As off-season travel grows in popularity, Sweden, believe it or not, has much to offer in the winter.
Dec. 10 is the day when Stockholm is abuzz with activity for the awarding of the Nobel Prizes (except for the Peace Prize, which is presented annually in Oslo, Norway). Approximately 1,300 winners, families and invited guests attend the Nobel banquet, which has been held in the Blue Hall of Stockholm’s City Hall since 1974.
Each Nobel banquet has a theme represented by the decorations and the entertainment during the evening’s festivities. Some 23,000 flowers – lilies, orchids, gladioli and roses – are grown especially for the occasion and flown in from the Italian Riviera in San Remo, where Alfred Nobel spent the last years of his life.
As one might expect, the menus for the festivities are a highlight, but the food-selection process is almost as revered as the Nobel prizes themselves. Three chefs with international credentials are selected to compete by submitting menus for tasting and testing each September.
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The process involves more than simply designing a culinary feast for the Nobel laureates, however. Though distinctly Scandinavian, the menus must be designed to accommodate the various cultural and religious considerations of the select guests at the banquet.
Once chosen, the menu remains a secret until the actual day of the feast.
But here’s the hook for traveler’s visiting Stockholm. While most people will never experience the aura of participating in the actual Nobel Prize festivities, it is possible to enjoy the exact meal served at any Nobel banquet from 1901 to 2004.
With a little advance notice, Stockholm’s City Hall Cellar – Stadshuskallaren in Swedish – will prepare any Nobel dinner for its guests.
Visitors who participate in this rare dining experience receive a certificate featuring their names and the designation of the Nobel menu they selected.
The experience of a sumptuous banquet celebration is truly a Nobel Prize for Swedish traveler in winter.
Details on dining at the Stadshuskallaren: www.stadshuskallarensthlm.se/in-english.
Bob Taylor of Charlotte leads group tours and organized the Magellan Club.