Kanelbulle, Semla, Coffee, oh my!
Have you heard of Fika? To say it is simply a coffee break would be to insult every Swede that has negotiated 4 fikas into their workday (seriously look it up, they demand these things). To say it is just grabbing coffee with friends would be to downplay the importance of your funeral fika (it’s the best fika one will ever have). But if it isn’t those things, then what is it really?
Have you ever had a semla? It’s Fat Tuesday around the world, but here in Krakow we’ve already celebrated last week for Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek) by stuffing ourselves silly with pączki and faworki. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take some influence from our Swedish friends and indulge in their traditions! We’re lucky enough to have two Kaffe Bageri Stockholm’s here in Krakow- and they make semlas for a limited time every year! Go get one quick before they’re gone!
Fika is a state of mind- you can only fika on a good conscience- and in the proper mood, otherwise it really is just a coffee break. So I guess you could say it’s a time you put your phone away, sit in the moment, enjoy a beverage, usually coffee based, but I’ve heard you can technically have juice or tea (although I’m not sure I believe that), and indulge in a classic Swedish treat.
Now, what does Swedish fika have to do with Krakow? Well, let me just say, when I started this blog 8 years ago it was hard to even find a sweet potato to make Thanksgiving dinner to share my own American culture, let alone to find somewhere to have a Swedish fika in the city. My Swedish best friend came to visit and in her suitcase hauled all the ingredients we would need for our own Fika in Poland— but now, not only can I get sweet potatoes, but my friend Sanna will be happy to know that she can take us out for a proper fika without having to make everything from scratch when she gets here!
If you’ve never fika’d before- it’s easy, I promise! Just go to one of the Kaffe Bageri Stockholm locations in Krakow, make sure you are in a proper mood of course, and order a Swedish treat with a drink! I’m sure the staff would be happy to help you with the menu, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see how the offerings change!
Where you see „Bullar” you will see types listed underneath. These are the famous Swedish rolls. Kanel is the classic one- its like a cinnamon roll that looks like it’s covered in salt, but really those are huge chunks of sugar, called Swedish pearl sugar. The other flavors are listed as well, like Kardemumma (Cardamom) and Safran (Saffron). Underneath of those offerings you’ll see other names with their own pricing. Today there was Semla (my favorite limited time only treat near the start of lent) and Mandel- a Swedish butter cookie. The rest of the menu was drinks.
When we went today we were able to have a cardamom bun with toasted almonds, a traditional Kanelbulle cinnamon roll, and a lemon flavored semla, plus a pistachio semla to go!
If you’ve never had a semla, and happen to be in Krakow (or Sweden for that matter!) near Fat Tuesday- get one! While the Poles celebrate Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek) with chrust/faworki and doughnuts called pączki; and Americans tend to stuff themselves with syrup filled pancakes the week after— Swedes drown themselves in semla the day before Ash Wednesday- and it’s the tradition I prefer to adhere to.
What’s actually special about semlas is you pretty much never get to eat them out of semla season. So where pączki and pancakes are readily available every day- semlas aren’t. Not to mention the fact they are delicious. Think dense roll (not too sweet) with a marzipan filling, and a swirl of fresh cream. Some are flavored, and some stick to the classic recipe, but no matter what you get, I’m sure you’ll be pleased.
Visit Kaffe Bageri Stockholm at Łobzowska 17, Krakow, Poland 31-139 (this one is closest to the Main Square/Old Town)
There is a second location at Podbrzezie 2, 31-054 Kraków that we have not visited yet (this one is closest to Kazimierz/Jewish District)
And in terms of the space- there’s a few tables out front on the sidewalk, a few inside near where you order, but through the door with a little sign that says welcome, you’ll find an entire open garden with heaters for the winter. Don’t forget to take your pretty little dishes back up front when you’re done, and check out the little cupboard with Swedish gifts to buy as well.
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