Culinary Canvas

Swedish Chef Lovisa Björkenstam: ‘This dish has it all’

Lovisa Björkenstam serves a fresh summertime dish that takes your senses on a tour of the Scandinavian mountains.

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.

In Naples, you eat pizza. In Paris, you eat pastries. In the mountains that straddle Sweden and Norway, you eat local. At Buustamons Fjällgård, the highest-situated hotel in the Swedish ski resort of Åre, the mountain is on the menu all year round.

For Buustamon's head chef Lovisa Björkenstam that means sourcing produce, wherever possible, from the surrounding region of Jämtland. Eating at the restaurant is a panoramic experience for the senses, with guests experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of this unscathed tip of the world. The menu mirrors its environs, drawing on a treasure trove of locally-grown and foraged ingredients and fish and meat indigenous to the region.

Reindeer and Arctic char - exotic foodstuffs anywhere else in the world - are typically served and have become among Lovisa’s favourite ingredients to work with.

“I’m not into salmon, I think it’s too rich,” says Lovisa. “Arctic char is lighter and is easy to catch up here. We buy it from a guy called Håkan just around the corner!”

In the spring and summer, when the mountain blooms with berries and mushrooms, and the vegetables planted by the team at Buustamon are ripe for the picking, Lovisa opts for fresh dishes that are filling without being too heavy. Just enough to revive the hikers and cyclists who flock to the mountain in the warmer seasons.

That was the vision behind her vibrant dish of blackened Arctic char, served with blackened asparagus, smoked trout roe, and thinly sliced fennel, asparagus, and radish.

“This dish is typical Buustamon and the ingredients are very popular to work with. It’s easy to make and it tastes good. I’ve drizzled an oil of dill and sea buckthorn with some lemon just to add some sourness,” says Lovisa.

Blackening the fish and asparagus “adds character” to the dish, explains Lovisa, while the crudités bring a fresh, firm bite. The acid from the sea buckthorn balances the dish and teases out the other flavours on the plate.

“There’s a lot of flavour on the plate; you have salt, acid, and butter. It’s a good mix with the different textures too. The fish and the sauce are smooth, and then you get some crunch with the blackened asparagus. The smoked trout roe is salty and stands out a bit, then we have the freshness from the crudités.”

It’s a dish that exemplifies the mountain and takes guests on an expansive tour in just a single bite.

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.

Lovisa concludes: “I think this dish has it all."