Restaurant food has changed radically in northern Europe since the 70s and 80s. Globalization is usually a depressing thing, and if the spread of modern food culture only meant more Burger Kings, then I think that would be truly sad. But the recent trend toward locally sourced, organic, sustainable foods and a resurgence of interest in regional specialties is much more heartening.
England had a bad-food reputation for many years: it used to be that the only way to get a decent meal for a reasonable price was to head for the kebab shop or the balti house. But now it seems every little neighborhood has a selection of cafes and restaurants with interesting menus, and farmers markets with a wide range of local products.
The same seems to be true here in Scandinavia. The first time I visited the north country, my dismay over the food here had a lot to do with me disliking both eggs and fish. Those two categories (along with fish eggs) make up the majority of protein choices, which certainly limited my options. But I’m over that now. I’m a big fan of both fish and eggs. Also fish eggs.
Haute cuisine has certainly changed radically in Scandinavia. There are restaurants here that apply molecular gastronomy techniques to reindeer, seaweed, berries and herring (there’s a focus on foraged ingredients), with the results earning them a constellation of Michelin stars.
Some friends from ICS are making one of those New Nordic places, Faeviken in central Sweden, their vacation destination this summer. Faeviken has the added attraction (or obstacle, which is part of the attraction) of being so remote that most people have to spend the night there after their meal. Sounds like fun, but at $530 per person not counting the lodging, it’s a little beyond our reach.
We opted instead for Kokkoreit, a single-Michelin star Copenhagen establishment that specializes in updated, deconstructed, and reinvented Danish classics. And it does them in town, not out in the wilderness.
I’m not sure my palate is discerning enough to appreciate individual Michelin stars. One star is good enough for me. The prices are still high enough to be a once-a-year splurge, so poor us, now it’s back to eating take-out caviar.