Summer Smörgåsbord: A Swedish Feast in Zürich
There are many things we have to look forward to here in Zürich during the summer: the sun, a bustling atmosphere along the lake, pedal boats, hiking among wild flowers, picnics… and the Swedish Summer Smörgåsbord at Au Premier restaurant.
While it’s only been an annual event for me and my friends for a couple of years, the summer buffet at Au Premier at Zürich’s main train station has been taking place since 1985. I stopped by on the opening night on July 3rd and had the pleasure of meeting the man behind it all, Gert Klötzke. Born in Germany, but living in Sweden for over 30 years, this Master Chef, Swiss Culinary Team Adviser, cookbook author and gastronomy professor is a reference on Swedish cuisine worldwide. My question to him was about authenticity; can this buffet be entirely Swedish here on our “landlocked island” of Switzerland ? Yes, 100% he assured me, as ingredients are flown in from Sweden.
Frida Andersson, herring specialist who cooks year round at Fjäderholmarnas Krog (the restaurant on the eponymous island), was also there to make sure everything was prepared and served just so. She pointed me toward her favorites, including “pirate herring,” made with Jamaican jerk spices.
(Photo of Andersson and Klötzke, below right)
Over a span of several hours, my friends and I took numerous trips to the buffet table – tasting a little of this and a little (or a lot) of that… herring, salmon, eel, shrimp… smoked, steamed, marinated, pickled, caviar… and beets, potatoes and rye crackers as accompaniment.
A few of those friends happen to be Swedish, so of course I asked them too how close to home all these recipes were. Authentic indeed, if on a smaller scale. I can only dream of attending one of Chef Klötzke’s Smorgasbords in Stockholm with upwards of 18 herring dishes alone and 24 varieties of meat.
But wait, what Swedish buffet would be complete without… meatballs, of course ! And heavenly they were. As were the sausages they were served alongside (below right), which get their typically funny shape after cooking thanks to a few cuts by Armin (below left). Other meats at the buffet were elk, veal and duck, while reindeer got the most raves at our table. I’ll admit to going back for seconds on that, as well as the sauerkraut and berry sauces.
But don’t you worry, even at an all-you-can-eat buffet, there is always room for dessert ! And if it’s a traditional Swedish meal, you can be sure there will be a Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake). This classic Swedish recipe created in the 1930’s, with layers of sponge cake and whipped and/or pastry cream, is always wrapped in a bright green layer of marzipan. It stood out for sure and took the spotlight among the berry mousse, cloudberry trifle, crème brûlée and rice pudding with orange.
One thing’s for sure, I’ll be heading back to Au Premier before the summer is over. So if you see a (very) pregnant girl over by that dessert buffet, be sure to say hello – and smaklig måltid ! (Bon appétit in Swedish !)
Restaurant Au Premier
July 3rd to September 8th, 2012
Lunch buffet, Monday to Friday CHF 42
Dinner buffet, Monday & Tuesday CHF 58, Wednesday to Saturday CHF 68