Freshly-picked carrots at Oxo Tower Wharf

September 8, 2011

Swedish food is becoming known on the culinary circuit for its fresh, organic approach – simple and sophisticated at the same time – and for its commendably low food miles.  The ultimate example of all these foodie ideals appeared at a VisitSweden event held on 6 September at Oxo Tower Wharf on London’s South Bank.

In a huge room full of delectable Swedish food and drink – from butternut squash soup to crayfish, from caviar to cheeses galore and from Swedish wines to Swedish ciders – stood a wheelbarrow planted with carrots.  A mobile allotment in London SE1?  It came complete with seed packet in one corner and a trowel and fork.  We looked at it uncertainly – the soil clung to the carrots when they were lifted.   Was there somewhere the carrots could be rinsed before eating them?  I watched someone tuck in, apparently ignoring the soil on his carrot.  All was revealed when I tried one for myself – the ‘soil’ was, in fact, dark rye bread crumbs although it looked like a rich organic mulch. 

Freshly-picked carrots from Sweden...but what's that they're planted in?

The nine expert chefs who had travelled from Skåne in southern Sweden – Wallander country! – to showcase their wares were duly amused at their little joke.  But for those of us who sampled the carrots – the freshest of food, straight from the earth – they very aptly made the case for vegetables being consumed shortly after being harvested and confirmed that the simplest of approaches can provide foodie delights to savour and to remember for a long time. Sue Ockwell.