Claus Meyer on the Holidays, Hygge and How to Host a Successful Holiday Party

Courtesy of Meyers Aps
Meyer shares his recipe for the Danish holiday classic, gløgg.

Claus Meyer’s Great Northern Food Hall has been serving up Danish delights in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt hall since June, plying busy New Yorkers with plenty of coffee and freshly baked pastries and rye bread. As the Hall celebrates it’s first Christmas in New York, we managed to grab him between his cross-continental celebrations for a few moments to chat holiday traditions and to snag the food hall's recipe for the Danish holiday classic, gløgg.

What’s one Meyers family holiday tradition that you absolutely can’t live without? We will be traveling this year, but normally we do a nativity play where the whole family dresses up and we do the play for our friends and neighbors. My wife, who’s behind the design of the food hall and Agern, always gets creative with her own paper cut holiday ornaments that she decorates the house with. And I love when we bake Christmas cookies with the kids and make “konfekt” (homemade chocolate-marzipan sweets). That’s the smell of Christmas.

American’s are becoming familiar with the idea of hygge (coziness). How can New Yorkers bring some of that idea into their homes? What’s the most hyggeligt place you’ve discovered in NYC so far? With the decor in the food hall for the holidays, Christina, my wife, and my daughter Elvira, have definitely tried to create an ambiance of hygge. I love the comfort of our home, it’s very hyggelig. All through the year, we have candlelight, we bake or cook together as a family, or host dinners. To me, that’s the essence and most important part of hygge – the social component, being together with family and friends. But it’s not like Danes have a patent on hygge. There are many places in New York that exude hygge. Barneys Cafe, the Northern part of Cental Park and the West Village are all very hyggelig

What is something that’s surprised you about the city during the holidays? Americans go all out during the holidays. The tree at Rockefeller Center. Fifth Avenue. Union Square. The City has a special vibe, and especially Grand Central, which is really buzzing this time of year. I love the holiday parties – Americans are great hosts.

Speaking of holiday parties, if F&W wanted to host a Julefrokost (a Danish Christmas fest), what are the three things we would absolutely need to have on hand to ensure a great time? Beer (holiday brew), aquavit, and smørrebrød (open rye sandwiches) and maybe ris à la mande (which we serve at the Grain Bar pavilion and at the Great Northern Deli) a traditional rice pudding, made from rice porridge, with chopped almonds, vanilla, whipped cream, topped with warm cherry sauce. At a traditional julefrokost, we hide a whole almond in one of the portions. Whoever gets the whole almond, gets a gift! All through December, we’ll be serving julefrokost at Agern as well! 89 E. 42nd St.; greatnorthernfood.com.

See Claus’ recipe for gløgg here.

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