism for local farmers.

Artisan food entrepreneurs

In Bjäre there is plenty of artisanal craftsmanship in both food and beverage, with new entrants each year. Earlier we covered the amazing wineries popping up in the region, producing magnificent wine. Today we are meeting entrepreneurs and foodies with a zeal for innovation and high-quality products. We will focus on cheese, meat, and chocolate, and I guarantee feelings of hunger while you read and zoom in on the pictures.

But first, let’s hear from celebrated SOEDER Countryhouse & Kitchen, located in the heart of Bjäre, and run by Marianne Bondesson Bittel and Michael Bittel, both with professional experience in the hospitality and culinary industries. The boutique hotel, housed in a centuries-old country house, is rural heritage defined, and renovated in a mix between Nordic design and southern inspiration. With their background and Bjäre’s sterling reputation, the stars aligned. Who better to give us perspective on food tourism in this part of Sweden?

Farm building with sunset reflected in windows

SOEDER Countryhouse & Kitchen. Credit: Visit Båstad

What made you choose the peninsula and the particular property for your location?

Besides its great culinary variety and stunning nature, Bjäre has a long tradition of tourism with a well-developed infrastructure and unique possibilities to turn our dream of a sustainable boutique hotel and truly personal hospitality into a reality.

We believe a century-old house can never be owned; instead, we feel bound to carefully preserve the property and the natural surroundings while we enjoy the privilege of living and working here.

Why has Bjäre become a food Tourism destination in sweden?

A peninsula is the perfect place for a broad range of food production. With a favourable climate and a beautiful coastline, it has, for generations, been home to both fishers and farmers. A rural heart surrounded by the sea.

First potatoes, now wineries. How do you see the region developing?

We believe Bjäre will stay true to premium quality and local handcraft. Wine plays an important role, but we remain convinced that a growing selection of natural products creates a sustainable poly-culture across the peninsula.

….

Thank you, Marianne and Michael. We appreciate your insights and look forward to visiting you next summer.

Now, get ready to join me for an odyssey among local entrepreneurs and farmers, who are defining the food culture in the region. Think of the tour as a 3-course meal, starting with the appetiser, cheese, followed by the main dish, meat, and last but not least, handmade chocolate as dessert.

Grassy valley with farms in background. Bjäre Peninsula is a great place for food tourism in Sweden.

Sinarps valley in Bjäre peninsula

Ebbessons Dairy Farm – Artisanal and Award-winning Cheese

Cheese is great at any time of day, and depending on the type, you can serve it before, during, or after dinner. The diversity is mind-boggling, and I ask you, how good is a piece of brie on a warm slice of sourdough baguette? I’m too excited as we weave between the rolling hills and fields of the Bjäre landscape. We turn into a tiny road, the kind where you pray not to meet oncoming traffic, and soon arrive at a cosy dairy farm shop in the middle of a big farming complex called Ebbessons.

The cows eye us with suspicion as we inhale animal odour mixed with hay. We’re greeted by artisanal cheese-maker, Camilla, flanked by fresh fruits and vegetables. We are, in fact, visiting one of the farms that auction off the first potatoes of the season, a huge annual event in Sweden where they command a hefty price. They are the star of the Bjäre region, the reason it earned its food tourism reputation in Sweden.

Potatoes plucked from the ground

The famous Bjäre potatoes

The Ebbeson farm is Camilla’s husband’s family legacy. Other than potatoes, they produce and sell milk, vegetables, berries, and pumpkins. Years ago, Camilla got the idea to expand their offering. With cows in abundance, introducing cheese seemed like a natural evolution, only needing to buy specific bacteria for each type. She quit her job at a pre-school and went all in, taking courses around Sweden to learn everything about cheese-making. Camilla found the process fascinating; amazed by the craft and how a few simple ingredients, milk, culture, salt, and rennet, create endless varieties of cheeses.

Armed with a new skill set, they cleared space in one of the farm buildings and installed the machinery needed for the manufacturing process, next to the existing boutique. After a period of trial-and-error with a white mould variety, Camilla found success with blue cheese.

“You need to get creative, be patient and a little stubborn,” says Camilla, content with a mix of moral ingredients to go along with the physical.

Fast forward, and today, she makes seven kinds of cheeses, three of which have won artisan awards not only in Sweden but also in the Nordics. Let’s do a who’s who of the most popular ones.

Ebbesson Eldost®️ – My favourite at Ebbessons. It’s the biggest seller and a national award winner as well. The cheese is a registered trademark by Sweden’s farm dairies and made from 100% Swedish milk from cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, or a mixture of these. The Eldost®️ comes in a round shape, and when you bite, it has a perfectly balanced texture, which squeaks between your teeth. There is a buttery taste, and similar to a halloumi, you can eat it raw, fried or grilled. Once you fry, it turns soft with nutty caramel tones. I recommend eating it sautéed in a burger bun with some homemade apple chutney, thin-sliced crunchy silver onions, and roasted potatoes on the side. Mouthwatering!

Rubin Kittost – Another award winner, Rubin is an aged cheese, needing storage for 2-5 months in a special room until properly developed. Categorised as a semi-soft washed rind cheese, the Rubin needs moisture, which helps to cultivate unique and edible bacteria culture as it ages, the cause of its distinct flavour. It has a smooth texture and mild acidic taste.

Blå Pärlan (Blue Pearl) – a gold award winner, matured for at least three months, defined by plenty of blue mould. I would describe it as semi-soft, crumbly, with a creamy consistency.

You can also find brie-like white mould cheese and aged hard cheeses, all made in an artisanal manner with natural milk from their own cows, and without any unnecessary additives. Will there be more varieties in the near future? Camilla is experimenting with mozzarella, she reveals. Fingers crossed, as I am always on the hunt for the perfect local cheese for my sourdough pizzas.

Camilla’s passion and entrepreneurial drive has made Ebbessons a must visit stop on any food tour on the Bjäre peninsula. Now, another hero in the region is ready to serve up the main course, meat.

Lindegrens – Premium quality butcher and organic farm

“Supposedly, the whole thing started with us getting a cow as a wedding gift, but time has blurred the facts.” – Lina Lindegren

Lina points towards a herd of red cattle, congregated in a green valley where they gorge on lush grass. “Come, let’s say hi,” she says and leads the way on a narrow, downward sloping path, the wet meadow making me regret my choice of footwear. The Sinarp Valley and the Bjäre Peninsula is otherwise a hiker’s paradise, interspersed with forests, rolling hills, idyllic streams of water, and plenty of animals. And it’s a hotspot for food tourism in Sweden.

A sign by the road with green rolling hills in the background

Lindegrens farm and shop

While we descend, I continue probing the past. Lina and her husband, David, didn’t inherit a ready-made farm going back generations. For them, the lure of rural life came after 10 years of living in the academic city of Lund, where they met as students at the Faculty of Engineering. They nurtured a dream of moving to the country and becoming self-sufficient, with perhaps a few chickens and sheep. Already then, their principles of responsible and organic farming had formed, which explains the state of operations today. With a powerful vision, they have turned a vague desire into a solid business with a reputation for ultra-high quality.

The evolution of the farm

“That evening, we tasted meat like we never experienced before.” – Lina Lindegren

Lina recounts a meeting with the same neighbour reputed to have given the cow after she and David got married, as we arrive at our destination. The Swedish Red Polled is a domestic breed of cattle, used for both meat and milk. They are photogenic, calm, and mostly concerned with grazing. They are a resilient bunch, going up and down the steep hills, feeding on the natural grass. That’s it, no artificial food. And as we will learn, this makes all the difference when it comes to taste. After cows, they added chickens, pigs, and sheep. It’s become a family affair, with their children helping on weekends. While David works full time, Lina maintains a landscape architecture job on the side.

A group of reddish cows grazing on a meadow

Swedish Red Polled cattle breed

Lindegrens have around 100 animals on the farm, 25 of which are the Red Polled, who all walk together as a pack, including calves with their mothers, unlike big farms where they get separated. Respect for the creatures, giving them a good life, also means that they have time to mature and grow at their own pace. They never butcher them before two years of age, usually later, and only after the fat on the cow has marbled nicely.

Once their dream of a rural existence came to fruition, Lina and David, now in their 19th year, implemented their values and ideas on sustainable farming. Through active participation in environmental organisations in Lund, sustainability remains their most important driving force. The first and most obvious question is around meat itself, associated with enormous carbon emissions.

Lindegren’s small-scale farm is different. The area used for grazing has no use for food production because of its topography. The entire operation runs on organic principles, and they have the certification to prove it. By having the cows roam free, it contributes to biological diversity, as some plants only survive through continuous grazing of the land. Lina reveals the one thing which causes her distress; weeds. As they don’t use pesticides, it takes manual removal. To maintain the sustainability benefits, they have no intent to increase the size of the farm, preferring to guarantee land and access to feed for the animals. They produce everything on-site and to keep transports to a minimum as the vast majority of their sales go to the local community. The rest is for regional delicatessens.

Stream of water creating a small waterfall

The idyllic Lindegrens farm

As an occasional meat eater and sustainability interested person myself, I often reflect on this issue. Ultimately, I adhere to my mantra of only choosing the highest quality. In short, consume less but better. And now it’s time to show you why I shop at Lindegrens.

A local and premium butcher

“Animals that eat natural grass, as opposed to manufactured food, give you the same amino acids as fish do.” – David Lindegren

Once we donned our white lab coats and hairnets, David took us for an inside tour. The first stop is the cold room, a four degree environment where whole sides of cow and pig hang on metallic hooks. David explains their discovery of how the meat of the red cows only needs salt and pepper, no additional spices, as the slow-growing animals and dry-age process produce an abundance of flavour.

David points to the fat, explaining how the grass-fed cows have a yellow-hue, and how taste, texture, and smell indicate how the animal has lived. Aside from the Swedish Red Polled, he recommends Angus, Jersey, and Highland cattle for premium meat. For a great end result, it’s more complicated. The complete process of butchering, storing, and hanging has to have a coherent vision and attention to quality.

As we step out of the cold room, we’re greeted by the butcher, busy cutting up chuck and brisket. His movements are swift and precise, with a knowledge of meat so extensive he could easily tell what cut of the animal he’s eating in a blind test. He says while they have a lot of customers, they eat less quantity. The focus on premium experiences has made the purchase of more expensive choices more common.

The Boutique of Fine Foods

Residents from the Båstad and Bjäre region flock to Lindegrens. With an impeccable reputation for superior taste, competence, and friendly service, they have built a loyal following. The place is a feast for the eyes, the focal point a meticulously arranged showcase of vibrant red pieces of meat, showcasing the finest cuts and prime selections. Behind the glass counter, rich hues of top-quality beef, lamb, and other meats, each piece trimmed and presented with precision. The tantalising array of marbled steaks and succulent roasts reflects craftsmanship and commitment to excellence.

Lindegrens also creates their own charcuterie products with Italian and French influence. You can find cured ham, air-dried and dry-salted salamis, sausages, Coppa (similar in texture to Prosciutto), Panchetta, and Lardo, all done the traditional way without additives or smoking. David’s eyes light up as he speaks tenderly about the buttery taste of a Coppa with fat and perfect maturity. He compares charcuterie production to wine because of the many factors that impact the result. Quality depends on moulding, humidity, and how fast acidity drops. It varies from week to week.

Pieces of Panchetta hanging in cellar

Panchetta

Apart from meat, the boutique offers fresh eggs, vegetables, and premium third-party products such as flour, honey, cookware, spices, and food related books. Through a glass section of the floor we catch a glimpse of several dry-aged sides, hanging in a neat pattern. Time for the basement tour!

Underground treasures

The ageing room can’t be too humid, or too dry, it’s a delicate balance. David shows us a Caccotorini, a small salami fermenting in a heated cupboard. To get lactic acids and bacteria to grow, the temperature must go up, which translates to taste. The acidity level (pH) has to drop to create a safe and hygienic product. Although they have all kinds of machines for cutting, chopping, and mixing, artisanal charcuterie requires human hands in every step.

The second space is the maturity room, for cured hams like the famous Spanish Jamon. Big ones can take 26-27 months of ageing, dropping around 35% of their weight in the process. The smell gives a clue to know if they are on the right track. If the fermentation hasn’t worked and it’s too humid, a bad ammonia aroma lingers. David says you have to be present in all phases, using your senses to feel, smell, look, listen, and taste your way to success. There are no shortcuts, the animals have to be the correct age and fatness state for anything to work.

Humidity is the biggest challenge, hence the need for the underground rooms with big, thick walls providing the desired 70-74%. If too low, the products dry on the outside without getting done in the middle. Healthy white moulds develop taste. Green is ok, whereas black is undesirable. Lastly, we head to the salt room. Hams lie in the brine, a front line defence to avoid rotten meat, followed by a long period of drying.

The tour is at its end, and it’s been educational, fun, and inspiring. David and Lina listened to their hearts and minds, setting up a farm based on their principles, and with an unrelenting focus on their vision, hard work, and desire for top quality, the results are nothing less than spectacular.

While I still have access to David’s expertise, I round off the interview by asking him for some concrete tips on how to select your meats.

Meat recommendation from the expert

If you want to try something new, instead of a safe bet like tenderloin, David recommends the flank steak and the bottom sirloin. And if you’re feeling adventurous, go with the hanger steak, or the butcher steak, which has a longer frying period. It’s a muscle with fine fibres and has heaps of taste.

Barbecue – give the flat iron steak a chance. It’s very tender, perhaps not so famous among amateurs, but foodies know it well. Rumproast and heart of the rib also come recommended.

Burgers – don’t waste chuck on burger patties, go with brisket instead.

Meatballs – we are in Sweden after all. Ground beef alone works, but for authentic, juicy Swedish meatballs, you need a mix of beef and pork minced meat.

Every year in September as it’s time to say goodbye to the beautiful Swedish summer, I head to the forest and forage lingonberries, pickle some local Västeråsgurka (cucumber), and together with Bjäre potatoes, prepare the perfect Swedish meatballs, using meat from Lindegrens, of course.

Plate with Swedish meatballs, lingonberry, and potatoes.

Swedish Meatballs with Bjäre potatoes and lingonberry

Now that’s what I call a savoury delight! But, the meal doesn’t end there, so keep enough room for some handmade chocolate.

Chocolaterie Båstad – beans, inspiration, and simplicity

A few minutes outside Båstad, nestled between the forest and the sea, a centuries-old garden and park complex spreads out like an abundant buffet table, each spot as alluring as the next. Norrvikens Trädgårdar is top tourist draw, both domestic and international visitors attracted by the splendid displays or flowers, water features, and trees. Here, you also find Chocolaterie Båstad, a café run by chocolate lover Carina Lovén, serving delightful cake, sourdough pizzas, shrimp sandwiches, and ice cream. But it’s the handmade chocolate which has won Carina praise and fame in the region. I buy bags of the chocolate chips myself, perfect for various baking endeavours. The premium taste struck me from the start, and I’m eager to hear Carina’s story, and perhaps try a sample or two.

Chocolate destiny

“Payroll administrator wasn’t my dream job.”

Carina is a local and knows Bjäre inside out. One Christmas 8 years ago she craved chocolate pralines. She knew the quality she desired didn’t exist in the region, but had no will to drive to the bigger cities along the coast. At the time, her job as a payroll administrator failed to satisfy her. She had yet to find her “thing” in life, something that would allow her creativity to be unleashed. As it turned out, rolling up her sleeves and making her own pralines for the holidays started a process within. The desire to create and follow her own path without compromise, found a match in the world of chocolates.

Carina quit her job and went all in on a vision for a small-scale, top ingredient chocolaterie where she would make chocolate taste the way she wanted it. With 3 children, pretty much everyone thought she’d gone mad, but it only fuelled her into a “I will show them” mission. With belief and passion she contacted Skottorp Castle, who had a cheese-making facility, and eventually ran their café, selling chocolates as part of the concept. Word travelled and soon customers came for the chocolate that had become the talk of the town. But, when the castle got new owners, her contract ended. Would the dream end already?

Woman holding chocolate pralines

Carina Lovén of Chocolaterie Båstad

Fresh beginnings at Norrviken

“I choose not to sell anything I don’t like.”

6 years ago, Carina found a perfect replacement, a space at Norrviken, which needed renovation, but as a known destination, it had good customer flow. The move became a success, outgrowing her initial anticipation. The café shares the sustainable ethos of Norrviken Gardens, and has become a welcome addition to the site.

Carina’s idea of perfect chocolate is simplicity defined. Use as few ingredients as possible. She doesn’t add palm oil or aromas, it has to be all natural. Other than the beans where she uses Swiss suppliers with responsible cocoa sourcing, everything has to come from Sweden. She prefers local options, like Malmö Chocolate Factory, rather than importing organic or eco products.

It takes 3-4 days to make pralines. First she paints the form, inspired by things she likes, for example, a colour, nature, something she saw in a shop or on TV. Next, she moulds the forms by hand, as it’s important to get the right temperature. After she mixes the chocolate truffle with the flavours, it’s time to put a lid on top of the pralines to prevent bacteria from entering. The process is painstaking and requires a lot of planning. And it needs to be done in the morning, before lunch.

Carina trusts her gut feeling when it comes to taste. She tests and experiments, but has a base selection of 18-30 flavours, depending on the season. For Christmas, there is a 24-day praline calendar. I want to finish it all in one go when I read the flavour line up;

1. Gingerbread cookie

2. Pear

3. Liquorice Fudge

4. Pine Sprout

5. Browned Butter Caramel

6. Cappuccino

7. Mulled Wine & Dulce

8. Dark Truffle

9. Passion Fruit

10. Irish Coffee

11. Autumn Raspberry

12. Rose Pepper

13. Saffron

14. Rum Truffle

15. Violet

16. Sweet Liquorice

17. Toffee

18. Milk Chocolate Truffle

19. Mint Chocolate

20. Orange

21. Champagne

22. Lemon Truffle

23. Guldkant (a Swedish liqueur)

24. Salted Caramel – Carina’s absolute favourite taste.

Chocolate pralines of all colours in boxes

Chocolate praline heaven

What’s the best seller, I ask. Carina says passion fruit is popular during the tasting classes they offer, but it varies depending on who from the staff interacts with the customer, thereby influencing the purchase. It’s all about getting to know the loyal regulars and guiding them to a perfect choice.

Carina is involved through it all, manufacturing, personnel, and customer service. She wants to ensure the whole concept runs smoothly from start to finish. She goes by heart and it shows. During the interview her entrepreneurial personality shines through with an obvious passion for the business and the product. She refuses to sell something she doesn’t approve of herself, and has the spark to keep going as long as she sees the potential for new ideas and fresh ways of doing things.

As we round off with scrumptious pralines in the colours of the rainbow, I ask Carina for her recommended chocolate pairing. “Try a salted caramel praline with a glass of Cava,” she answers with an air of contentment. “The salt profile raises the level of fruitiness.”

I will do just that. And I also want to share the secret of my chocolate sourdough bread. Yes, not a usual combo, but thanks to Chocolaterie Båstad’s premium cacao powder and chocolate chips, the semi-sweet bread has become an absolute favourite amongst my friends.

Baked sourdough bread with chocolate flavour

Chocolate sourdough bread

Bjäre Gourmet – Food Tourism in Sweden

Happy with your meal? I know I am, which is always the case when we stay in Båstad. The hunt for fresh ingredients never fails, whether it’s mushrooms, potatoes, vegetables, meat, or fish from our local fisher. After touring the region and interacting with the people behind the Bjäre culinary revolution, I feel an even stronger connection to the land and its riches. With wine and spirit entrepreneurs added to the mix, Bjäre is becoming a food and beverage destination worthy of tourists from the rest of Sweden and beyond.

Whether it’s cheese, meat, or chocolate, there are several commonalities among the people we met on the tour. A relentless focus on quality, value driven business ethics, strong will, and a lust for experimentation. They are entrepreneurs and artisans, with sustainability influencing everyday operations. The pride in their products, animals, and environment affects us consumers, who feel the same towards Bjäre. With its fertile soil, sea air, and enchanting light, the rich traditions and cultural heritage live on in a supportive ecosystem of farmers, food producers, and restaurants.

Come and taste Bjäre!

Do you shop for ingredients at farms? Have you ever travelled to a destination for food and drink alone? Tell us in the comment section! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter and benefit from tips, interviews, and inspirational examples of sustainable tourism and luxury travel.

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