Taste of Sapmi

Few Swedes have tasted Sami food. Not even in Jämtland or Härjedalen, which is part of Sapmi, the region of the Sami people. Reindeer tenderloin with chanterelle mushrooms at an up-market restaurant is wonderful, without a doubt. But, until you have tasted blood pancake or reindeer broth with marrow, you haven’t even begun to explore the Sami food culture.

Hävvi Elaine Reindeer Moose on the Menu
Hävvi Elaine serves specialties like Moose Mule and Reindeer Tongue. Photo: Anne Adsten

Nose to tail

Sustainable, free-range, nose to tail, minimal wastage of raw materials, these are clear and strong food trends in the world. It is a good trend as it creates an awareness of the value of food and respect for the planet we live on. But this is old news for Sweden’s indigenous people, the Sami. The Sami have a long tradition of living in sync with nature.

Feed the reindeer in Trillevallen, Åre
Feeding reindeer. Photo: Tina Stafrén

South Sapmi

Sapmi is the area of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia that we call the Sami region. In our mountain regions of Jämtland and Härjedalen, reindeer husbandry has been the most important industry. The reindeer is a fantastic animal and the food we get from reindeer is both sustainable and healthy. The reindeer roam freely in our mountains, they give birth to their calves in the spring and they’re finally gathered in Sami villages for slaughter. There are no wild reindeer in Sweden today, all have owners.

Making use of everything has been a guiding principle and a necessity through all time. The traditional food is rustic and no-frills, and getting to taste the food is an experience. Like any food culture it reflects the people and says much about the Sami way of living over many hundreds of years.

Hävvi i Glen - Elaine Asp
Creative chef Elaine Asp. Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson

Hävvi Elaine Restaurant

Elaine Asp who runs the restaurant Hävvi Elaine has succeeded in putting the Sami cuisine well and truly on the Swedish gastronomy map. Her restaurant is tucked into a renovated old barn in Lockåsböle with lots of details from the barn still visible. The rustic old timber adds to the atmosphere and creates a cosy feel to the restaurant. Elaine keeps Åsen-sheep, an old Swedish breed and also Fjällko (Mountain cows) which are known to be smaller than other cow breeds, but with an intellect of their own and producing milk with a specific taste. The quality of their milk goes together well with the other breed Elaine keeps for the best kind of cheese. Elaine also keeps a dog for hunting and she enjoys fishing and foraging when she is not preparing dishes for the restaurant.

You can enjoy Sami cooking with a twist at Hävvi Elaine, such as slow cooked meat with “klimp” (a type of local dumpling), reindeer tongue (Gurpi) and crispy pancakes made from reindeer blood served with lingonberries from the local forest. There’s not only reindeer on the menu, there’s all kinds of the finest foods from the lakes, mountains, forests and wetlands in the area.

Elaine grew up with her grandmother in a remote village without electricity. A perfect school for learning how to preserve and cook food without a fridge and an electric stove. When it came to choosing a career she made the choice to further develop her skills and become a chef. She later started a family together with a man of Saepmie and her own Sami origin made her combine her knowledge of preserving and cooking together with the influences from the Sami village of Glen where she was living. The two managed the popular restaurant Häävi in Glen. Today she runs her new restaurant together with her daughter Kristina in Lockåsböle and her former partner runs the restaurant Häävi in Glen.

Hävvi Elaine restaurant in Lockåsböle, Myrviken
The Hävvi Elaine restaurant is in Lockåsböle, Myrviken. Photo: Anne Adsten

Hävvi in Glen Restaurant

Glen is part of Tossåsens Sami village in the Oviken mountains. You could say that this Sami restaurant is located completely in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the road. In other words, where the road begins!

Besides Sami delicacies on the menu, you can also book fun activities for a whole group of people, go hiking, fishing or skiing in the mountains while staying in the cabins around the restaurant. Thomas who runs the restaurant Hävvi in Glen with his girlfriend Malin, is a reindeer herder and hunter and what´s on the Menu is all coming from the area around Glen and the region Jämtland Härjedalen.


Cooking in a so called Murikka-pan over open fire. Photo: Tina Stafrén

The tradition of Swedish Julbord - Christmas buffet

To a visitor it may seem like any other buffet with loads of different kinds of foods, but the Julbord (Christmas table) is sacred to many Swedes. Of course there are differences between the south of Sweden and the north as well as there are themed Cristmas buffets, like the one served by Hävvi Elaine or Hävvi in Glen in Tossåsen with their exclusive Sami theme, and from family to family. But there are a few dishes that are more common than others:

  • Sill (Pickled herring) – Comes in a variety of sauces. The most common is with onions and the second most common is a creamed mustard sauce.
  • Julskinka (Christmas ham – A breaded ham sliced on order, often placed as the centerpiece of the table with a decorated fork for a handle and a knife on the side.
  • Leverpastej (Liver paté) – You get better points as a host if you make it yourself.
  • Rödbetssallad (Red beet salad) – Creamed with the red beets in little dices. Served with home made (or bought) Swedish meat balls.
  • Ost (different kinds of cheese) – Both hard cheese and soft variations. Preferably local produce. Served with crackers and grapes.
  • Janssons Frestelse – A casserole made-up of julienned potatoes, sliced onions, anchovy fillets and cream, baked in the oven.
  • Prinskorv – Tiny sausages often cut at the ends to make them dressed to the party.
  • Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs) – No Christmas without it! In the north of Sweden they are traditionally made from minced moose meat.

There are lots of restaurants in Sweden serving Christmas buffet from December 1st and up to Christmas Eve. Large companies often treat their employees or customers to Julbord as a sign of good will. So if you feel like trying the Swedish Julbord, but not cooking yourself, a good way of experiencing the flavours is to visit a Christmas market in Sweden followed by a Julbord!

  • Kokt potatis (Cooked potatoes) – To go with all the salty foods.
  • Revbensspjäll (ribs)
  • Lutfisk – A remnant of the fasting traditions from way back in time. It was common to dry the fish and soak it before Christmas for days to get all the saltiness out. Served with a white creamy sauce and spiced with some ground white pepper.
  • Tunnbröd (thin leavened bread) – A must on Christmas tables in the north of Sweden.
  • Ris a la Malta – Rice pudding with cream and vanilla sugar for dessert along with Swedish cookies, fudge and home made toffee called Knäck. Pigs made from marzipan is equally common.
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