Following in the Footsteps of Alfred Nobel and the Palates of the 2015 Laureates with a Nobel Dinner in Stockholm

A glass of champagne poured at the Nobel Prize dinner at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall

I earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry once-upon-a-time so there was absolutely no question, I was nerding out hard as we waited outside the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
Facade of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm
I was positively beside myself with excitement for our upcoming tour 'In the Footsteps of Alfred Nobel' which would culminate with a Nobel Prize worthy dinner...literally. We met our guide, Aviva, and were off and running for the afternoon.

Alfred Nobel's Story Told at Sweden's Nobel Museum

Exhibit of dynamite at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm

Our private tour of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm began with a retelling of the origins of the world-famous Nobel Prize, the pinnacle of achievement in the sciences. In the late 1800s in Sweden, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, a revolutionary but controversial technology that ultimately made him a fortune. The story goes that he lost his brother in an explosion in his research lab in Stockholm but the media thought Alfred himself had died. They reported Alfred's presumed death in a rather negative light focusing on the death and destruction of explosives rather than their industry-enabling potential. Alfred vowed to change that legacy. He never married nor had any children so set up a prize to reward the top practitioners in the fields of Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine. 
Cards Highlighting the achievements of 100+ years of Nobel Laureates at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm

The Nobel Prize is one of the highest achievements that can be bestowed. The Nobel Museum features rotating panels highlighting each Nobel Prize winner as well as some exhibits from more well-known Nobel laureates like Albert Einstein.

Finding my Academic Grandfathers at the Nobel Museum

Photos of Nobel Laureates at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm
I was personally very excited to see a temporary exhibit at Stockholm's Nobel Museum featuring fun photographs of Nobel laureates describing their ground-breaking research. You see, my academic grandfathers are both Nobel Prize winners. To say it another way, both my undergraduate and Ph.D. thesis advisors did their Ph.D.s with Dick Schrock and Bob Grubbs. These two chemistry professors from MIT and Caltech won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2005 for their research on olefin metathesis. 
Photo of Nobel Laureate Dick Schrock showcasing his research in olefin metathesis at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm
Sure enough, there were photos of Schrock (above) and Grubbs (below) looking extremely pleased to be Nobel Prize winners. Once again, I was like a kid in a candy store...nerding. out.
Photo of Nobel Laureate Bob Grubbs showcasing his research in olefin metathesis at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm

We All Scream for Ice Cream at the Nobel Museum

Ice cream served with the Nobel Prize banquet in the Nobel Museum cafe in Stockholm

We continued our Nobel tour in Stockholm with a pitstop for ice cream at the cafe in the Nobel Museum. How can you not love the Swedes? I'm all for eating dessert first. We were served a finely molded and plated dish of ice cream along with coffee or tea. Is this what Nobel Prize level success tastes like? The Nobel Museum had an art station set up to inspire people (children?) to draw science. I drew some old reactions that I worked on in grad school and used the ultimate creation as a placemat for my ice cream. It felt so good to revisit my scientific roots in Stockholm.

Looking Under the Chairs at the Nobel Museum

Chair signed by Nobel Laureate William Moerner at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden

We learned that there is a tradition at the Nobel Museum. Nobel laureates that visit the Stockholm have the opportunity to sign the bottom of the chairs in the Nobel Museum cafe. I discovered another academic connection. William Moerner (from the Stanford Chemistry Department) won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014. I've been out of the field for a while now but was super-excited to see this. Professor Moerner had signed the chair I was sitting on.

Our Insightful Nobel Guide to Stockholm

Aviva, our guide to everything Nobel in Stockholm, Sweden

We left the Nobel Museum and our group piled into a van with Aviva for a quick tour around Stockholm. Aviva used to work at the Grand Hotel where the Nobel laureates stay when they come to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremony and she regaled us with stories of those laureates she'd met.


Our next stop of Nobel importance was Stockholm's Stadshus (City Hall) for a private tour. The Nobel Prize banquet is held here each year in the Blue Hall and once again, I was giddy with anticipation; following in the footsteps of so many brilliant Nobel Prize winning men and women.
The tower of Stockholm City Hall viewed from the courtyard

Stockholm City Council Chamber

Stockholm City Council Chamber
We had the chance to step inside Stockholm's City Council chamber. Our Stockholm City Hall guide, Emma, proudly told us about how men and women are evenly represented on the council. I wish the same could be said of the Nobel laureates who also walked these halls. The majority of Nobel laureates are older white men.
The ceiling of the Stockholm City Council Chamber

The Golden Hall at Stockholm Stadshus 

Giant doors leading to the Golden Hall at Stockholm Stadshus
We soon stood outside of a very imposing door inside the Stockholm City Hall. Emma swung the doors open to reveal the Golden Hall featuring walls covered in lavish golden mosaics.
Opening the giant doors leading to the Golden Hall at Stockholm Stadshus
The Golden Hall was positively stunning. Surprisingly, this is not where the Nobel Prize banquet is held but perhaps this is what inspired the golden medallions given to each Nobel laureate?
The Golden Hall at Stockholm Stadshus
Check out the photosphere below to immerse yourself in the Golden Hall at Stockholm Stadshus.
360 photosphere of the Golden Hall at Stockholm City Hall

A Blue Hall Fit for a Nobel Banquet

The Blue Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet in held at the Stockholm City Hall

We lingered in the Blue Hall at the Stockholm Stadshus, the site of the Nobel Prize banquet each year. Each Nobel Laureate gets to bring a fixed number of guests to Sweden for the Nobel banquet and Aviva and Emma both told us to imagine every inch of open space filled to capacity with tables and amazing arrays of flowers. The Blue Hall is an Italian-style courtyard. The architect originally planned to paint it blue (thus the moniker) but decided that the exposed brick was much more dramatic and impressive. Technically, the floor is a blue-ish marble so I suppose the name Blue Hall isn't totally incorrect.

Climbing the Tower at Stockholm Stadshus

View of the courtyard at Stockholm City Hall from above

We walked across the open courtyard of Stockholm City Hall from the Blue Hall to the tower and commenced a winding climb through hallways lined with intricately patterned brickwork.
Brick lined stairway leading to the bell tower at Stockholm City Hall

We emerged at the top of the tower and looked out over sweeping views of Gamla Stan (Stockholm's old town). I could just imagine Alfred Nobel going about his business in the 19th century. Somehow I could still feel his presence in the city of Stockholm.
Views of Gamla Stan (Old Town Stockholm) from the tower of Stockholm City Hall


It was finally time for the main event! I had been looking forward to our Nobel dinner all day. We entered Stadshuskällaren Restaurant tucked away around the side of the Stockholm City Hall. Stadshuskällaren Restaurant caters the Nobel Prize banquet each year. For a price, you and nine friends can dine on the exact meal that the Nobel laureates ate for any year since the Nobel Prize was first awarded in 1901. Fortunately, for us, the rather steep price tag of 1695 SEK (about $200 USD at the time of writing) for the Nobel dinner experience was waived thanks to the generosity of Visit Stockholm who was sponsoring this tour as part of the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference in Stockholm in July.
Stadshuskällaren Restaurang sign at the Stockholm City Hall
We entered the Stadshuskällaren to find a table sumptuously laid out with ten place settings.
Nobel Dinner place settings at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall
 We were going to be eating off the very same china used by the Nobel laureates! Once again, I was beside myself with excitement! We learned that each Nobel place setting costs about 5000 SEK (about $600 USD at the time of writing). Careful now...
Nobel Dinner place setting at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall
Even if you aren't into the Nobel Prize, eating at Stadshuskällaren Restaurant is an experience in fine dining. We started the evening with a glass of champagne (Champagne Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2008). As the bubbles tickled my palate, I imagined myself in the Blue Hall toasting the Nobel Prize winning scientific achievements for the year.
A glass of champagne poured at the Nobel Prize dinner at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall
The first course from the 2015 Nobel banquet was brought out and unveiled with a flourish. We thoroughly enjoyed the Turbot scallop with vegetables and egg in a brown butter sauce.
Covered dish containing the first course of our Nobel Prize dinner at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall
Turbot scallop with vegetables and egg in a brown butter sauce. The same dish was served at the 2015 Nobel Banquet
For the main course of our Nobel Prize dinner, we switched to red wine, Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2010.
Glass of red wine at the Nobel Prize dinner at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang at the Stockholm City Hall
The wine paired well with the roasted veal, mushrooms with celeriac, apple fruit and a
roasted celeriac juice with potato parcel.
Roasted veal main course at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang. The same dish was served at the 2015 Nobel Prize dinner at the Stockholm City Hall
The dish was dressed table-side for added flair.
Gravy being poured over the roasted veal main course at Stadshuskällaren Restaurang. The same dish was served at the 2015 Nobel Prize dinner at the Stockholm City Hall
Our Nobel meal concluded with a fragrant cherry blossom and almond dessert paired with i Castei Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2008. I could just imagine the Nobel laureates savoring the taste of sweet success. I think there should be a Nobel Prize for Gastronomy!
Dessert from the 2015 Nobel Prize Banquet Dinner in Stockholm
Our Nobel banquet ended with coffee and two extra special treats. The first was a glass of Punsch (served to the Nobel laureates but not normally included with the Nobel dinner for purchase). For the second, I was very excited to receive my very own Nobel Prize...make that a chocolate Nobel Prize. Considering that I left chemistry and academic research for a career as a project manager in Tech, this Nobel Prize tour was a great opportunity to live vicariously and consider what might have been if I had stayed the course predicted by my academic training. Once of a scientist, always a scientist and every scientist dreams of one day winning the Nobel Prize.
Coffee cup and a chocolate Nobel Prize

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Sidewalk Safari: Following in the Footsteps of Alfred Nobel and the Palates of the 2015 Laureates with a Nobel Dinner in Stockholm
Following in the Footsteps of Alfred Nobel and the Palates of the 2015 Laureates with a Nobel Dinner in Stockholm
Learn more about the history of the Nobel Prize and the man behind it while exploring Stockholm. Experience the Nobel Prize dinner first hand. A photo-rich post written by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) from Sidewalk Safari.
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