Merry Christmas to all of you! This year we are spending Christmas and new years in Portugal. And this is a great place to visit during the holidays. All the city centers transform into twinkling and sparkling lights and there are Christmas trees and ornaments all over. The temperature is way better here than it is in Sweden during Christmas so no complaints here!
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Spending Christmas in Portugal
Mini and I are always spending Christmas in other countries than Sweden and this year is no exception! We are going to spend Christmas and New Years in Algarve and it is awesome! We are not that fond of Christmas, mostly because it becomes such a commercial deal where you have to buy presents for everyone. It is also a time where a lot of people feel lonely and I don’t want to take part in that!
However, in the Algarve and at the campings, a lot of the campers seem to love Christmas. There are Santas all over the motorhomes and campers. And don’t even get me started on the twinkling lights everywhere! I don’t mind that people want to celebrate but please keep the lights to one color and not the sparkling and twinkling. To have such a neighbor is awful because you can’t avoid seeing the twinkling of the lights! But in the end that is up to each and everyone to decide so, I guess I am fine with that after all.
A traditional Swedish Julbord in Portugal
Each country has their own way to celebrate Christmas. The Americans eat Turkey, in England, you eat Mince Pie and in Sweden, you have “Julbord”. A buffet with loads of food and goodies. I have heard from a lot of people that they don’t want to leave Sweden because they want to eat the “julbord”. However, I can inform them that they can get just that in Olhao, Portugal.
Sure, Mini and I love “julbord” but we don’t go looking for it while traveling. However, since we were spending a lot of time with Fritte and Taina we decided to celebrate a real Swedish Christmas. The thing is that this is the first time for Fritte to be outside of Sweden during Christmas. He has always spent it with his family and is a very traditional man. Taina, on the other hand, think that Christmas is just another day. But since Fritte was going to be abroad during Christmas we decided to join them for a traditional Swedish “Julbord” in Olhao, Portugal.
Tasca O Galo restaurant serves Swedish Julbord
“Lillan” and her husband Jörgen, together with Lillans sister are the people behind the restaurant. The name of the restaurant means rooster and you can see that when you enter this place. Yes, there are roosters everywhere! So how come that there is a Portuguese restaurant serving Swedish food during Christmas? Well, Jörgen is a Swede and Lillan is from Portugal. They lived in Sweden for six years and then they decided to move to Portugal.
Since they have been living in Sweden they know all about the traditions and what needs to be on the table for Christmas. So usually the julbord is a buffet and you get to walk back and forth and pick and choose as you please. However, at Tasca O Galo it is more of a “jul-plate” because all the things that are usually at the buffet, you get on your plate. So how about the taste?
The taste of Julbord in Portugal
To start there is the herring that is pickled in several different sauces. The thing is that the herring tasted the same as it does in Sweden! Usually, I only eat the Swedish pickled herring (I can’t stand the Polish version of it). But this was great! Well, they had made everything taste like it does in Sweden with one exception – the meatballs were a little flavorless. Don’t get me wrong, they were good but just not as good as we are used to. So here is all the food that we got:
- Pickled herring in curry sauce.
- Pickled herring in mustard sauce.
- Herring (pickled) in cherry.
- Herring salad.
- Gravad lax = Salmon that is cured in salt and dill.
- Janssons Frestelse = My absolute favorite on the “julbord”. Gratin made with potatoes and anchovy. See the recipe down below.
- Julskinka / Christmas ham. Ham that is made in the oven.
- Köttbullar aka. Swedish meatballs. Made famous by IKEA I believe. These are Minis absolute favorite. See the recipe down below.
- Prinskorv – translated it means prince sausage. They are small sausages, that’s it!
- Brunkål = brown cabbage.
- Ris á la Malta = a desert with rice and whipped cream – oh it is so good!
- Pepparkakor – Swedish gingerbread.
So that was all the classics and the things that were served at Tasca O Galo. And it smelled like Christmas. Of course, there were only Swedes but we had a really nice time with our friends. And the food was really good. Expensive? Well, that is up to you to decide. 25 euro per person and then you got coffee, wine, beer and water as well. Like always the whole thing about celebrating Christmas is to be with family and close friends. And like I said before – we had a great time!
Information about Tasca O Galo:
Address: Rua a Gazeta nº7, Olhão 8700, Portugal.
A great camping where you are close to the restaurant.
Sharing recipes for traditional Swedish Christmas
Minis favorite is the Swedish meatballs and mine is the Janssons Frestelse. And they go great together! So in the spirit of Christmas – here are the recipes for both of them. And even if some ingredient may vary in taste from country to country, I’m sure that you will get it tasting just as great as it would in Sweden.
Recipe for Swedish meatballs
You need (for 5 people):
- 500 grams of ground beef
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon chili, cayenne pepper or whatever flavor you would like to add.
- ½ cup onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 5 tbsp. butter to fry them in.
This is how you do it:
- Use your hands and mix all of the ingredients together, except for the butter.
- Roll up the mixed meat into small balls. You can choose the size you prefer.
- Fry them using the butter and make sure that they are cooked all the way through!
- Eat them all!
Recipe for Janssons Frestelse
You need (for 5 people):
- 3 onions that are sliced thin.
- 1 ½ kilograms of peeled potatoes that are also sliced into thin pieces.
- 300 grams of anchovy that are canned (keep the broth that they are in).
- 4 deciliters of cream.
- 2 deciliters of milk.
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
- Butter for frying and topping off.
This is how you do it:
- Put the oven at 175 degrees Celsius.
- Fry the onion so that it becomes soft and gets some color.
- Use a baking dish and put the potatoes, onions and the anchovy in layers. Make sure that you have potatoes on the first and the last layer.
- Take the cream and milk and make it boil.
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish together with the broth from the anchovy.
- Top the dish off with the bread crumbs and some butter.
- Place the baking dish in the lower part of the oven for about 1 ½ hour. If the top starts to get burned, put some foil over the baking dish.
- Ready to eat!
Merry Christmas – a Swedish version in Portugal!!!