© Vila Joya
Magnus Nilsson (center) and his Faviken team at Portugal's International Gourmet Festival.I tried to map the distance from my house in NYC to Fäviken, Magnus Nilsson’s remarkable super-naturalist restaurant in Fäviken, Sweden. I’m not very good with Mapquest; I’ll estimate that it's more than 4,000 miles away (but only about 200 miles to the Arctic Circle). Nilsson saved me the trouble of going all the way up north to see him by cooking at a festival I went to last week, the super-fun International Gourmet Festival in Portugal.
What did Nilsson and his team haul from Sweden for the meal? Not much: some cheese, reindeer lichen (it’s delicious!) and a few lingonberries. Instead, Nilsson shopped locally, scoring some Atlantic bonito at the local fish market and some awesome pork from Mahladinha, a winery that also raises black-foot pigs. And then he foraged a bunch of ingredients from the beach right below Vila Joya, where his dinner took place. He said I could help him find wood sorrel to garnish his pine bark cookies. How thrilling that I’d get to help one of the world’s most brilliant chefs make dinner. But I bailed (clothes shopping emergency). And then happily ate those cookies and the rest of Nilsson’s dishes.
Here are some highlights from that meal. Special thanks to the Russian billionaire who flew his plane to Paris to pick up some caviar and vodka for the cocktail hour.
Blood, Roe and Lichens: This dish featured pig blood tartlets topped with trout roe, two things I don't generally eat together (and one thing I don't generally eat, period). Please believe me—it was delicious.
Tuna: Atlantic bonito marinated in mushroom juice and served with a brown-butter-toasted-oatmeal sauce.
Porridge: Oat, rye, wheat, flax seeds and sunflower seeds made into a creamy, cheesy porridge and served with kale sauce.
Heart and Marrow: A sublime meat salad with pieces of beef heart tossed with chunks of bone marrow and an herb that included herbs foraged from the Algarve.