By the fireplace at Långedrags Värdshus, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2023
What I find mildly amusing for julbord experience is how I often playfully break the traditional Swedish julbord dining rules. While a typical julbord is savored in a specific order, starting from cold dishes to warm ones and finally to desserts, I slightly revel in mixing all my dishes according to whim. This unorthodox approach might raise eyebrows among julbord purists, but thankfully, my friends, with whom I’ve shared many a traditional Swedish julbord, have always been patient and indulgent towards my culinary quirks. Whether it’s starting with a sweet treat or mixing savory and sweet in one plate, they understand and even appreciate my guilty pleasure of having whatever I want to eat, in whichever order I desire. This liberty to choose, to mix and match, adds an extra layer of joy to the already delightful julbord experience at Långedrags Värdshus.
As the festive season of Christmas approaches, there’s a magical transformation at Långedrags Värdshus, a renowned restaurant along the picturesque Swedish west coast. Nestled by the ocean, with a stunning view of the Kattegat strait in the Bay of the North Sea, the restaurant becomes a winter wonderland. Light snowfalls add a touch of enchantment, creating a pristine white blanket over the surrounding landscape. It’s here that we’ve had our first Swedish Christmas table sitting for this year in 2023, a lavish feast and a luxury that epitomizes the spirit of a Scandinavian Christmas.
The moment you step into Långedrags Värdshus during Christmas, you’re transported into a serene and beautifully decorated space. Large windows offer unobstructed views of the ocean, which, under the soft winter sun, glitters against the snow-covered shores. The restaurant’s warm and cozy ambiance provides a stark but harmonious contrast to the chilly beauty outside.
A julbord, literally meaning “Christmas table,” is a traditional Swedish buffet eaten during the year end festive season. At Långedrags Värdshus, the spread is a perfect blend of tradition and innovation. Typically, a julbord is enjoyed in rounds, starting with cold dishes and moving on to warm ones, before culminating in a variety of desserts. Five rounds are a common structure, allowing diners to fully appreciate each category of this vast spread.
Round 1: Cold Fish and Seafood Delights
The first round typically starts with a variety of fish and seafood. Here, they had everything from traditional inlagd sill (pickled herring) to a modern twist of Thai marinated gravad lax. The selection also included senapssill (mustard herring), various forms of smoked and cured salmon, and delightful shrimp and caviar-topped eggs.
Round 2: Cold Cuts and Meats
Next, the focus shifts to cold cuts. The star of this round is undoubtedly the julskinka (Christmas ham), beautifully glazed and succulent. There’s also an assortment of pâtés, cured meats like rökt renstek (smoked reindeer steak), and liverwurst, offering a rich and savory experience.
Round 3: Warm Dishes
The warm dishes bring heartiness to the julbord. Traditional köttbullar (meatballs), prinskorv (small sausages), and Janssons frestelse (a creamy potato and anchovy casserole) are just a few of the highlights. Each dish is cooked to perfection, with flavors that remind you of a traditional Swedish Christmas.
Round 4: Side Dishes and Accompaniments
Side dishes play a supporting but vital role. From creamy sauces and sharp mustards to various kinds of bread like julvört (Christmas bread) and knäckebröd (crispbread), they complement the main dishes beautifully.
Round 5: Desserts and Sweet Treats
Finally, the dessert round is a showcase of Swedish Christmas sweets. From the creamy Ris à la Malta to the saffron-infused Saffranspannkaka, the desserts provide a perfect end to the meal. Don’t forget to try the knäck (traditional toffee) and pepparkakor (ginger snaps), which are Christmas essentials in Sweden.
Dining at Långedrags Värdshus during Christmas is more than just a meal; it’s a comprehensive experience that combines delightful flavors, stunning views, and the warmth of Swedish hospitality. Whether you’re a fan of traditional Swedish cuisine or looking for a touch of modernity in your dishes, the julbord here caters to all tastes and preferences, ensuring a memorable festive feast.
Tips for Your Visit
- Book in Advance: The Christmas season is a busy time, so make sure to book your table well in advance.
- Pace Yourself: With so many rounds and an array of dishes, it’s best to pace yourself to enjoy the full range of the julbord.
- Explore the Drinks: Complement your meal with traditional drinks like julmust (a soft drink), julöl (Christmas beer), or glögg (mulled wine).
My experience at Långedrags Värdshus was nothing short of magical. The combination of a traditional Swedish julbord, the breathtaking ocean view, and the festive atmosphere made for an unforgettable Christmas dining experience. If you find yourself in Sweden during the holidays, this is a culinary journey not to be missed.