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Best Swedish Meatballs and More at Station 1870 Restaurant

Chef Helena Gustavsson-Giesea is a Swedish chef. Really. Think Swedish food in Sonoma County, and she’s the star (not like the Muppet character, of course, but the real deal).

So we were sad when she closed her last eatery, tucked inside Whitetail Winebar in Guerneville. It was a local favorite, but shut down a while before the bar itself closed in May.

Now, she’s back, adding her Swedish accent to Station 1870 in downtown Santa Rosa. The wine bar and lounge on Fourth Street in Railroad Square has been better known for its live music and drinks, but her cooking adds a new, extra level of class, and more excuse to stop in and linger.

The menu is brief, featuring small bites like duck tacos smothered in tropical salsa and cotija cheese (three for $15), veggie empanada slicked in avocado cream ($9), or her signature meatball trio made with shrimp, turkey and beef ($12).

One dish not to miss: Dungeness crab potpie ($18). Ok, two dishes not to miss: pork tacos with pumpkin salsa and cotija (three for $15).

The idea is to mix-and-match plates, for a little assist in selecting, there are also weekly three-course specials ($20 / paired with wines $35). Recently, for example, a meal tempted with cinnamon sweet potato soup, cranberry-chili turkey with asparagus rice, and nutty pumpkin apple crisp, all paired with Lost Canyon's 3 Pinot Noirs.

For a taste of that real Swedish food, Gustavsson-Giesea’s also shares her family recipes, in periodic special dinners of cream of winter vegetable soup, Swedish meatballs with cranberry rice, and chocolate cherry bread pudding with green tea custard sauce.

Her Swedish meatballs are often on the menu, as well, dense and savory, and richly spiced. These were Gustavsson-Giesea’s favorites as a child growing up in Sweden, when her family hunt moose and she and her brother got to help grind the meat. Here in Sonoma County, she uses beef, though, and shares her recipe here:

Swedish Meatballs a la chef Gustavsson-Giesea

8-10 portions

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Half & Half
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 pinch Cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for sautéing

Directions:

1. Chop onion fine and sauté on low heat until light golden, set aside to cool down.
2. Whisk eggs with cream and add bread crumbs to soak for a few minutes.
3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Heat up oil in a pan and sauté a tiny ball to taste your seasoning.
5. When satisfied, roll the whole mix into meatballs so they are ready to be cooked.
6. Roll the balls, while browning them in a hot pan.
7. When all sides are browned, move meatballs over to a pot, add water and cover with a lid.
8. Let them cook on slow heat until cooked through.

Enjoy with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and a cold beer.

Details: Station 1870, 123 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, 707-623-9619, station1870.com.

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