Snaps hints for the eight rounds of the smörgåsbord

Published in the book SMÖRGÅSBORD 2010



By Donald Boström

Spiced snaps occupies a strong position on the smörgåsbord. It came originally from the monasteries of Europe, as a medicine for the Black Death, among other things, in the 14th century. Gradually people began drinking it for its  flavour, together with pickled, marinated, salted and dried food. One reason for the popularity of spiced snaps at the smörgåsbord is that it does not contain any of the basic tastes sour, salt or sweet, thus eliminating the risk of taste collisions and giving snaps a wide range of applications – unlike wine, for example. In addition, the caraway, dill, aniseed, fennel and coriander flavouring of snaps makes for a brilliant partnership with the flavourings of the smörgåsbord. Moreover, the alcohol has taste-reinforcing properties which release the aromas in the same way as fat and sugar used in cooking. And it is actually true that spirits break down fats, which comes

in handy when negotiating the eight rounds of the smörgåsbord. Both the snaps in itself and its spices facilitate digestion of these groaning buffets. Considerations of taste are in fact the very reason why we have chosen to gear this book to the eight rounds of the smörgåsbord. From round one with its herring, Baltic herring and eggs, to round eight with its coffee, biscuits and confectionery. One round is followed by the next, piloting the tastes onwards without any fear of collisions.


Drinks key

Snaps hints for the eight rounds of the smörgåsbord

Snaps has its appointed place on the smörgåsbord. Its lack of basic flavours makes it easy to combine with the various dishes. For good combinations of flavours, be guided by the respective pungencies of the snaps and what you are eating. To do justice, for example, to a mild, creamy strömming (Baltic herring), you need a mild snaps.

The basic flavours of the smörgåsbord mainly comprise salinity, sweetness and aci.dity, and, in principle, no bitterness. This is why beer, with its gentle bitterness, makes such an ideal companion all the way through the smörgåsbord. If certain parts of the smörgåsbord are excluded, drinking wine all the way is equally feasible. Some say that white wines with high acidulity, or indeed champagne, can even win the hearts of pickled herring, but I would still advise you to skip the wine, at least for the first – herring – round. Spicy white wines, in certain cases with a little residual sweetness, are preferable with salmon and fish. Soft, full-bodied reds, such as a pinot noir or a gently vinified shiraz, go well with meat. As I say, you can drink wine with certain parts of the smörgåsbord and get away with it, but as elevators of taste in this connection, beer and snaps take a lot of beating.

A word of advice. Use small snaps glasses, preferably no more than 2 cl, with four fil.lings. Most of the rounds include a variety of flavours, which in turn really call for dif.ferent snaps varieties. With small glasses holding 1 or 2 cl, you can afford to drink the “right” snaps with each little item on your plate.

Round 1 Herring and Baltic herring

Generally speaking, herring is the loudest-flavoured part of the smörgåsbord. Pickled herring compositions in clear pickling medium are usually stronger than those in creamy sauce and require an assertive snaps. A milder snaps, such as Skåne, which has only half the spiciness of O. P. Anderson, goes well with the milder, creamy forms of pickled herring.

A snaps for strong herring: caraway-flavoured brännvin, such as O. P. Anderson or Aalborg Taffel.

A snaps for mild and creamy herring: a milder snaps, flavoured with caraway or dill, such as Skåne, Läckö Slottsaquavit or Aalborg Jubileum.

Round 2 Salmon and other fish

Fish recipes vary in spiciness and strength. Marinated fish can be of almost pungency, in which case your snaps must be chosen accordingly. Smoked fish can find an affinity to oaked snaps, with similar overtones of smoking and roasting, sherry and whisky tones from oaking and caraway. Dill-flavoured snaps always goes well with poached fish and shellfish.

 A snaps for marinated fish: a flowery, aromatic snaps like Hallands Fläder or a robust, dill-flavoured one like, say, Aalborg Jubileum.

 A snaps for smoked fish: caraway snaps varieties with a trace of oaking, such as Herrgårds Aquavit, Gammal Norrlands Akvavit, Aalborg Nordguld and Linie Aquavit.

A snaps for mild-flavoured fish and shellfish: dill-flavoured snaps, such as Läckö Slottsaquavit or Aalborg Jubileum.

Round 3 Cold cuts

Another congeries of flavours, including everything from the smoked, salted and slightly stronger meat and sausage recipes to the more mild-flavoured chicken and turkey. An oaked snaps with a roasted flavour will go excellently with the smoked items. Östgöta Sädes is made up of malt whisky which has been stored in bourbon casks and then mixed with pure spirit. In it we find a roundness of raisins and honey tones that har.monise with the meat.

A snaps for meat, sausage and smoked recipes: snaps with a touch of oaking, such as Östgöta Sädes Brännvin, Herrgårds Aquavit, Aalborg Nordguld and Linie Aquavit. A snaps for chicken and turkey: mild snaps varieties like Skåne and Hallands Fläder.

Round 4 “Small warms”

Perhaps the Achilles heel of snaps – a round including both mild and strong flavours.

Here we have the full gamut from the gentle mildness of lutfisk to the somewhat

raunchier character of the meatballs and spare ribs.

A snaps for lutfisk: unflavoured snaps, such as Renat Brännvin or vodka.

A snaps for meatballs and chipolatas: aromatically flavoured snaps, such as Porsbrännvin (pors is bog myrtle).

A snaps for meat fried or roasted on the outside: one with stronger caraway fla.vouring and (recommended) a touch of oaking. O. P. Anderson, Herrgårds Akvavit, Gammal Norrlands Akvavit and Aalborg Nordguld.

A snaps for Jansson’s Temptation: one with softer caraway flavouring, such as Skåne, or an aromatic one like Hallands Fläder.

Round 5 The green round

Dill-flavoured snaps is an ideal companion for green vegetables: its rounded floridity and their softness of taste have all the makings of a happy marriage. For roasted or garlic-flavoured vegetables you need a caraway snaps.

A snaps for mild-flavoured vegetables: softer flavourings like those of dill-flavoured Läckö Slottsaquavit or Hallands Fläder.

A snaps for roasted vegetables: a stronger-flavoured caraway snaps like O. P. Anderson or Aalborg Taffel.

Round 6 Cheese

Caraway and cheese are a classic partnership. By the same token, all kinds of snaps go well with matured hard cheeses.

A snaps for matured hard cheese: all kinds of snaps, especially the caraway-flavoured ones.

A snaps for white mould cheese: snaps flavoured with Seville orange, such as Årsta Brännvin, Rånäs Brännvin.

Round 7 Dessert

As mentioned earlier, most kinds of snaps have no sweetness. But the sugar is already present in the dessert, and a fruit snaps turns almost into a liqueur when coupled with the sweetness of a dessert, and especially together with dark chocolate.

A snaps for dessert: snaps flavoured with fruit or soft fruit, such as Årsta Brännvin, Rånäs Brännvin, Svartvinbärsbrännvin (black currant) or, from Denmark, Emma Brøndums Skovbærbrændevin.

Round 8 Coffee, biscuits and confectionery

The fruit in the Seville snaps conveys a Calvados feeling, but coffee will also be excel.lently partnered by oaked snaps.

A snaps for coffee, biscuits and confectionery: Seville-flavoured, like Årsta and Rånäs Brännvin or oaked like Östgöta Sädes, Aalborg Nordguld, Herrgårds Aquavit, Norrlands Akvavit or Linie Aquavit.