Pimp My Plate #35 – Fika Swedish Kitchen, Manly, NSW

Breakfast, brunch, or lunch reviews where the main plate is $20 or less

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Swedish meatballs would be the obvious choice wouldn’t it?

FIKA serves breakfast and lunch, but when I arrived at 12 noon with a sizeable appetite it wasn’t me who ordered the meatballs, but the Swedish family at the next table. 

Fika is a Swedish word that translates as ‘taking a break for coffee and a bite to eat’ but FIKA SWEDISH KITCHEN offers more, both in food quality and ambience.

With the temperature pushing above 37° celcius I was very thirsty, so the first menu items to catch my eye were the drink illustrations for an ODD GLEN, a CORNELIUS, and a PAPPA JOJJE – $10 each.

I chose the CORNELIUS: gin, elderflower, and cucumber, and I was rewarded. Almost as cool and hydrating as eating a whole cucumber while standing under a cool shower, but of course it tasted far superior and I could sit down.

Other beverages include bottles of Julmust ($10). Julmust is a Swedish soft drink that’s described as tasting somewhere between a root beer and a coke.

Julmust was invented by Swede Harry Roberts as a non-alcoholic alternative to drinking beer around Christmas, which is when it’s most commonly available in stores. Its name translates to Christmas (Jul) and Juice (must) which is what you call the not yet fermented juice from fruit meant for wine or cider production.

What’s the difference between Swedish meatballs and Italian meatballs? Swedish meatballs are served with a creamy gravy sauce, graybee daybee, made from cream or sour cream. It does depend on who you ask, as to whether the inclusion of allspice in the meat mixture is essential or not.

Although both styles of meatballs can include a beef and pork mixture, Italian meatballs often contain parmesan cheese. The sauce is tomato-based, and flavoured with black pepper and garlic.

FIKA serves theirs in a creamy sauce with lingonberry jam (also known as mountain cranberries) with pickled cucumbers and potato mash. The Swedish speaking trio sitting at the next table ordered them and they seemed happy.

I quickly noticed that about a quarter of the cafe patrons were either speaking Swedish, or speaking English with Swedish accents. As did most of the staff.

I chose the pan-fried Rainbow Trout ($18) served w crunchy cauliflower florets, beetroot, cauliflower puree, green peas and dusted w fennel pollen and dill.

It would be accurate to say I’ve never heard of fennel pollen – bee pollen yes – is it a thing? It’s all about sex, because by definition, pollen are the male sex cells in plants. In flowering plants, pollen is produced in thin filaments in the flower called stamens which is then blown through the air. So there you have it.

Served in a bowl, my rainbow trout was cooked beautifully, with a thin and crispy skin, and the fish tender and moist. I could cut through both with my butter knife. Fresh, clean, flavours that were especially hydrating on such a hot day.

Just reading the word trifle makes my mouth water, so even though my meal of trout was satisfying and sufficient, I had to order the one on the menu. Whether you call it research, or call it piggish, is your call.

My Ragnar’s Trife ($9) consisted of sweet layers of custard, raspberry and rhubarb compote, and birch water and elderflower jelly, with crumbled gingerbread.

Wickedly sweet, crunchy, and delicious. I’ve tried birch water before – it comes from the birch tree and it’s a very naturally refreshing drink. As a jelly it’s even more delicious.

My flat white coffee had good body and flavour. I could have happily sat there all day, attempting to learn Swedish from the children’s books on offer, and sipping another CORNELIUS or three. FIKA seats approximately 25+ people, and there was now a queue of people waiting so I left and took a walk along Manly beachfront instead.

I’d like to go back to FIKA for breakfast and try their ÅLANDSPANNKAKA – semolina pancake, traditional recipe from our friends on the Åland islands served w cream and homemade jam.

A Swedish breakfast, then hit the beach – fantastisk!

RATED: My plate was pimped!  FOOD: 4.5/5   Fresh, friendly, and attention to detail
VALUE: 5/5   VENUE ATMOS: Swedish fellow diners adds äkthet (authenticity)
VIBE:  Friendly, shelves stock Swedish produce
FIKA SWEDISH KITCHEN – Shop 5B, Market Lane, Manly, NSW
Open everyday 7am-5pm (Lunch from 12 noon-4pm)

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Baked Lemon Icebox Pie – bake and chill

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After spending a day trying to escape Sydney’s heatwave, pull open your freezer drawer to this sweet and delicious ice cold pie.

Make the pie the day before you want to serve it, as it needs to cool down for an hour after baking, then it needs to freeze for at least 4 hours in your icebox or freezer. 

Recipe for Baked Lemon Icebox Pie:

You’ll need a 25 cm (9 1/2”) pie dish

18 Digestive Wholemeal biscuits (Australia), or Graham Crackers (USA)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (60g) of unsalted butter, melted
2 x 395g (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 level dessertspoon of finely grated lemon zest from two lemons
3/4 cup (3 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 large eggs, yolks only

Preheat your oven to 160°C (325°F).Rinse lemons and grate off the yellow zest.

In a food processor, pulse the biscuits/crackers until coarsely ground, but not a fine powder. Crumble any large pieces between your fingers.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and use a fork to mix it through the biscuit crumb mixture. Add batches to a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds or less, just to mix the butter through.

Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the pie dish with butter, then tap-and-press the biscuit mix firmly into the base of the pie dish. I use a pestle or the handle of a knife to gently tap it flat. Then use your fingers to firmly press the crumb mixture up the sides of the pie dish, making them at least 3 cm (1 1/4”) high.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the condensed milk and lemon juice. Separate the eggs and place the egg yolks into a large bowl.

You won’t need the egg whites for this dish, so reserve them to use for another recipe, like meringues. Add the lemon zest to the egg yolks, and beat together until egg yolks look pale and frothy.

Use a spatula to combine the condensed milk mixture with the egg mixture, then mix thoroughly using an electric handheld mixer.

Pour the mixture into the cracker-biscuit shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until the middle of the pie filling is springy. Let the pie stand for an hour, then loosely cover with plastic cling wrap and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours.

When cool, place the cooled pie into a cake tin or plastic box, and wrap the top with foil, piercing several air holes into the foil to stop moisture condensation dripping onto the pie.

Remove from freezer an hour before serving so pie is cold but not frozen.

Serve with cream, ice-cream, or frozen yoghurt.

Recipe from my cookbook SOULICIOUS