Monday, March 29, 2010

Akvavit, and how you can become a master of the Smorgasbord

dagmarsnaps

Smorgasbord, as well as Akvavit, are prominent features of Swedish holidays. You'll find both at Christmas, Easter and Midsummer - subtle differences, but a lot of things are the same. Akvavit and snaps are not the same, despite what some might think. Both are flavored vodka, but akvavit always has dill and/or caraway. Snaps can have any flavor - ranging from herby and medicinal to... anything, really. Dagmar made snaps for our crawfish party in August - those are the bottles you see above - and flavored them with gooseberry, cherry and various other things from her garden.

I'm not really a consumer myself - too strong for my liking! However, it's quite popular, and I got an e-mail from a PR contact working for Reimersholms saying they even had a sommelier doing pairings with akvavit/food. The same PR contact offered me to give away a cookbook to one of my readers, and as it's a really cool cookbook, I'm happy to do it. It's called Swedish Smorgasbord, and it's written by Gert Klötzke and Niclas Wahlström. The recipes are all from Fjaderholmarnas krog, where they serve a massive and very good smorgasbord. I was there for Christmas 2008, and blogged about it. If you're interested in Swedish holiday food, this one has it all!

The book is in English and can be shipped anywhere in the world. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment, and tell me if you've tried snaps or akvavit, and if so, what you think of it! Do you like it?

edit: I'll draw a random winner on Thursday, so comment before then!

40 comments:

Karoleen said...

I love snaps, but I usually flavor my own. Unfortunelty because of time constraints I haven't gotten one ready for easter this year, but I think I still might have time. SO I'm not sure what to flavor it with - do you have any great ideas for me?

Alanna Kellogg said...

Aquavit in the liquor cabinet -- maybe 25 years old and never opened. I can't think it's aged well but love the memories of that trip and so leave it in place, just as a reminder.

Gretchen said...

I would love to have a Swedish smorgasbord in England with the help of this cookbook - it looks great!

Sleep late... dream more. said...

I've tried Aquavit, courtesy of friends who've brought it over, but have yet found a way to prepare that I would seek it out on purpose.... Snaps (and Punsch) on the other hand are tasty, tasty, tasty! I've even started to venture out in to making my own snaps... last year included flavours like Mulberry, Ginger Peach, and Straw-Blu-Barb :)

maria said...

hi!i have never tasted aquavit but i like cold snaps especially pech flavored!

rose said...

We're Polish, and hand-flavoring vodka is a big tradition with our extended family. Usually cherry or raspberry, sometimes caraway. Always ready for the holidays throughout the year....Cheers! Rose

Clarissa Sia Ljungström said...

I tried my first snap in Kuala Lumpur, when my Swedish family was there for holiday watching Formula One, and it happened to be Päsk weekend too. They brought snap along with the traditional dark bread and while i love the bread, the innocent looking cute little cup of snap was the most vile thing I ever tasted and literally burned my tongue. But I liked the process of flavouring snap and have seen the use of rhubarbs, black pepper and even chili which turns out to be quite good :)

Pille said...

I've tried akvavit at a wedding party in Sweden in June 2006 :)

Anonymous said...

To be honest I don't know if I really LIKE aquavit, but I have about 15 bottles of it (really! all different kinds, Swedish and Norwegian) plus a bottle of home-made dill-infused snapps in the refrigerator. Obviously, I badly need to throw a smorgasbord and would love to have a good authentic cookbook for some fresh ideas.

Susan
(aka Chanterelle)

Hilary said...

I first tried snaps about 20 years ago when visiting my sister who was living in Sweden at the time. I was totally knocked out by how lovely, and tasteful, people's homes were in Sweden (at the time - late 1980s - homes in Ireland still featured mindboggling patterned carpets and hideous wallpaper). It started a lifelong admiration for all things Swedish (apart from the strange fishy jars and tubes they sell in IKEA - I'll never develop a taste for that stuff!)

Jacob said...

My father's company was acquired by a Swedish firm a few years back, and the new owners came over to throw a traditional Midsummer's festival... Complete with numerous imported akvavit and snaps samples in little bottles. Supposedly each bottle was from a different Swedish territory and was the "local style." I've been simply enamored with the idea ever since, and even though both akvavit and snaps are a little strong for my tastes they make a good and unique apéritif every now and again.

Darlene said...

Hej! I have been following your blog for a while and have tried several dishes off of your blog and have loved them all! Especially Karleksmums :) My dad is Swedish and we lived in sweden till I was 12- and recently my fiance, son and I were able to go to Sweden for 6 months through studying abroad. AMAZING experience to go back as an adults. We tried snaps at a smorgasbord for midsommar and Loved it! It was definitely quite strong and I could only handle a little but it was a Swedish tradition I couldnt pass up. Thanks for sharing all of your dishes- especially the Swedish ones!

Amy said...

Hi Anne, i've never tried akvavit before, but I do vividly remember the scent of peach snaps which my parents sometimes drank on holiday when I was younger .. quite potent, but wonderfully fragrant! As for smorgasbord, it's something i've always really wanted to try. I visited Sweden last summer, but was at a music festival in the little town of Hultsfred, so food was confined to langos (a first for me!), and the ubiquitous falafel & pizza! I deeply regret not trying some of the lovely dishes Sweden has to offer, as food is an absolute love of mine. I'm currently studying professional cookery at catering college in Northern Ireland, & love reading about and trying dishes from different regions of the world. I think this is partially to do with growing up on a weird fusion of chinese and irish food, haha, as my mum is from malaysia & dad from Belfast. Also..before my visit to Sweden I didn't realise it was the land of cinnamon buns! .. a bun after my own heart ;D

Well, have a very wonderful day ^_^

Teacher Anonymous said...

I flavored snaps with persimmon and nutmeg one year and gave it to my sister for her (December) birthday. It tasted just like Christmas!

lniemtsc said...

I had aquavit for the first time at a Scandinavian Ball in Denver. We started off with a toast but before the Swedes would drink, they all sang a son and took a sip. As soon as one person was ready for another sip, they would start singing and all the swedes would start in again. I can't say that I particularly appreciated sipping the aquavit, but it was a fun cultural experience!

Cakelaw said...

I have never tried akvavit, though I once went on a date with someone who raved about akvavit - he couldn't remember what it was called, but did recall it was flavoured with caraway seeds, so I Googled it for him the next day. I have had schnapps in Austria - it felt like pouring petrol down my throat, so I think, like you, that I find it a bit strong.

AM said...

I haven't tried either snaps or akvavit, somehow - I guess cause my Swedish parents didn't drink, really. But now I have learned new & Svenska-esque spelling for schnapps & aquavit! who knew. I find the little home made bottlings very tempting looking though. mmm gooseberries!

ptasia said...

As a Pole I probably shd be really into vodka, but I'm not. I use it only to make vanilla extract and hardly ever for anything else. The only way to drink vodka IMHO is straight from the freezer (NOT the fridge), pref. in chilled shot glasses, or straight from the freezer in a chilled drink. Any other way means it's too warm.
We do make (me and my DH) flavoured spirits using real fruit (sour cherries, raspberries or black currants) and pure white spirit (approx. 96%) plus sugar. It comes out strong alcohol-wise, but with a strong fruity flavour and aroma too.
As for flavoured vodka - is snaps the same as Austrian/German schnapps?

Anne said...

ptasia - I don't think it is, really. The word is obviously from the same origin, but I think the product varies. Peach Schnapps is slightly sweet, isn't it? Swedish snaps is never, ever sweet.

-ME- said...

Of course I've tried it, but now my favourite Hjärtansfröjd isn't available anymore. I prefer not so old black currant snaps (it seems to get bitter when aging) or lemon snaps - or the good old ones; Skåne or OP. If I win the book, I'd love to give it to my aunt and uncle in New Zealand, she left Sweden some fourty years ago and I think she'd need to refresh her smörgåsbord. :)

pipopp said...

German schnapps is mostly drunk as digestive.
Swedish snaps is more to be consumed with food, preferably salty or fat dishes like herring and caviar. And a beer, of course!

I don't think it's that tasty. The ones that are a little bit sweeter (but not as sweet as the german ones) are the best in my mouth, Östgöta sädes, Herrgårds. My hubby _loves_ Bäska droppar/Pors. It is seasonded with wormwood and is really, really bitter.
But, nevertheless, I drink a small one twice a year, just to be able to be a part in the singing. Love that part. (A lot of people consider it really nerdy to sing to the snaps.)
:)

ptasia said...

Actually the Austrian apricot schnapps I once drank (had to - social obligation - host stood over me and looked) wasn't sweet at all. It was served as a digestive though. Just warm vodka with an artificial apricot aroma... Ugh! Quite horrible.

Anonymous said...

I am originally from Germany and we have lots of different flavoured schnapps. I don't drink much schnapps, as it is too strong for me and I have never had the opportunity to try aquavit. I would love to win the book, as I love Swedish food! Silvia

Anonymous said...

I also find akvavit and snaps too strong but those little bottles Dagmar made make it look very appealing! You have such a lovely blog, it's opened my eyes to Swedish culture. I'm hoping to visit Stockholm in the not too distant future!

Tamsin

Borea said...

I love aquavit, but it is difficult to get where I live. Anytime we travel, we try to pick up a bottle, but the labels imported to the US are probably much different than brands available in Sweden and Norway. I've had schnapps, but they are too sweet for me. I prefer savory, herbal cups to syrupy drinks. I've been toying with the idea of infusing my own vodka with aquavit ingredients!

patrice said...

I ADORE both Akavit and Snaps, and make Snaps all year round with seasonal flavors. Bottles of the homemade stuff make fantastic hostess gifts.

Is the smörgåsbord book på svenska? Do you recommend it?

Anne said...

Patrice, the book is available in both Swedish and English. I have it in English and really like it. Some of the translations seem a little strange though. :)

Edward Blundell said...

I must say that having tried Snapps it is almost invariably rather strong or rather sickly - having said which it can be rather enjoyable!

On a completely unrelated note I find this blog very entertaining to follow and always keep an eye on it - not trying to curry your favour or anything... :P

Edward Blundell said...

How do you announce who wins the book?

Anne said...

Edward - good point! I'll draw a winner on Thursday!

Annie said...

I'm not a snaps or aquavit drinker, but I would love to know about the Smorgasbord!!

Pene said...

I'll try anything once, Anne, & smorgasbord is popular here in Estonia, where the word translates to "rootsi laud" or "Swedish table".
I hope that you have a fun Easter weekend with your family.

Quasi said...

I've never even heard of this before! I would LOVE the cookbook. I collect cook books from around the world because my husband and I love trying new things and I love the challenge in the kitchen. We're having tons of family over for our grad school graduation in May and I'd love to have some new interesting dishes for them!

Elena said...

my parents in Italy have a bottle of Skane akvavit I brought them from Stockholm and they love it! I tried it for the first time two Christmases ago at the Fjaderholmarnas krog Julbord, it's stunning and delicious, especially the all lax section, yum!

Anne said...

Have lived in Stockholm for nearly 8 months and have not managed to try snaps OR aquavit! I have obviously failed at integrating successfully...

ann said...

I'm Australian and my experience of snaps and aquavit is pretty limited. I usually go skiing each year to Thredbo (about 5 hours south of Sydney) and shots of many different flavoured snaps is a big part of apres ski! I used to work for a Swedish company in Sydney and became quite familar with many swedish customs - mainly snaps shooters! I left that company a couple of years ago and miss the swedishness ... and would love to create my own swedish smorgasbord with aquavit and snaps some time soon.

George said...

Hej Anne: I'm a long time lurker of your site. My wife, from Huskvarna, introduced me schnapps and aquavit years ago. I'd love to have that book.

Fingers crossed!

Best,
George in Maryland USA

Debbie said...

Hi! I've never tried either.. but I would love to try a Smorgasbord cookbook! You got me to wikipedia, and I love this quote: "crayfish parties...are notoriously tipsy affairs."

Medifast For Free said...

It is nice and You are great :)

Michelle said...

I just stumbled onto your site while doing an internet search for Skåne Akvavit. My father spent quite a bit of time in Sweden for work in the '80s and fell in love with the country and Skane. However, it seems that you can not find it anywhere in the U.S. and no company will ship it here. He has tried O.P. Anderson, Aalborg and Linie but none of them hold a candle to Skåne. I guess he'll just have to go back to Sweden for a visit. And he better take me with him!

-Michelle