Will Forage for Food

By Baker, Katie | Newsweek, October 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

Will Forage for Food


Baker, Katie, Newsweek


Byline: Katie Baker

Can amateur chefs stomach reindeer lichen and trout roe?

When foodies hear the word "Faviken," it conjures up dark spruce forests, deep Scandinavian cold, and a hunting, foraging chef whose 14-seat restaurant in the remote Swedish hinterlands has become a pilgrimage site for global gastronomes. Now, Magnus Nilsson is bringing his robust brand of New Nordic cuisine--famous dishes include wild trout roe in a crust of dried pig's blood, and scallops cooked over burning juniper branches--to his first cookbook, Faviken, out Oct. 1 from Phaidon Press.

Not yet 30, with wild blond hair and babyish cheeks, Nilsson is a local Jamtland kid who worked in two of Paris's greatest kitchens before returning home to run an eatery whose intense commitment to locavorism is perhaps rivaled only by Rene Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen. Like Redzepi, Nilsson crafts his menus out of rare ingredients specific to his corner of the world--reindeer lichen, lingonberries, black grouse--and his familiarity with the Swedish landscape is deep and reverent. He knows how to stuff a hare's cavity with pine branches to keep it from spoiling; where to find tufted vetch and edible lupin; how to drain the blood from a wild bird to keep its flesh fresh and flavorful.

Nilsson's reliance on the bounty of his surroundings is, of course, what makes Faviken so famous--and also what makes the cookbook less of a practical how-to for the home chef and more of an ode to a fantastical place and a type of cooking that has mostly disappeared from the Western world. Few but the most monkish of readers will have the time, equipment, or dedication that Nilsson counsels for his dishes. Recipes call for fresh cow hearts, rib-eyes "dry-aged for 20 weeks," and burning marrow bones sawed apart at the table. Pantry staples include birch syrup, moose-meat powder, and mead. Dishes can take a year or two to prepare due to the drying time for marigold petals or the fermenting process for grey peas. …

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