Maybe it was a case of self-fulfillment - it was a veritable pilgrimage to get to, and I'd thought about and planned it so long that it just HAD to be good - but Faviken has just nudged Noma and L'Enclume down to second and third positions in my all time best food experience ranking. Take that, San Pellegrino!
And I say experience rather than restaurant deliberately, because all that surrounds the dishes is important. The journey; the red wooden hunting lodge it's housed in; the birches, lakes and spruces; the 'larders' hidden in hillocks with stone surrounds like a fairy house; the snow still on the mountains in July; the enthusiasm of the young staff, including but not limited to Magnus himself; the fur blankets in the bedrooms; the sheep fleeces on the outdoor chairs; the mounted elk heads and burning logs; the hams, and sausage links and dried herbs hanging everywhere...I was spellbound.
There were over 25 courses, and no menu, so highlights from memory were:
Wild trout roe in a sort of croustade made of pig's blood (like wafer thin black pudding)
'Shavings of old sow' - like parma ham made from god's own pigs
Scallop 'i skalet, ur elden' - these were HUGE scallops steamed over burning juniper branches inside their own shell, with sea water, which was then strained and poured back in as a reduced jus
Lamb's tongue which was bathed with butter and turned every few minutes by some poor sod in the kitchen for FOUR HOURS, served with a broth that was filtered through moss
A sort of chocolate/coffee tart thing with smoked reindeer shavings. Bizarre but incredibly successful.
A simple king crab leg, lacquered in butter, served with burnt cream. Crisp on the outside, marshmallow within.
Surprise hit of the night was pointed cabbage slowly cooked over embers, with sheep's milk pricked with vinegar, and sturgeon roe.
'Brown cheese' tart (whey reduced to gooey caramel) with angelica cream.
Crystallised root vegetables.
Jerusalem artichoke crisps sandwiching a filling of bitter something (I know not what!) from the forest which tasted of coffee.
Quails' eggs cured in ash, served with pickled marigold and smoked trout.
I have it from reliable witnesses that the wine flight was exemplary. Brilliantly, they also had a non-alcoholic flight. Just so nice to have something more interesting than water/coke!! Everything was grown up and confident enough to be bitter/sour, with the flavours - e.g. a tannic lingonberry with the meat courses, rhubarb with the smoked fish - not just not competing with, but actually enhancing the food.
We were lucky to get seats at the gateleg table, and luckier still to be sharing it with some companionable foodie adventurers from round the world. I recommend it if you can get it, as Magnus cooks some of the dishes nearby, and serves/explains the dishes (as well as instructing us how to eat them in an endearingly bossy and slightly awkward way!)
If you can, try to stay the night in the cosy lodge rooms with their fur throws and sauna, not least for the breakfast spread which included smoked bull's heart, potted wild trout, impeccable sourdough and lashings of cloudberry jam. Actually, unless you're lunatic enough to camp wild nearby, you kinda HAVE to stay!!
We flew into tiny Are airport before making the cross-country trek. If you do the same, we grabbed a quick lunch at Jazzkoket in Ostersund which I recommend. Laid back, hipster type place, where we had a buffet lunch of thick and beautifully seasoned lamb soup, salads and bread for 99 kroner (a steal in Sweden!)
Just go. It's a Scandic fairy tale. A week on am still slightly dreamy!
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