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Image 1: I couldn't believe that this was our second attempt in trying to reach the most remote restaurant we've ever been to. We missed our connection flight in Amsterdam last time with no other connection flights that could get us to our destination! This time, we were not taking any chances and arrived an hour early at our gate!
Image 2: We hit the road around noon with ample time after a good night's rest in Trondheim, but it became immediately evident that reaching Fäviken was going to require a tremendous effort in the heavy freezing rain. Driving on the icy road with low visibility for 180km was exhausting but we had to persevere.
Image 3: Though it was unusual to have rain instead of snow during winter months, the lake was still completely frozen. With just 350km away from the Arctic Circle, the sunset was around 2pm!
Image 4: What a big relief to see this sign after four long stressful hours of driving! The winding road in the last 6km was particularly challenging as it was covered in a layer of ice!
Image 5: Yes, we finally made it! With the sun setting so early during the winter months and given the only direct return flight back was early next morning, we didn't get the opportunity to see the farmhouse restaurant in the daylight. However, it was partially the tough journey that made this such a special place.
Image 6: Once we got off from our car, we already saw Magnus finalizing some preparation work in the kitchen.
Image 7: Inside this farmhouse is where Chef Magnus Nilsson demonstrates to the world how he can utilise the limited supply of fresh produces during winter with ingredients that he preserved throughout the year, not only to survive the harsh cold months, but to create a world class meal in such an isolated part of the world.
Image 8: The dessert was ordinary - poached pear in red wine with caramel ice cream and almond.
Blandy Madeira Verdelho 1931
Image 9: Warm and rustic. Not huge but comfortable for two.
Image 10: After a warm greeting from Johan, he showed us where to assemble at 7pm before guiding us to our room for the night. A total of six rooms with two shared bathrooms and a sauna.
Image 11: It was a long and stressful day! We set our alarm at 5am and went straight to bed to get as much sleep as possible before our long return drive to catch our early flight next morning. Sadly, we left here with a slight disappointment as our packed breakfast that Johan had promised was nowhere to be found the next morning.
Image 12: The view from our room. There is only one family living in the estate of Fäviken (20,000 acres); naturally the estate owners themselves!
Image 13: The first item was very impressive - a paper thin flaxseed crisps which was very roasted and nutty, but the star of the dish was actually the dipping on the side. The creamy emulsion had an intense shellfish flavour and a nice balance of acidity. Magnus later explained that it was made from mussels and vinaigrette. A very good start!
Image 14: Shortly after finishing the 10-course meal, which took us only just over two hours, they escorted us back downstairs. Though it was like a "guided tour" experience, it was a good concept encouraging guests to have post-meal interactions. We had a great time chatting about the food with the German-Italian couple that we had engaged prior to the meal!
Image 15: We went down at 7pm on the dot to find the other guests for the evening. The front of the house consisted of Johan and his two waitresses who welcomed all the guests. It was time for a glass of champagne after an epic journey and a very long day!
Image 16: Magnus and his brigade of chefs then brought out finger food whilst the guests were getting acquainted with each other. A supper club style which reminded me of The Loft by Nuno Mendes.
Image 17: They had huge pieces of hanging dried meat around the dining room as décor. Cool!
Image 18: On the side was a large working table where the chefs did the final assembly for each course before Magnus presented the dish in the spotlight. Yes, everyone had the same course and at the same time!
Image 19: A very rustic dining room with wooden wall panels and beams across the ceiling. That night they had five tables of two plus a large table of five.
Image 20: This must be the youngest cheese I've ever had - a 5-minute old cheese with warm whey and a tiny piece of lavender on top. The best to describe it would be a warm milk but with a silky tofu texture. Interesting!
Image 21: These maki sushi looking things were actually tiny cups made of dried pig's blood topped with wild trout roe giving a pure savoury sensation without being too salty. Very enjoyable treats so far!
Image 22: Served on a pile of pebbles was braised pig's head coated and deep fried in sour dough crust. I initially detected a hint of offal smell but my palate was quickly dominated by the small piece of fermented green gooseberry.
Image 23: As expected, naturalistic plating was a recurring theme for Nordic cuisine. A reindeer lichens dusted with dried trout and an Icelandic moss dusted with egg yolk powder, came with a lightly soured garlic cream on the side. The lichens were airy yet crispy. Incredible!
Image 24: And one more amuse bouche of dried wild goose. A good gamey meat to finish this set of amuse bouche! They then led us upstairs to where the meal was to be served.
Image 25: This soft butter had a high concentration of fat. Yummy! Though it was difficult, I was able to resist from eating too much of their perfect sour dough bread.
Image 26: The whole room was then filled with an attractive aroma after the team carried up huge plates of smoking branches of juniper. Resting on top was giant scallop that was the size of my hand!
Image 27: Magnus instructed us to open the shell and simply pick up the jumbo scallop with our fingers. Beautiful! Yes, this was "real food" as the name of the menu indicated. Despite the broth in the shell being too salty, the scallop was cooked to perfection throughout and maintained a soft and moist centre! Marvellous!
Image 28: Maybe missing the flight last time wasn't that bad as winter appeared to be the season for seafood! This mega-size langoustine was another highlight of the evening. The texture was spot on with a juicy centre along with the rich and slightly sweet "almost burnt" cream that had a nice smokiness to it. This course made me consider if I should come back again!
Image 29: Skate and burnt shallots with vinaigrette and a generous portion of cream. Magnus definitely knew how to handle seafood well as this skate was buttery and very delicately prepared. You could definitely see some influence from French cuisine as there was definitely more cream than I expected for Nordic cuisine.
Image 30: The pace here was very fast -- about 10min per course. Here was cod brushed with honey before being fried, accompanied by a caramelized carrot cooked in whey, spruce, and ättika vinegar. This course lacked seasoning; very bland relative to the previous course!
Image 31: For some reason, it went back to amuse bouche portion for the fifth course. On the spoon was a combination of raw blue shell mussel and Brussels sprouts with a thick toasted sunflower seed sauce sprinkled with dried birch leaf. A nice explosion of flavour but I wondered why this was not served as an amuse bouche...
Image 32: The other part of the course was sea urchin tart garnished with rowan berries which had a bitter aftertaste. The sea urchin wasn't the best I've tried but that may be due to the fact that I was spoiled from my recent Hokkaido trip. Agreed that this would be too rich as an amuse bouche.
Image 33: A local porridge of grains and seeds with butter and fermented turnips, poured in a light beef broth filtered with lichen giving it a woody smell. Fun combination of textures and quite a filling course. I found it weird to have this course in the middle of a tasting menu and Magnus later admitted that it was odd but he wanted a grain course somewhere in the menu.
Image 34: … for a show of bone marrow extraction by sawing through a large piece of bone!
Image 35: He then combined the bone marrow with diced raw cow's heart and finished off with grated rutabaga, a Swedish Turnip. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy this course, but the serving speed was too fast that I could not appreciate it! At that point it wasn't even an hour and a half into the meal. Too much food with too little time to savour and appreciate. What a shame!
Image 36: The meal continued without any pause. They immediately placed a few slices of toast with herb salt on the side before Magnus and his assistant took the centre spot…
Image 37: Magnus then said "for those who doesn't try a piece of the fat, you are not welcome back!" The fat was unique that it had a strong smell resembling cheese! The sirloin was very dense and meaty but not tough. Well hung for not 4.5 weeks, but 4.5 month!!! Making the best of what most would considered as inedible meat, truly admirable!
Image 38: Luckily, there was a 10min pause before the main course was served which was a relief! Served together with a careful arrangement of raw vegetables was a very rare cut of pan-fried sirloin. It was crucial to be that rare because it was a cut from a retired dairy cow which would be very tough if left on the pan for too long.
Image 39: For pre-dessert, Magnus wanted us to experience the flavour of his grandma's dessert from childhood. A long wooden spoon of fermented lingonberry on thick sour cream with sugar and another spoon on the other end with blueberry ice. Nice refreshing transition to the desserts!
Image 40: Whoa, this was cool, very cool -- a whole egg yolk as dessert! Preserved in sugar syrup, he suggested us to mash this yolk with the crumbs that had been dusted with pine tree bark…
Image 41: … and also blend it with the meadowsweet ice cream binding all the elements together! The sweet sticky yolk, the woody crunchy crumbs, along with the floral ice cream; a weird mixture but a very tasty one! What an imaginative dessert!
Image 42: Another show of chef-in-action for our final course of the evening - churning out sorbet the traditional way!
Image 43: Another unusual dessert - at the bottom was a coulis of raspberries from last autumn, blanketed with an exquisite whisked duck egg white with a floating scoop of sour milk sorbet! Yes, duck egg and sour milk! It was as if Magnus was trying to defy the law of gravity here. Such an odd combination that somehow worked again! A spectacular finale to this meal!
Image 44: Magnus came over to join our conversation with a cleverly designed multi-compartment box: wrapped raspberry ice sitting on a cold stone, warm meat pies resting on a hot stone, along with tar pastilles, meadowsweet candy, dried berries, sunflower seed nougat, smoked toffee, and the black plant resin which was like chewing gum. We even tried their duck yolk liquor too!
Image 46: An astonishing cuisine which began with skillfully executed seafood courses and finished with creative and unusual desserts! Sticking to a routine in an intimate restaurant is essential but packing 10 courses in 2 hours was unpleasant and unnecessary, particularly given the long journey guests had to endure. Furthermore, they only cover one sitting a day, no excuse!