Minneapolis’ Scandinavian, Lake Woebegone heritage of white-on-white foods is nationally famous, and Ingebretsen’s is where you shop for it. You enter through the gift shop, which happens to be of national importance in the field of Scandinavian needle arts, don’cha know, and proceed to the meat market in the back. That’s where you’ll find half a dozen different varieties of house-cured herring, as well as a pink-and-brown rainbow of house-made, house-smoked sausage, including Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian ring sausages, and old-world specialties like lamb Rollepulse, an intensely gamy dried sausage not unlike braesola.
Whatever you do, don’t leave without a few pounds of their Swedish meatball mix, a beef and pork blend that just about defines Christmas in Minnesota. The butcher shop typically has lines stretching around the block for the week before Christmas, when they sell about 10,000 pounds of the stuff to tradition-loving fans. Ingebretsen’s will also sell you gravy by the quart to go with the Swedish meatballs (just okay) and pints of lingonberries (utterly necessary.) Check the freezer case for bakery goods sourced from Scandinavian-specialty bakers around the metro area (the Blackey’s jet-black pumpernickel and buttery kringle are stellar). Look carefully and you’ll see, beside the breads, Ingebretsen’s own vinegar-touched Swedish brown beans. Pair those with one of the ring sausages for an utterly authentic Scandinavian dinner. It’s not New Nordic, it’s grandma’s Nordic home cooking, but it’s inspiring, good, and utterly authentic.
Photo: Eric Hansen