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Wednesday 25 January 2012

Article: Gateau, probably the best bakery in Sweden

On the 21st of February it is again time for the annual cream puff day here in Sweden. The day always occurs on a Tuesday, and is therefore called the Shrove Tuesday. In the good old days the Christian church encouraged us to eat up on this particular day because the fast would start the next day and last until Maundy Thursday, Easter. This would remind us of Jesus 40 days of fast in the desert.
And on this particular Shrove Tuesday, man was encouraged to eat for all it’s heart, and many delicious meals was on the menu, and the meal always ended with the cream puff bun (Semla). It’s not until the beginning of the 20th century that we started to eat the bun as we do today, with the bun in the hand filled with almond cream and whipped cream. In the 18th century they ate the bun in a plate of milk sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
Many Swedes associate the bun with the Swedish king Adolf Fredrik who died of eating too many cream puff’s on Tuesday February the 12th 1771.

Western Taste had a Cream Puff tasting with delicious buns from the famous Swedish bakery Gateau. Gateau was founded by Claes Christenson, who is himself born and raised in a bakery in Saltsjöbaden. The bakery where Claes was raised is called Kringelgården and was opened in 1902, and they still bake their pastries in these halls. Now it is Clae’s daughter and her husband who runs the bakery.
Kringelgården is not a part of the Gateu concern. In 1981 Claes and his wife Birgitta bought the little bakery Gateau in Södermalm in Stockholm. Soon after this they opened a big café in the centre of Södermalm and in 1984 they also started a big luxurious café in Norrmalmstorg. The café in Norrmalmstorg was a big hit and they had live music and fashion shows every week, and it was also here that Arla introduced Café au lait to Sweden.
In the end of the 1980´s they started Sturecompagniet, who in those days were a big restaurant establishment with night clubs, bars, restaurants and shops. In 1988 Claes and his co-owners made a trip to Paris to seek inspiration, there they met the famous baker Lionel Poilâne who made all his bread in a stone oven. Claes decided to put a stone oven in his own bakery in Sturecompagniet, which is a big part of Gateaus famous bread.
In 2011 Gateau was sold to the Fazer concern, but all board members from “old” Gateau is still a part of making Gateau continue to strive and expand. Gateau has today 15 shops in Stockholm and 3 in Malmö where the expansion is rapid.

Gateau is very proud of their cream puff’s (Semlor) and they put a lot of effort in making each bun perfect. They strive to make the bun light and spongy, not to bitter taste and just the right amount of powder sugar.

With our tasting panel we tried totally 17 Cream Puff’s from Gateau. The criteria we judged upon were aesthetics, consistency, sweetness, bread, cream and almond icing and here are the results:

Between ages 6-19, the men scored 4 out of 5
Between ages 6-19, the women scored 5 out of 5

Between ages 20-30, the men scored 4 out of 5
Between ages 20-30, the women scored 4 out of 5

Between ages 30-50, the men scored 4 out of 5
Between ages 30-50, the women scored 4 out of 5

Between ages 50-, the men scored 4 out of 5
Between ages 50-, the women scored 3,5 out of 5

The total score:

Men judged 4 out of 5
Women judged 4 out of 5

Some of the comments by our expert panel

Absolutely amazing

Perfectly balanced cream and sweetness
Perfect amount of almond icing

Very balanced sweetness
A bit to much cream but perfectly balanced with sweetness and the amount of almond icing
Perfectly made on the bread

Perfectly balanced in sweetness and a amazingly good almond icing
Overall the Cream Puff was too sweet however the almond icing was amazingly good
Could improve on the aesthetics

Written by Sofie Yü and Alexander Yü

Thursday 19 January 2012

Norrtelje Brenneri

Western Taste decided to join the Beer & Whisky festival in Stockholm, where I found a destillery from my birth town of Norrtälje. It made me interested and I really wanted to see what they had to offer. I must say, their punsch was absolutely lovely! I am not a fan of punsch normally, I really don’t drink it, but this was so soft and sweet that it even knocked me off my feet.

Punsch is a Swedish thing. People are speculating about why it’s called punsch, they think it’s probably from the English word punch.
Punsch first came to
Sweden in 1731 when the spice arrack arrived with ships from the orient.

Norrtelje brenneri is owned by the couple Kristina Anerfält-Jansson and Richard Jansson who started the production nine years ago. Since then they’ve received many awards for their liquor. They only use ingredients from the archipelago around Norrtälje and carefully chosen fruit producers in Sweden. Everything is organic. They are very strict in exceeding all the environmental laws and they make sure all their alcohol reaches top quality.
Norrtelje brenneri produces not only punsch they also have different fruit snaps. But they are mostly famous for their punsch which is extraordinary sweet and smooth on the palate. The punsch is their biggest seller and stands for almost half of their yearly production of 30 000 litre. They are planning to increase the production in 2012 when they are introducing their newly developed whisky. 

Their Roslags punsch is made with a mix of plums, arrack, honey, vanilla, lime and a few secret ingredients. It has 23% alcohol in it. 

You can buy 50cl at Swedish systembolaget for 207 sek. They also sell all their products at Viking Line, Arlanda, Landvetter, Sturup and Bordershop Puttgarden. 

Written and tasted by Sofie Yü

Friday 13 January 2012

Article: Shanghai or Beijing?

There is always this constant battle between who is the better city in China, Beijing or Shanghai?

Well, Western Taste has made some points, visited places, tried out restaurants, checked out hotels, prices, working environments and the most important thing; the people and their attitude towards life, change etc.

So, lets start with the most populated city, actually one of the most populated cities in the world - Shanghai.

Shanghai is a Beautiful city with full of life that never sleeps. It is not only highly populated but also very cultural integrated from all over the world. Foreigners from the west as well as the east came to Shanghai in the early 20s and started to integrate with the Chinese culture. Companies, organisations and cooperation’s with the government started very early and was one of the first major cities in modern history in China to be influenced by the western world. This can be seen from early architecture, people’s awareness and interest in globalisation and corporate understanding.

Although with high international integration and globalisation brings up the price and a faster inflation. This leads to higher prices, higher salary and faster market. People in this city tend to be more strict, highly corporate and less personal on matters. This makes it quite boring in the long term perspective. Money is the language and people become less important in a hectic market with strong investments.

When it comes to Beijing it is another story. Beijing has the strong cultural understanding of its own background awareness. The people in Beijing are proud to come from the capital and talks often about its historical heritage that dates back thousands of years in history.

Here the charm still exists and people still do not care about having white socks with black shoes to suits and speaks loudly in public. People are more worm and friendly which leads to a more relaxed environment to live in.

With this, Beijing is a rising star considering the Olympics, hundreds of new international restaurants and hotels that have been built. Beijing is a wonderful place.

We must say that Beijing wins as a city to live in, but Shanghai is a must see and visit, so we are recommending a few places to dine, party and live in. 

As my mother always says:
Shanghai is a place to grow, make money, climb the letter and enjoy for the short term however Beijing is home.

Written by: Alexander Yü


Whampoa Club - Chinese contemporary

More than 400 RMB per couple
This restaurant offers organic food, high quality wines, innovative cooking, quality service and top standard. This is a place to impress and meet with most highly recommendations by Western Taste.
5/F, 3 Zhongshandong Yi Lu, the Bund
Phone: 021-6321-3737

Sens & Bund - French contemporary

More than 400 RMB per couple
High standard French restaurant that is the closest you can get to Michelin rating in Shanghai. Innovative cooking with excellent service and lovely view of the Huangpu river on the Bund. We enjoyed Sens & Bund and highly recommend this place.
6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, the Bund
Phone: 021-6323-9898

Lounge / Club

Lounge 18 / Bar Rouge

90 RMB per cocktail
This is a high end party place with the right crowd in Shanghai. Start with Lounge 18 and enjoy a few cocktails before going up to the 7th floor where the party is, same owner with different concepts. Bar Rouge offers a spectacular view to party with.
4/F and 7/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, the Bund
Phone: 021-6339-1199

Park 97 Lounge & Club

90 RMB per cocktail
Hip and high standard lounge / club place in Shanghai with very creative and innovative events. The design and decor is very well made which provides nice environment while enjoying your Champagne.
Fuxing Park (inside park) 2A Gaolan Road, by Sinan Road
Phone: 021-5383 2328


Park Hyatt Hotel

Around 4000 RMB per couple / night
One of the most amazing hotels in Shanghai were the best restaurants is located and absolute top luxury service you can imagine. However it is a price to pay.
100 Century Avenue, Pudong New Area
Phone: 021-6888 1234

Sofitel Hyland

Around 1800 RMB per couple / night
Very nice hotel in the city centre of Shanghai. The hotel is located near most of the important things around town. The hotel is also very beautiful and provides top standard and best possible service.
505 Nanjing Road East (the main street)
Phone: 021-6351 5888

Monday 9 January 2012

Top 10 Best Value Hotels in the World

What does 5 stars means for a hotel? Most of the cases it is only a stamp from the official organisation that approves its star ratings, however small hotels that does not posses the large entrance halls or swimming pools or even perhaps 3-4 restaurants in one single property. What can they offer that stands out from the large, highly invested and large backgrounds from multinational cooperation? Well that is the concept of boutique hotels. Something that is cheque, focused on design, provides something extra, special and highly great valued hotels that are pleasant and very enjoyable to stay in. It can be half the price of a multinational 5 star hotel and it gives you an experience that is much more than the standardization of branded international hotels.

Our tip is go boutique for experience and something different if you are looking for that extra charm rather large and multinational branded hotels. 

Warm regards,

Founder of
Alexander Yu

Dana Hotel & Spa (Chicago, USA)

With around 200 rooms, wonderful interior design, excellent service and the hotel screams boutique style makes it even more interesting. The rooms feel large, very comfortable and give you the feeling of high standard approach with a twist. A must stay when you are in Chicago.

2. Paris Hotel Petit Moulin (Paris, France)

This is a fashion and design hotel in the middle of Paris. This hotel is strangely beautiful and everything seems quite surreal however when experiencing everything you understand the design and its intentions on romance, barrock and boutique style hotel at its top standards. 

3. Park Hotel (Tokyo, Japan)

Great location with spectacular decor a very service minded staff and great price for all of it. Park Hotel brings Tokyo a brand new concept of luxury with great value. This hotel is a highly recommended hotel to stay in when visiting Tokyo in Japan.

4. Haymarket Hotel (London, England)

Probably the best value hotel in London. Normally hotels in London are either really bad or really good. There is nothing in between for the normal crowed and if you want to pay a good price for an excellent hotel it very hard to come by however Haymarket hotel has brought London another aspect of the business. The interior is fantastic and modern; it also brings another level of success to the market in England when it comes to boutique style hotels. 

5. Cedarbrook Lodge (Seattle, USA)

There are so many reasons why Cedarbrook Lodge is among the best lodging choices in the greater Seattle area. Thoughtfully situated less than five minutes from Sea-Tac International Airport, Cedarbrook Lodge is a distinctive, 104-room retreat. Guests are afforded a quiet, secluded environment ideal for a wide variety of business and leisure travel needs as well as professional and social gatherings. Cedarbrook's premier location makes it a transportation hub. And the lodge's shuttle service delivers guests to and from SeaTac International Airport and/or to and from the nearby Seattle Link light rail station. Each is a quick trip... less than ten minutes. And both are free!

6. Huka Lodge (Huka Falls Taupo, New Zealand)

Probably the most awarded hotel in New Zealand with amazing relaxation when it comes to be close to nature. Live in the centre of the country just by the biggest river of New Zealand in Taupo. The scenery of nature and environment is absolutely breath taking. Either takes the limo service for 2-3 hours or a 1, 5 hour helicopter ride from Auckland to the hotel. 

7. Hotel Twentyseven (Copenhagen, Denmark)

This hotel is more than just a hotel; it gives you a living experience of design and innovative thinking. They try to differentiate themselves by having different room experiences with luxury packages. One room for example is the wine room were you can have different wines and gastronomic experiences with it. They even have an Ice bar in the hotel run by the famous Swedish brand Absolut Vodka. 

8. Jia Shanghai (Shanghai, China)

JIA Shanghai is a luxury-residence concept. Inside it edges closer to design-magazine luxe, with bold graphic colour schemes, an impressive collection of modern furnishings, and bathrooms decked out in marble and Bisazza mosaic tile. Rooms and suites are bright and sunny, especially those with balconies, and all come with entertainment centres, and free wireless internet, as well as a smattering of local colour in the form of Chinese antiques. 

9. Nordic Light (Stockholm, Sweden)

This hotel is part of the group; Design Hotels which gives the most amazing Nordic designs around the world. The interior and environment around the hotel feels very Scandinavian and cheek. Please try out there amazing Sunday Brunch were 1 cocktail is included with coffee and tea for only 245 SEK. If you ask me that is a great bargain.

10. Langtry Manor (Bournemouth, United Kingdom)

Bournemouth is one of the best cities to find great value hotels around the world. Especially for leisure and business travellers that is located among 4 star hotels. One hotel in particular that we liked was the Langtry Manor which gives you a luxurious feeling with a very reasonable price. The staffs are friendly and the hotel gives you a feeling of home. This hotel made this list just because it gives you a personal touch to the hotel experience. 

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Stockholm’s Best Whisky Selections

Stockholm is very different from Beijing when it comes to whisky bars. It is not even close to what Beijing has in terms of focus. Beijing provides pure whisky bars with maybe 4-5 more additional selections of beverages however in Stockholm you have to have more than whisky to survive. Every bar provides food, interesting beer selections and also other services. It is more like a mixture of really interesting beers and whisky blended in one bar where they complement each other very well. That is why we cannot edit the best whisky bars in Stockholm because of the simple fact that there is no pure whisky bars. We had to rate "the best whisky selections" instead. 

Although the Swedish people do love whisky and has always been very found of it. If you look at the percentage among the people of
Sweden, they are one of the biggest drinkers of whisky in the world. Almost every single household has a nice little selection of whisky in their home, ready to be taken out when someone special is visiting.

We at hope you will have an interesting visit to our recommendations in

1. Bull & Bear Inn (
Stockholm, Sweden)

This bar is probably one of the oldest whisky hangouts in
Stockholm that is still around and very known for its wide variety of excellent whisky and beers. They also serve some easy and simple food, however the main focus is the beverage. When requesting the whisky menu you will get a size of a book with over 200-230 kinds of whisky depending on the specials that are in. The interior is really old and authentic if comparing with some old bars in Dublin or London, which to be honest, I find quite boring. I would like to see a boutique style whisky bar in Sweden, hopefully in a near future.

2. Akkurat (
Stockholm, Sweden)

This bar and beverage selection is really something but the food is simple and boring. The selection is amazing with probably the widest Japanese whisky selection you can find in
Sweden. The menu consists of approximately 400 selections of whisky with all Islay houses represented and a great deal of rare highland selection to taste from. A must for all whisky and beer lovers it is just a shame that you cannot enjoy a nice cigar all year around to complement the lovely whisky. Same stories here, everything about the beverages are amazing however the interior and surroundings are not.

3. Glenfiddich Warehouse (
Stockholm, Sweden)

The bar is quite new in
Stockholm. It has been around for 4 years approximately and it has improved its reputation each year. More and more customers are drawn to the restaurant / bar. It offers actually quite good food but charges it too much. I usually go there for the beer since the service and selection is probably one of the best when it comes to beer. However the variety and selection of whisky is a bit shorter than expected, they have a much more interesting beer selection which is odd for a whisky bar. This is probably the only whisky bar that offers a nice setting and environment to sit in.

4. Saddle & Sabre (
Stockholm, Sweden)

If you are hankering for some fine American bourbon the place to go in
Stockholm is “Saddle & Sabre” on Tegnérgatan 9. They have the widest assortment of bourbon whisky in Stockholm. Since good bourbon is pretty hard to get your hands on in Sweden this place is a real gem.
As if the bourbon wasn’t enough ”Saddle & Sabre” also serves some the best steaks in
Stockholm. If you want to you can enjoy your food and drink in two western themed “chambre separée”.

5. Shamrock Restaurant & Bar (Stockholm, Sweden)

Shamrock restaurant and bar is a genuine Irish pub where you can find good pub food, great pints and quite a good assortment of whisky. They serve Irish whisky as well as a wide array of single malts. If this sounds like kind of place you can find Shamrock restaurant and bar on Söder at Folkungagatan 102. You can’t go wrong with an Irish bar!

Written by: Alexander Yü

Monday 2 January 2012

Wine of the Month: Tommasi Appassimento 2010

This wine is produced with the typical and indigenous grapes of the Valpolicella Classico area, Corvina and Oseleta, and in the traditional “Appassimento” method.
Appassimento means “drying process”. “Arele” is the local name of the traditional wooden trays where a part of the grapes are laid down and partially dried prior to being gently pressed.

ORIGIN: Tommasi hillside vineyards in the Valpolicella Classico area
GRAPES: Corvina Veronese 90%, Oseleta 10%,
VINIFICATION: a part of Corvina and Oseleta grapes are partially dried prior to    pressing
MATURATION: 12 months maturation in Slavonian oak casks.

COLOR: Intense, deep ruby red
FRAGRANCE: Very fruity, rich, spicy, black pepper nose
TASTE: Full body, very intense, spicy, smooth, full of flavors.
RECOMMENDED WITH: White and red meats, game, fresh and aged cheeses.

This wine is probably one of the best value wines that you can find in the Swedish Systembolaget.

Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 5354
Cost in Sweden: 89 SEK

Written by: Alexander Yü