If you ask most people in the UK what they know about Sweden, they will answer 'IKEA'. The furnishing giant is now the biggest supplier of  flat packs to British homes, particularly since the demise of Habitat. A visit to one of IKEA's many stores betweeen 10am and 10 pm any evening will prove the point - vehicles loaded to the roof and above, with beds, shelves and tables and chairs.

If you haven't been to IKEA lately, you will be surprised to see that they have now added Swedish food to their repertoire of furnishings, with an extensive and growing Food Market. My recent visit took me beyond the cooked food restaurant, where families were tucking into plates of meatballs, to the market to see what food there was to take home. As expected, the frozen balls of meat, and the accompanying tasty sauce took centre stage, alongside gravalax (salmon) and rolled herrings. Swedish beer, fruit juices and liquers made up most of the liquid refreshment and there were stacks of northern european sweets and chocolates.

What caught my attention though, with an eye to the near future, was the array of Christmas specialities. Some different delicacies and delights to add to the forthcoming festive spirit! 

Speaking of spirit, I liked the look of the Mulled Red Wine, available as either 'alcholic' or 'non alcholic' and at £1.85 and £4.85 (0.75l) respectively, they looked good value, as did the Mulled White Wine (15% proof) at £4.70. For the tea total, there was a Spiced Apple drink at £1.85. Christmas Marshmallow Candies (£0.85) and a range of Gingerbread Houses, Stars and Hearts seemed ideal as children's stocking fillers. 

The unusual Saffron Bread Rolls, admittedly frozen, would be a tasty addition to a home made Christmas soup, while IKEA's Crayfish (£8.50 per kilo) and  their Frozen Christmas Ham (9.95) seemed atttractive and unusual delicacies for the New Year celebrations. Finally, for anyone who has not tried the range of Swedish cheeses you have missed a delicious experience - 0.3kg packs of hard and soft varieties were available at £1.80 and would make an ideal finish to a festive meal, or any meal for that matter!

I have picked out a few of the products that stood out from a crowd of many in the Swedish Food Market at IKEA, but I would recommend that you take a look, if you want to have something different on your plate this Christmas.


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