STARTING UP: Claire Anderrson @ Skogen Kitchen

WHEN I met my future husband in 2001, his mother invited me to ‘the’ summerhouse in Skane in the south of Sweden.

It sounded so lovely and welcoming, that the following summer I was really excited to go and visit.

I had just handed in my notice as an oil and gas consultant and was about to embark on a one-year diploma of Food & Wine at Leith’s in London, so the timing was just right.

And yet, even though I’d travelled a lot with work, experiencing wonderful cuisines around the world, I still wasn’t prepared for the homely quirkiness of ‘the’ summerhouse and the warmest welcome from his Swedish family.

I fell in love with Sweden, and the little house in the woods that they call ‘Skogen’ (meaning the woods) and the natural delicious diet of good bread, strong cheese, oily fish, home-pickled gherkins and the best strawberries and raspberries in the world!

All this provided the catalyst to my passion for home-cooked food and the realisation of a long-held dream.

We have returned to Skogen every summer since and each year we have explored the Skane countryside seeking out wonderful artisan bakeries, fish smokeries, small producers, farm shops and coffee houses; all selling beautiful Scandi homeware.

I loved the fact that quality is so important and that everything home-made and home-grown is so appreciated.

After the death of my beautiful mother-in-law Lena in 2012, I started translating her hand-written recipe books and making the traditional Swedish dishes that the family enjoyed, from home-cure gravad lax, meatballs, gherkins and fish & potato gratins.

I wondered if these dishes would be enjoyed as much in the UK and thought I would try it out on paying guests at a pop-up supper club Julbord (Christmas Table) in my home village of Dorchester-on-Thames; turns out they loved it too! Since then, I have dreamed of taking the pop-up into a cafe offering an authentic Scandinavian experience every day here in Oxford.

Earlier this year I was introduced to the owner of the Mission Burrito chain and he and I both thought this Scandinavian café concept would work well in the centre of Oxford.

He, coincidentally being Danish as well, loved Scandinavian food and wanted to find another opportunity for the site in King Edward Street.

We opened the doors at the end of June after a frantic six weeks of redecorating and fitting out with new equipment and furniture creating a bright and light modern Scandi interior.

It’s a great location just off the busy High Street and a lovely place to enjoy Fika (coffee and cake), breakfast or lunch. We are currently open seven days a week, 9am-5pm but have plans to run evening events from the autumn.

Everything is made on-site (except for the fantastic bread that we buy in from Cornfield Bakery) and I am always developing new recipes using Scandinavian cookbooks and websites as my inspiration.

I have just returned from ten days at ‘the’ summerhouse and can’t wait to put some of the new ideas on the menu.

It’s a mix of traditional Swedish dishes and lots of modern healthy options.

I source ingredients as much as I can from the UK with a few specialist items being brought in from Scandinavia.

We love the Västerbotten cheese with cloudberry jam from Sweden and the Tapped Birch Water from Finland (yes, it really is water from a tree!)

You can look forward to our new autumn menu launching on September 1 with woodland mushrooms on toast, the new veggie meatball sandwich and nourishing Buddha salad bowls.

We are working on gluten-free and dairy-free versions of our cinnamon and cardamom buns; essential treats to go with one of our speciality coffees.

It’s my pleasure and passion to continue to welcome customers into our own Oxford Skogen.

Skogen Kitchen,

2 King Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HS

01865 580104