If a hotel offers free breakfast, especially in a city as expensive as Stockholm, it’s hard to say nej. For my first couple of mornings staying at Ibis Styles Odenplan, I didn’t. The spread was fine — there were more types of wasa crackers than I could count and a DIY muesli bar — but not quite as inspiring as the one at Hotel Sct Thomas in Copenhagen. That’s why, on my final morning, I decided to succumb to the siren-like appeal of Fabrique, a bageri few steps from my hotel on Odengaten.
Cities are most like themselves in the morning. Everybody is wrapped up in getting their daily routine started. In the case of Stockholm in October, they are literally wrapped up in all their scarves and hats. Luckily, Fabrique has a series of table facing a large window to sit and observe passerbys in warmth.
If Swedish pastries make you think of Ikea, you’re only slightly off the mark. Cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) topped with pearl sugar and cardamom buns (kardemummabullar) with crunchy flecks of the ground pods dot every bakery window. Unlike their American cousins, they’re twisty, tied up in a million strands like the most elaborate bow on a birthday present. Next to these spicy treats you’ll find dark breads, chockladboll and croissants. Yep, even the Swedes are obsessed with French pastry.
I momentarily debated getting a cardamom bun, but decided to start my day with my special tradition: a macchiato and croissant. The croissant wasn’t the most beautiful one I’d ever seen, but I put my doubts aside to focus on the pleasure of the moment.
Each country puts their own mark on the French classic and this one was no exception. The texture was slightly dry and chewy, just like a laminated and frenchified version of the dough used for bulle. I wasn’t impressed at first, but I liked it more and more with each bite. The chewiness didn’t exclude some butteriness and the outside was crispy. Dunked into my macchiato, it made a very pleasant morning.
Sometimes the food we have for breakfast doesn’t need to be the most transcendent experience. A meal that nourishes the mind as well as the body can do more to help jump start our day than the nutritionally ideal spread. The croissant at Fabrique may not have blown me away, but taking a moment to enjoy a personal tradition in a new city was more satisfying than the butteriest, crispiest croissant could ever be.
What time of day do you think is best for people watching?