H&M, IKEA, meatballs. Swedish.

It is when people find out you are heading to IKEA that you will start hearing comments, "Try the Swedish meatballs!," discounting the fact the you're in Singapore, Hong Kong or even the US Does that count as authentic Swedish meatball?

I have abstained from eating meat but on very rare occasions, I bend my strict diet rules. This visit to Sweden was one of those.

After watching the Royal Guards go through their ceremonial march, I had the sudden urge to get some Swedish balls, the meatballs.

It was lunchtime, the body clock was signaling hunger. That should explain the craving.

In Gamlastan ("The Old Town"), the historic 13th-century old quarter also known as Stadenmellanbroarna ("the city between the bridges") in Stockholm, was a very discreet the restaurant that we chanced upon while walking the length of Osterlanggatan, the Eastern Long Street.

Among the uniformly designed building on the block, the corner one had a white flag waving perpendicular to its edifice. It reads "Den Gyldene Freden 1722" and the logo printed above it. Anyone oblivious to what it was could mistake the place to be a residence of importance or perhaps, an office.

Honestly, if the words were translated in English, I still would not get what it was. Den Gyldene Freden translates to "The Golden Peace".

Wouldn't that be like Green Peace or an organization like it? - Fingers on lips, deep in thought.

The give-away was the posting by the double doors. A menu. Luck was on my side. It listed "Svenskako'ttbullar"-Swedish meatballs.

Enter. We were totally caught off guard with what greeted us behind the heavy wooden doors. It was like passing through a portal to the Twilight Zone.

The interior of Den Gyldene Freden belongs to the past. Much of the place was wrapped with wood, the tone of which seemed darker with the dim lighting of the rooms.

Apparently, this place is one of Sweden's most noted restaurants and the oldest running restaurant in the world with an unaltered interior, an impressive feature that listed them on the Guinness Book of Records.

Since its birth in 1722, nothing much has changed, even when it became a hotel at some point in the 1800s. The place still exudes the feel of an 18th century tavern.

Den Gyldene Freden, or Freden to the locals, acquired its name from Swedish history, the peace of Nystad. It was a time of great joy, thus the name "golden."

More than the saving the interiors and its atmosphere, tradition is preserved. Through the centuries, it was a favorite hangout for the Stockholm's cultural elite like Carl Michael Bellman, the national poet/songwriter wrote songs about the place, influential visual artist Anders Zorn, who saved Freden from closure and demolition by purchasing the place in 1919, and is still a favorite among the new generation of artists.

Securing Freden's future is its current owner and regular diner since the dawn of the 1900s, The Swedish Academy, the institution that nominates the winner of the Nobel Prize. It holds its Thursday dinners in the privacy of the Bellman floor on the upper level of Freden.

Dining for us was in one of the two the taprooms on the main level, where one of the famed novelist had his meals on his favorite table. I ordered the Svenskako'ttbullar med potatispure, pressgurka, lingon & gra'ddsa's (Swedish meatballs with potato pure, cucumber, lingon berries& cream sauce).

The meatballs have always been served in Freden, an entry in the menu that lists traditional Nordic, countryside home cooking with a modern and personal twist, a concept they still stick to since Day 1. Freden's philosophy is based on the idea that one must make time to cook, and eat, fine food.

That much we did, take time in savoring the dishes we ordered. It was a welcome break from hours of walking.

Craving sated, we were ready to take on Sweden again. But as I stood up and glanced at the menu on last time, I noticed an item I missed earlier, an aperitif named "Mark the Vampire." What did I tell you about this gorgeous race again?

For more photos about this story, and other travel and lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/