I really hope all of you enjoyed your summer!!
I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve put up a proper post and there is much to catch up on, but I’m finally back home and ready to get back to business.
I’m also just praying I’m not the very last person to recommend the fabulous series Netflix produced earlier this year called “Chef’s Table”
If I am, please humour me because I swear I started writing this in the Spring ( if you look at the above photo closely you’ll see I took this pic May 8th)
Then, as incredible good fortune would have it (code for ‘I coerced my husband into changing our vacation plans’) the opportunity arose this summer to visit one of the chefs and his restaurant featured in the “Chef’s Table” series!
So, you could say this post’s been simmering ever since.
I know…the puns just keep coming. If puns were posts I’d be on my second book by now. Oh wait…I haven’t done the first book yet 🙁
Seriously though, if you haven’t watched “Chef’s Table” yet, and you’re even vaguely interested in food (forget about cooking it, just eating it) trust me when I say it’s an absolute delight.
Featuring 6 brilliant chefs from around the world, individual characters one and all, yet united in their extreme talent, creativity and perseverance, not only did we kamikaze through the series in a weekend but I can honestly say it has changed the way I eat and even think about food.
Plus I now want to forage, pickle, devise a root cellar and build a huge fire pit something fierce.
Francis Mallman cooking Patagonian Style
The production values in these 6 beautifully shot, artistically orchestrated episodes are stellar, though we all agreed the food critics gushing about the chefs was unnecessary as the chefs and their food spoke volumes, but other than that, it’s fahbulous and SO inspiring.
OK, one more little thing… I’m going to suggest not watching them in the order Netflix presents, but rather save the episodes featuring the Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann and Magnus Nilsson from Sweden (I believe #’s 3 & 5 respectively) for last.
Why? Because they’re the best episodes hands down. And we all know how important the staging of a good meal is.
But without any further adieu, let’s get our galoshes on and go out to Faviken…
we were going to Sweden on our Scandinavian vacation anyway, and as it was the first time for all of us, it seemed like a no-brainer to change the Swedish leg of our itinerary in order to make the pilgrimage out to the countryside to experience one of the best restaurants in the world right now.
Faviken is located in Jarpen (sorry, I don’t know how to make the two dots over letters) which, as every reviewer will warn you, involves quite a long trek, whichever way you slice it. No doubt because of this, Faviken, a massive farm also boasting a hunting lodge located somewhere on its thousands of acres, offers a very small number of delightfully cozy rooms in which to stay overnight.
How great is that? Enjoy an unforgettable meal in the middle of nowhere, saunter downstairs afterwards to imbibe after dinner drinks and dessert by the fire, then wander off to your bed a scant 100 feet away. There’s also a lovely sauna and a decadent breakfast served at 9:00 in the morning before they send you on your way.
A view of the great room downstairs. The building dates back to the 1700’s and all the floors and walls are still the original wood.
This is Magnus Nilsson. He was born in 1983.
Which, by my calculations, puts him at about 12. Yet he already has a wife, 3 children, a world famous restaurant, and wrote a book 3 years ago…at the age of 10.
Math was never my strength. But eating certainly is and happily, my son inherited both my appetite and enthusiasm for adventurous dining. He and his girlfriend “Lady C” are young foodies in the extreme so they were beside themselves with excitement.
To give you an inkling of just how special Faviken is, Chef Nilsson seats a maximum of 16 guests per evening, one seating at 5 tables in a space that, in its prior life as a restaurant, sat over 100. This is truly the definition of a labour of love, and not a venture concerned with making money.
Naturally, there were no vacancies when we first tried to book dinner and rooms, but my husband, bless his little heart, persevered. He put us on the cancellation list and kept checking back, and back and back until we finally managed to secure both a table for 4 and two rooms. Then he proceeded to move everything else around to fit the trip out to Faviken in.
I love him.
The rooms are all pretty much identical. Teeny, tiny, tasteful and perfect.
With a small sink area in the room and even smaller robes (seriously. No one needs to see my husband in this lilliputian robe sauntering down to the communal bathroom late at night!) I slept like a log but I think his robe concerns kept him up half the night.
You best remember which animal is your room when you come back from any nighttime excursions!
Our older son, who certainly knows his way around a kitchen himself (not so Humble Mom Brag) has been a fan of chef Magnus’ for quite some time and had devoured his book when it first came out.
BTW, Don’t you just love when you begin to learn all sorts of cool stuff from your adult children??! It’s the best!
Unfortunately, it was raining, though not cold, the day of our adventure, but with fires going, fur throws and rugs everywhere, you couldn’t imagine a cozier place. In fact it made us all wonder if winter might possibly be the most beautiful time of all to visit Faviken.
via the “Faviken” book
Tables are set very simply with small jars of wild flowers in the summer and drying red onions in the winter.
I didn’t take very many photos at dinner and when I did, I shot quickly, but here are just a few highlights from the perfectly paced, extensive tasting menu
‘Scallops cooked over burning juniper branches’ is the dish chef Nilsson is most famous for, calling it their “only truly iconic dish”
“The reason I love this particular recipe is that exemplifies everything that I think is desirable in a dish. It is a perfect product cooked very simply and presented with an even greater simplicity, which tell the diner a story of passion, and which you can sense the skill of the chef’s cooking in every bite and sip” Magnus Nilsson.
The scallops are all brought in at exactly the same time, the room is immediately permeated with the scent of burning juniper. Chef Magnus explains briefly how to eat the dish; remove the top of the shell, pick up the enormous scallop (it’s actually heavy-which is why I believe they don’t give you cutlery, as picking it up in your hand gives you a tactile connection to the beauty of the scallop) Lastly, Magnus says to quickly sip the nectar from the bottom shell.
To say it was the best scallop I’ve ever had in my life would be a gross understatement. Afterwards, every diner in the room is looking to the other 4 tables as if to reassure that what they just experienced truly happened.
‘A small egg coated in ash, sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold’
‘Lupin curd gratin’ (made with fresh lupins)
I think this was trout.
‘Porridge of grains and seeds from Jamtland finished with a big lump of salty butter, fermented turnips and wild leafs, beef broth filtered through moss’
One of my favourites as it engaged every sense. I felt like a little nymph feasting on the forest floor.
This I believe was Brown Cheese pie and gompa, but I can’t even think about it too much or I might have to move to Sweden.
Preparing after dinner tisanes with fresh herbs from the garden. I’m now on the hunt for Lovage. I will find it and I will grow it.
‘A wooden box filled with tar pastilles, meadowsweet candy, coriander seeds coated in crystallised honey and bee’s wax, dried arctic angelica, dried black currants’
Amazingly, dinner did not leave us feeling at all guilty or woefully too sated to move. We all partook of the wine pairings, which were perfection and not only did I enjoy one of the best sleeps of our entire trip, but I had wonderful dreams. We left the small window beneath the eaves of our bedroom open all night and heard nothing but the occasional trill of a bird in the wee hours.
A book shelf in the great room of Faviken. My son says “Japanese Cooking” is a must read for anyone truly invested in cooking.
Yikes. So many books, so little time…
Herbs and flowers from the gardens drying on the walls.
Magnus’ famous fur coat.
For more information on FAVIKEN
Finally, a recipe I’m going to try this week from the “Faviken” book;
- 1 kg unwashed herbs, leaves only, picked on a dry and sunny day.
- 1 kg very good quality sea salt, chilled.
Briefly process the herbs in a food processor, making sure they do not heat up, as this causes loss of aroma.
Combine the herbs with salt and pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any unwanted plant fibres.
Transfer the mixture to a vacuum packed bag and freeze until needed, or store in an airtight jar, depending on the result you want.
Note: Herb salts will keep well in an airtight container for up to a month (don’t be alarmed if the colour starts to fade) Ones that need to be kept very fresh, such as fennel and lemon balm, should be put in the freezer right after mixing them.
Suitable plants for this technique could be:
Lovage, Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Sage, Chives, Tarragon, Mint, Fennel, Currant leaves, Garlic leaves.
I’m trying it with basil leaves as it’s all I have at the moment. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Faviken book and basil from my garden.
Happy eating, foraging, experimenting and looking at food with a clearer eye.
The kids are back to school so get cooking!!
Fire pit photo with Francis Mallmann viavines&resorts.com
“The secret of the talented boy in the woods” excerpted from the foreward to “Faviken” by Mattias Kroon.