WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM
Food production in the Nordic countries has historically always been seasonal, making the need for preservatives such as salt, of utmost importance. Salt was therefore a strategic and necessary commodity, essential to life in the Nordic region as an element needed to preserve food, mainly meat and fish. Scandinavia has little natural salt assets - only on the west coast is the salinity high enough to ensure extraction pays off - Sweden has therefore historically been entirely dependent on importing their salt supply.
Situated by the sea, nestled away in the old industrial area of Frihamnen in Malmö you will find Saltimporten - the old salt import building now housing Malmö's creative factory. Located north of the Central Station opposite the harbour dock is this series of gallery spaces, an industrial space where last century's intense port activity in the area, has in recent years been replaced by architecture firms, photo studios, design agencies and the not-so-secret spot for one of Sweden's best lunch destinations - Saltimporten Canteen. Owned and operated by Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson, who after the success of their previous restaurant Trio wanted to start something more simple - a lunch restaurant that would reflect their more straightforward love of cooking, using the best local ingredients and because they are hopelessly romantic aesthetes, with a commitment to making it as beautiful as possible.
Their space is raw and industrial, but with the warmth emanating from the communal tables it feels inviting and welcoming, take off your coat, hang it up on the meat hooks provided, grab some of their own amazing sourdough bread, your tools and your plate of delicious food served in a comforting bowl, grab a seat and enjoy. The choice is simple, the daily dishes are described in four words - on our visit it was Ox / Tomato / Chilli / Fennel or Savoy Cabbage / Beans / Rapeseed / Apple. The lunch was the perfect layered balance of sour, spicy, sweet and salty, the sweet notes of the tomato being rounded off by the warmth of the chilli. Ola explained that they wanted this restaurant to reflect all that is great with Sweden and its specific food traditions, whilst incorporating their regional food from Skåne as well as maintaining an outward vision towards the rest of the world, "it is all about creating an identity" - their own identity.
At less than 100 SEK per head, this truly is an absolutely amazing find, however what struck us more than anything is that it is more than just a place to get a great lunch, it is a place to come and be part of something, part of their community, a place where you are made to feel welcome, where you are seen, a place where just for a moment life slows down. Just one tip - get there early, they open at 12, but when we arrived the place was half full by quarter to. If you are after that little extra with your lunch, the wines they serve are all natural wines from a local importer, coffee from a local roastery - served in mismatched cups and saucers - and jet black scrumptious licorice.