Bear and I started the holidays with a simple plan: rest, eat well, only do happy things. We didn’t go anywhere, we didn’t do anything, and we loved it. It was definitely the most relaxing holiday I’ve ever had with long sleeps, movie marathons, and many hours of veranda-sitting with time to read, write, or just sit.
On Boxing Day we emerged from our cocoon of delectable laziness to visit our Viking friends, Paula and Nikolaj. They lured us out with promises of risalamande med kirsebærsauce – almond rice with cherry sauce – a Danish Christmas tradition I simply cannot resist.
I packed up goodies too – our very own prosciutto and pickled carrots, and an array of homemade liqueurs for a festive taste-testing. If there’s one thing Vikings are good at, it’s helping their friends imbibe whatever bottles of boozy goodness might be laying about.
Being the sensible people we are, we decided to begin the occasion with wine and dessert. With a chink of glasses our Boxing Day celebration was underway.
Risalamande has been part of my family’s Christmas for as long as I can remember. It is nothing like the rice pudding many are familiar with. There’s nothing porridge-y about it. Rather it is rice cooked in milk and vanilla before being cooled and mixed with ground or chopped almonds and lavish mounds of whipped cream. On Christmas Eve the risalamande is served with one whole almond hidden somewhere. Whoever finds it receives the Almond Present, usually a marzipan pig, but sometimes a puzzle or game or big bar of chocolate.
In my family risalamande was served with a lusciously creamy caramel sauce, but many of my Danish relatives swear that cherry sauce is the only way to go. When I heard that Nikolaj and Paula served theirs with cherry sauce, I was really excited to try it.
It was delicious! Totally different from the dessert of my childhood, but every bit as scrumptious.
After polishing off our dessert, we tucked into the proper food, piling our plates with cheeses and crackers, fresh bread spread with pesto and hummus, wafer-thin slices of prosciutto, grapes, veggies, and pickled red cabbage (with juniper, bay, and cloves) and carrots (with cumin seeds and black peppercorns).
We lingered long, turning a visit and snack into hours of grazing and good talks as we shared stories and swapped medieval tales and discussed our plans for the coming year.
All too soon the sun began to set and it was time to head home. We parted with hugs and promises to get together at our farm in the new year for some fun projects. It’s going to be a great year. xo