Faviken, Jarpen Sweden

As someone smart once said, “The journey is the destination” and this expression couldn’t be more appropriate in summing up this snowy swedish adventure to Faviken.

“What in the world are you doing all the way out in Jarpen?” A friend from Stockholm wrote when seeing my instagram post of the blinding white and cold terrain of northern Sweden. He was right Jarpen is not a typical tourist destination but then again we were not on your standard vacation. Jose and I went to Sweden with a very specific goal, to eat at Faviken, which just so happens to be way the hell up north in the middle of no where.

The ridiculous journey, all done for our insane love of food, lasted in its entirety 80 glorious hours. Some of this time was spent walking and absorbing the scenery, a few here and there were spent sleeping, and almost half of it was spent on a plane or in a car on route to this culinary gem. Talk about anticipation!

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The final few kilometers up to the faviken estate are an incredible thrill. The long road weaves up and down the majestic snow laden hills until the red of the main buildings come into sight. The history here is great and on arrival you are immersed in it. We parked the car and followed the signs and the wondrous smell of burning wood to the restaurant. Once we made it to the main building we were greeted by a lovely woman who casually handed us our keys and then proceeded to show us our room and the general lay of the land. If you got rid of the snow this place could easily double as a glorified summer camp for adults: communal baths to share with your fellow foodie bunk mates, fire pits, farm houses, vast amounts of nature and a strict schedule of events.

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main building
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My first impression of Faviken is that it was creatively conceived and beautifully crafted. The laid back yet elegant interior space gives off the warmest possible vibe. Perhaps it was the wonderful smell of burning wood or the creaky wide plank floor that brings one back to their childhood home or quite literally warm given the cozy and soft down bed and fur throw. Each of the 6 rooms are distinguished not by a standard room number but instead by a hand painted animal portrait. (Ours happen to be the fox.) If you are expecting a sprawling suite with its own fireplace and bear skin rug you may be disappointed. This room, which measured about 7ft by 15ft, may be tiny but it was designed as if it were a piece of hand crafted furniture or a boat cabin, everything that was there had a purpose, to save space while providing a sense of personality, charm and place.
After the tour we were greeted by Johan, a handsome and articulate guy with a clear passion for food and wine. He mentioned that we should relax and enjoy a stroll or a sauna before our 7pm dinner. We took his advice and carefully walked along the slippery ice patched road. God this place was gorgeous! There wasn’t much but white snow interrupted here and there by patterned animal tracks. The cold mountain air was crisp and clean and after 5 years I finally felt what winter used to be like.

DRESS: We made our way back to our quarters, cleaned up in the communal shower and dressed for dinner. (FYI One would assume that dressing up for a meal this anticipated is the norm but we soon found out that the attire was quite informal. Jeans are by no means discouraged.)

One of the greatest memories of the dinner was the restaurants door being opened by Magnus himself, such a fantastic and intimate way to start the night. Once inside we were then escorted into the lounge, a gorgeous 200 year old farmhouse. The space was sprinkled with ambient candle light and the wooden planked walls held in the warmth from the fire. The walls were beautiful and served as a backdrop for hung dried flowers and herbs and the iconic fur coat that seems to finds it way onto virtually every documentation of this place. (We clearly couldn’t help ourselves)
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lounge
Once seated the treats started making their way to the table. First was the champagne, pickled gherkins & Wild Goose Chorizo.
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snacks1
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snacks cheese
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After a myriad of other beautiful bites we were escorted up the stairs to the dining room, a rafted room consisting of 7 tables.
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dining room1
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THE DINING ROOM Like the guest rooms, this humble and casual atmosphere was carefully appointed with very deliberate moves. A few carefully hung pieces of meat here a fish there and some scattered relics, most likely dating back to the building’s origin. Nothing was extraneous, almost all the “decorations” served as props or ingredients to further tell the story of this truly special and honest dining experience. As fine of an establishment this was it was by no means a “fine dining experience”. There were no white table clothes. A table cloth would only cover up the beauty of the natural wood, a purist philosophy that made its way onto the plate as well.
Unlike the typical quiet and overly controlled fine dining environments, faviken is all about embracing and giving into its surroundings even if it results in the occasional interruption. The sounds of Swedish folk music (something that might be used as the backdrop in a pub scene on game of thrones) is broken by the loud creaking sounds that the kitchen crew makes when ascending the stairs. The diners become easily trained into thinking creaks = next course (strangely akin to hearing a soothing dinner bell over and over again)
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scallop
From what we heard the Scallop was Magnus’s signature dish and we totally see why. The meat of the scallop was incredibly firm, a characteristic found when scallops are at their freshest. The savory broth made from the scallop’s own juice was unbelievable and unlike anything I have tried.

 

Chef Magnus Nilsson (featured above) is one of todays hottest chefs and I imagine he will hold onto that title for a while.  Magnus has quite a unique past that started from an interest in Marine Biology but instead of going down that path he decided to pursue a career in cooking. From school he made his way to Paris where he worked a short time for Alain Passard of L’Arpège before landing a job at  Pascal Barbot‘s L’Astrance where he worked for three years. After Paris he came back to Sweden where he decided to take a break from coking and picked up wine writing, an interest that landed him a job at Faviken in 2008 as a sommelier. The restaurant failed to find a chef and Magnus was appointed head chef. Magnus’s Faviken is now ranked in the top 50 best restaurants of the world list. The new list comes out in a few weeks and we wouldn’t be surprised if Faviken makes it to the top 10 or better yet ranks number one. Lets see…
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langoustineIt is hard to say one dish was better than the rest but I’ll venture to say that this may have been our favorite dish of the night. The main shellfish was as fresh and pure as it  possibly could be and was tampered with as little as possible in order to hold on to that pure flavor. The beautiful protein like many of the following dishes was paired with a sauce, an accompaniment that acted as a cerebral catalyst for the dish; thoughtfully enhancing and collaging the flavors into a new composition.The gigantic langoustine was unbelievably sweet and without a doubt the best I have ever had! If only the lobsters we catch of our dock in Maine taste the same!
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Jowines
The entire staff at Faviken are storytellers. Unlike many restaurants they know everything about the food they serve and how to explain with finesse and often times humor. Johan, the sommelier, was one of these people. After many years at Faviken he has made the decision to move onto the next stage in his career and has opened Gaston, his own wine bar in Stockholm. Really wish we had the opportunity to check it out we have heard great things. See en foodie’s review here
turbot
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codThis was a very unique plate. The cod seemed not to be properly seasoned but once mixed with the savory of the carrot and spruce flavored vinegar the case of this dish was made.
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small bitesWe absolutely loved the flavors that came out of this seemingly simple creation. (The richness of the oxtail melded brilliantly with the sour onions and barley)
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marrow
The choreographed spectacle of the night was by far the sawing for the marrow. This may seem like an overly theatrical moment to some but given the context of the rustic environment and ingredient focused menu it totally worked. Why not show the diners where their food comes from. Theatrics and this more illustrative form of storytelling are very prevalent in the food scene today. Chefs are showing the before and after sequence in order to create more intimacy between the diners and their food. I quite like this trend especially when it serves a purpose or produces a memory worth hanging onto. I do not however like when it ventures into an overly rehearsed sketch with the food taking second fiddle like EMP’s card tricks and picnic courses…
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marrow2All that sawing materialized into what you see above. This was our first time having cows heart and it was raw! Good dish, but perhaps the concept was more successful than the end result. The combination of flavors and textures were somewhat bizarre for our taste. The baby birch leaves and herb salt did bring a much needed lift and brightness to the plate.
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goat
What a beautiful earthy composition. The vibrant shards of beet and textured grains were a fantastic accompaniment to this perfectly cooked goat.
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colostrum
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DESSERT1
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liqueursafter dinnerAfter an epic dinner there was more. We came back to our pre dinner snack table to take in some warm coffee and sweet treats. We were very impressed with the house made liqueurs. They were unbelievably tasty and all vastly different from one another. Word of advice, dont pick one to try, try them all!

Over our after dinner drinks we had a chance to chat it up with Magnus. I mentioned that I would love it if he had a place in the NYC, a comment that brought on a very interesting conversation about the restaurant business. He mentioned that in NYC people open restaurants to make money/survive and that instead it should be about finding a way to sustain and fuel a passion. This passion in big city restaurants like NYC is truncated by the customer demands and the overly saturated restaurant business. At the end of the day customers end up dictating how cooking should be and because the main goal is to survive in the competitive business without too much room for experimenting, the chefs start to stray from their original vision in order to make their customers happy. Faviken is the complete opposite to big city restaurants, it is far away from any competition, so they end up serving people who are predisposed to getting outside their culinary comfort zone and weeding out the customers that just won’t get it.
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breakfast
After a deep sleep in our twin beds we woke up to yet another treat. The breakfast brought together some familiar faces from the previous night, many of which were dressed in snow gear ready to ski. The meal reminded me of our weekend brunches we do at home. Some jamon, an egg, cheese and bread. As much as I love our breakfasts this version was way more memorable. I loved the fish roe and egg, a typical Swedish combination. The condiments were out of this world especially the coudberry jam. The other condiment that I wish I had now in our brooklyn kitchen is the herb salt! That seasoning was magic!
Faviken lived up to its much deserved hype as one of the most unique and memorable dining experiences out there with In De Wulf a very close second. If you are an adventurous person who loves food you really must go. Yes it is far far away but the journey getting there will be just as magical as Magnus’s brilliantly simple and thoughtful plated creations.
TIPS:

1. If you are planning to stay over night don’t plan to check in until 5pm. If you go any earlier there may not be anyone there to help you.

2. Depending on where you come in from plan to check out Are, a ski town located 30 min from the restaurant. If you ski this place is heaven on earth.

3. Rent a car. The drive from Faviken to Norway is one you should take. The views are breathtaking no matter what the season is. Not to mention the Norwegian coast is on of the more beautiful coastlines I have seen…well worth the 3 hours in the car.

7 Comments

  1. Really quite a great piece you guys keep getting better and better at this. Cheers!!! and Congrats on having a successful trip to such an incredible destination.

  2. Very well written! Thank you for sharing. I am going to Faviken with my bro in June and can’t wait! Even more excited now 🙂

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