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Strategies for Successful Julbording, Tre Kroner

Strategies for Successful Julbording, Tre Kroner
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  • Strategies for Successful Julbording, Tre Kroner

    Post #1 - December 3rd, 2006, 6:40 am
    Post #1 - December 3rd, 2006, 6:40 am Post #1 - December 3rd, 2006, 6:40 am
    Strategies for Successful Julbording, Tre Kroner

    Julbord at Tre Kroner – a culinary Iron Man competition – is not to be approached lightly. On game day, I had a small breakfast (fruit, bread), went to the gym, fully hydrated throughout morning and afternoon, and psyched myself into a winning attitude (lots of time in front of the mirror growling “Belly of the tiger!” to myself, punching food lockers, whipping myself into a feeding frenzy).

    I did succeed in eating one of everything offered on this groaning board, including bread and cheese (kind of a waste of valuable stomach space, but eating some of all was my goal).

    If you’re going to Tre Kroner for this event, this is what you will see when you enter the smorgasbord thunderdome:

    Image

    This is the first table; herring. Make sure you try all nine of the offered herring dishes. Each one is marvelously distinct, the house-cured fish plump, moist and firm. I also liked the gravlax:

    Image

    The fish, as it turned out, were more interesting than the meat (sausage, Swedish meat balls, etc.), which were fine but tended to be under-seasoned for my tastes. Frankly, if taste and not a test of stomach strength were my main goal, I should have simply returned to the first, cold fish table, rather than going through all three of the traditional stations.

    Still, getting up for each of three rounds is a good thing for those, like me, who want to eat it all because rising three times throughout the meal enables one to execute a subtle variation on the “Kobayashi quiver” –you can stretch, wiggle it a little bit, extend the gastric cavity to reshuffle the contents, and mentally prepare oneself to get back in the game.

    Hint: if you want to sample the vaunted lutfisk – which is actually to be consumed in the third and final wave – I’d recommend going for it right off the blocks. When we got to the warm table, the final in the series, there was just a little lutfisk left; apparently, this much maligned fish – on the cusp between jellification and saponification – is extraordinarily popular among resident Nordics…at least once a year.

    Tre Kroner
    3258 W Foster
    773.267.9888
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - December 3rd, 2006, 3:49 pm
    Post #2 - December 3rd, 2006, 3:49 pm Post #2 - December 3rd, 2006, 3:49 pm
    David,
    Thanks for the enlightening--and enticing--report! I tried hard to convince the Lovely Dining Companion, but she wasn't buying. My feeling, now, is that I erred in not attending solo. Shame on me.

    I salivated over your descriptions and am already eager (and in training) for next year's offering. There's the small matter of Chanakwanzadan coming up shortly that may test my mettle but I've already chosen my training mantra: the only good lutefisk is a downed lutefisk (take that any way you choose!).

    Skål!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #3 - December 4th, 2006, 1:30 am
    Post #3 - December 4th, 2006, 1:30 am Post #3 - December 4th, 2006, 1:30 am
    While I understand David's advice to try a little lutfisk early in the game, there is a reason for saving space for one or two bites near the end of the meal.

    Lutfisk, thanks to it's preparation (dried, soaked/reconsitituted in a lye/water solution and boiled or baked) is one of the most basic (I've read it can have pH levels around 11 or 12 although I've never actually measured it myself!) dishes out there. It does a great job of neutralizing some of that stomach acid that your poor, stuffed stomach is working overtime to put to use.

    My personal julbord strategy (after 10 years of living in Sweden) is heavy on the fish, easy on the meats and skip the dessert.
  • Post #4 - December 4th, 2006, 9:49 am
    Post #4 - December 4th, 2006, 9:49 am Post #4 - December 4th, 2006, 9:49 am
    Bridgestone,

    I agree on the heavy on the fish, light on the meats, but the dessert is something I kept revisiting last year. They prepare a dreamy creme brulee type dessert that is just like thickened, sweetened heavy cream. It is still tickling in the back of my brain since last year.

    The Julebord's you experience, are they very similar to what we have experienced? Do you go to the restaurant or to family and friends? It is really quite a range of food, which couldn't be done with a sparse crowd it would seem.

    In case you missed it, this is a report of the Swedish Julebord from last year: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=56219#56219

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - December 4th, 2006, 9:51 am
    Post #5 - December 4th, 2006, 9:51 am Post #5 - December 4th, 2006, 9:51 am
    Cathy2 wrote: They prepare a dreamy creme brulee type dessert that is just like thickened, sweetened heavy cream. It is still tickling in the back of my brain since last year.


    That dessert, which they call something like "milk pudding" is on the menu all the time. It's not just for Julebord.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - December 4th, 2006, 10:02 am
    Post #6 - December 4th, 2006, 10:02 am Post #6 - December 4th, 2006, 10:02 am
    stevez wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote: They prepare a dreamy creme brulee type dessert that is just like thickened, sweetened heavy cream. It is still tickling in the back of my brain since last year.


    That dessert, which they call something like "milk pudding" is on the menu all the time. It's not just for Julebord.


    Steve,

    Thank goodness I didn't know or I would have been camped on their doorstep all year long.

    It is a great dessert in its simplicity or perhaps apparent simplicity!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 1:20 am
    Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 1:20 am Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 1:20 am
    Hmmm... I hate to disappoint but I can't think of (or find) any Swedish desserts like what's being described.

    One normally finds different types of fruit compotes and salads, pears poached in/with ginger and/or glögg and "Ris á la Malta" standing in as dessert on the julbord. "Ris á la Malta" is cold rice pudding that's been mixed with sugar, vanilla and whipped cream.

    Looking at this post and the one Cathy2 posted to, I'd say that Tre Kronor does a very respectable julbord, especially considering that they are thousands of miles away from many of the commercially available shortcuts most Swedish restaurants and families have to choose between (pre-cooked ham, frozen meatballs, factory-made herring, etc.).

    As things look now, I'll be experiencing two julbord this year: one at work and one at home. That's, frankly, about my limit. Cathy2 is correct in that a julbord made at home adds up to a large amount of leftovers but eating those for dinner on the days following Christmas is about as much of a tradition here as turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving.
  • Post #8 - December 5th, 2006, 7:41 am
    Post #8 - December 5th, 2006, 7:41 am Post #8 - December 5th, 2006, 7:41 am
    Bridgestone wrote:Hmmm... I hate to disappoint but I can't think of (or find) any Swedish desserts like what's being described.


    I am nothing if not almost completely ignorant of Scandinavian cuisine in general. However...the descriptions put me in mind of a dish that sounds much like rømmegrøt--sort of a sour cream/heavy cream custard- or pudding-like concoction that is rich beyond imagining. If memory serves, it is a Christmas or New Year's dish. The only problem, I believe, is that rømmegrøt is Norwegian, not Swedish. Yet, I'd find it hard to think that there wasn't some sort of Swedish analog. And if not, perhaps this was a bow in the direction of pan-Scandinavian amity and comity.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #9 - December 5th, 2006, 7:57 am
    Post #9 - December 5th, 2006, 7:57 am Post #9 - December 5th, 2006, 7:57 am
    Bridgestone wrote:I'd say that Tre Kronor does a very respectable julbord, especially considering that they are thousands of miles away from many of the commercially available shortcuts most Swedish restaurants and families have to choose between (pre-cooked ham, frozen meatballs, factory-made herring, etc.).


    Truth be told, two of the herrings -- the mustard and the matjes -- are not made in-house. The in-house herrings were fabulous, but I must say that my favorite was probably the sandalwood-smoked matjes -- the flavor was haunting, the richness amped up with a dollop of sour cream and chives. I had everything on the Julbord at Tre Kroner -- and "thirds" on the matjes.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - December 5th, 2006, 9:09 am
    Post #10 - December 5th, 2006, 9:09 am Post #10 - December 5th, 2006, 9:09 am
    However...the descriptions put me in mind of a dish that sounds much like rømmegrøt--sort of a sour cream/heavy cream custard- or pudding-like concoction that is rich beyond imagining.


    Well, after a little searching, I've found a description of Gypsy Boy's excellent suggestion. And, it seems to be something that occasionally is served in an area of Sweden that lies right on the Norweigen border. It's called "Römgrött" or "gräddgröt" in Swedish (literally, "creme-fraiche porriage" or "cream porriage"). However, I'm not sure if it's what's being served at Tre Kronor.

    Römgrött seems to be more of a super-rich bechemel sauce, often served with fish. It's simply made from creme fraiche (or whipping cream) and milk that's heated to a simmer and had flour (or perhaps some sort of finely ground oatmeal) stirred in along with a pinch of salt. It used to be served with sugar, a large lump of butter and more cream on top. I'm sure that all that lactose (along with the sugar on top) make for a somewhat sweet dish. However, it seems to be treated as more of a savory dish than a dessert.

    No, the closest I can guess for the mystery dish is a hyper-rich version of (the already super-rich) Ris á la Malta. Perhaps made with 25:1 ratio of whipped cream to rice porriage?

    Maybe someone planning on tasting Tre Kronor's julbord this year could remember to ask someone working there about the dish's origins?
  • Post #11 - December 5th, 2006, 9:19 am
    Post #11 - December 5th, 2006, 9:19 am Post #11 - December 5th, 2006, 9:19 am
    Sadly, my recipe is not to hand (it's from a memoir of growing up at the turn of the century in North Dakota, by the daughter of Norwegian immigrants). However, as best I can recall, it involves obscene amounts of unsalted butter, heavy cream, sour cream, all lightly boiled with a bit of flour for thickening and sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. The final consistency is pudding-like, ultra-smooth and, as I noted above, rich beyond imagining.

    I have an unreconstructed sweet tooth that is game for anything with sugar (well, almost anything) and I still vividly remember my first bowl: I could barely, barely finish the soup bowl--perhaps a couple of measuring cups worth. The richness, heaviness, and sheer butterfat content was stupefying. (But then, considering the climate, time of year, etc., it certainly seems plausible. After all, polar expeditioners often eat sticks of butter, straight.)

    I was able to share it once with the father of some close neighbors from South Dakota. The dad was himself the son of Swedish (I think) immigrants and he said that the dish put him in mind of growing up in South Dakota back in the 30s. It's intriguing that Bridgestone's research leads him more in the direction of a savory dish than a sweet one.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #12 - December 5th, 2006, 9:46 am
    Post #12 - December 5th, 2006, 9:46 am Post #12 - December 5th, 2006, 9:46 am
    Bridgestone wrote:No, the closest I can guess for the mystery dish is a hyper-rich version of (the already super-rich) Ris á la Malta. Perhaps made with 25:1 ratio of whipped cream to rice porriage?

    Maybe someone planning on tasting Tre Kronor's julbord this year could remember to ask someone working there about the dish's origins?


    Having had this dish a number of times, I can best describe it closer to a creme brulee that is not quite as rich as the usual suspects and is served in a cup that is usually used for soup, rather than a shallow wide dish. There is no evidence of rice in the versions I have had.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - December 5th, 2006, 5:00 pm
    Post #13 - December 5th, 2006, 5:00 pm Post #13 - December 5th, 2006, 5:00 pm
    FWIW, I haven't had the above-described dessert , and I haven't been the to Julbord, but I have been to TK for countless breakfasts and they do offer a rice pudding on their regular dessert menu. It's served warm in a coffee cup with lingonberries on top. It doesn't strike me as having particularly a lot of whipped cream in it, if any. It has a nice vanilla flavor, and plenty of rice.
  • Post #14 - December 5th, 2006, 10:34 pm
    Post #14 - December 5th, 2006, 10:34 pm Post #14 - December 5th, 2006, 10:34 pm
    As we're speaking of creamy Julbord offerings, one of my favorite non-dessert Julbord dishes is Jansson’s Temptation. This lurid-sounding but predictably restrained cocoction is extraordinarly simple: spuds, sprats, onions and cream in a casserole.

    I'm guessing this is comfort food for many Nordics. I mentioned this dish to a Norwegian woman at Thanksgiving, and she actually got all bleary-eyed and blushed.

    Anyway, I may prepare Jansson’s Temptation for Christmas Eve, though I'm not sure where to get the sprats (or Norwegian anchovies, which I believe is what they use at Tre Kroner).

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - December 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    Post #15 - December 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm Post #15 - December 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    David,

    Russian shops always carry some sprats. In fact I believe EatChicago has a sprat post with pictures. I believe they are from Riga or one of the other Baltic republics. Unless you need fresh, finding sprats shouldn't present a problem.

    Edit - here is the sprat post.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - December 6th, 2006, 2:38 am
    Post #16 - December 6th, 2006, 2:38 am Post #16 - December 6th, 2006, 2:38 am
    Well, creme brulee is/has been very popular in Sweden - especially with the generation born in the 40's and 50's (it's my mother-in-law's favorite dessert). As non-Swedish and non-Christmas is it is, it may well be big dish of creme brulee sitting proudly on Tre Kronor's julbord!

    Anyway, I may prepare Jansson’s Temptation for Christmas Eve, though I'm not sure where to get the sprats (or Norwegian anchovies, which I believe is what they use at Tre Kroner).


    Russian shops always carry some sprats. In fact I believe EatChicago has a sprat post with pictures. I believe they are from Riga or one of the other Baltic republics. Unless you need fresh, finding sprats shouldn't present a problem.


    Thoughtful advice from Cathy2 but perhaps not what's needed for a true Jansson's...

    Sprats sold in Sweden have a confusing name: "ansjovis". Looks like "anchovies", right? Not the same thing... What we know as "anchovies" in the States are sold as "sardeller" (or, "sardines") here. Swedish ansjovis are not smoked but brined in a pungently sweet and salty mixture and are actually pretty reminiscent of the of the matjessill that David Hammond so thoroughly enjoys (which are, by the way, a favorite of mine, too - especially when served with creme fraiche, chopped chives and perhaps a little chopped hard-boiled egg. They are seasoned with sandelwood, not smoked and a direct copy of the Netherland's treasured snack). I only bother to split hairs about this as the sweetness and saltiness are vital to the Jansson's preparation and I doubt that using smoked sprats would lead to a satisfactory recreation of Tre Kronor's Jansson's.

    Here's a can:

    Image

    Notice that these are produced by the same company (Abba) that's probably making the Swedish caviar some of you have reported seeing at IKEA. Perhaps the Chicagoland IKEA has a tin or two of Swedish ansjovis sitting around?
  • Post #17 - December 6th, 2006, 4:19 am
    Post #17 - December 6th, 2006, 4:19 am Post #17 - December 6th, 2006, 4:19 am
    Bridgestone wrote:Swedish ansjovis are not smoked but brined in a pungently sweet and salty mixture and are actually pretty reminiscent of the of the matjessill that David Hammond so thoroughly enjoys (which are, by the way, a favorite of mine, too - especially when served with creme fraiche, chopped chives and perhaps a little chopped hard-boiled egg. They are seasoned with sandelwood, not smoked and a direct copy of the Netherland's treasured snack). I only bother to split hairs about this as the sweetness and saltiness are vital to the Jansson's preparation and I doubt that using smoked sprats would lead to a satisfactory recreation of Tre Kronor's Jansson's.


    Thank you very much, Bridgestone, for the clarification. That sandalwood "seasoning" is most interesting (are the fish brined in a box of sandalwood or with wood chips?) -- the fish did not taste "smoked" but that's what the nice Swedish lady told me (overall, the serving ladies -- dressed in traditional white "togas" with red sashes -- very enthusiastically answered all questions about the food being served, though, I guess, perhaps not always accurately).

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #18 - December 6th, 2006, 7:38 am
    Post #18 - December 6th, 2006, 7:38 am Post #18 - December 6th, 2006, 7:38 am
    Matjessill (and perhaps ansjovis) are flavored with sandelwood chips or even powder along with allspice, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Post #19 - December 6th, 2006, 8:46 am
    Post #19 - December 6th, 2006, 8:46 am Post #19 - December 6th, 2006, 8:46 am
    Bridgestone wrote:Notice that these are produced by the same company (Abba) that's probably making the Swedish caviar some of you have reported seeing at IKEA. Perhaps the Chicagoland IKEA has a tin or two of Swedish ansjovis sitting around?


    I believe they do!
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #20 - December 3rd, 2016, 9:52 am
    Post #20 - December 3rd, 2016, 9:52 am Post #20 - December 3rd, 2016, 9:52 am
    I had always wanted to attend Julbord at Tre Kronor, but never did before last night. Now I intend to make this an annual event. The staff was wonderful (even sang Christmas carols in Swedish and English), the atmosphere so festive, and the food terrific.

    The fish was terrific to start - so much herring and with many different flavors, gravlax, smoked salmon and the cocktail sauce for the shrimp cocktail packed a potent horseradish punch. Then there were a number of terrific cheeses, meats and a pate too, but the herring preparations were definitely the highlight - I never experienced herring like this.

    I didn't love the hot portion of the Julbord quite as much but there were still a number of tasty items, including the creamed spinach, braised cabbage and dilled lamb. My first experience with lutefisk - reminded me ever so slightly of gefilte fish . . . but better. I enjoyed the desserts too, particularly the rice pudding and sweet bread.

    Food was plentiful. A couple of items ran out and were immediately replaced. And I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the staff was.

    There's still time to attend one of the Julbord dinners this year. Note if you go that it's byo.

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