As I’ve been teasing you with little mentions of the Swedish julbord in two of my recent posts, I thought it was time to show you what it’s all about.
We went down to this lovely little town outside Stockholm called Mariefred, which is located on lake Mälaren (which runs all the way up through Stockholm and out into the Baltic Sea). According to Wikipedia they had just under 4,000 inhabitants in 2010, and you can trace its origins back to the 1370’s when the Head of the Royal Council built a fortress on the peninsula. That fortress later became Gripsholm Castle which was used as a royal residence until the 1800’s but is now a museum. Across the water from the Castle you have Gripsholms Värdshus, an inn that was established in the early 1600’s. If you sit in their garden you have a view of the Castle, and behind it the local church looms high. It really is a picturesque sight.
The inn was where we were heading for our julbord. We had a two-hour slot booked for lunch, and we were not disappointed. They had everything I want at a julbord (my granddad would argue that the pigs’ trotters were missing) but with an atmosphere that was of a more luxurious nature than my childhood ones.
The first stop was in the lobby where we were greeted with glögg and some gingerbread before making our way in to the restaurant. Usually glögg is served last, as an aperitif kind of, but we were a bit early, so decided to take a seat in the sofas and warm ourselves with some.
This is the herring table, and it’s supposed to be your first stop. As you can see there are all different kinds of herring and they will all have different flavourings, like for example black pepper, mustard, onion or dill. I don’t like herring though, so I skip this step.
Then you have the cold-cuts and salmon. We had two kinds of gravad lax, one normal and one that was flavoured with beetroot and vodka. I’ve never tried that before but it was really nice. There were also some other ‘fishy’ bits like eggs topped with Skagenröra or caviar and a fish cake of sorts.
Then on the other side of that table there were the cold cuts. You had jellied veal and veal tongue (eugh) and different types of game sausages – moose, wild board, reindeer, etc. – similar to salamis. And of course the most important of them all: the Christmas ham. Together with this you should take some bread from the bread table, and some Christmas cheese (which is essentially an Edam cheese).
We then move on to the hot foods, where there were meatballs, mini sausages, potatoes, pork belly, mushroom omelette, red cabbage, creamed kale, Janssons frestelse (a potato and anchovies gratin) and something called dopp i grytan (which means dip in the pot) and is essentially the fat from the boiling liquid from the ham, melted again. You’re meant to dip somewhat stale bread in it.
Then, finally – saving the best for last, was dessert. There was a cheese board, but I didn’t go for that. There were skumtomtar (marshmallow-ish Santas), knäck (toffee with almonds in it), polkagrisar (hard boiled mint sweets), ischoklad (literal translation ‘ice chocolate’ – chocolate mixed with coconut oil), fudge, and marmalade sweets. There were then also little mini desserts: a chocolate mousse with raspberries, saffron panna cotta with blackberries, ris à la Malta (rice pudding rice mixed with whipped cream-ish – I don’t like it), almond pastry cases filled with whipped cream and a forest berry compote, and Swedish cheesecake with cream and jam.
So all in all the main food was a very traditional julbord, but the desserts were a mix. It was very good though and we seemed to have timed it well, because most people arrived when we were ready to go get the hot foods – meaning we were one course ahead of the others.
Next week I might have a julbord with my working group, but if we end up going we’ll be going to a seafood restaurant, so it’ll only be seafood. I really hope everyone can come, because I would really like to go though – the menu looks amazing.