PHOTOS: A Pilgrimage to Dine in the Scandinavian Backcountry

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Although we certainly love the recent change in weather, we’re still on a travel kick. Our latest travel issue is about to hit stands, so we’ve been focusing on stories that both happen elsewhere, but have a clear Brooklyn link.

One of our local freelancers, Rachel Nuwer, recently published a piece for the Smithsonian about her pilgrimage to one of Scandanavia’s most respected restaurants, Fäviken. In her story entitled “Deep in the Swedish Wilderness, Discovering One of the World’s Greatest Restaurants,” Nuwer  describes what seems to have been both a luscious and visceral meal.

Over 450 miles north of Stockholm, it might be a while before we get to the restaurant that many consider to be one of the best in the world. Still wanting a taste though, we reached out to Rachel to learn more about her wild and rare experience.

Edible Brooklyn: Why were you interested in going to Fäviken?
Rachel Nuwer: 
After having read about the restaurant, I found the idea of traveling to the Swedish wilderness to be very appealing. The experience of getting there, which involves long plane rides and car drives through rural Sweden, seemed like a great adventure.

EB: Tell us a little more about the journey.
As I describe in my piece, one can either take a car or train from Stockholm, which makes for a roughly 500 mile journey by land. Alternatively, it’s possible to fly to Östersund before driving an additional hour and a half east. My boyfriend and I took advantage of having a car by visiting the larger farming community (including a moose farm) surrounding the restaurant. The chef, Magnus Nillson, is originally from the area and is well known and respected among the locals for both the attention he has brought to the region, as well as his skill as a chef. These farmers are the suppliers of the restaurant and they are proud of the way that Magnus (who they’ve probably known since he was a kid) presents their products.

EB: What dish surprised you the most? In other words, is there anything that you discovered as being edible that you hadn’t considered before your meal?
RN: Lichens. The way they were prepared gave them a popcorn-like texture and taste, which is something that I had never really considered. We also ate a bed of moss and grasses that was topped with a meat broth that had essentially been filtered through dirt. An earthworm actually fell out onto the table during this process!

EB: Did your meal help you develop a new taste for a certain dish or ingredient?
RN: I was never a fan of egg yolks. Before going to this restaurant, I used to make an effort to avoid eating them. I was a little put off during dinner then when I was served a single egg yolk atop a bed of crumbs. Wanting to take advantage of the entire meal, I ate it and can now confidently say that I have been converted.

EB: Which dish was the most challenging to eat?
The bits of raw cow heart garnished with the Lisa Frank-colored flowers were not very appetizing at first glance.

EB: Anything else you would like to add for our readers?
RN: I urge any and everyone to go. The experience isn’t cheap, but there’s no way to truly experience the restaurant  and region without going for yourself.

To read more about Fäviken and the work of chef Magnus Nillson, check out their eponymous book released by Phaidon. 

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