Dinner July 11, 2015
Fäviken Magasinet is worth the expedition. It will take a bit of organising to get there, you arrive, the photographs you have been peering at for ages materialise in front of your eyes, wait a minute, so what’s with the tipi on the front lawn?
The fresh Arctic air and the humility that pervades will intoxicate you. Faviken, not a prissy bone in it’s body, calls all diners to attention. After all, why change a formula that worked when there were only two to command the entire kitchen and restaurant. Each dish will be introduced just once for the night to the family of diners, by one melodic Viking voice. You will eat together, inhale, then exhale and exclaim together. Fäviken and its man genius will make you sad to leave.
Chef: Magnus Nilsson
Fäviken 216, 830 05
Tel: 0647-401 77
Worlds best 50 restaurants: no 25 in the world 2015, no 19 in 2014.
White guide Nordic: Number equal 2nd, total 94/100 with service 23/25 and food 39/40
Vibe: Locavorism near the Arctic Circle
Its will be an early start and you are allowed to feel a little emotional when the Fäviken sign appears humbly in the distance. In the background snow capped mountains remind you are near the Arctic circle, maybe a bit of skiing before dinner is in order even though its the middle of summer?
Over hill and dale of grass filled paddocks, then in the distance there it will be just as you imagined, the Falu Red barn, Fäviken Magasinet, the restaurant, your roof for the night and so much more than you can possibly imagine. Consider staying the night as not negotiable, the breakfast is something to behold and the evening will last longer into the midnight sun.
First get your bed organised for the night
You arrive, the key ring says it all, and you like this place. Hand painted cupboards adds that sense of authenticity, your room will not disappoint. As Nordic as it can get, faux furs on the bed, or are they, this is hunting lodge after all? Each door marked with a hand painted Arctic animal, so helpful in the hours close to dawn, after all visual memory will always gets you through. Rooms are all close to a sunny, well-equipped communal bathroom with a great shower and nearby the sauna.
Settle in, freshen up, take a long walk in the clean, pure air, wander through the vegetable garden, look longingly at the locked bunker door, you know is concealing provisions for the long winter ahead, soak it up and get a sense of where the evenings repast has come from. Head back for a sauna, rest and get ready for an evening that will be etched in your memory forever.
You know you can’t be late, folklore has it that you will be locked out, even if 10 minutes late. Arrive early and you will be rewarded with local delicacies. The scene is set with a glass of local rhubarb wine, in house charcuterie and pickled turnips, the perfect start.
Pre dinner snacks are served downstairs, seating is limited, although you will have your own table upstairs, this part of the dinner is communal. Fäviken already know you and you will be perfectly matched will fellow diners. You take your seat and then you realise this is not a dream, there it is, that big fur coat in the all its glory, you really are at Fäviken and Magnus Nillson really does exist beyond the Viking comic book figure you had imagined.
Snacks downstairs, one each
Flaxseed and vinegar crisps, mussel dip
Maybe it’s a take on salt and vinegar chips, don’t read too much into it, but this classic marriage never fails. You won’t feel guilty as its partner in crime, translucent wafer-thin crisp bread that will snap and melt away in your mouth, the perfect vehicle for the moorish salty mussel emulsion. You will greedily want more but wait there so much more in store.
Wild trout’s roe served in a crust of dried pigs blood
Not in your wildest dreams could you imagine how flavoursome this incredible iconic dish is, two years in the making and now perfection of the highest order awaits. Delicate, popping trout’s roe from the fresh waters around Fäviken, sits on pigs blood custard encased in a paper-thin cylinder of crispy pigs blood, sublime.
Pig’s head in sourdough
Delicious pigs head, fried with a sourdough coating and garnished with a rhubarb slice and tarragon salt, melt in the mouth texture and the pork flavour is something else, delicious.
Salted herring aged for three years, sour cream and rusks
Almost too beautiful to eat, morsels of herring on a warmed rock, with crumbled rusks.
Birds liver custard, gooseberries, malted cabbage and black garlic
A brown bowl of goodness and this dish won’t disappoint. Orre (black grouse) custard, covered in malted cabbage, tart gooseberries and the ever-delicious sweet black garlic, you will feel the balance of flavours with every mouthful.
Slices of cured pork
From the in house charcuterie, ribbons of cured sow.
Now upstairs you go, the midnight sun will already be seeping through slots on the balcony to beckon you. The family of diners will be seated in a semi circle around the room, awaiting the night’s feast that will ascend on large wooden trays from the kitchen.
Scallop “I skalet ur elden” cooked over burning juniper branches
The choreographed Fäviken team climb the stairs, junipers still smouldering, let the feast continue. Large hands will clap, the dish will be explained, so pay attention. This is one of the dishes you had travelled to eat, you won’t be disappointed by the briny mouthful of the sea, you would be even more upset if it was absent from the menu. Sit quietly, inhale slowly, slurp if you must and the sea broth will be with you, bite into the largest scallop you have ever eaten and your journey to this far away place is vindicated by every mouthful. I expect you will tell me the scallop texture was extraordinary, emitting a subtle crispy sound as you bite into it.
So iconic is this dish that if Magnus in his wisdom feels it has run its course and is to be retired to the Hall of Fame you have every right to expect an SOS before you arrive.
King Crab and almost burnt cream
Scandinavia specialises in large arms, not claws, but arms of crab the like most of us haven’t seen before. Heaven forbid, you might think this is an elaborate crab-stick, but it comes straight from the middle, muscular part of the crab claw. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients work the best, the Norwegian crab arm sprayed in åttika vinegar, perfect springy texture and served with classic Nordic burnt caramelised butter.
Carefully boiled trout, bog butter and porridge of lichens prepared in lye
This will be the prettiest dish of the night, poached brown trout fresh from the lake; delicate and sweet paired with bog butter made in an wooden, anaerobic environment in a peat bomb, and harvested just before its reaches the rancid state. Put off by the very thought of rancid, get over it, this will be one of the highlights. Underneath dried lichen, herbs and mosses give an unexpected crunch that compliments the disappearing act of the sublime trout.
Lupin curd gratin
A Colours Blue project dish, ” lupin beans and the use of their proteins”. Lupins have the same amount of protein as soy, but traditionally have been relegated to cow fodder. Magnus and this team have reinvented the abundant protein in a delicate curd scattered with lupin stems and flowers.
A small egg coated in ash, sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold
Another Fäviken favourite, quail egg preserved in ash. Using an ancient Icelandic preservation technique, the eggs are placed in a box filled with sheep dung ash used to fuel smoke houses, which in turn dry cures the egg for 5 hours. Peel off the ash to reveal an egg white whose firm texture contrasts with the creamy egg yolk, and condiments of dried trout and a pickled marigold emulsion
Porridge of Grains and seeds from Jätmtland finished with a big lump of salty butter, fermented turnips and wild leafs, beef broth filtered through moss
An elaborate earthy dish, it hard to beat the long descriptor above, the beefy broth smells like the forest floor, is poured live at the table from an elegant see through glass teapot, a perfect cleanser before the next dish.
Char grilled Summer Cabbage and Finnish fish eggs
Classic summer cabbage chargrilled complimented by delectable Finnish fish eggs, drizzled with unpasteurised fresh cream and cabbage and kale oil.
Lamb tongue according to Cajsa Warg, brined vegetables
We all have our Achilles heel when it comes to food, maybe this isn’t yours. The sight of a full pan of simmering a baby lamb tongues fanned like a tart in a copper pan, might be too much. If tongue is your sort of thing, go for it. The tongues will be given every chance to shine, pot roasted for 4 hours, disturbed frequently to deglaze and turn to ensure it will be a perfect texture. I have on record that French ENT surgeons will think this is the best dish of the night and given that its so close to where they work, thats beyond the pale.
Colostrum with blue berries
It will still be light outside when the sweeter part of the menu begins. Served on a bed of pebbles and to eaten with one bite the brittle milk meringue shell will dissolve in your mouth as the flavour of the milk and dark blueberries ooze out.
Raw Jerusalem artichoke, dark roasted cereals and Potato Dream
Are you dreaming, a macaroon made from potato with a malted caramel filling?
Brown cheese pie and gompa
Brown cheese is made from left over whey, the lactose in time breaks down and caramelises to produce a distinctive brown colour and caramel flavour. You will marvel at the pie texture such that the spoon stands up tall in a bubbling brown skin to reveal a delicious yoghurt filling and a biscuit base. Served with gompa a tradition Sami dish of the indigenous people of Northern Sweden, made from cultured milk with herbs, traditionally angelica, a refreshing accompaniment to the rich pie.
Now downstairs for a parade of petit fours Fäviken style
Honey pie, flower vinegar
Pickled semi-dried root vegetables
Delectable sweet pies, filled with smoked reindeer shavings and birch syrup.
A wooden box filled with tar pastilles, meadow sweet candy, anise seeds coated in crystallised honey and bees wax, dried artic angelica, dried black currants
Snus fermented in a used bitter barrel
Home made Fäviken snus, still legal in this part of the world.
Fäviken Ljust Mjöd, Jämtlands Vingård, bengt-Jpohnny & jan-Anders, Öster-Övsjö
2011 Francois carillon, Chassagne-Montrachet Ier Cru “Les Macherelles”, Bourgogne
200 Chateau d’Arlay, Cotes du Jura Blanc, Jura
2009 Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Nuits-St-Georges Ier Cru’Aux Thorey”, Bourgogne
2003 Joh.Jos Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel.
So what’s with the Tipi? Every thing Magnus does is done for reason, Lavvu are traditional Sami houses of the indigenous people of Northern Sweden. The tipi, a cosy place to escape for a night cap, escape from the wind, ponder together on your favourite dishes as evening fades into the midnight sun, and if you are lucky enough to visit when Magnus is at home he will join you for a relaxed chat into the wee hours over the camp fire within.
You might ask the restaurant about the significance of the tipi, they will say it’s about practicality and the tipi is apparently American, I think I will stick with my fantasy, it reflects symbol of respect to the Sami.
You will need some sleep but rise early, walk through the countryside and get you appetite ready for a once in a life time breakfast at Fäviken.
See why you can’t say no to Breakfast at Fäviken.