Getting The Bee(r)s In With Hiver Beer

Bees make honey, honey makes great beer. Nick Harman goes to meet the buzzing workers in South London and of course taste some of the honey beer.

‘I’ll just make sure the Queen is still in there before I put the frame back in the hive,’ says Barnaby Shaw, Lead director at Bee Urban, as we observe apprehensively from inside our bee suits.

It’s spitting with rain and the bees seem spitting angry too. They need to have their home put back together asap. ‘It’s a bit late in the day to disturb them’, says Barnaby peering closely at the frame, still looking for the Queen who will be marked with a coloured dot. ‘The bees are usually active between about 10am and 4pm and out foraging. Now they need to rest’.

The ones trying to get at my face could certainly give it a rest. Although I’m totally secure behind my spaceman mask, the bees are right up in my grill and while I know they can’t get past the mesh visor, I still feel a bit uneasy. And is that something crawling up my ankle? Continue reading

Fancy Crab Restaurant Review

92 Wigmore St, London W1U 3RD fancycrab.co.uk

It looks like a Doctor Who style monster in the wild, but once caught and cooked the Red King Crab is one of the finest eating crustaceans there is. Trouble is, it’s not cheap.

Once in Paris I was taken, fatally hungover and feeling like death, to a very expensive and traditional seafood restaurant.

I managed the Lobster Bisque okay, albeit with some heavy pauses, then things took a turn for the worst

The waiters began laying out enough tools around my plate to service a Formula One car, and then came the crab. A whole one, which I was expected to dismantle myself using the tools provided.

Ten seconds after cracking the shell, overcome by nausea I had torn my bib off and was out in the street disgracing myself into a hole dug by the electric company.

The point of this story is to point out, for those people that seem to have been a bit confused, that a King Crab is not the same as a crab and King Crab is the focus of what they serve here.

With a King Crab, you don’t fossick around in the body with surgical tools, carefully avoiding the ‘dead man’s’ fingers, looking for the brown meat. You don’t go near a King Crab’s body at all.

You’re just after the legs, which are enormous, and claws, which aren’t exactly small either. The meat is white and rich and close to lobster in both looks, taste and texture

So, basically don’t expect a Cromer crab shack experience at Fancy Crab, one where you emerge all smelly with crab juice. This is a far more refined experience, as befits the rather opulent and attractive interior.

And it is all about the Red King Crab which comes frozen from the frozen north, but don’t panic. It’s cooked in sea water and then frozen on the boats, so it’s as fresh as can be.

We approached the mains sideways via some shared appetisers. First guacamole served in a large stone mortar with a bowl of tortilla chips and a bottle of Tabasco on the side.

The guaca was made well; a mixture of smooth and chunky just as it should be. It may possibly have been actually made in the mortar, and not with a blender. I do hope so, I’m a romantic.

Popcorn Calamari with homemade tartar sauce had good squid squares, I always find rings a bit naff, as if they had come from a factory, and they are usually rubbery.

These squares were butter soft with a crispy coat, but the tartare sauce was not as gherkiny, capery or indeed as vinegary as it needed to be for contrast and cut through.  Still, not bad by any means.

And so we scuttled onward to mains pausing only to drink very good Broken Dream Stout,  from the Siren Craft Brewery. Absolutely delicious beer and perfect with seafood.

There are various ways to eat Red King Crab here, the purist way is King Crab Legs & Claws on ice or baked over charcoal. It’s priced by weight. It is very expensive.

Millennials though can enjoy king crab in a bun, because they do like things in buns. King Crab Burger made from king crab meat with Belkovich (??) sauce comes in a buttery brioche bun with a crab leg stuck where the cocktail stick should be, making it look very jaunty and, of course, prepped for Instagram.

Or there’s King Crab Leg Gratin – crab meat with béchamel sauce and cheese crust, or Red King Crab Pappardelle using squid ink pasta with a lobster bisque sauce.

We decided to share some pure leg and claw prepped over charcoal, as well as a dish of Singapore Chili Crab with rice.

The pure meat dish was not a lot of crab for the cash, but then again King Crab isn’t exactly scampi so you can’t expect to get a lot.

It was as good as I remember it from eating it in Norway ten years when I had fierce monsters dragged fresh from the Bering Sea.

As I say, it has the texture and some of the appearance of lobster, although it doesn’t get caught in your teeth as much, and is sublimely sweet. The smokiness of the charcoal was a big plus here

A tangle of pickled cabbage served with it was all that was needed; no fries please, this isn’t street food, and we politely offered each other equal shares of leg and claw.

The Singapore Chili Crab was loaded with fresh red chillies, but they turned out to be less Rottweiler and more Poodle in their aggression.

Normally this would have disappointed me, but in fact it was just as well as the crab meat was delicately flavoured and didn’t need to be savaged by chili. Overall it was actually a little too sweet for my taste, and while it didn’t need chili, a bit of salt might have been welcome.

Garlic and lime flavours came through smoothly and spring onions added a bit of fresh crunch. Talking of which, we didn’t come across any crab shell, something that all too often irritates me in crab dishes.

The rice was rather like Japanese sushi rice, round and not long, I would have preferred Thai Jasmine or simple Basmati.

Desserts are fairly standard, but come out looking very pretty. Mine was too sugary but apart from that it was okay. Nothing to crab about.

There aren’t that many places that do King Crab in London and that’s a shame because it is a very special crustacean which for me, and many others, knocks the claws off of lobster.

Here they have got servicing it down to a fine art, and you don’t have to be rich. Set menus and brunches give everyone the chance to get their pincers on some royalty at a decent price.

This review appears on www.foodepedia.co.uk

Of palaces, pastries and pesto

Take a short break in Genova, the city of staircases with a charm uniquely of its own.

Christopher Columbus would not be pleased to see what’s become of the house he was born in. In fact, it’s not actually his original house at all but a reconstruction. The original was shelled half to bits by the French in 1684, and then finished off in 1900 by Genovan town planners.

It seems rather rough on the home of the city’s most famous son, but you soon realise that Genovans are not overtly given to sentiment. It’s a tough and gritty town on the surface, but with a soft centre made of pastries and pesto.

As you fly in, you see how Genova rises steeply from the sea, climbing hand over hand up the Ligurian mountains. At its base is a tangle of alleyways and ancient overlapping buildings that lean together for support, and thankfully leave little space for cars.

The town is hard-working and constantly in motion. It made shiploads of money back in the day from world trade, and the palaces that were built from the profits are grand and numerous. Some are now offices but many are fine museums while others are mutating into cool bars and antique shops.

Before heading off to explore the alleys, I stopped for lunch at Eataly on the docks and a seafood restaurant called Il Marin with fine third-floor views of the town.

Chef uses local produce and food is light and very good for the money. I had Mackerel ‘Giudia Style’, then spaghetti riddled through with local small, pink, tasty squid with spring onions, and followed that with Venchi dark chocolate and pear and coffee.

Heading into the dark mediaeval alleyways after was like entering catacombs. Often the only clues to the presence of the modern world outside being air conditioning units hanging precariously on walls and glimpses of sky far overhead.

Many of the ‘botteghe storiche’ or historic shops here have been trading for 200 years, and include confectioners, tailors, bakeries and butchers. I fired down a fast expresso at a tiny place called Tazze Pazze, said to have the best coffee in Genova and pressed on deeper.

A small ancient tripe shop, Tripperia La Casana, with marble tables seemingly unchanged since forever, had an aroma that had me heading straight back out again. Their tripe stew is very popular, but it’s not for me.


Ah but chocolate, yes please. Viganotti is a tiny shop that has made and sold chocolates since 1886. Peer past the owner’s mother, on stern guard at the old wooden counter, and you can glimpse belt-driven ancient machinery grinding and mixing. Each piece is different, not mass-produced, and delicious.

Not to be missed whenever you see it, and you see it a lot, is the Genovan focaccia. a regional specialty (fugassa in the Ligurian dialect). Thinner than usual focaccia and crispier, Genovans love it so much they will even dip it into their coffee the way we do digestives


Head for the Focacceria San Lorenzo where they sell by weight; the Focaccia di Recco, is the one to definitely try – two very thin layers of dough sandwiching fresh cheese that melts in the fierce oven heat.

It came in handy for energy as I began to labour up the inclines. Puffing up one particularly steep slope, I was overtaken by a young Genovan mother pushing a loaded double pram with one hand while having a phone conversation with the other. She made it look easy, while I stopped and had a conversation with my shoes for a short while.

Luckily the Genovans have, over time, found their ‘vertical city’ a bit challenging as well, and have done something about it with elevators and funiculars.

Next to Genova’s main rail station, you can take the Montegalletto elevator built in 1929 and modernised in 2004, to reach the Castello D’Albertis, a bizarre neo-gothic castle now a museum built by a wealthy 18th Century citizen to show off his collection of world artefacts gathered from his travels.

Coming out of the elevator you immediately feel a fresh breeze and light floods the pretty gardens. No wonder the wealthy lived high up in this Montegalletto district and looked down on the docks below.

Walking back down, I headed for the Via Garibaldi which is not the home of the biscuits, but the site of many grand Rolli palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to take a peek at some Rubens, Van Dykes and Caravaggios.

Some serious shopping can be had on Via XXV Aprile, via Roma and Galleria Mazzini, all close together, but I had an appointment at another palace, this a charmingly semi-restored one for the Pesto experience at the 16th Century Palazzo Imperiale

Genovans firmly believe their basil is the only one for pesto. The sea air permeates the plant, they say, giving it a unique flavour and every Genovan has a pot or two on their windowsill.

Recipe: pinch out a good handful of leaves, put in a marble pestle and mortar with a sliver of garlic and some salt and pound to an aromatic paste. Then pound in pine nuts, pecorino cheese and Ligurian olive oil. Presto, you have pesto.

Interestingly, the law now allows passengers to take a 500-gram jar, or two 250-gram jars, in hand luggage when flying out of Genoa. They must be flying directly from Genoa though, and the pesto must be from Genoa.

I ate my pesto on some focaccia, washing it down with clean, sharp, Vermentino one of Liguria’s most famous white wines.

Downstairs I quickly checked out a seriously Hoxton-vibe cocktail bar Les Rouges,  set in the elegantly decaying grandeur of a suite of what were once the frescoed family rooms. Definitely a place to come back to in the evening.

Of course, Genova has an historic food market, and what a market it is. The Mercato Orientale is not an oriental market, it means East in Italian, but one crammed with the freshest produce of Italy and of course bushels of fresh basil.

Soon you’ll be able to satisfy your aroused hunger pangs there too as the centre is being converted to a kind of food court, where around 14 restaurants will be cooking up a range of dishes from Michelin to street style.

To eat up the rest of the afternoon I headed out of town to Boccadasse a short ride away. It is picture perfect, even on this rather stormy day, and in fact all the better for being out of season as you get a true feel for the place wandering its now empty alleys.

Peering into Ittiturismo Boccadasse a seafood restaurant on the beach, I could see Italian families crammed shoulder to shoulder throwing down the specials caught that morning locally and written up on a blackboard. Prices were a lot cheaper than Portofino up the road and the food looked fresh, rustic and honest.

I’d been told Le Rune was a good restaurant for an evening meal. Like so many places in Genova it was on multiple confusing levels and seemed to wander from building to building. Clambering to the highest level I was surprised to find I was actually on the same level as another street.

Food was excellent, deceptively simple but based on seasonal vegetables and a deft hand with classics such as spaghetti vongole, the shellfish sweet and generous.

Next day was a time for checking out Genova’s other attractions, such as the famous aquarium, the Galata Museo del Mare and Palazzo Ducale which houses some of the city’s most important artworks.

But the alleys drew me back for a poke around classic tailors, for glimpses into carnal butchers and blissful bakers and to buy a great big gelato from the famous Cremeria Buonafede in Via Luccoli.

I did eye up the “panna montata” (whipped cream) but you have to draw the line somewhere even in Genova. Maybe next weekend.

Genova Facts

Thanks to @GenovaEventi and @genovamorethanthis  the Municipality of Genoa, the Chamber of Commerce Genova and the Genoa Tourist Offices www.visitgenoa.it

Get there:

BA (ba.com) flies from London Gatwick to Genoa with return flights starting from £86.72 including all taxes, charges and one hold bag.

Stay:

Hotel de Ville Down on the front. Comfort rooms start from 143 Euros per room per night based on two sharing and including breakfast and city tax

hoteldeville.it/en/

Hotel Bristol Palace A grand old style hotel in town by the railway station. Classic double rooms start at 204 Euros per room per night based on two sharing and including breakfast and city tax

www.hotelbristolpalace.it/en

Hotel Valery A boutique guest house located inside Palazzo Montanaro. Double rooms start from 78 Euros per room per night based on two sharing and including breakfast.

www.valeryguesthouse.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romulo Cafe Restaurant Review

343 Kensington High Street London, W8 6NW www.romulocafe.co.uk

How often have you heard someone say, ‘I know, let’s go out for a Filipino? Probably about as often as you’ve heard someone say ‘I fancy a bit of German food tonight.’

Filipino food is, let’s be honest, not a cuisine that has had much exposure. You’re more likely to find a chef from the Ukraine on Saturday Kitchen than one from the Philippines.

So Romulo Cafe is intriguing.  It’s a branch of a small group, there’s also a Romulo Café in Quezon City, Makati and Alabang in the Philippines.

Located in a rather unprepossessing part of West Ken, next to one of those all-night grocers that has everything anyone from any culture could ever want, it’s actually a lot nicer inside than you might expect. Cosy, even. Continue reading

Going On An Extraordinary Odyssey

Out of my postcode, I go out of this world with The Grand Expedition by the Gingerliners. 

The text message came through at 4pm, as promised, with instructions to go by 7pm to a certain station on the Victoria line with directions to a nearby venue.

Three hours later we are somewhat apprehensively emerging out of an unfamiliar station into an unfamiliar postcode. Here be dragons?

The directions are simple enough. With other travellers, clearly on the same adventure as us, we form up as a squad and chat and compare Google maps to make sure we are on the right track.

Shortly after we are outside the venue, which is not very impressive but rather thrilling. Dark and dingy it seems more a place for a dodgy deal, or to meet a Russian secret agent for a Novichok cocktail. Continue reading

Catching Up With Hastings Fish

Nick heads down to Hastings to do a bit of fishing for Xmas recipes and discover more about fish

Hastings sea front

Storm be a brewing

The wind and rain are lashing the Stade on Hastings’ seafront by the Old Town, with people being almost bowled over as they move between the ancient black net sheds and the spanking new Jerwood art gallery on the beach.

I have my head firmly down and my coat wrapped tight around me, my glasses are so covered in moisture that when I do look up it’s like being in a blurred psychedelic light show. Where am I? I ask in desperation, to no one in particular.

A passer by takes pity and directs me to my destination, the Classroom on the Coast on the Stade. Pushing open the heavy door and sliding inside I’m suddenly out of the elements and I feel as happy as a fisherman who’s managed to get below deck in a Force 10.

Which is apt as there is an old fisherman waiting inside; John ‘Tush’ Hamilton is one of the last of the Hastings fish ‘hawkers’. Continue reading

Wine cathedrals and wondrous wheeled adventures

Up in the Terra Alta in Northern Spain, they have an almost religious reverence for white Grenache and a building to prove it. I cycle the Greenway to discover more

Sunset over the mountains

‘I’m not much of a cyclist,’ I tell the man fitting me out with my bike and helmet. To be honest, and I keep this to myself, the last time I rode a bike it had gears labelled Sturmey Archer and my short trousers had name labels.

‘That’s okay,’ he replies, ‘it’s all downhill from here.’ ‘Story of my life’, I think, as I try to get onto the saddle in a dignified manner. I fail and the bike shoots backwards and I make contact with the crossbar in a painful way.

The old railway station

We’re at the Horta de Sant Joan train station in the Terra Alta Tarragona province  in Catalonia, or Catalunya if you wish to be politically more (or less) correct.

It’s a small and very pretty town on a hill, inhabited for many, many centuries, and also a place where Picasso used to hang out.

There was once a single-track railway line that ran up to here created by republican prisoners of the war in 1942. Continue reading

A Magical Marzipan Xmas In Lubeck

If you’re looking for a fabulous Xmas market, they don’t get much better than Lübeck in Germany. And what’s more, you get to eat the best marzipan in the world.

Serious Cake Action

‘Does it get busy in here at Christmas?” I ask indistinctly between mouthfuls of cake. My neighbour pauses in the task of putting away his own massive Torte Niederegger to reply, ‘well, put it this way, last year I came here to meet a client and it literally took me over half an hour to get through the crowds and get upstairs!’

We’re talking, and eating, in the J.G.Niederegger shop and cafe in the medieval Hanseatic port of Lübeck, often called the ‘“Venice of the Baltic”

Forget the diet

All around us locals and tourists alike are gleefully shovelling down some of the most impressive cakes I’ve ever seen, each one it seems heavily laden with fruits and creams, and nearly all featuring plenty of marzipan. And there’s a good reason for that. Continue reading

Delta Force

The eco-conscious Ebre Delta in Tarragona is unlike any other part of Spain. I took a few days to explore the rice, the food, the wine and even the sake.

DSC_6624

Paella is taken very seriously in the paddy fields

‘In a few square kilometres, I can find everything I need to eat,’ says local legend Senor Polet, as his friend stirs an enormous paella in the kitchen.

Outside the ancient house, a barraca style that’s typical of the area, the paddyfields of the Ebre Delta stretch away, stopping only at the base of the distant mountains in one direction and the nearby Mediterranean sea in the other. Continue reading

Tack For The Memory. Sweden On A Plate

Forget fika, there’s more to Swedish gastronomy than coffee and buns. Nick takes the plane north to dig down into the food-rich region of Jämtland Härjedalen

Frozen lake near Östersund Sweden

The Sound Of Silence

It takes two airplanes to get to Östersund, the capital and only city in Jämtland Härjedalen. The final descent out of a clear blue sky reveals a countryside that seems more lakes than land, with the lakes still frozen in April and blanketed in thick snow.

The melt is beginning though and soon the locals will put away their skis, the area is famous for its skiing, and begin to cycle and hike through their forests and fields. The Swedish here love to be outdoors whatever the weather.

And they love to eat well, the region is dotted with over 200 artisan food and drink producers, as well as restaurants and chefs that take inspiration and ingredients from the land and water around them.  Self-sufficiency is real here, not a fashion.

Frozen lake near Östersund Sweden

The Frozen North

Östersund on the edge of Lake Storsjön is a lively, friendly place and geographically it’s celebrated as the very centre of Sweden. The bars and restaurants don’t compete for business, they share it and as I move around the town I find the same faces –  bartenders, chefs, shop owners and local food entrepreneurs lall waving cheerfully as they slip and slide on the snow.

All that Jazz

A cocktail in Jazzkoket in Östersund Sweden

Drink it or wear it?

In the centre of this centre of Sweden is Jazzköket, which means ‘Jazz Cuisine’ in English. Tucked away in a hidden courtyard, its open kitchen radiates heat and bonhomie and, typically for Sweden, there are all ages enjoying its eclectic interior design and delicious food.

From the bakery in the cellar comes out superb sourdough and chefs cook with beef from mountain cows, as well as ‘Fangsten’, which means whatever seafood has been caught and brought to them that day.

A bartender making a cocktail in Jazzkoket in Östersund Sweden

A Swedish Hipster?

Across the courtyard is a cellar bar, where the team create esoteric cocktails based on local ingredients and invite guests to choose their own music from a stash of vinyl in the corner.

Having a browse, I find the oeuvre of Saxon features strongly, Swedish men may all look like Hoxton hipsters but they do like ‘the metal’ all the same.

The hip bartender makes up a selection of cocktails for me to try, including a marvellous one made with moss and a food dish whose name is tongue twister, but with its salty fish roe totally blows me away with its depths of flavours and sheer Swedishness.

a dish of salmon, potato, carrot and dill at Lilla Saluhallen

It doesn’t get much more Swedish

Although for a classic Swedish lunch you’d be hard pressed to find better than the salmon, potato, carrot and dill I happily eat at Lilla Saluhallen later, a delicatessen and casual restaurant combined and run by the partner of the man who runs the Jazzkoket bar.

The menu board at Lilla Saluhallen in Sweden

It was all Greek to me

In her well-stocked shop of local produce, I taste some superb cheeses that came from Oviken Ost,a nearby dairy that makes its artisan cheeses from cows and sheep with the milk either from their own herd or sourced locally.

So, good was the cheese that I have to meet the makers, so I drive up to the dairy in blazing sunshine and blue skies that belie the 5C temperature outside.

A cheesemaker in the dairy at Oviken Ost Sweden

Say Cheese

‘We couldn’t get the sheep’s milk we wanted at first,’ I’m told as I am shown around, ‘so we began crossing Nordic ewes with purebred East Friesian dairy rams’. They have over 90 acres and 200 hectares of managed forest around them and the whole dairy here is eco-friendly with heat coming from a wood chip boiler that uses wood from their forest. The cheese they make is so good it’s served at Magnus Faviken’s restaurant not far away, as well as at Noma.

Cheese platter in Sweden

Delicious on crispbread

The milk is left unpasteurised to get every bit of the flavour out and the cheeses, which range from hard to soft, are a real treat. This is how cheese ought to taste all the time.

Pork matters

‘They look like Rastafarian pigs,’ laughs the chef at Slaktarn i Östersund AB, ‘they have long furry coats’.  I’m looking down at perhaps the finest pork chop I have ever seen on a plate.

As thick as an old phone book, it’s perfectly cooked and simply served with crisp apple shards and local artisan beers Jämtlands Steamer and Jämtlands India Pale Ale. Here with the latter they know better than to overhop and create refreshing brews that are balanced and very drinkable.

A pork chop in Sweden

Chop chop

The guys at Slaktarn i Östersund AB are young men driven by a desire for proper meat.  The animals come from local farmers who all focus on providing natural lives for their animals, all grown to proper maturity and fed naturally from what the animals themselves choose to eat as they wander about freely.

The soil is monitored for organic quality and slaughter is carried out to the most humane methods, with the meat then aged slowly and carefully. The result is meat selected by all the best shops and restaurants in the area. And yes, that includes that place Faviken again.

Ice age

Nick Harman fishing on a frozen lake in Sweden

The smallest fishing rod ever

Of course, if you really want to get fresh food, you need to catch it yourself. Which is why the next day I find myself lying face down in the snow peering into a metre-deep hole we’ve just drilled through the lake ice.

Ice drilling in Sweden

Just a few more feet to go

A thirty minutes ride as passenger, and for a glorious fifteen minutes as a driver, on a powerful snowmobile with local hotel owner and mountain rescue expert Richard, has brought me out to the middle of a giant lake where the guides brew our coffee on fires made from scavenged wood and proffer slices of cured reindeer to keep us fed until the fish bite.

Nick Harman fishing on a frozen lake in Sweden

Not dead, just fishing

The rod is tiny, I look like a garden gnome. I can see the fish when I peer down, but they don’t want to be caught. We pack up and motor to a restaurant a few kilometres away deep in the Sami, the indigenous peoples, land.

The restaurant Hävvi in Glen is part of the Tossåsens Sami village in the Oviken mountains 50 km from Östersund and chef Elaine is married into a Sami family. The Sami people have lived from, and with, nature since time began and sustainability is their natural way of life.

A large bearskin pinned to the ceiling suggests that their attitude to nature is also pragmatic.

We eat Sami appetisers, a platter of smoked and cured reindeer components – heart, tongue, liver, that sort of thing – and then smoked mountain char, sea buckthorn, fried angelica, mayonnaise with apple vinegar, roasted bone marrow, fried fish skin and cloudberries, a plate redolent of this part of Sweden.

Chef Elaine at Hävvi in Glen Sweden

Plating up the Elk’s nose

Then it’s tempered suovas with slow baked swede, spring vegetables, blueberries and creamed black chanterelle mushrooms and crispy elknose. Suovas is dry-salted meat smoked by the Sami over an open fire.

Crispy elknose is like pork scratchings, but a great deal tastier and we end with a palate cleansing sorbet made from cloudberries and sea buckthorn. It’s a meal that anywhere else would be served surrounded by pomposity, pretentiousness and with chef posing at the pass. Here Elaine just cooks the food she likes to eat, and it is excellent.

Drinking songs

Bottles of snaps at the Buustamon hotel Sweden

Snaps

The sound of singing is loud in the basement of the Buustamon hotel and we’ve only had a few drinks. Helan Går, roughly Chug It Down, is one song being belted out and I wish I could join in.

Snapsvisor (drinking songs) are popular with all ages and classes in Sweden and where better to get the tonsils twitching then in a distillery?

The exterior of of the Buustamon hotel Sweden

Where the Spirits live

Snaps is a shot of aquavit, an ingrained part of Swedish culture and in this charming hotel and farm, halfway up Areskutan and accessible only by a bumpy but fun ride in a snowcat, they make their own –  all the way from the mash to the bottle labels. Beautiful freshwater, lingonberries, elderflower and all kinds of local herbs and spices are used between spring and autumn, any other time the water is frozen solid, to make their range of snaps – Arevodka, Buustasup, and Hojt.

Cured meat platter on a lake in Sweden

Snow snacks

It took them a long time to get the distilling permit under Sweden’s somewhat draconian alcohol laws, and rather bizarrely you still can’t actually buy a bottle at the hotel. No matter, I wobble up the stairs to the restaurant to a superb dinner of local produce in the wood heavy dining room.

Jämtland Härjedalen has certainly left me singing inside my head, with its wonderful people, food, drink and of course fabulous scenery. This amazing region is a place I could very happily call home and I can’t wait to come back again.

Chef in Sweden

The foraging chef

Big takt (thanks) to:

The Jämtland Härjedalen Tourist Board

Visit Sweden

www.Jht.se

www.Adventuresweden.com

Buustamon Hotel

Copperhill Mountain Lodge

www.are.se

Wikners i Persåsen Hotel