On a chilly Saturday in late November, I came around the corner of 5th Avenue and 48th Street to see the sun shining through skyscrapers to hit the Swedish flag and Church of Sweden New York, a good sign of treats to come.
The church holds an annual Christmas fair that is open to all, serving small snacks and coffee upstairs, as well as full meals in their small basement cafeteria. The main floor is lined with vendors selling candies and trinkets for Christmas, everything from back home that an expat might need.
The "cafe" upstairs is accompanied by seating in the tiny chapel of the church, where you can take kaffe, and also glögg ($4, comes with ginger bread, below) and saffransbröd ($3, saffron bread, below). While tables are at a premium, there is enough seating for everyone, and the groups of cheerful blond people are happy to share their space and chat with the odd dark-haired fellow.
After warming up with my tiny cup of mulled wine, I met a friend and walked downstairs to secure a table and eat a full meal. We set up at a large table with a family, the father explaining every part of the meal to his children whom had become very American and probably only get their Swedish influences once a year.
At each table was a large hunk of cheese (below) that everyone shares and can slice off as much as desired. I probably took more than my fair share.
Also on each table is a pitcher of lingonberry drink (below), a very Scandinavian pleasure. This version was non-carbonated, and my cup was refilled quite a few times with the sweet, syrupy yet light delight. Beer and julmost, a Swedish holiday soda were available for $4.
I did not feel all that bad going back for more of both of these since the price here is a bit steep at $20/plate. Below is what you get, small bites of a lot of items.
The main attraction is probably the herring, but it also contains an egg half with Swedish roe, salmon, Janson's temptation (look it up!), meat balls, lingonberry preserve, red beet salad, and Christmas ham with mustard. Along with the unlimited bread on the table, you can definitely fill yourself up for the money, and it is all quite enjoyable in this small little space full of funny indecipherable (to me) noises.
The 2014 fair took place Thursday 20 through Saturday 22 November, although the plate meals were only available on Saturday, as is custom.