Swedish Christmas

Just got back home a couple of kilos heavier after three days of Christmas celebrations with family. 

Swedish Christmas is mainly celebrated on ‘Julafton’, which is Christmas Eve the 24th of December. The day is usually started with some kind of Christmas breakfast. Then many people watch the 3 pm Disney’s Christmas or “Kalle” (from Kalle Anka, meaning Donald Duck). So did we, but this year we substituted the glögg (mulled wine) and gingerbread cookies with champagne and Skagen mix on Finnish rye crisps.

After ‘Kalle’ and exchanging Christmas gifts it’s time for the main event, which of course is the traditional Swedish julbord (literally Christmas table). The julbord is a buffet (smorgasbord) of various Swedish Christmas foods. We served gravlax salmon, meatballs, mini ‘prince’ sausages, cream sauce, creamed kale, red cabbage, Jansson’s temptation, pickled herring, potato salad as well as a couple of Finnish vegetable baked ‘casserolles’, since my family originally is Finnish. With this we had Christmas beer, red wine and a soft drink called julmust. For dessert a British Christmas cake as well as chocolates and Christmassy candy. On the 25th of December you basically do it all again with the leftovers.

Now it’s time to reload before the upcoming new years celebration and give heart and liver some time to recover.

Swedish Christmas recipes

If you need some Swedish Christmas recipes, visit my old Scandi recipe site Scandinaviafood.com.

God jul (Merry Christmas)!

Fancy kebab at Meat on a Stick in Stockholm


Finally paid a visit to semi-posh kebab joint “Meat on a Stick” in Stockholm. The place was founded by a kebab lover that’s been traveling the world eating lots of kebab trying to find the perfect one. That, generally positive reviews and my own love for kebab brought me there yesterday for an early dinner.

We arrived maybe five minutes past their opening time (on a Friday) 17 o’clock, and were immediately seated by a friendly waitress. When we left an hour later the place was almost full. The restaurant is pretty small, so it fills up quite quickly.

As for the food, I opted for the most “standard” choice according to me, with an “Ararat” featuring a mixture of lamb and veal meat, sliced döner-style from a rotating spit of meat. There was also a garlic creme, jalapeno sauce, a tomato based sauce, pickles, lettuce and onion. The kebab was generally very good. The meat had great taste, the pita-style bread withstood the meat’s juices almost all the way and started breaking only when I nearly had finished. The vegetables added a nice freshness, the pickles some acidity as well as crunch, the sauces heat, and, of course the to Swedes important sauciness. 🙂 The meat had a bit more bite to it than your regular street food kebab, but it was still quite tender.

My dinner companion tried a “Hanoi” which is a Vietnamese inspired chicken kebab with coriander, Sriracha mayo, radish, cucumber and carrots. Also a very nice if quite spicy kebab (the waitress warned us when ordering).

We also tried their fries with truffle dip which was a really nice addition to the kebabs. A glass of South African red worked really well with the above Ararat. A nice place for a tasty, fancy-yet-affordable kebab dinner.

Price

Price: 120 kr for an “Ararat”, a glass of red from 95 kr, fries with truffle dip 30 kr.

Stockholm’s best cinnamon bun (kanelbulle)?

Kanelbullar or cinnamon buns is probably Sweden’s most famous contribution to the world of sweets. A buttery cinnamony creation that at its best can elevate the simplest fika to something great.

So, you wonder where to find the best version of the kanelbulle in Stockholm. Well, of course opinions will be divided, and I feel slightly bad for recommending a chain. But the kanelbulle at Fabrique (a Swedish bakery chain even available in London, UK) is in my mind among the best I’ve tried. Buttery, soft yet firm and just plain delicious. They make good coffee too, which is the classic drink paired with a kanelbulle.

Other great places for a kanelbulle

Magnus Johanssons Bageri in Hammarby Sjöstad. Haga Bageri at various places around town. NK department store’s bottom floor sells (at least used to) great kanelbullar.

Any other suggestion for a good quality kanelbulle in Stockholm? Let me know!

Fabrique’s website

Meatballs at Kvarnen

Just got back from a visit to Kvarnen, a classic Stockholm beerhall and restaurant situated on Södermalm. My expectations weren’t that high, but I actually got pleasantly surprised with my meatballs.

Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers and lingonberries. Four out of five meatballs were juicy and tasty, one was dry. Still probably the best meatballs I’ve had in a Stockholm restaurant. Tasted like homemade. A solid four out of five, to quote my cousin who also had the meatballs.

Isterband. A Swedish sausage made of pork, barley groats and potato. This one was quite good too. Served with beetroots, dijon mustard and mustard from Skåne, parsley and chives creamed potatoes, according to the menu.

(Excuse the bad lightning phone shot pics.)

Kvarnen’s website

Autumn weekend in the archipelago

Spent last weekend in the archipelago, probably for the last time this year, since Sweden’s getting a bit too cold for country home life during Autumn and Winter. For me that is.


As per usual, food was eaten. Above is a very tasty pork roast that we slow-roasted for almost three hours and served with a creamy risotto topped with fresh shaved truffle from Gotland. Almost mandatory charcuterie was enjoyed as well.


Walking, champagne drinking and sauna on the island of Gåsö, a short boat ride from Saltsjöbaden or Älgö just outside Stockholm.


Dinner day two: a 9-hour cooked Bolognese with chipotle chilli, giving the sauce a smokey rich flavour. Buttered fusilli pasta and parmesan cheese too. So good.


A final eggs and bacon before heading back to the city.

Crayfish season


Above: non-traditional crayfish party spread with the addition of moules frites and garlic bread.

August in Sweden means (hopefully) dark but warm summer evenings, usually the first chanterelles (at least for me), and first and foremost: kräftor, meaning crayfish.

The crayfish season is mainly in August with a couple of jumpstarters in July and then a late season continuing into September. What happens in August is the kräftskiva which pretty much is a crayfish party. You eat crayfish, a few condiments and sidedishes. You also drink beer, schnaps, sing songs and, at least according to tradition, you wear silly pointy hats.

Being slightly allergic to shellfish I usually focus on a couple of crayfish tails as well as on the sidedishes. My favourite is the Västerbottens cheese pie, a high calorie delight comprising of aged cheese from Västerbotten in Northern Sweden not surprisingly called “Västerbottens cheese”. The pie also include onions, dough and eggs. Here is a recipe I wrote a couple of years ago.

Apart from pie you usually also find bread, I usuallt serve good quality baguettes. There should also be butter, more aged cheese (go for the Västerbottens cheese if available) and perhaps some kind of sauce. We usually make lemon mayo which goes well with the crayfish meat.

Kräftskiva is definitely one of my favourite Swedish festivities. So if you find yourself in Sweden in August, try to join one. Skål!