Swedish gastronomy made a big splash at the Northern Festival in a dinner thrown by Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm visitors’ board in Downtown L.A. this past week. Two of Stockholm’s top chef’s created a mammoth seventeen-course meal, to display what the “new” Sweden is all about, a culture of change.
Walk into a space that houses pieces of art, design and innovation in Downtown Los Angeles, and one may expect some great pieces to admire or art that make you think outside of the box. Even so, any art can create the feeling of amazement and wonderment of how something is conceived, created and executed.
These are the feelings I had when I walked through the doors of Austere, an art and event space in Downtown L.A. to taste the creations and artistry of Chef Anton Bjuhr and Chef Jacob Holmstrom from the Michelin starred Gastrologik. Us journalist types were hungry and hoped the food was equally as great as the setting.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Whether in Chicago or Stockholm, foraging and locally sourcing ingredients is the wave that has been sweeping around the world for a number of years now. Chef’s Bjuhr and Holmstrom took to the local L.A. farmers markets to grab what they needed for this special dinner, yet attempting to showcase their very signature way of cooking.
Located in the hip Östermalm neighborhood of Stockholm, Gastrologik is a true farm-to-table experience and a belief in a food equality of sorts. As the talented chefs display on their website, “The potato is worth exactly as much as the truffle, it is not nature that decide what´s good or bad, it’s you and me.” This philosophy was on full display this evening as the two culinary artists created each dish with precision and perfection.
Moreover, these two renegade chefs are taking old Nordic comfort cuisine and creating a whole new universe, which displays their artistic creations. These guys are not making avant-garde dishes that the general foodie does not understand and does not like; the two talented Chef’s take traditional meals and turn them into flavors that many have never tasted before.That is creativity and design on display in the kitchen.
Fredrik Carlström, the Swedish Founder of Austere, creates a great space for his fellow countrymen to work and display their works of culinary art alongside the eclectic collection of Swedish design and culture. Carlström gave us a short and fascinating history of Swedish design and what impact it has on American culture, as well as reaching around the world, giving examples of art, architecture, music and the rising star of Swedish gastronomy.
I’ve been to Stockholm many times and loved the old school way of cooking meat and potatoes, meatballs and potatoes and fish, and you guessed it…potatoes. Swedes believe in family and a hearty meal with family and friends and can be a very traditional society when it comes to food and family.
Even so, as much as I like to try new foods and different flavors, let’s just say I still don’t have the most adventurous palate and I am totally cool with that. However, I was so intrigued to try what Gastrologik had to offer on their long and daring menu. Can you say spruce sauce?
The meal began with some of the best and thinnest potato chips I have ever had in my life, alongside Swedish vinegar and spruce dip. Chips so good I wanted to grab a giant bowl of these chips, find a TV and watch the watch the World Series.
The sublime meal kept building with the likes of chicken liver and apple on a meringue, tartar of bison with horseradish and cucumber, smoked black cod, “angamat”, which was a mix of season vegetables and an egg, lamb shoulder and beans and even baked pumpkin. In one of the most interesting first courses of the night, our chefs took algae with celery butter and poured hot water over the combination to make a flavorful and unique tasting soup. The final crescendo came with spruce ice cream, apples and berries in a menagerie of flavors that I have never experienced.
Chef’s Bjuhr and Holmstrom are very much like a modern rock band that takes influences of early rhythm and blues, jazz and rock-n-roll to create their own updated sound. Specifically, these chefs are paving their way in the world of Swedish cuisine, yet still staying close to roots of just making really great food. To me, that’s very Swedish, in what is slowly becoming the “new Sweden”; a culture and country that is opening their arms to experience and explore.
Swedish food deserves a Swede playlist and here is my dinner favs.
Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn and John
Tove Lo – Crave
Animal – Miike Snow
Stay Gold – First Aid Kit
Tomorrow – Niki & The Dove