F-12: Encounters of Foodie Kind
Walking into F-12, one of eight Michelin star-rated restaurants in Sweden, you have the sense that something fantastic is about to happen. An ivory colored theatre-like curtain hangs from overhead, dividing the lobby from the dining room, the sides pulled back, revealing and concealing those within. The mood is intimate and exclusive and at the same time it feels as though you’re about to step out onto a stage.The pale sage walls and crisp white table settings are fresh and elegant. There’s a feeling that this is where ideas and liaisons happen.I’m here because I’m turning forty-one. It’s the perfect excuse to spend copious amounts of money on exquisitely tiny portions of “art” on a plate, or in other words fine dining. This is what I love.
Chef Danyel Couet is the creative inspiration behind the menu at F-12 (and nine other branché restaurants in Stockholm). His basic philosophy of transforming high quality ingredients into ingenious combinations is anything but simplistic. Take for example our dessert combining chocolate, pear, vinegar toffee and yogurt. Convinced?
True, Frozen Oxidized Pear might not sound appealing, but in the hands of Chef Danyel food is the medium of his masterpieces, with favor, color and texture all getting equal consideration. The base of the dessert–chocolate cookie crumbles topped with silky dark chocolate sorbet. On the side–white yogurt and a mound of shaved opaque pear. Near the edge of the plate—a drizzle of warm toffee. Have you ever? It was amazing.
What’s more, the tasting menu for fall, roughly ten courses (we lost count), included Red Deer from the forest of Sweden in Qvistberga. The waitstaff explained that the deer we were eating was shot and killed by none other than Chef Danyel himself, with his hunting team. What chef does that? This is the level of care and detail from which the menu originates. The venison was unbelievable. Tender and full of flavor, the meat served (of course), with forest mushrooms and a singular bulb of onion, absolute perfection.
Another memorable moment occurred near the end of the meal, when a man in a tall white chef’s hat wielding a gigantic knife, pushed a stainless steel cart with a slab of cheese to our table. The cheese (which I can neither spell nor pronounce), originated from somewhere up north, and had been aged for three months, unpasteurized. Using his considerable strength and skill, the chef shaved off a thin slice and present it to us on a plate, along with a warm chunk of sourdough bread. Here again, anything but simplistic.
In the course of courses, we ate poached egg yolks with shaved truffles, apple wood smoked carrots, pike perch stuffed with mussels in lemongrass sauce, charcoal grilled Jerusalem artichokes with sweet and sour pork and more. And when I thought it was all over, there was a chocolate course. We could choose between three, 2-inch wide stripes, of chocolate made locally from beans originating from different regions of the globe—a milk-based chocolate, a deeply fruity chocolate and a dark bitter cocoa. (We had some of each.)The wait staff was ingratiating, the food impeccable, the evening unforgettable. It was such a great way to turn forty-one, I almost can’t wait for forty-two. Almost.