Monday, 5 December 2016

Faviken's tasting menu - yes, the one from Chef's Table on Netflix

I have a confession to make.

Thing is...I'm a foodie.

No, no, no, not that kind.

I was a foodie since the 70's when only chefs and bulimics would obsess about food.

Apparently my first documented sentence was in Korean and translated literally was,

"My stomach is so full I could die."

( It means that one had a lot to eat minus the dramatics.)

I was the sort of kid that would get free meals at restaurants because the owner or manager would be amazed at how much I was enjoying my food and asking questions about where the food was from.

I had told this to a karmic astrologer who was also a Wicca witch in the ley lines of the west country and she explained the reason why I was obsessed with food was because I had starved in a previous life due to having been a refugee due to a bad politically based arranged marriage.

Either way, I love food.

I loved food so much that when I had a chance, my friend from law school 
( the one I mentioned in my previous post where I had a friend divorce and she got the hairdresser ) and I opened a cafe in London.

Long story short, I became disillusioned and after the cafe closed, 
I just went back to watching cooking shows.

Then the past decade and a half or so, 
there was a glut of people who were self proclaimed foodies.

"Oh, don't you just love dark chocolate?
Gosh, I'm such a foodie I can't eat hershey's or cadbury's chocolate."

"Gosh, I am craving Ethiopian food.
I just need my monthly injera fix." 
says the bearded yet shaved bald bloke.

"I never, like, use margarine, like totally, only butter.
Am I right? Seriously, right? "

*eye roll* x 3

Going to the latest trendy restaurant in London does nothing for me at all anymore. 
It might be a sign of age of course.
But I don't appreciate, 
though understand, 
the 2 hour limit on table reservations.

But by the time you greet your friends, 
sit down, 
look at the menu, 
keep telling every other waiter that checks on "if everything is okay" during and between every course, 
you hardly have time to catch up with people you chose to spend the evening with.

Long time readers will remember I went to Noma 2 years ago and was underwhelmed.

I tried to write a fair review not based on my personal palette.

But equally I am not an anti-snob foodie either.
I don't sneer at Michelin restaurants but I don't like food tokenism by forcing some feral surrounding while eating for hipsters.

But it has been a long time since a fine dining restaurant has inspired me.

Until last week.

For me, Faviken has reignited enthusiasm.

The view as we got out of the taxi and the windows of the kitchen were lit.

In the spotlight

Faviken maybe familiar to those of you who have watched 
The Chef's Table on Netflix.

It is a restaurant just below the Arctic Circle in Sweden run by a talented chef, Magnus Nilsson, who is also a local boy from the region of Jamtland.

The restaurant is like a Viking's home and anywhere else this lighting and decor would be most pretentious but considering I took two planes and had a one and half hour drive to the nearest town that still was 30 minutes away from Faviken, 
this is pretty authentic.

Local sausage that tasted like mortadella with semi pickled carrots
I must encourage you to watch the chef's table if you are interested in travel and food.
Linseed and local beer based vinegar crackers and blue mussel mayonaise

I am sharing the menu with you as the website doesn't publish their tasting menu - there is no a la carte option - though they take into consideration food allergies etc if you notify them.

Taste is subjective so what I love you may not and vice versa.

The taste of the linseed was pure as it was made of some cellulose without any cracker taste

However, this was the best paced tasting menu I have ever tried anywhere since the beginning of my tasting menu experiences.
Hands down.

wholegrain wheat cracker with carrot salad
They would do a quick flurry of about 3 to 5 dishes with a breather to digest in all manners.

Fresh curd with crowberries underneath
Normally after one of these evenings, I am in such a food glut that I temporarily lose my mind and think I might not eat for days.

broth of smoked and dried reindeer that was like a japanese kombu poured onto the fresh curd above
Not so with this menu.

wild trout roe served in a crust of dried pigs blood

The dishes were sourced locally and if not in season were pickled when they were in season.

Pig's head dipped in sourdough an deep fried, gooseberry, tarragon salt

The tone of the dishes - though Nordic - were on a completely different key that that of Noma.

Bird's liver custard, malted cabbage, rowan berries and parsley stems
I am not sure if this was the chef's interpretation or if it was a Danish / Swedish difference.

Slices of cured pork that was aged for months
But one of the standouts for me was the butter that is made from a local farm.

I used to eat so much butter in my early twenties that my local store thought I was a baker.

I know my butter.

No wonder bread and butter was a course.

It tasted in its natural raw state like a thickened beurre blanc with herbs and minus any vinegar.

Scallop cooked over burning juniper branches

In fact, my friends are thinking of going again in the summer to try out the summer menu even though it took almost as long to get there as it would from London to Seoul.

We had a wine pairing and this was good old fashioned mead
like the Vikings and other Saxons would have drunk

The lighting inside the restaurant

King crab and almost burnt cream - the best crab everyone at the table had ever tasted
Deserves this close up
Cod steamed with spruce needles, fermented jerusalem artichoke
sourdough pancake, seaweed, beef butter

lupin curd gratin whatever that is but it tasted like pizza minus the dough

Razor clam - my least favourite dish -
not due to the chef but just because I am not keen on razor clams

small egg coated in ash, sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold
based on an Icelandic dish

Above eggs dipped in this sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold

Pagan decor as the Vikings would have done
Flaunting your wealth by showing off your dried fish.

Steamed cabbage with very good cream and Finnish fish eggs

Wild Duck

Set broth, truffles, and  beer cream

liver on toast

colostrum with meadowsweet

Raw jerusalem artichoke, dark roasted cereals

Potato dream - simulating a famous Swedish biscuit but made of potatoes and barley

Egg yolk preserved in sugar syrup on a pile of crumbs made from pine tree bark,
a type of make your own cookie dough

paired with ice cream with spruce syrup

red clover tea

Raspberry ice

bone marrow pudding

meat and birch pie

wooden box filled with tar pastilles, meadowsweet candy, dried rowanberries, smoked caramel, sunflower seed nougat,
dried black currants

This was different seeds coated in sugars or syrups based on Indian after dinner mints

The various drinks served with the menu ( non alcoholic option ) which it seems they serve to people who had the wine pairing at the dessert section

This was snus ( snuff in English ) fermented in used bitters barrel
Basically - it is moist powder tobacco and you put in your mouth
This is very popular in Sweden.

The menu in English

Post dinner cigars

They had a teepee with a firepit

Hope those of you who are interested in cooking and different types of food enjoyed the tour x


  1. Your taste buds got quite a work out, and your reputation as a foodie is once again secure. I shouldn't have read this just before going to bed--now I am hungry! Which of the more exotic dishes do you think would taste best in filling portions, rather then just small samples?

    1. That is a great point about what works in small doses versus a meal portion Jim! For me oddly I was saying to my friends that the blue mussel mayonnaise should be sold like Hellman's and if the restaurant did that I am sure that would be a sure sell out. I would have that on a tomato sandwich. The butter would lift every single item and I would probably fry in it. In fact, I kept some and put it on the cod. Also I really like the fish eggs with cabbage and thought that would make a nice healthy supper on a weeknight.

  2. I most certainly did enjoy the tour of what is probably the most unusual menu I've ever laid eyes upon. I had no idea colostrum was even an edible food item on menus nowadays. The mind boggles! Not only that, I had no idea snuff was back in fashion.

    1. Glad you enjoyed a quick detour to Sweden CD. Colostrum tasted nice and milk creamy but it is usually something only the new born calves and farmers get to try. Snuff is huge in Sweden and they were selling it alongside cigarettes and there were big shelves dedicated to it.

    2. I forgot to mention that I've a weakness for good butter. I've often thought of bread as a vehicle for it and I'm afraid living in the Bay Area there are excellent bakeries that make the best bread I've tasted anywhere. Good for the taste buds, not so good for the hips! I can't help myself, however.

    3. Yes it seems one of the most seen things on departing SF flights is bread - my old boss in NY used to buy loaves to freeze!

  3. Loved this Naomi thank you so much for sharing. Really incredible. I have a bit of a thing for Sweden and Norway right now so I found it particularly fascinating. Like CD I had no idea snuff was still a thing, and colostrum brings me back to my breastfeeding days, enough said. The preserved egg yolk, how did they do that it looks so perfect.
    Really what an adventure and I think you are indeed a true foodie. How did the beef butter taste? I'm guessing they were grass-fed beef? And they churn it from the fat of the animal? xx

    1. I thought the snuff was "snuff" like it was actually coffee granules or some sort of granita and then they were like roll it and put it in the sides of your mouth. So now I have tried it. But it was like a less sweet Christmas cake. Very interesting but that was of course snuff treated by them and I am not sure if it is like that if you buy it at the stores. The egg yolk must be done by those digital cookers in pro kitchens. Beef butter was like the yummy fat on a burger without the grease but I am not sure how they make it. They didn't really get into that bit although he has 3 cookbooks. I was going to get one but then got drunk and forgot so I am thinking of ordering it for xmas. Glad you enjoyed the tour Dani xx

  4. This was so interesting. I'm highly unlikely to get to this restaurant, given the remoteness, and my inability to even fly 10 hours, let alone 24 hours somewhere. But I loved your descriptions and the decor. It sounded like it was less pretentious than Noma in your view? Also seemed very meat centric (or offal/ marrow etc). Did they offer vegetarian options I wonder?
    I also enjoyed your description of you as a foodie and your first sentence in Korean. So funny. You remind me of my youngest, who spends a lot of time thinking about what his next meal is going to be.... And yes to the eye roll of everyone being a foodie these days. Generally speaking I'm ok with degustation, although my husband loathes it. He'd prefer a single dish to himself. But I do find that we're in an irritating phase with food where it's either share/ tasting plates and a 2 hour window to eat, or degustation only. It makes it very hard to have a middling sort of old school style dinner out where you get to eat and linger, and have your own dish of your own choosing. Food faddism is really at an all time high.
    I agree that bread and butter are deserving of their own course. My actual favourite part of Magill Estate (local top notch restaurant with degustation) is their bread and butter. Last time I managed to con 2 loaves out of them to eat with vegemite toast for breakfast the next day. So goooood!!

    1. I think they just eat a lot of meat up there but in the summer there is a lot of vegetation and berries that isn't familiar to most which is why we are curious to go in another season. I think they must offer gluten free veggie options in this day and age but my whole group just went with the main menu offered. I still like to think about meals and hate to waste a meal on something just to feed myself. My husband doesn't do this which I think is equally odd. Vegemite toast with superb butter was one of the things I thought would be so good with that butter too!!

  5. I sooooo enjoyed this, thank you! I don't think I watched him on chefs table but something else and was so enamored by him and his philosophy. Maybe it was chefs table? The Netflix good stuff runs together and I pretty much love it all.
    I've never ever described myself as a foodie either. like you, I say food-obsessed because that is what I am. I wonder how long I would have to be tranquilized to get there? I kind of am feeling the stirrings for a Scandinavian trip but ugh.
    I have an unrelated question for you. Today I found these gorgeous platters that are stamped "Soane and Smith 200 Oxford Street London W" I think they are earthenware made for Soane and Smith (is that a store?) apparently very little of it has made it to America because I couldn't find anything on and only a few teacups on eBay. They're so pretty and of course now I need 22000 pieces and hopefully dinner plates if I can find them. The borders are my favorite shade of pink.

    1. I think that was a store and it seems to have had 2 locations on Oxford street which is a major commercial street over here. They don't exist anymore though and one of the locations is now Selfridges!
      I think you saw Magnus on the mind of a chef on PBS. He did a few episodes there as the host.Netflix entered around his experience and the restaurant. I love mind of a chef too! I want to go to the guy's place in Louisville. But the experience was of course enhanced by snow and being able to talk with friends without rushing back to our schedules and we could really relax and properly bond. Plus the whole place looked like a werner herzog movie!

  6. Naomi
    I love your food adventures! Odysseys to remote places to try such a bizarre range of tasting foods. You're so brave - I remember your description of live ants from Noma. Not sure I'd be brave enough to try all of these. Also think my sense of humour would get the better of me and that G and I might embarrass ourselves by cracking up laughing at some of the offerings. We'd have difficulties taking some of these offerings seriously - we're so not foodies!
    One of my fave movies ever is "Babette's Feast" set in such a remote bleak landscape. Imagine the location of this restaurant may be similarly bleak and remote though perhaps not on the edge of the sea? I'm sure I'll never get there - but love hearing about it.
    My favourite meals are traditional and old fashioned - not share plates or degustations, preferably French or Italian. The setting and ambience are also crucial for me - so obviously again I'm not a foodie. Some of my favourites are: L'Oustau de Baumaniere in Provence, outdoors on the terrace on a good day in late spring or early summer - absolute heaven; the Chevre d'Or at Eze Village - incredible views over the coast, looking to Cap Ferrat; La Colombe d'Or at St Paul de Vence; simple seafood on the waters' edge at the Belle Rive on Cap d'Antibes; Le Grand Vefour in Paris - also just good simple brasserie food at Le Grand Colbert; the souffles at the new Alain Ducasse - Champeaux at Chatelet. There are so many more too. Some have Michelin stars, some not. But the food is always so good - and the ambience, service and surroundings are all beautiful at all these places (actually not so much at Champeaux - it's set up as a modern railway station restaurant - so a bit severe and lacking ambience).
    And like, did I mention the butter!? Love good butter and good bread too. You can join me up for the b and b club. The best bread I ever tasted was at breakfast at the hotel where we stayed in Gdansk. Freaking out of this world. A woman came to our table asking us how we were enjoying the breakfast. I raved! And raved! To the effect that it was the best bread I'd ever tried - we loved it ALL though (it had won Best Hotel Breakfast in Poland two years in a row). Turned out she was the head chef and had made the bread herself. She was so pleased she loaded us up with heaps of fabulous goodies for our train journey later that day back to Warsaw. Absolutely refused to charge us for them.
    Some Paris restos give you a loaf of their special bread to take away, as their little extra gift. Think the Tour d'Argent is one of these. The bread was excellent, the food though good was not outstanding, but our table had an incredible view over the Seine! Worth it just to enjoy this alone - of course with good wine and food too. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. I loved Babette's feast too. That was in some Danish island if i recall. There wasn't that odd in this menu except colostrum is hard to get but there are some amazing dairy farms there so I suppose that is how he gets that. I love colombe d'or - it is the quintessentially SOF experience. But while I agree the views at Eze are amazing, my husband and I were so disappointed in the menu at chèvre d'or. I think next time it will be drinks next door. I am so curious about Gdansk - never been to Poland - might try and make a quick trip next year and this will be an extra reason to go!! I don't mind my surroundings too much but that is probably the Asian side of me where street food is so good that you concentrate on the dish rather than nearly getting run over by a moped hehe

    2. Gdansk is certainly worth a visit - we went because G's grandmother was born there. Her parents emigrated to Oz when she was v small. Also we stayed in Warsaw with a friend from our Embassy who walked us all over the old city (both reconstructed and remaining original parts) and the new. But it was about six years ago, so I'm not sure if the hotel is still up to same standard. Polish bread in general seemed to be pretty good though. You can get around Poland quite well by train - we flew into Warsaw and used it as a base (our friend suggested), taking trains to Gdansk and Cracow, also worth seeing - mostly survived the War so it's not all reconstructed as most of Warsaw and Gdansk are.
      The lunch we had at the Chevre was really good, not outstanding, but we enjoyed - and it was blissful on that terrace. Gorgeous weather too. Yes, can understand that street food would focus your mind more on food than surroundings. But when we're travelling I like to combine beauty of surroundings with fine food and wine. Also love places with history and stories, like Colombe d'Or and Le Grand Vefour. So far there have sat in Josephine's seat, Napoleon's and most recently Cocteau's. I just love imagining what it might have been like in those days with those people around. At Le Grand Colbert, last June I sat in the seat where Dianne Keaton sat when they filmed "Something's Gotta Give". Great fun - they even have one of the original clappers from the making of the movie! They often close it for a day or so because there's another movie "en tournage" - being partly shot there. It just gives an extra frisson to the meal. Pammie

    3. I like Polish food and they have pretty good places here bc of the migrants. I will do some research and see the old historical palaces that seem to get neglected in story telling in western europe. France is very photogenic and as it is in many cultural references and still is popular or location scouts for scenic statements people do seem to like the comfort of seeing what they saw in film and imagined in expectation in real life come alive through a meal or a coffee. Somethings gotta give was visually a hit and that movie in a working class setting would not have done so well I imagine!

    4. Yes, I think Le Grand Colbert gets a lot of one time only diners because of that movie. One of the beauties of the place is that it's a brasserie and keeps serving meals all through the day as well as in the evening. We treat it like it's our local (even though it's really a bit far for that) and they're used to us turning up at 3.00 or 4.00 in the afternoon (after mornings gallery hopping) for lunch. Most places will just tell you lunch is finished. But not here. They know us because we've been going for years - the simple brasserie food is fab -one of our faves is the succulent grilled lamb chops with potato gratin and steamed baby beans. It's heaven for meat and veggie eaters. Our first visit this year they welcomed us back with a complimentary champagne each! One of the waiters has a girl friend who is a waitress at the Ralph Lauren restaurant at St Germain. They both spoil us in each place. Have also met lots of interesting other customers at LGC. It is very photogenic. They sat us in Diane Keaton's place because they thought we'd enjoy the fun of it. We met a great Canadian couple at the next table and had a ball all through our hours long late lunch. A lot of French theatre people (the actors and directors themselves) also dine here frequently. Once saw JK Rowling and her husband there. Always good people watching. Pammie

    5. Yes all day diners should be more common considering people nowadays do not have set schedules too.

  7. I really enjoyed this post, Naomi! Recently had dinner at Aquavit in town here, and experienced a tasting menu composed mainly of delicious things that I had not previously understood to be edible. My previous ideas of Nordic food were gleaned from films, Babette's Feast where a nice old Swedish lady shows the stunned French cook how to put stale bread into warm water for a nourishing dinner, and that awful movie (Bergman?) where the little girl sneaks some sweetened wheat kernels because she can't wait for the pudding to finish fermenting and the fermentation therefore takes place in her stomach and kills her. So you can see how loyal and brave I am that I went to Aquavit with insistent friends, and I was rewarded with one delicious morsel after another for hours on end.

    Bovine colostrum - somehow it seems logical that desperate arctic circle dairy farmers would steal it from baby calves. Survival of the fittest, doncha know. In humans it's said to be the first perfect food, rich, nourishing, sweeter than everyday milk, and packed with immunities. Colostrum production ends a week or so following birth, so I wonder if there's there's a short season among cows as well? In which case it would be a rare delicacy indeed.

    1. Nordic food does need a PR revamp. I found regular food in Sweden so very good and I didn't have one open faced sandwich either. But I think the area where we were is harsher than the Stockholm region and it was inland and not too far from the Arctic circle. Magnus is a thrifty local and uses old dairy cows rather than farming separate cows for meat. There was no beef in my menu though. I think they do that in another season. To be fair, while colostrum was nice I didn't really detect a big difference in taste so I wouldn't bother seeking it out again for the taste. We all got given about a tablespoon if that as a portion. But yes back then I really really don't know how they survived so well in those conditions bc even with cars and heating and internet, I found myself a bit tired from "fighting the elements" in my thermals! I honestly don't know how the Vikings made it to the UK only to conquer bc I just plopped straight into bed...

  8. Wow, thanks so much for this post! It sounds like such an immersive experience. We watched the documentary last night and it was so fascinating (though my husband said the translations were a joke...). Strangely, both of us could relate to the seemingly contrary aspects of the mindset of the chef. For me, I could totally relate to his feeling of being stifled by the confines of culinary art (in this case, dictated by French cuisine), but on the other hand, he is drawn to the ancient traditions of his home land. And then there was the obsessive perfectionism! My husband and his relatives are just like that!!

    1. Did you watch the whole series? I am now on chef's table France although I quite like the world perspective and seeing how cultures approach food beyond the gathering of family and friends aspect. I loved how he ended up at Faviken after stints at Astrance which obviously despite him rebelling against still instilled in him a discipline and a standard. My favourite other food was buckwheat crepes popular up there but also discovered extra salty liquorice which was vile hehe. I am a real fan of his Swedish Jamtland matter of fact Viking wisdom.

    2. I have started watching Mind of a Chef and the last half of Season 3 is all about Magnus Nilsson! If you haven't already, you must see Episode 10, which shows how the butter is made!!

  9. Oh how spectacular! Were I not plagued by food allergies, I'd be a foodie too. It always pains me to have to make special requests in restaurants. I feel rude and like I'm missing out! That looks like an amazing meal!

    1. It was lovely but I did wonder if it would taste as good without the snow!

  10. I do not know what to SAY!!!!!!
    Too little on the plates for THE ITALIAN........BUT WOW!
    I have got to get the FOOD CHANNEL.............I am definitely missing OUT!

    1. It adds up because there are dozens of them :) You gotta get netflix Contessa!

  11. So glad the effort you put in to get there, resulted in wonderful food.
    Really like the look of the crab. Could probably eat 10 of those. Told my husband to read this post and he agreed with your comments about 2 hour sittings and foodies. He refuses to go to dinners booked with these conditions. He said he could easily eat all the food presented to you but I think he was won over by the Indian inspired seeds.
    Your efforts put our short 3 or so hour drive to eat at a nice restaurant in Canberra Many moons ago to shame!
    Den xx
    Ps what is it about law school friend divorces! Am sure there are plenty more out there...

    1. The crab was one of those where the whole table squealed! I really think the conditions have stopped so many from going out too. Oh don't forget I got to go to a completely different setting in the snow so actually 3 hours is a lot to go for without a scene change Den! xx

  12. That looks like quite the experience!!! WOW! We travel to Sweden quite a bit, but have never been that far north. Gotta add Faviken to our list for next summer. Cheers, L

    1. I think you will love the area as it is famous for being and inland lake region and it is near one of the most popular ski areas in Sweden too Loi!

  13. Wasn't that bone marrow pudding featured at Chez Lector with marrow from off-key Cellist?
    Very interesting and amusing post but as I've often said; I'm quite content with baloney sandwich in properly lit room with interesting woman.


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