Fäviken is part novel, part autobiography and part recipe book. The restaurant Fäviken around which this book is written by Chef Magnus Nilsson is nestled at the base of a mountain in Jamtlandt County in Sweden. It is on the 8400 hectacre farm on which Fäviken is situated that Magnus Nilsson combines his two passions in life; nature and food.
A family story says that Magnus began his culinary journey at the age of three years old. His first real memory of cooking was cutting up cucumbers with his grandmother. He worked his way though many restaurants, however never finding a way to focus truly on his passions in life. It was not until he found himself at Fäviken that he bloomed and grew. He is now one of the top 10 chefs in the world and Fäviken is number 34 in the top 50 restaurants in the world.
This unusual and unique recipe book is extremely confusing when one first starts flipping through the pages. However once you start reading each page you gain a deeper understanding of the structure in which it is written. The introduction includes a history of Fäviken as well as Magnus Nillson’s history. It is within the introduction of the recipe book that we learn that there are no exact measurements and that all measurements are meant to be used as a guide line. Magnus Nillson explains “You’ll never make the dish as I do, but that’s okay. Read the recipes with an open mind”
Fäviken is broken down into sections and it is in each section that Magnus Nilsson’s passion for nature and food really comes through. Each section is extremely detailed as word pictures are painted and it seems as if the dish is taking form right in front of your eyes. Magnus Nilsson’s intense passion is shown in the meat section of the recipe book where he had this to say: “Sometimes, when I look at the way people treat meat inefficiently by neglecting the simpler cuts, or just by over-indulging in it, I think there should be some kind of an equivalent to a driver’s license for meat-eaters. For which the test would be raising and getting to know an animal, then killing and eating it.”
The whole recipe book is focused around nature and naturally-sourced ingredients. At Fäviken restaurant all the ingredients are picked, hunted, grown, raised or gathered from the immediate or immediately nearby premises. Magnus Nilsson’s motto of “Waste no part of the animal or plant” plays a large role in many of his recipes. During the winter months, Magnus Nilsson relies heavily on preserving, pickling or curing produce gathered in the few short summer months. There are many different techniques which Magnus Nilsson uses to preserve ingredients which he shares with us in Fäviken.
The recipes of Fäviken are extremely unique and thus are uniquely named for example: ‘A tiny slice of top blade from a retired dairy cow, dry aged for nine months, crispy reindeer lichen, fermented green gooseberries and fennel salt’ or ‘Monkfish grilled slowly over burning birch coals, a leaf of kale steamed so briefly that it is dying on the plate. Green juniper and alcohol vinegar’ (actual recipe name).
Those who enjoy naturally-selected ingredients, experimenting with their taste buds and exploring new and exciting ways of cooking will thoroughly love this recipe book. Even for those who may find the recipes themselves overly complicated it is brilliantly written in an exciting, touching and magical way that, even if you don’t cook any of the recipes, will keep you coming back again and again.
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