Swedish Julbord celebration at IKEA

All I know about Swedish food, I've discovered at IKEA: lingonberries, Swedish meatballs, gravlax, crisp bread, herring with cream, Daim chocolate. I've always wondered whether the food at IKEA is truly representative of Swedish food, or whether it's as authentic as fortune cookies and sweet & sour pork are to Chinese food.  According to the internet (which is always right, isn't it?), those dishes really are traditional Swedish food, so when I found out about IKEA's annual Julbord last year, I decided to try it out and assume we were would be enjoying an authentic Swedish dining experience.

Julbord (pronounced "yuleboard") is the traditional Swedish Chrismastime smorgasbord, and once a year IKEA closes their restaurant early and has an all-you-can-eat feast.  Tickets to the feast are just $9.99 for adults and $2.50 for kids, so I figured that even if the kids just stuck to the usual Swedish meatballs, it would be totally worth it.

IKEA's Julbord is by no means an elegant dining experience, but they do make an effort to give the cafe a more festive air.  You won't see any hair-netted servers dishing out food with giant spoons; food is laid out on white-clothed tables, buffet style, and all the tables have tablecloths and centerpieces.

At the cafe entrance, you are greeted by employees dressed in traditional Swedish clothing.

The mainstay of the IKEA cafe, the Swedish meatballs are still available, along with a couple of other hot dishes:  Prinskorv Sausage (little smoked sausages) and Potato Gratang (potato gratin layered with salted fish).

It was a spread worthy of a Las Vegas buffet (if Vegas were in Sweden, that is):  Assorted Herring, Gravad Lax with Mustard Sauce, Smoked Salmon w/Horseradish Sauce, Whole Poached Salmon, Hard boiled Eggs with Shrimp, Swedish Cucumber Salad, Red Beet Salad, Swedish Potato Salad, Christmas Ham, Liverwurst Pate, Assorted Cheeses, Meatballs and Lingonberries, Prinskorv Sausage, Red Cabbage, Boiled Potatoes with Dill, Jansson’s Temptation, Lussekatter, Crispbread, Thin bread, Dinner rolls, coffee, tea and fountain beverages.

The dessert table had Swedish Rice Pudding with Almonds, ginger cookies, chocolate cake, marbled pound cake, Glogg (apple cider), and assorted chocolates. Yum!

The kids weren't too sold on the pickled herring (or any of the fish dishes, for that matter), but the salmon and potato salad were big hits (loved the hint of dill!), and they went crazy over the warm, spicy Glogg.  It was a fun foray into a different culture and a tradition we'll definitely be enjoying every year.

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