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Friends enjoying outdoor cooking in Dalsland

Photographe: Badass Food Stories

A foodie trip to Dalsland – with Badass Food Stories

Nicole and Gustaf travel all over the place to meet people who are passionate about artisan food, sustainability and local ingredients. So what could be better than a three day off-grid retreat and food experience in scenic Dalsland?

“We haven’t been to Dalsland before but after a few days here it feels as if we’ve discovered a real Swedish gem. At this time of year it’s lush and green, with beautiful lakes and landscapes to explore. Perfect for a “forest rehab” with time to unwind,” says Nicole.

Nicole Jacobsen and Gustaf Björlin visited Dalsland in spring 2022 to make a new inspiring short film for their YouTube channel, Badass Food Stories – you can see the result at the end of the article.

Leave stressful city life behind – Swedish Country Living

Nicole and Gustaf’s base in Dalsland was the little village of Köpmannebro, where they checked into Swedish Country Living. Their three night all-inclusive stay was in cosy hermitage cabins without electricity or water, but full of luxurious touches. In the grounds there’s an ecolodge with pristine private bathrooms and a circular water system filtering through the orangery.  

“We were personally and warmly welcomed by Marie and David, and their dogs. After a tour of the farm they served a tasty dinner at the outdoor kitchen overlooking the lake, before we ended the evening in our cabin. All the dinner ingredients were from their own KRAV organic certified farm and other local farms in Dalsland,” Gustaf tells us. 

Photographe: Jonas Ingman

There are three architect designed hermitage cabins in total, built with natural materials from the area, including wood, and recycled building materials. Each cabin has its own style which reflects traditional building methods and is situated in farmland where sheep used to graze, near the lake.

“We stayed in the modern A-frame off-grid Hermitage with Scandinavian design furniture and a gorgeous suspended wood burning stove in polished steel. It was roomy, with a 6 metre ceiling height, which we climbed up in to get to the cosy sleeping loft for a really good night’s sleep,” says Nicole, “but next time we’d love to try the original Hermitage or the new Slate House Hermitage which looks extra cosy!”

Photographe: Jonas Ingman

The creators of Swedish Country Living are a couple, Marie and David. After many years in the fashion industry they left their stressful lives in the city behind for an existence without pollution and unnecessary noise. They use a holistic management approach on their farmland to improve the soil.

“We aren’t just creating a better life for the family, we’re also protecting our incredible surroundings. Grazing animals help to open up the landscape and create the conditions for endangered plants and other species to survive”, comments David.

Photographe: Jonas Ingman

Rotational grazing of their sheep paddocks lets grasses build stronger root systems, which improves the soil’s ability to withstand drought or flooding. A so called carbon sink is also being created which absorbs carbon dioxide.

“Being awarded Sweden’s most sustainable Experience in the 360˚ Eat Guide 2021 has inspired us to give our guests even more experiences,” says Marie.

Ingredients from local farms – delicatessens in Dalsland

Local ingredients were Nicole and Gustaf’s main focus during the whole trip. After a good night’s sleep they set off to visit a nearby farm to buy ingredients for their al fresco meals, accompanied by chef Emelie Nielsen. Their destination was Evenstorp Gård, a farm south of Köpmannebro in Dalsland, growing raspberries and rhubarb as well as raising animals for meat, all organic and KRAV certified of course.

Photographe: Badass Food Stories

“When we travel we always visit local markets or farmers directly. Especially if we plan to make our own food, it’s always nicer to get hold of locally produced ingredients. They taste best!,” Nicole tells us.

“We’d heard about Evenstorp as they have a farm shop selling things not just from their own farm but also from others in the area. After talking to the owner, Sofia, on the phone, she helped us choose a selection of ingredients we could pick up there. We bought seasonal vegetables and rhubarb, as well as flour and rapeseed oil. Naturally we couldn’t resist buying entrecôte and beer sticks from their own cows – and a homemade raspberry kombucha that was really refreshing!” adds Gustaf.

Meals with an informal touch

All the food at Swedish Country Living is made by Marie and David. They only use local ingredients and most of it comes from their own farm.

“It was really inspiring to see how Marie and David work on the farm. Everything from how they take care of their sheep, chickens and ducks on a daily basis, but also manage other everyday chores on the farm,” says Nicole.

Photographe: Badass Food Stories

“All the meals were served very informally and felt homemade. Depending on the weather they were either served at the outdoor kitchen or in the orangery. You could also make your own food, which we did one of the evenings. We were given classic packed lunches, perfect for taking out on a trip exploring Dalsland - paddling kayaks or hiking in the beautiful surroundings. We had our breakfasts down in the orangery, but were told that they can also be served in the cottages,” continues Nicole.

Photographe: Badass Food Stories

Make food outdoors over an open fire.

On the last day of their stay in Dalsland Nicole and Gustaf had decided to make food al fresco. They were joined by Emelie Nielsen who is “passionate about” well made food using local produce. Her philosophy is to make anything that tastes good – from traditional recipes to fusion food where the ingredient is always the star.

“We really learned a lot making food outdoors with Emelie, who’s been a chef for a long time. Not only that, she’s also competed several times in the Swedish Outdoor Cooking championships – a real pro,” says Nicole.

Photographe: Badass Food Stories

“Food made outdoors always tastes extra good, it doesn’t matter what it is. Emelie made three delicious Asian inspired dishes with Swedish local produce. While the coals were heating up Emelie served a shellfish bouillon with dumplings, fresh seasonal greens and herbs, and a soft egg,” adds Gustaf.

Watch the whole film to learn more about the off-grid trend and Emelie’s tips for successful outdoor cooking.

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