If you've ever been to Ingebretsen's, you've probably encountered tube food. The Scandinavian specialty shop offers around ten varieties of food in tubes, from caviar, to cheese spread, to plain ol' mayonnaise. By American standards, Ingebretsen's selection is massive, but compared to Sweden's, it just barely scratches the surface. Swedish tube foods fall under two primary categories: condiments and sandwich spreads (like fish and cheese pastes). Of course, tube foods aren't just a Swedish phenomenon. For our top ten list, we included several non-Swedish contenders. Think of it as a sort of mini, tube-food-Olympic Village. (Awwww...)
See also: Minnesota's camel milk black market[jump]
10. Kalles Smoked Cream Roe, Ingebretsen's Oh, smoked cream roe, we really wanted to love you the best, and for the first split second, we wanted to vault you to the number one spot on our list. But when your initial sweet fishy taste departed, you were more a swirl of creamed salt -- which is not necessarily a bad thing. We just recommend trying Kalles smoked cream roe in small quantities. Unless of course you're a deer, moose, elephant, or strange salt-lick-loving human, in which case disregard everything we said and dig in.
9. Amore Pesto Paste, Seward Co-op We realize pesto paste isn't a totally unusual choice, but it was too perfectly tube-y to pass up. A word of warning: This tube has a tendency to violently spray electric green basil juice when squeezed haphazardly, so be vigilant when you mix this in with your pasta or spread it on crusty bread. Otherwise, when you can't get fresh basil or you're in a pinch, this tubed pesto paste is a nice alternative.
8. Royal Sweden's Salmon Pate, Ingebretsen's Holy salmon! Imagine putting a whole salmon, mayonnaise, and equal parts salt and sugar in a blender and you have Royal Sweden's salmon pate. It's a bit fishy, so to dilute the condensed fishy flavor, try salmon pate on toasted baguette with slices of fresh tomato. And if you're a fan of bagels and lox but don't have time to deal with an actual fish, salmon pate may just be the perfect solution.
7. Kalles dill, Ingebretsen's The added dill flavor elevates this tube food above its plain smoked cream roe counterpart, but the heavy salt content keeps it from the top of our list. The man behind the counter at Ingebretsen's suggested eating Kalle dill with anchovies, which, to us, sounds like a one way ticket to full-body bloat. We'll stick to serving Kalle dill on plain starches and, remember, a little bit goes a very long way.
6. Thomy Susser Senf (Sweet) Mustard, Kramarczuk's This was one of two tubed German mustards (made by Thomy, which is owned by Nestle) purchased from Kramarczuk's deli. It was difficult to choose between the two mustards in our ranking, but Susser Senf lost some points for the unidentified chunks floating within. Susser Senf is a strong but sweet mustard, like a combination of Dijon and honey mustard, and would be best suited for a brat or soft salted pretzel. If you're like us, you'll find that it tastes fine when squeezed on the tongue straight from the tube. [page]
5. Cod roe caviar, Ingebretsen's Tubed caviar is apparently huge with the Swedes. This particular variety was a favorite amongst a few of our reviewers and reigned supreme over the two Kalle varieties (though our salt-loving Kalle dill fan disagrees), thanks to its modest salt to roe ratio. Of all the tube foods, this one in particular most closely resembled an actual food, since the eggs are clearly distinguishable amidst the light pink paste.
4. Thomy's Delikatess-Senf, Kramarczuk's Mustard number two is much stronger than the first and similar to a standard yellow French's, but with a more complicated flavor and lingering aftertaste. Use the delikatess-senf like any other yellow mustard and appreciate the novelty of squeezing your favorite condiment from an attractive blue tube (EZ Squeeze bottles? Yawn.)
3. Horseradish mayo, United Noodles Okay, we know this tube food crosses into bottle territory, but it felt like a tube and was too good to leave off. This somewhat intimidating, label-less horseradish mayo is sold at United Noodles for around five bucks, which we think is a steal considering how much flavor it packs. It's like a creamy, less intense wasabi, which makes it a perfect alternative for those who want the taste but can't handle the full sting of the real thing. As an added bonus, the tip of the mayo tube is flower-shaped, allowing you to exercise your cake decorating skills, if mayonnaise icing is your thing.
2. Kavli cheese spread original, Ingebretsen's Of course the Swedes take silver and gold on our tube food list. This cheese spread is made from a "gouda type" cheese and has the consistency of thick mayo with a mild cheesy taste. It's like a refined version of cheese whiz, complete with the strange metallic aftertaste. We like it on crackers, but imagine it would fare well in mac-and-cheese or on a burger. We don't understand how the flower-holding woman on the label pertains to tubed cheese, but, then again, it's cheese in a tube, so anything goes.1. Kavli Räkost, Ingebretsen's Our winner, a cheesy shrimp combo from Ingebretsen's, is the real, addictive deal. Squeeze it onto deviled eggs, toast, hell, maybe even a stack of anchovies would work in this case. Räkost has a mild but still lively flavor with tiny bits of shrimp mixed throughout the cheesy paste. If you're looking to entertain with tube foods, and we assume you are, this is the place to start.