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.

Swedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, Switzerland

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)

Swedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, Switzerland

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.

Swedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, Switzerland

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.

Swedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, Switzerland

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.

Cakespy attacks the question of why that omnipresent color green, and Tartelette shares a Princess Torte recipe.

Swedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, SwitzerlandSwedish Summer Smorgasbord at Au Premier, Zürich, Switzerland

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 !)

Smörgåsbord
Restaurant Au Premier
Bahnhofplatz 15
8001 Zürich
+41.44.217.15.55
www.restaurant-aupremier.ch/
July 3rd to September 8th, 2012
Lunch buffet, Monday to Friday CHF 42
Dinner buffet, Monday & Tuesday CHF 58, Wednesday to Saturday CHF 68

8 Responses to “Summer Smörgåsbord: A Swedish Feast in Zürich”

  1. Yeye says:

    A true real Swedish Feast indeed … And what? MyKugelhopf is pregnant, did I read that correctly??? Well I thought Swedish food with plenty of row fishes was not meant for pregnant women. But I guess I was wrong then … Wishing you a very healthy pregnancy and baby. And thanks much for sharing your experience, as always.

  2. Silvia says:

    You are pregnant? Congrats! 🙂

    (But I think I’ll pass on all that fish…. )

  3. Rebecca in Switzerland says:

    Yum! Thanks for the tip. Will definitely be going to enjoy the smorgasbord!

  4. Kerrin says:

    Yeye, indeed you did read that correctly ! Many thanks for your kind words. And you are right – there were many temptations on that buffet that I stayed away from, including all the raw fish, which I normally looooove ! 🙁 People have mixed opinions on the smoked and pickled items, and Chef Klötzke told me I could actually eat everything because of the way all the fish was frozen to a certain temperature before being prepared. But I erred on the safe side – and still managed to fill many plates with all the rest ! Until next summer…

    Silvia, yes yes, danke ! You’re not a fish person ? The vegetable and meat dishes were excellent too. But another negative for you perhaps, no chocolate. 😉

    Rebecca, you’re most welcome ! You’ll have to let me know what you think…

  5. Emma says:

    The food all looks lovely to me – I love Nordic food:) Such beautiful wonderful dishes, and so artfully arranged, too.

    Princess Tortes are a bit sweet for me… they always make me upset, because they’re so rich and dense that I can’t eat the three pieces I’d like to. Hah, leave it to me to get upset at a dessert – – simply because I wish I could eat more of it 🙂

    Mmm, cloudberry trifle!

  6. Sarah says:

    You’re pregnant? Congratulations! Such wonderful news!! All the best for the upcoming arrival! 🙂

    Such strong willpower of you to avoid all that lovely raw fish!!

    xox Sarah

  7. Kerrin says:

    Emma, too sweet … for YOU ?! You’ve thrown me off there. Getting upset at a dessert, now that surprises me much less 😉

    Sarah, yes yes yes !! Thank you so much. As for avoiding all that raw fish, let me just say this – it was *not* easy. 😉 Already can’t wait for lunch there next summer !

  8. Valentina says:

    Oh Kerrin, first of all very belated congratulations on your pregnancy!! A baby Kugelhopf is on the way – very exciting. Now back to the post, what a fabulous event. Many, many years ago my parents knew this Swedish couple who lived in Belem in north Brasil. I remember going to their house once a year for this amazing Swedish feast. Unfortunately I was far too young and cannot remember what we used to be served. Looking at all the spread on the photos it makes hungry and gastronomically starved of Swedish food. I have ever only had sweedish cinnamon rolls. Presentation is immaculate, isn’t it? The mousse is piped. Wow!! And what about the size of those prawns? I would be in paradise. Thank you for sharing this great post. You always educate me. : o )

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