Stockhome continues to delight with fresh Swedish flavors
Our love of Stockhome’s clean and bright flavors was rediscovered this past weekend when, on a whim, we decided to stop in for a relaxing dinner. Although there was a bit of a breeze, as Petaluma usually serves it up on spring and summer evenings, the outdoor seating at Stockhome was comfortable and inviting.
An added benefit of dining in person was the fresh HenHouse beer on tap, although they also do an excellent job of offering uber-fresh canned beers. Although we were not initially angling for something from the sea, Stockhome always offers up great vessels of seafood and in this instance, the salmon souvlaki certainly caught our eye. Another was the mussels and pommes frites (French fries). Having harvested plenty by hand myself, I often steer clear of restaurant mussel offerings, however, Chef Roberth Sundell does such a great job with all his dishes that we simply had to give it a go and were glad we did. Rounding out the meal, we opted for one of our all-time favorite appetizers – the fried halloumi.
We walked our fresh HenHouse IPA to the sidewalk seating and picked a spot that was catching the last warm rays of the day. I am not normally a fan of IPAs, but always enjoy HenHouse’s because they do a stellar job of balancing the hop and malt flavors. I never feel the pinecone punch to the back of the throat that overcomes me during the first sip of most of our over-hopped West Coast IPAs.
In short order the fried halloumi arrived at our table, in all its simple splendor. This halloumi is ever so delicately fried cheese, topped with chermoula, a North African relish usually used to flavor seafood. In this application, it goes excellently with the dairy, which is a sheep’s milk cheese from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. This iteration, of which Stockhome has offered several, also included segments of orange. Walking the line between sweet and tart, the citrus helped give the fried cheese a clean flavor. For those who are unfamiliar, Swedish cuisine draws from many immigrant cultures, of which this dish is an excellent example. (The fried halloumi is gluten-free and vegetarian, however, due to the dominant ingredient being cheese, cannot be modified into a vegan dish.)
The mussels and pommes frites is described on the menu as “fennel, garlic, shallots, white wine, cream, sourdough baguette and pommes frites.” Our heart skipped a beat when while ordered as our hostess conducted a quick check with the kitchen to confirm that the mussels were available. A slight Swedish accent answered from the back that it was – “we have plenty of mussels.”
We breathed a sigh of relief.
We did not think twice about the term “plenty” until ours arrived at the table, at which point we suspected that we may have received every available mussel in the kitchen. The only time we have had more mussels in a meal is when we are picking them straight off the rocks and cooking them up right there on the beach. My arm would eventually grow tired from de-shelling all these mussels, which is my standard pre-devouring ritual when dealing with shellfish. However, prior to the de-shelling, neither of us could resist the fries, which are consistently some of the best in Petaluma. (Stockhome also offers one of the best burgers in town.)
When Chef Roberth checked in on us and we were raving about the meal, he started to tell us how he always finds dining on mussels to be relaxing because you are getting a delicious morsel here and there between de-shelling the next, pacing the meal. Then he noticed my growing pile of shells, smirked, and said, “Oh, that’s how you do it, eh?”
For me, I slow down enjoy my meal fully once I know all the hard work is over. In this case I had no idea I would be deshelling for five minutes straight or may have split it up into shifts.
Finally, it was time for the salmon souvlaki. Souvlaki is Greek for grilled skewers of meat. Stockhome’s version comes with a “side of potatoes, squash, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, grilled tomato, lemon, fried herbs, tzatziki, chermoula,” and is gluten-free and can also be diary-free if the tzatziki is left off. We have had a lot of great fish dishes at Stockhome over the years but this one may be the best. Recently, we were having a hard time deciding which salmon dish is our favorite in town, when considering Stockhome’s salmon souvlaki, Quinua’s ceviche salmon and escabeche de salmon, Sake 107’s sake kama (grilled salmon collar) and local wild King Salmon nigiri and sashimi, and Sugo’s pistachio crusted salmon (with red pepper agrodolce). Petaluma sure does have a lot of great salmon dishes.
We passed on dessert, but only because Sake 107’s special dessert was a cherry ricotta cheesecake, which we picked up on our way home and enjoyed thoroughly.
Since day one, Stockhome has always offered a broad menu of delicious, innovative and well-thought-out and executed dishes with a relaxed dining atmosphere. We have stopped counting how many times while passing Stockhome on the way home, we abandoned our home-cooked lunch or dinner plans and instead stopped in to enjoy their great food. Whether we try something new or go with an old favorite, every meal is worth writing home about.