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Umeå, Sweden: A Darn Good Place for Lunch - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Umeå, Sweden: A Darn Good Place for Lunch [Jun. 23rd, 2016|05:49 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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We had no particular plan to stop in Umeå. It was like Vaasa on the Finland side: we needed to stop somewhere, and Umeå was there. But when we got there, it was a beautiful, an utterly gorgeous, northern city: large, fast-moving river as so many of them have*, buildings that were charming and interesting wherever you looked. Very walkable. The people were outstandingly friendly and helpful even for the far north.


(I have no idea where this idea that northerners are taciturn comes from. They talk my ear off. They did not appear to talk to Tim in the same way. But to me? Chatterboxes. You cannot get them to shut up. It’s as though they’ve met their long-lost cousin and…oh. Oh. Well. Never mind, that explains that. Seriously, in Umeå alone I saw three people who looked like specific Lingens I know.)


We didn’t have a great chance to explore Umeå; we did not, for example, stay in the hotel in the same building as the library. (See? SEE? Umeå is great.) But one of the reasons I am writing these blog posts is because there are not always English language restaurant reviews of things, and while one visit is not enough to do a proper review, an improper review is better than nothing if you’re searching your phone frantically for “restaurants Umeå.”


So: Rex Umeå. Rex is in a charming brick building–we poked our heads in because the brickwork was lovely and I could read that they had squid for supper that looked like it would be amazing, so it seemed worth finding out what lunch was. The waitress helped me finish puzzling out the lunch menu, and it all sounded great. And it was. It was so great. Transcendently awesome.


At this point in the trip it had been something like a week and a half since I had eaten meat, and something in my little anemic brain said: BEEF RYDBERG. If you have never had beef Rydberg: it is a classic Swedish dish. Here is what you do. You sauté up some onions and put them on a plate. Separately, you fine dice some potatoes and fry them crispy. Put them on the plate also. Separately, you chop up your beef and cook it in a lovely red wine sauce. Put this on the plate also. Fine. This is well enough and I thought it was grand. And then the waitress also brought me an egg yolk, freshly grated horseradish, and some Dijon mustard to mix into the hot red wine sauce to my personal taste, to make it all zippy and creamy and perfectly grand. And at Rex in Umeå, everything was utterly top quality, the horseradish absolutely fresh, perfect, perfect. They also had a little buffet of salad things and bread to go to with this, with plenty of gluten-free options if you needed that, all clearly marked, very meticulous.


Tim had some steak dish in a lovely gravy also. His would have been very nice if I had not been wallowing in beef Rydberg. Then he ate the end of my beef Rydberg because when do I finish anything in a restaurant I mean really. But if I did! This would have been a candidate! Because the polite, friendly people of Umeå are also people who can cook, there at Rex restaurant. So go throw money at them.


There is a ferry that goes from Vaasa to Umeå. I can’t think why you would want that, because the Arctic is so lovely, so very lovely. And this is not quite the Arctic. On the other hand, Vaasa and Umeå are both so great. So I can imagine wanting to bounce back and forth between them. It’s just that the stuff between them is lovely too. I would like more time in Umeå. Next time. Next time. If I’m not firmly installed in the Norwegian Arctic or something.


*This is what the -å means in Swedish cities.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: athenais
2016-06-24 05:44 am (UTC)
I am ready to visit Umeå now to eat beef Rydberg, nom.

I don't know what it's like to visit someplace where people look like they could be my relatives. Possibly I should go to Ireland someday and find out.
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2016-06-24 06:19 am (UTC)
Based on my experiences in various Jewish neighborhoods, it could be anywhere from very pleasant to "oh right, this is why I don't talk to that side of my family".

Being of mixed ethnicity makes this harder. I always think that when I'm in England I'll fit in because I'm English, but instead I look more Jewish there than I do anywhere else. In Crown Heights I have the opposite experience: the Orthodox Jews look twice at me before trying to bring me into the fold. But I suspect that when I eventually visit Poland a lot of people will try to speak to me in Polish before realizing I'm an American. This is what happens to my Dutch-Jewish partner when he's in the Netherlands, where he looks just like the locals but shorter.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 10:47 am (UTC)
I am of mixed ethnicity, too, Norwegian and Swedish. (This is not a joke.) When I was younger we always said I looked Norwegian, period, and I think mostly I still do, but I think there is a bit of Swedish coming out with time. But also I think there is a familiarity to how I look that doesn't have to be right there to be close. A difference when your two ethnicities border each other.

In Stockholm I am obviously a very familiar genre, Someone's American Cousin (Who Speaks Swedish Quite Badly). In the north people kept being shocked to hear I was American, I think because Someone's American Cousin doesn't mostly go up there...but the way I look was still generally familiar, and so my ear got talked off. I think there is also the specifics of how I look generally familiar, which is to say: I inherited the "talk to meeeeee!!!" aura from my grandmother.
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[User Picture]From: athenais
2016-06-24 04:48 pm (UTC)
I just look American to everyone in Europe, but John is frequently addressed in German and handed German-language menus in places where they hand me the English-language menu. And indeed both sides of his family hail from Germany as we know it, but believe you me the Prussian-Pomeranians are entirely different from the Bavarians and would not thank anyone for lumping them in together.

You really do look Norwegian.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 05:03 pm (UTC)
John really does look quite German. Yes. I was not surprised to hear his family was from Wisconsin.
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2016-06-26 11:28 pm (UTC)
My father-in-law's family was very strict about being originally from northern Germany* BUT NOT PRUSSIAN NEVER NEVER PRUSSIAN DO NOT CALL US THAT THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

*Multiple generations back -- they had a long stint in Ukraine.
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From: swan_tower
2016-06-24 07:56 am (UTC)
*This is what the -å means in Swedish cities.

And now I will forever think of Umeå as Plum River, because my brain has no compunctions about mashing Japanese together with Swedish.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 10:35 am (UTC)
Heh.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2016-06-24 05:08 pm (UTC)
How does one eat Beef Rydberg? Mix up all the little piles like a salad, or eat the bits individually? Or mix by forkful? I mean, I know it's the diner's choice, but presumably there's a canonical method.

In any case, it sounds lovely.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 05:20 pm (UTC)
You stir it up so the egg yolk goes into the sauce while it's hot but the crispy potatoes haven't got time to un-crispy in the sauce.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2016-06-24 05:34 pm (UTC)
Yum. Is there any place local where I could try this?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 07:47 pm (UTC)
Not that I know of. I was planning on learning to make it, fiddly bits and all, because I've never seen it on a menu.
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[User Picture]From: rachelmanija
2016-06-24 08:12 pm (UTC)
Beef Rydberg sounds SO GOOD.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-24 08:26 pm (UTC)
Seriously. It is both tasty and interactive.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2016-06-25 10:39 pm (UTC)
Sounds lovely. Do you put the egg yolk in the sauce to make it creamy?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-06-25 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yes.
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