IKEA Brings Swedish Cuisine to West Sacramento

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(Emeryville, CA)
Monday, February 27, 2006
Anyone who loves global cooking knows that West Sacramento is a refuge for dim sum and doughnuts, samosas and samovars. The smells along West Capitol Avenue can transport you to Vienna or Vientienne, even Vladivostok.
But move over, mushi. The meatballs are coming. And the home furnishings store IKEA is bringing them.  Michael O’Rourke is VP of IKEA based in Emeryville. He’s hosting a table in the dining room at the Emeryville IKEA while the store in West Sacramento was under construction. He says IKEA knows how to move meatballs.
 “We sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million meatballs a year,” he says.  “The core menu that you’ll find in any Ikea store around the world rotates around a number of these pillars, if you will, of Swedish cuisine. The meatballs are without a doubt the platform for the whole thing.”
It’s not like West Sac’s restaurants cooking food from Laos, Austria, Russia, China, India and Mexico don’t have meatballs of their own.  Oliver Babor is Swedish. He’s also executive chef of the restaurant inside the IKEA store in Emeryville. “I taste many meatballs around in this area, Swedish meatballs, in my eyes, it is the best ones. From the taste and the quality, and from the combination to have sweet and salty, it’s very Swedish, too,” says Babor. “I’m quite new in the United States. I’m in California area 9 months. I shipped over from Europe, from Switzerland IKEA.”
Babor oversees newly hired local cooks who must make the Swedish meatballs exactly to specification. “It’s the same recipe worldwide. Eighty (percent) beef, and 20 (percent) pork.”
Full lunch tradition in the store is as old as the IKEA concept. But beyond meatballs, what is Swedish food? Babor has a tray of examples ready.
“Most of the combinations, what they have, is salt and sweet.
Here we have some special Swedish appetizers. Horseradish sauce? And we have salmon pate with caviar and the very special one is our herring, and our cold shrimps.  It’s very special in Sweden,” he says proudly.  “That’s a crisp bread, that’s a kind of bread you bake three times. You have it for the whole winter time.”
Unlike the furniture at IKEA, these meatballs require no assembly. But any food imported from Sweden is shipped IKEA-style, according to Babor. “We have very flat boxes arriving from Sweden,” he says. “So we have the same rule like the store has.”
If you can’t get any Swedish meatballs, remember, this is West Sacramento. Other meatballs from other cuisines are close by.