Bound to Fäviken

From Stockholm to the great Swedish north. Excellent bistros, roads covered in snow and one destination...

02-02-2018

Östersund, in northern Sweden, an hour’s drive from Järpen, where you can find Fäviken, the destination of Chiara Nicolini’s journey, who wrote this this feature

«I was been attracted to the European way of life, but I am deeply Swedish», said director and Academy Award winner Lasse Hallström.

In the few days around New Year’s Eve, this is what Stockholm looked like: crowded restaurants and cafés, traffic and metro trains swarming with people, but nobody out in the streets. Shopping streets and museums were crowded, but nobody was outside, the way we’re used to in Italy, always walking about and having aperitives, or even just sitting on a bench in the city centre, looking around.

Worried as we were about the weather we might find, we were lucky enough to find a climate that was almost like in Milan: a few degrees below zero, nothing more, instead of the -17°C we were to find in Östersund, 500 km north of Stockholm. We had organised a hectic tour of the Swedish capital in the under 4 days we were going to spend there, worried about the ceiling-high prices of anything we might eat/buy/visit (in fact, it’s not so bad if you pay just a little of attention). Islands and museums aside, the only gastronomic treat we satisfied was visiting Volt, a restaurant with a Michelin star right behind our hotel. Here’s the story.

Yet Stockholm also means Nystekt Strömming. Due to renovations it is temporarily at the southern entrance to the most touristic island in town, Gamla Stan. Usually, you can find it close to the Slussen metro station on the following island, Södermalm. At this food truck two people can dine for 20 euros, including beers: they serve herrings cooked in all sorts of ways, mashed potatoes with unlimited use of butter (hence delicious), strictly raw onion and the omnipresent cucumbers, cut in slices and raw, of course.

Nystekt Strömming, a popular food truck in Stockholm

Nystekt Strömming, a popular food truck in Stockholm

We also visited Brinken, on Gamla Stan, a typical Swedish restaurant cum pub where you can find reindeer or herrings and salmon, or the typical meatballs. With some 40 euros per person, including beers, you can have a satisfying meal.

Having visited every corner of the city, we moved north: Östersund is a nice city in inland Sweden. We have finally reached real Sweden, in the middle of the snow, a city, the capital of county Jämtland, whose name experts will associate with one of the hardest to reach restaurants of the planet, according to many, or at least of Europe: Fäviken, our final destination in this long journey.

The almost 7 hours’ drive from Stockholm requires a break; at another hour’s drive there’s beautiful Åre, where the world ski championship will take place next year. Here prices leap, and we had to save for our last stop, which was right behind the hill surrounding it, 23 km that are in fact an adventurous journey, if you think you’re no longer driving on tar, but on a nice and hard ski trail. A path completely covered in snow, in the middle of a totally white hill, with a few trees peeking under metres of snow, no lamppost, completely dark at 3.30 pm. And no human being, except for the few taxis that drive up the hill to take guests who don’t want to drive on such hostile roads (local drivers obviously have no issues with this journey).

Restaurant Brinken, Stockholm (photo restaurangbrinken.com)

Restaurant Brinken, Stockholm (photo restaurangbrinken.com)

After this hill, you’d hope to have arrive. Yet after a road that looked civilised, once again, we had to turn left and we were once again in deep trouble. The road, the only one, was again completely covered in snow. We ere no longer driving on tar, but sliding on the snow. Our only thought was: «Is a snow cat coming tomorrow, or shall we be stuck at Fäviken for the rest of the winter?».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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