Surf and turf: A taste of the Swedish wilderness

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sweden's cutting-edge cuisine provides gourmet delights, plus the chance to reconnect with the land. Andy Lynes visits Malmo, Stockholm and Jamtland.

It's just before 7pm on a beautiful evening in the rural province of Jamtland in the heart of Sweden. I take the short stroll from my minimally decorated yet cosy bedroom in the remote resort of Faviken, across the gravelled grounds to the converted 19th-century wooden grain store, pausing to admire the snow-capped Are mountains in the distance.

I take a seat in the ground-floor bar, where a wolfskin coat hangs on a wall and traditional Jamtlandic folk music plays on a loop. Then the pre-dinner canapés arrive and I find myself biting into miniature crunchy cups fashioned from dried pig's blood that are filled with lightly salted wild trout roe.

A group of ultra-keen foodies, we'd left Stockholm in the early morning to take what must be one of Europe's most picturesque train journeys. Five and half hours heading north past lakes, forests of pine and silver birch and deep green fields studded with brilliant yellow dandelions to Jarpen in Jamtland county followed by an hour's taxi ride to the 24,000-acre estate of Faviken. Most visitors come to the area for its skiing, but for us it was a culinary pilgrimage, partly inspired by an internet buzz surrounding the restaurant and its inclusion in a world's 100 best restaurants list. We hoped to be rewarded with something spectacular. We were not disappointed.

Visceral might be an overused term, but it sums up the food of Faviken's head chef Magnus Nilsson perfectly. Highlights of the 11-course, four-hour meal eaten in the upstairs dining room at the restaurant's sole table include langoustines with sprouting barley, and vegetables preserved in whey and pine bark cake with acidic herbs and frozen buttermilk. It's a hugely memorable meal full of theatre, including Nilsson and his sous chef hacksawing a bone in half in the dining room to harvest the marrow which he serves with diced raw cow heart. Such is the impact of Nilsson's food that he may soon be on the receiving end of the sort of adulation and notoriety currently being meted out to Danish chef René Redzepi of Noma, with whom he shares an elemental approach.

Look beyond the blood and bones and you find that new Swedish cooking, like Redzepi's, also embraces foraged herbs, flowers and vegetables, bringing the glorious landscape right on to the plate. Nilsson is one of a number of young Swedish chefs that personify allemansratten (the freedom granted under the Swedish constitution of access to nature; roughly the equivalent of the UK's right to roam) and before dinner he takes us for a short ramble over the surrounding fields.

Peak foraging time is late spring and early summer; in winter the ground is covered in a metre-and-a-half of snow and the lakes freeze over. We find wood sorrel and morel mushrooms, but Nilsson has already been out and collected fiddlehead ferns and ground elder for the evening's meal. Nilsson shows us the beds where about 100 varieties of vegetables are grown, including the strong flavoured Jamtlandian grey pea which Nilsson says is the only variety that ripens this far north.

But you don't have to venture into the Swedish wilderness to find nature on your plate. At the Algarnas Tradgard ("Moose Garden") Supper Club on the docks of Malmo we congregate around tables fashioned from concrete pillars and old wooden pallets and plunge our forks into the meadow of bright yellow rape flowers that cover a simple salad of potatoes. The menu, created by two of the city's top chefs Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson, includes roasted onions strewn with chive flowers, bite-sized meringues with wood sorrel and culminates in a procession of jars containing rhubarb stalks, huge leaves intact, that we dip in sugar and chew on as a dessert. (From October, the supper club will become a permanent restaurant occupying the same location called Saltimporten Canteen.)

The city – a scenic 15-minute train ride from Copenhagen over the Oresund Bridge – has plenty of other natural and organic-focused culinary attractions. The provocatively named Bastard Restaurant, recently voted the best restaurant in the county of Skane, deals in the sort of nose-to-tail dining popularised by St John restaurant in London, so expect marrow bones, charcuterie plates and ox heart, tongue and tail. The team also manages the stylish Smak café-restaurant at the Konsthall contemporary art gallery where there are plenty of vegetarian options available to eat in the secluded courtyard.

You need look no further than Malmo for some of Sweden's hot food and drink trends. Scandinavians drink the most coffee per head in the world, so it's no surprise that small roasteries are popping up all over the country. At the hip Solde Kaffebar, former baristas Johan Carlstrom and Jonas Westesson serve espresso from beans they source, blend and roast themselves in their facility on the outskirts of the city. We're served "natural" unfiltered wines made from hand-picked organic grapes at Algarnas Tradgard and Bastard, but they're also available at Belle Epoque bar and Restaurang Mrs Brown. If you're serving organic food, logic dictates that the wines should also have a minimal amount of human intervention; however, the sometimes cider-like results are not always pleasing.

One of the driving forces behind Sweden's new naturalistic approach is professional forager Roland Rittmann, who conducts foraging expeditions by prior arrangement. We visit him at his farmhouse in Anderslov, about 35km south-east of Malmo. Over coffee and traditional home-made cinnamon buns in the garden, Rittmann explains how, after retiring from teaching in the early 2000s, he returned to his childhood fascination with the land and began collecting and selling wild mushrooms. Since creating his Jordnara Natur & Kultur company in 2004, Rittmann now supplies most of the top chefs in Sweden with wild leaves, berries and blooms. Nosing around his storeroom is a fascinating experience and we get to taste sea arrow grass, bird grass, white dead nettle and goutweed.

The founding of his company coincided with the publication of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto by Danish food entrepreneur Claus Meyer and 12 leading chefs of the region who agreed to "express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region" and "base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters".

In 2005, the manifesto was adopted by the Nordic Council of Ministers to develop the aims "into a lifestyle which will be better for nature, for people and for Nordic society as a whole" and which funds Nordgen, an organisation dedicated to the safeguarding and sustainable use of plants, farm animals and forests.

We're treated to a tour around the head office and plant bank in Alnarp, just north of Malmo. Head of the seed laboratory, Simon Jeppson, shows us the collection of more than 29,000 different live samples of Nordic cultural plants from about 325 different species. They're stored, dried and frozen in vacuum sealed bags in what look like dozens of domestic fridges. Along with the Nordgen's extensive gardens where they cultivate rare species, it's a valuable resource for chefs.

Travelling on to Sweden's south coast, past fields of rape and rolling green hills, we get to commune not only with nature but with history too. On the hills above the village of Kaseberga, overlooking the Baltic Sea, we eat pickled herring and drink akvavit in the centre of the 59 boulders that form Ales Stenar, a "stone ship" ancient burial site. The food comes courtesy of chef Anders Vendel whose eponymous restaurant is in the harbour below. We eat cod served with seaweed and a surprisingly delicious porridge made from rye bread, and pears poached in seawater served with caramel ice cream. Afterwards, Vendel shows us around his on-site bakery, where he makes superb sourdough, rye bread and surdegs knacke, a type of crispbread.

The small harbour is also home to Ahl's Rokeri where the glass-fronted display counter heaves with an incredible array of mahogany-coloured smoked fish, including mackerel flavoured with paprika and herring smoked with Thai flavours.

We even find nature on the outskirts of Stockholm. As we arrive at Mistral, a tiny restaurant in the suburb of Enskededalen, we spot a deer in the distance. Perhaps it was running away from chef Fredrik Andersson, worried it would end up on his menu. But the bearded and pony-tailed chef seems far too gentle a soul to harm a living thing.

The meal isn't meat-free. The succession of beautifully arranged plates includes poached veal heart served with nettles crisped in salty butter and pickled and dried onions, and veal neck served with whole baked garlic. But the real emphasis of Andersson's "modern ecological gastronomy" is on vegetables, so that means cucumber marinated in hemp oil with rosehip, rhubarb, lingonberries and duck fat vinaigrette and mangel (beet) leaf with radish, salted dried perch roe and wild flowers and herbs.

It's a charming experience but not entirely devoid of pretence and preciousness, something the New Nordic Food movement could be accused of. But give me the considered and environmentally aware approach over the macho posturing of much of modern haute cuisine any day. Although you'll see the influence of the New Nordic Cuisine across the globe, you'll have to travel to Sweden to find it in its most natural state. It's no flash in the pan, and looks certain to continue to evolve. What better reason to return?

Travel Essentials

Getting there

Andy Lynes travelled as a guest of SAS (0871 226 7760; flysas.com), which flies to Copenhagen from Heathrow and Birmingham, and to Stockholm from Edinburgh, Heathrow and Manchester.

Staying there

Hotel Duxiana, Malmo (00 46 40 60 77 000; malmo.hotelduxiana.com) has doubles from Skr1,390 (£133), room only.

Hotel Rival, Stockholm (00 46 8 545 789 00; rival.se) has doubles from Skr1,595 (£152), B&B.

Eating there

Faviken Magasinet, Jarpen (favikenmagasinet.se).

Saltimporten Canteen (previously Algarnas Tradgard), Malmo (rudinpersson.wordpress.com).

Bastard Restaurant, Malmo (bastardrestaurant.se).

Solde Kaffebar, Malmo (soldekaffebar.se).

Belle Epoque, Malmo (belle-epoque.se).

Restaurang Mrs Brown, Malmo (mrsbrown.nu).

Smak at Malmo Konsthall, (restaurangsmak.se).

Roland Rittmann, Jordnara Natur & Kultur, Sverige (rittman-jordnara.com).

Nordgen, Alnarp (nordgen.org).

Vendel Ales Stenar, Osterlen (vendelrestauranger.se).

Restaurant Mistral, Enskededalen (mistral.nu).

More information

visitsweden.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?