14a Golden Square, London, W1F 9JG
T – 020 3230 1077
I spent last new year – teeth chattering, bones chilled to the marrow- in beautiful Helsinki, the year before I was shivering in Stockholm. A few years ago, I camped out in a Norwegian forest a few miles out of Oslo, amongst the pine-trees and besides a tranquil lake. This new year I’ll be with the great Danes boozing it up in Copenhagen. Fingers-crossed before too long I’ll be dipping into the Blue Lagoons in Iceland. There is something about the Nordic countries that makes me want to return again and again. For one thing, I know it’s not the exchange rate.
See, despite the insane prices and the fact that Scandinavian people are so ludicrously beautiful that they make my inferiority complex hit the roof, I love these places. Liberal and peaceful, with epic countryside and stunning cities, it doesn’t surprise me that they are regularly among the countries with the best quality of life and lowest mortality. Although if I lived there I’d likely die of smugness.
Getting wrapped up and marching through the woods, the air crisp and clean, the snow crunchy underfoot, and my cheeks burning pink and red makes me feel so vital. The sleek Swedish bars and cosy Danish pubs are really very special. The church spires that punch the skyline and twinkly lights bouncing off canals and seas are so romantic. And then the food. Oh the food. Light and airy princess cakes and swirly cinnamon buns. Juicy pickles, pungent dill, heavy smoked salmon and dark rye breads. Strong coffees on a cold day, berries and tarts, vodka and schnapps. Sausage and beer. Sour apple cider. What I would give to walk along the cobbles on Gamla Stan and stop for a latte and a cocosball or a reindeer steak, potatoes and lingonberries on Suomenlinna.
Unfortunately, I am not a millionaire. So asides from a vacation once a year, I keep myself content with trips to the food market in my nearest Ikea, dinner at my Swedish friend’s house and coffee and cake at the Nordic Bakery. And I feel very lucky.
Tucked away in a quiet square in Soho, with outside-seating and sleek benches inside, the Nordic Bakery is a joy. With calm staff and high ceilings, the decor is sparse and relaxing. Good coffees and juice to drink, and then stacks of cinnamon buns (£2 for a huge portion), coffee cakes, tosca cakes, cookies and pancakes to scoff. The sandwiches and savory snacks look really tasty but as if I would ever pass up the chance to eat cake? I also adore the simplicity of the crockery. The simple deep mugs and the unfussy design of the trays. The food, not the plate, does the work.
It’s rumoured that a second branch will open in Autumn. Please let it be in sunny South London. Please.