Dish of the Week: Salmon Smörgås at FIKA

In what should surprise nobody, I love the Great British Baking Show. (I’d watch the Great British Bake Off, but Pillsbury owns the American copyright to “Bake Off” somehow, so we took a slick British title and made it duller. Ah, America.) For those living inside of a choux for the last half dozen years, GBBS/GBBO is a cooking competition show where amateur UK bakers are super nice to each other while they bake incredible things. I like to watch it while cooking and/or eating, because when I don’t things like this happen: I sleep in after a long week, sun’s shining outside, I only have a few more episodes left, so I decide to watch one with my morning coffee. It’s Danish Week! So as I’m enjoying my morning, I’m suddenly bombarded with five crazy talented bakers making TEN brilliant, mouth-watering smørrebrød. Well ok, now the only thing I want in the entire world is a smørrebrød of my very own. But where, oh where, can I find this niche food item on demand? If only this city had any Scandinavian heritage! Oh wait, it does! Fika, kids. Fika is where to turn. The cafe inside the American Swedish Institute is one of those restaurants that has been around forever, is presumably always busy, not very far away, yet I never think to go. Why? The pastries look amazing, the drinks look intriguing, and the meatballs look Swedish.

Fika doesn’t have smørrebrød, because that’s Danish, but they do have smörgåsar — which are both American for “Fancy Toast.” Needing to satisfy my craving, I ordered the salmon smörgås (on Danish rye!), and it. was. satisfying. I got a hearty piece of salmon, perfectly cooked, on top of some peppery greens and a thin, but dense slice of brown rye. On top was a quenelle of puréed beet, and below a sweet mustard sauce. This, friends, was not a Baking Show smörgås, it was a Bake Off smörgås. The flavors were complex, the textures varied. The whole thing played in my mouth the way Paul Hollywood plays with a bunch of amateur bakers’ feelings. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. Now if anyone knows where to find a pastel de nata…