Fondue dinners are a popular feature at ski resorts in Sweden. The alpine dish well suits the snowy atmosphere of Sweden in winter, especially when served in a skiing context. As you enjoy your fondue bourguignonne surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Swedish winter you’d swear you’re in Switzerland. Very close to where I live in Dalarna there is the ski resort Romme Alpin. Their Toppstugan restaurant offers fondue nights (known as fondueafton) throughout the season, starting right after the restaurant stops serving Julbord, aka traditional Christmas dishes, a typical Advent menu.
Fondue Bourguignonne, or meat fondue
If not familiar with the concept of fondue bourguignonne, it is a dish of Swiss origin that is fairly popular also in the part of northern Italy I’m from. The key feature of fondue bourguignonne is that, unlike traditional cheese fondue, the key ingredient is meat. Just like in cheese fondue, the guests share a communal pot that is generally placed in the middle of the table. The pot contains either oil or broth that is kept hot with a spirit lamp placed under the pot. Every guest is equipped with a two-pronged fork with a long handle used to dip the raw meat into the hot oil or broth to cook it. Fondue bourguignonne can feature several cuts of meat, the most popular being lean beef fillet. Once cooked to preference, the meat is eaten with a variety of dips prepared for the event.
Attending a Fondue Evening at Toppstugan in Romme Alpin had been high on my list since we moved to Dalarna. Yet, for various reasons we never really managed to go until earlier this year. This year both my boyfriend and myself have been employed at Romme Alpin for the season, so we made it a point to finally treat ourselves to fondueafton. Once we managed to get the same days off, my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a mid-week getaway and booked us a table at Toppstugan. (Having days off in the middle of the week is definitely among the perks of working in the tourism industry.)
Fondueafton at Romme Alpin’s Toppstugan
Toppstugan is located on the top of Solklinten, one of the two peaks where most of the slopes converge and begin. During the day the restaurant is accessible via ski lift and can only be visited on skis or snowboard, as one is not allowed to take the lifts down but should rather glide down one of the many slopes. In the evening, when the slopes are closed, guests reach the restaurant on a special vehicle. A ride on the bandvagn, a converted military vehicle that climbs up the slopes like a snow groomer, is complimentary. I would say it is part of the whole fondueafton experience.
After a 10-minute ride up the slopes, Toppstugan welcomes its guests with its warm atmosphere and lovely wooden décor. A fondue pot prepared with hot broth and a plate of lean beef fillet cuts will wait on your table. Back home we used to cook our meat cuts in hot oil. I tried the broth version for the first time at Romme Alpin, as that is how Toppstugan serves it. To complement the meat, the restaurant offers a whole buffet of other foods, included in the price of the fondue dinner. The buffet features various salads, breads and spreads, as well as raw vegetables and mushrooms that one can cook in the broth just like the meat. On a side table a selection of desserts and cheese completes the buffet with some decadent after dinner options.
“Are you guys celebrating something or you just decided to dine here?” asks our host Geoff as he brings us the bottle of red wine we ordered to our meal. Earlier that morning, when gathering my stuff in my bag for this mid-week getaway, I opened our wedding website to check for new RSVPs. The page welcomed me with a message: 200 days to go! Wow, 200 days until our wedding. It’s getting closer. “We didn’t plan this to celebrate anything, we just decided to treat ourselves tonight,” answers my almost-husband. “But in fact we are celebrating. Today it’s 200 days till our wedding”. We raised a glass to that and indulged on that lovely dining experience.
Outside the window the snow was twirling. A light wind was making the treetops sway. It was gentle enough not to shake the snowy crust off the branches. I felt the red wine warming me up from the inside as I stared at that winter wonderland scenery. In that picture-perfect context I let the thought that in 200 days I’d be a married woman sink in. I gazed across the table and set my eyes on my companion. We had not planned to celebrate anything else than the fact that we just enjoy each other’s company and there we were, 200 days from our wedding, spontaneously celebrating and just enjoying the little pleasure of sharing food, one of our favourite daily rituals.
For more information about Fondueafton at Romme Alpin’s Toppstugan you can check out the dedicated page on their website.