I’ve been missing Scandinavia.
For those of you who are new to this space, Chelsea and I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen this past summer, and I’ve been pining for it ever since we came home. The coffee culture. The clean, modern, colorful design. The uber-stylish, insanely beautiful people.
I knew that there was a good amount of Scandi to be found right here in New York, so I took a day recently – with Chelsea in tow – to explore.
Of course there’s the ubiquitous Ikea and H&M but I wanted more. And my timing couldn’t have been better, since a food hall specializing in Scandinavian cuisine had literally just opened up in Grand Central Terminal – but more on that later.
We started our morning at Konditori.
Konditori was started by a Swede and a Brooklynite (so, basically, the perfect pair), based on this concept: incorporate the Swedish lifestyle of a traditional European home-away-from-home coffee shop and marry it with a Brooklyn culture.
We enjoyed some delicious coffee with a traditional cardamom roll (“kanelbulle”).
Next up was Fjallraven.
A Swedish company that’s been around since the 60’s, we’ve long been a fan of their colorful, durable Kanken backpacks.
And after our trip I appreciate even more the commitment to quality, even in candies – made without GMO’s or artificial colors.
And though I’ve IG-ed this place to death I wanted to also mention that Sockerbit has a charming selection of Scandinavian inspired housewares too.
The Flatiron District brought both high and low end to our trip.
On the high end? Marimekko.
I could to a whole post on this design house, as I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager. In fact when I had my first bedroom “re-do” at 16 I chose the “Seven Flowers” linens for my bed (I was SO excited!).
Marimekko came out of the Finnish textile printing company Printex – Armi Ratia, wife of the owner, gathered young female Finnish designers to create striking new fabrics for the company. Those fabrics were turned into modern dresses that sold out almost instantly, and in 1951 a design house was born. The fabrics, prints, tableware – even the iconic logo (inspired by Olivetti typewriter letters) – are still fresh and timeless today.
And on the “more accessible” end – Flying Tiger Copenhagen.
You know how the best part of going to Ikea (aside from the meatballs, of course) is wandering through the marketplace? Well Flying Tiger is like one giant Ikea marketplace, filled with Danish-designed items for home, office, parties, kids, kitchen and more. Everything is stylish, colorful, practical and affordable, with a sweet sense of humor too.
We spent our last morning in Copenhagen in the flagship store and picked up a bunch of things to bring home; I couldn’t wait to check out the store in New York when we got back.
We strolled up Park Avenue to Scandinavia House.
Scandinavia House opened 16 years ago as a showplace for Scandinavian culture. There is a restaurant, two shops, galleries and a renowned children’s play space – which I visited many times with Noah when he was little.
Finally – Great Northern Food Hall.
I was seriously thrilled to learn that the incomparable Claus Meyer was establishing culinary roots in NYC, starting with this lovely food hall situated in Grand Central Terminal. Meyer is co-founder of Noma – one of the most highly ranked restaurants in the world – along with his namesake bakeries (which we had the pleasure of sampling from in Copenhagen). And he brings the same high standards across the pond, working with local farms and producers in the tri-state area to create the signature Nordic dishes you’ll find here.
Chelsea and I shared some delicious savory flatbreads and yet more pastries – specifically kanelsnurre (the elegant antidote to Cinnabon) and tebirke (a shattery croissant-like pastry filled with almond paste and sprinkled with poppy seeds).
It was a good day.
Clearly we did not hit everything. Here are a few more of my faves:
Fika – fika refers to an indulgent coffee break, accompanied by something sweet or savory. Swedish-based Fika has locations all over the city and upholds the standards that we came to expect all over the countries we visited. In addition to their smooth and delicious coffee, Fika offers made-from-scratch chocolates and sweet and savory snacks and pastries.
Cos – owned by H&M, Cos offers more a more grown-up selection of timeless and classic clothing, at a slightly higher (yet still within-reach) price point.
& Other Stories – another H&M spin-off, this chain is priced between H&M and Cos. It’s also a bit more “out there”, sartorially speaking, and has a quite large beauty and grooming collection.
Luksas – I am helpless to resist a “hidden” restaurant – and I’ve hit up my fair share all over the city. Luksas is tucked in the back of the craft beer bar Torst, and offers a fixed-price tasting menu of Nordic dishes. Sadly it is super expensive so I will have to hold off for a special occasion at some point in the future.