“Can you get rooster online?” asked one of our group.  None of us knew. Well, it’s not something we’d ever thought about, but here we were, standing in the middle of the very smart Ystad Saltsjöbad hotel restaurant, about to roast rooster.  Head Chef Peter was showing us how to make a three-course meal using local ingredients from the Skane region of Sweden, and rooster was the main dish.  We googled the question whilst we listened to Peter’s instructions and there were lots of entries for rooster – potatoes, sailing boat, Atomic Rooster CDs, BMX bike and, much to our delight, the breast for this recipe.

Fledgling chefs Ystad

Head Chef Peter & team Ystad

Five of us were travelling around the beautiful region of Skane, in southern Sweden, visiting the sights and having our stereotypes of Swedish people blown out of the water.  In spite of being almost permanently on a Wallender set (it’s filmed in & around medieval Ystad) we met not one dark, melancholic, alcoholic Swede.  Almost without exception everyone was friendly, outgoing, funny and passionate about their environment, their culture, their food, their country – and life in general.

The hotel is a real gem; one of Sweden’s oldest and most luxurious, it is set right on the shore with a very special Spa providingsteam and dry saunas, relaxing jacuzzi, wonderful pampering treatments and a deep blue pool with the message Moments of happiness scripted on the bottom of the pool.  Numerous famous people have stayed here since it opened in 1897, including Swedish superstar recluse Greta Garbo.

Ystad Saltsjobad Hotel

Photo courtesy of Ystad Saltsjöbad Hotel

Back in the kitchen we diced potatoes, chopped dill, turned cucumber vitriolic green, whisked lemon and cream for an eternity and assembled bright orange lump roe onto plates, following Peter’s instruction to “Free your inner Da Vinci” and produce creative starters.  Drizzling lemon cream is not as easy as it looks on Master Chef!  My favourite bit was zesting the lemons  -most satisfying.  All this was done at a huge cooking station in front of dozens of people eating their own meals; a sort of Swedish culinary cabaret act.

Zoe zesting

Zoe zesting lemons

Jerusalem artichokes are particularly unappetising to look at, but when pureed by our gastronomic team, tasted excellent with the rooster breast.  Part way through our meal preparation we had started on the wine and I am ashamed to admit that once we had sat down to eat, we sort of forgot that we were also supposed to be serving the meal…

Roast rooster,carrots & pureed artichoke

Roast rooster,carrots & pureed artichoke

Thankfully, Peter seemed quite used to this and took over from us. The divine chocolate mousse finally made it to the table and we toasted our charming chef for introducing us to Swedish cuisine and cooking with rooster.

Our Gourmet meal

Our Gourmet meal

The Ystad Saltsjöbad Hotel runs Gourmet Weekend packages throughout the year – great fun for foodies of all ages.  We visited Skane courtesy of Visit Sweden – many thanks for them and FourBGB for organising such a great trip