Dinner – Wednesday, February 22, 2017
I have wanted to visit Fäviken for many years, but it was not until August 2016 that we committed to a trip. Is it crazy to fly 5500 miles (one-way), then drive another 3 hours (again, one-way) in heavy snow to stay a night at a restaurant situated on a hunting estate in the middle of nowhere? I don’t care – and after our dinner, I was glad we did it.
Staying the night affords the guest some very nice benefits – a relaxing pre-dinner sauna (with drinks and housemade reindeer sausages), a cosy bed to roll directly into after a heavy meal, and a delightful breakfast the next morning. Suffice it to say, the experience would not have been the same without lodging at the inn.
Housemade pork sausage and pickled carrots
Linseed and vinegar crisps, mussel dip
Wholegrain wheat crackers, carrot salad, carrot seeds
Broth of smoked and dried reindeer
Decomposing leaves, very fresh cheese, crowberries
Wild trout roe, crust of dried pig’s blood
Pig’s head fried in sourdough batter, pickled gooseberry, tarragon salt
Bird’s liver custard
Malted cabbage, pickled rowan berries, parsley stems, fermented black garlic
Dinner begins for everyone in a drawing room of sorts, replete with comfortable couches, armchairs, a cosy fire and a bar. Tables are shared in this room – a good way to hear stories from other guests (“Why did you come here?” seems to be a popular conversation-starter). The custard of liver, from a local bird, was the first great dish – strong iron taste balanced by the pungent black garlic and pickled rowan berries.
Cheeks from an old sow, cured for a week and aged for a year
The first course served in the dining room proper – a simple Norwegian scallop cooked over burning juniper branches and served with its own juices. Probably the best example we ate on this whole trip – the bivalve was plump and super-sweet.
Cod steamed with spruce needles, fermented sunchokes
King crab, almost burnt cream
A signature dish – a segment of crab leg, quickly seared and served with warmed cream. Delightfully simple, and one of my favourites of the evening.
Sourdough pancake, dried kelp, beef butter
Lupin curd gratin, lupin flowers
Mahogany clams, beer vinegar
Quail egg preserved in sheep dung ash
Dried trout and pickled marigold dip
Aged apple, molded milk
Our served told us the apple was cooked at 60C for 8 months. It maintained its structure remarkably well, but wasn’t dried out at all – I’m not quite sure how they accomplished this. The flavour was intense, which was necessary to balance out the (slightly scary) fuzzy lump of milk it accompanied.
Steamed brussel sprouts, very good cream, Finnish caviar
Another excellent course with little manipulation. Pure quality.
Fermented, roasted and very finely ground lupin
Quail liver toast
Colostrum with meadowsweet
Unusual, if nothing else. Colostrum is the milk produced during late pregnancy, and its protein content is much higher than normal milk. This example also seemed to be much higher in fat, with a very creamy mouthfeel.
Raw sunchoke, dried and roasted cereals
Frozen apple juice
Throughout dinner, this contraption had been drip-drip-dripping a trickle of liquid into a bowl below it. We finally found out at dessert time that it was filled with frozen apples, being pressed for their juice – it was delicious.
Silage ice cream
Ice cream was made in the dining room the old-fashioned way, with a wooden churn. It was flavoured with silage – the greens and fodder used to feed livestock. Talk about putting yourself in their shoes.
My first encounter with drömmar, also known as Swedish dream cookies. These were not quite traditional, being made of potato and malted barley, and filled with a potato caramel. Warm and chewy, with brown butter and spice notes – I won’t hesitate to say these were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.
Sugar-cured egg yolk, pine tree bark crumbs
Spruce ice cream
Wild raspberry ice
Bone marrow bread pudding
Blackcurrants, rum, frozen milk
Candied, semi-dried root vegetables
Smoked reindeer and birch pie, sunflower seeds
Aromatic seeds and mignardises
The formal dinner concluded with the spruce ice cream, after which everyone retired back to the drawing room for a (seemingly never-ending) procession of after-dinner bites. Cigars and house liqueurs were sampled as well – our consensus favourites were one with duck egg yolk and rum, and a second of sour cream and grain alcohol. Both were rich and boozy, perfect for warding off the freezing temperatures outside.
Snus, from tobacco grown on site
Inside the root cellar
The generosity of Fäviken continued at breakfast the next morning, with a spread of cheese, meats, eggs and preserves at each table. Not pictured (they arrived in a stream mid-meal) were basketfuls of bread, warm grain porridge, and fresh-baked cookies. An outstanding way to end a visit.
The journey, the setting, the food, the service, the camaraderie with fellow diners – all combine to make this an unforgettable experience. I long to return.