Having arrived at Holmen Lofoten early evening, and after a few minutes to offload the luggage into my delightful room, I was off into the main lounge area, not sure of what to expect. Håvar and I had chatted non-stop pretty much on our journey from Leknes airport, me munching the dried smoked fish which grew on me quite quickly, salty, savoury and smokey, great with something chilled.
I recognised familiar faces as I topped the stairs, Richard Bertinet, my cookery school owner friend, Val Warner, he has a great Patreon site which i had recently subscribed too and there he was, one of my real food heroes, Rick Stein! People were saying hello and introducing each other as we settled into the evening, shortly after, following a brief introduction into the proceedings, some history and we ventured downstairs to eat.
Each of us had our own personal itinerary ready in our room for the few days we were at Holmen, which in fact means ‘an island on a lake, river or estuary’, our location was a rocky outcrop, stunning Norwegian scenery, biting cold, occasional blizzards the location was breathtaking beyond imagination. The days and evenings gave a chance for each of the guest chefs, and the Holmen team to produce some stunning food with a minimum waste ethos, using parts of animals usually discarded, or used to produce animal feed or fertiliser components! We were in for a real treat with such star quality worldly experienced masters of food producing our meals.
Hello, let’s get right into it, roast Cod’s and Pig’s heads. We had already had nibbles upstairs, the Cod’s Liver on Richard Bertinets’ amazing fresh Brioche bread were just off the planet, something that most people would turn away, until you try it, don’t knock it as it’s delicious. Sweet Buttery Bread, with a beautiful slice of slightly crispy edged Liver it was sublime.
The Raw Scallop with Bergamot and Rhubarb was another delight, giving, tender, the cut of citrus working with the succulent scallop flesh to deliver a taste unlike no other.
I was excited to see the Bitter Leaf Salad on the menu as I had seen Val describe this dish on his Patreon site, something a recently departed chef Alastair Little had taught him a long time ago whilst under his employ, truly punchy and delightful it certainly matched the description I had heard.
The menu that evening was a tribute to a combination of no-waste and hardcore cuisine, punchy flavours and something a little unusual, but at the same time worthy of any quality restaurant and certainly delivered on all levels, thanks Val!
If you have already read Part 2 of my Norwegian Adventure you will have seen my 10 hour trip to Finland to see the Northern Lights on Tuesday evening, a truly memorial experience, Lofoten was not to outdone. Around 21:30 there were signs we were in for an interesting night. The familiar greyish trails were forming as we all dashed outside to see another great show which carried on for several hours. Maybe not a colourful as those in Finland, but, due to the mountainous backdrop they provided a completely different experience like the selection above, truly unique and ever changing .
We all went back inside, out of the chill of sub-zero temperatures and continued our amazing meal, the finale being a delightful punchy Aquavit and Prune Crème Brûlée, which finished things off really nicely. We continued into the night moving around tables getting to know each other and saying hello to the amazing band of chefs that were soon to become friends and family, finally retuning to our rooms to try and sleep. I was still up at 02:00, popping outside to capture more of the Aurora Borealis and witness it’s magical prescience.
………………………..Until next time…………L8ers………….