Most of my summers over the past five years have been spent in Sweden and having suffered through a miserable, freezing cold winter there myself, I can completely understand why the Swedes make the most of life during the warmer months.  Like everything in Sweden, when it comes to summer there are of course tradition celebrations for everything and the two main ones of the summer being midsummer celebrations and the obligatory crayfish parties.

Apart from all the traditional celebrations one of the things Sweden does extremely well is little unexpected cafés, in the middle of nowhere which are elegantly decorated and serve humble homemade food. We stumbled across one of these during our stay this year. It had only been open six months but the Gaia Life Cafe was already a word of mouth success! Well that’s how we came across it anyway… It’s an old farmhouse which has been converted to accommodate a large yoga and meditation room, café and shop, and a small B&B. We made a stop here in between our forest foraging (another Swedish tradition) for a quick lunch and I ordered a slice of Raspberry Goddess pie which is extremely simple to recreate at home.

We spent one stunning Sunday out on the beautiful island of Koster just off the west coast of Sweden and not far from the Norwegian border.  The island is a popular holiday destination and we rented bikes to make the most of our time.  One of the best places we visited on the island was Kosters Trädgårdar a little garden center and cafe which served up the most fantastic home grown produce in buffet style dishes.  We also ordered BBQ’d catfish which was being grilled outdoors over big barrel drum BBQ pits.  After we had eaten we were welcome to stroll through the vegetable gardens, complete with a chicken coop and stunning old greenhouses teeming with cucumbers!

In Ireland things are beginning to change and people are becoming more and more interested in forgotten skills and learning how to forage is at the top of the list.  In Sweden however, most of the people I’ve met from all walks of life are brought up with a great knowledge of what free foods nature has to offer and how to make the best of it.  At certain times of the year the Swedes head out to the forest en masse with mushroom knives, berry pickers and baskets to look for mushrooms and berries of all varieties.

There are certain things about different places you visit in the world which leave lasting impressions in your mind and for me it’s the lakes in Sweden which hold the most beauty.  There are over 97,000 lakes in the country, a list which doesn’t include ones which are under 2 acres, so as you can imagine there is never a lake to far away.  Just at the top of the hill close to where we were staying, there was a pretty little lake surrounded by high trees which during the summer is pleasantly warm and perfect for swimming in.  After an early morning run this little lake complete with its wooden jetty made the perfect pit stop before breakfast.

I wanted to share these photos with you just before it was too late and the Autumn took over completely!  They are a great reminder of a beautiful summer…

Continue to the recipe for Raspberry Goddess Pie…