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

Friday, 18 November 2016

Hairy Tales

Ever since I had a "friend divorce" who also happened to be my business partner a decade ago, I have been on the constant prowl for a steady hairdresser.

Like most of you, I would just have a automatic standing booking every 4 weeks with Stephen Andrew Jones if he was even just a two hour flight away just to to get a haircut / color / blowdry and find out which of you are natural blondes / are greying / are actually really nice or bitchy.

But alas my former hairdresser was introduced by this former friend so she got custody of "Sara" 
( not her real name ).

I miss Sara.
She was the best type of hairdresser.
She spoke fluent English and I never had to explain using a translation app which, mind you, they didn't have in those days.
She was Australian and furthermore, a Victorian which is my Australian home state so we had cultural notes that overlapped.

She was a no nonsense Aussie girl who was frank which was much appreciated in terms of 
Should I chop my hair off ?
Nah - won't suit you.

She had a great sense of humour but she had emotional intelligence so knew when to chat and knew when I just needed to hear the hairdryer whizzing around my ears.

I had a standard cut that she just knew to do that when I went for my first post divorce haircut, I didn't know what to ask for.

These two pictures of my blow dried straightened hair is when I went to my local hairdresser that isn't even Italian - they are a Neapolitan establishment. 

Their English is just as pronounced as when they speak Italian.
This is what I got when I asked for bouncy with volume and curls at the end.
This explains my defeated look.
I have been in England too long to complain so instead I smiled and said - Si, me piace, grazie.

Then I went home complained to my husband and what-sapped my friends with wtf emojis.

So now I do what must really annoy hairdressers...
I show them pictures of my hairgoals from Pinterest.
Ok - so can you make my hair like Giselle's?
Cheers luv - you've got 45 minutes because I am running late.

Definitely not Giselle, but the following time I needed a blowdry, 
I showed them pictures which don't need google translate and they put more curl in my hair.

Thank you Pinterest.

Now you are thinking, hang on Naomi, you do live in London.

Let me explain.

London does indeed attract a great pool of talent an ambitious people.

However, hairdressers are split into several categories.
They want to do fashion editorials for magazines or 
they want to set up their own proper retail boutique.

So once most of them are successful, they tend to go back to their country of origin with their London street cred or they go into the suburbs or other cities where it is cheaper to rent a shop on the high street.

Indeed, even my "Sara" returned to Melbourne a few years ago so I wouldn't have had her in any case.

When I was in Korea, I thought I would use my time there to experience real life scenarios rather than going to the restaurants and living just the best bits of any city.

Going to a hairdresser was one of them.

My Korean is okay but it is a colloquial version not one of proper education as I was never schooled in it.  So I lack the nuance that I might mistakenly think I have in English.

I wanted bangs / a fringe.

So I showed the hairdresser various photos.

He looked gingerly at the selection I showed him.

"But you have neither proper Asian hair nor Western hair so your hair won't fall the exact same way.
We must find a solution." he said.

I thought he was taking the piss.

I was like, are you kidding me? 
It's not a UN resolution that needs a back up plan.
It's just bangs dude.

But of course that was just in my head and I did a polite Asian nod that you see in those let's compare cultures segments on TV.

But the issue really came in when I said I wanted not only bangs but in combination with a side sweep.

He vetoed it.


I told him that is what I wanted and showed him a pic of a recent haircut that did what I wanted it to.

He said that it looked lopsided and and heavy.

I insisted I am a civilian and it only matters if I am comfortable and I don't need to look good for camera.

He insisted he has a reputation and if people ask where I got my haircut that he would be judged.

I said I don't live in Seoul and I wouldn't tell anyone.

He says his reputation is important and he has his code.
Needless to say I won't be revisiting his salon.

You would think that brunette hair is easy to color but actually I find it surprisingly hard to get the brown I like.

While this is beautiful, for my it is too stripey.
This is a bit dull and flat.

The next two pics are too red.

I like a mix between the bottom two.
Rich chocolately brown with a warm hue.
But how do you say that in Neapolitan?
I have booked an appointment in two weeks.
Wish me luck.