Heath and safety would have a heart attack if they saw this place… no windows… underground… what if there was a fire? Health and safety would have this place shut down.

I knew the comment was coming from a Londoner before I even identified the accent. “Health and Safety” was a dead give away and the sudden building of stress helped me nail the originating city.

Maybe we shouldn’t stay. We could die. One beer later and all was well with the world.

I was sitting in Misteln (Swedish for Mistletoe), a small cafe built in one of Stockholm’s old windowless cellars. My goal was to sample a smörgåsbord and have a glass of wine; and, at the same time do some people watching. The later was extremely easy because there were 10 of us crammed in an old dungeon-like cell; there was no hiding anything.

At one point I realized that I was sitting amongst consular workers who were detailing all their secrets. I don’t know why the NSA needs to tune into phone lines and internet traffic; go to a cafe in Sweden and you’ll learn everything about the world of international diplomacy.

No one noticed me as I picked at my olives and meats. The bread was abandoned. The wine was pretty good. The conversations even better. There was a moment when American patrons left… and were replaced by German speakers. Then listening to conversations wasn’t as fun.

The funny thing about Sweden is it is listed as a foodie paradise. The Internet is littered with reviews and 5-star ratings for incredible restaurants and cafes throughout Stockholm (especially along Kungsgatan). I had difficulty finding any of the ones listed; perhaps it was my inability to speak Swedish or some sort of cultural misunderstanding. As for other recommendations, I didn’t make it as far East as Göteborg, which I’ve heard is a prime foodie mecca.