Christmas is around the corner and one of the biggest Christmas traditions in Sweden is eating “julbord” during the weeks leading up to the main holiday. Julbord is basically the famed Swedish smörgåsbord, which we usually eat on Midsummer and Easter, with more traditional Christmas dishes added.

On the boat, heading out through the harbor.

Many restaurants serve julbord in the 4-6 weeks before Christmas. While Swedes love julbord, we are pretty tired of it by the time December 24th rolls around after all the office parties, family dinners and nights out with friends. So, don’t expect to find many places serving this after Christmas. However, if you are visiting in the weeks leading up to Christmas, this is a great way to try just about every traditional Swedish dish there is in one fell swoop… plus experience a Swedish holiday tradition.

First course: herring!

There are good julbords and others that are best avoided, so it is important to choose correctly. One of the best places to eat julbord is Fjäderholmarnas Krog, both for the high quality of food and the wonderful atmosphere, and I try to make a visit every year. I was there this Sunday when they had the premiere julbord for the season. The restaurant, located on an island in Stockholm harbor, is also one of my favorite summer restaurants and I recently wrote a blog article about my last visit. It is this island location which really adds to the wonderful atmosphere… especially if it is snowing.

Second course: cured & smoked salmon, char and eggs with roe.

Eating julbord correctly is a fine art! There is a lot of food and you don’t want to fill up too quickly (rookie maneuver). Proper etiquette says that you should make 7 trips up to the julbord to get food. After a glass of glögg (spiced hot wine), which is usually served when you arrive, you go up to get your pickled herring with sides. Next, you go for your salmon and other fish: smoked, cooked and cured. Cold meats, like Christmas ham, sausages and patés, make up the third round and then it is on to the warm dishes… Swedish meatballs, prince sausages, “Jansson’s temptation”, venison, cabbage, omeletes, black pudding and more. There are also a few dishes which you can order to be served at the table, like “lutfisk” and “dopp i grytan”.  If you are vegan or vegetarian, not a problem… they have a whole section of the julbord with vegan dishes (cold & warm dishes as well as desserts)!

Lutfisk, served at the table.

Finally you have the last three servings… cheeses, dessert and coffee & candy. To be honest, I usually have a little trouble walking comfortably at this point and tend to combine all three of these servings in one. As I said, a lot of food! I didn’t even mention all the sides, suaces, potatoes, eggs and salads. The “Professor of Gastronomy”, Gert Klötzke, is the chef behind Fjäderholmarnas Krog’s julbord and he really raises the bar. One thing that I especially like with their version is that much of the warm dishes are laid out on small plates so it doesn’t get messy as other ones.

Dessert (if you still have room in your stomach).

The julbord at Fjäderholmarna is very popular and a good idea to book in advance! They offer three seatings: 12noon, 4pm and 8pm and you can book your table on their website or, if you are staying at the Hotel Rival, contact me directly for help. Sunday, Dec 22nd is the last day. To get there from the hotel, you need to take 25 minute ferry from Strandvägen in the downtown area. Boats depart 30 minutes ahead of each seating (11:30am, 3:30pm and 7:30pm) and you have a choice of returning around 2 or 3 hours after your seating time. More information.

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