Nobody loves me but my mother
Claim to fame: An inventive, lone chef pushing the limits of what can be achieved with a miniscule kitchen, a barbecue and a helpful mother
Reason to go: The taste of a place
To look out for: The 60s caravan in the backyard, turned mini-hostel for guests wanting to spend the night
The pinboard littered with press clippings and photos says it all. There’s David the fisherman and Anna the dairywoman, Maria the baker and Arthur the cheese maker, there’s also the local farming co-op that Chef Gustav Öhman has a stake in. It’s his way of honoring his purveyors, making things intimate and tying the menu to local flavors. Even Öhman’s electrician girlfriend is involved in sourcing his seasonal, high quality produce; when traveling across the region she calls in from unexpected locales as soon as she spots ripening berries, wild weeds or mushrooms.
Located in the quaint village of Taxinge, this one man- and mom-show is situated in a former country store whose original interiors have been kept mostly intact; wooden counters and drawers, shelves stacked with decorative flea market finds and rustic touches of pike-perch trophies, cured ham, and bouquets of dried herbs and flowers hanging from the ceiling.
Öhman’s 12-course tasting menu is carefully arranged, the intensity of flavor gently undulating throughout the meal. Leitmotifs are fresh flowers, herbs, koji-enhanced sauces and vegetables sliced paper-thin. The “Terrine de betteraves” is a densely packed rainbow of beets layered with basil, pickled rosehip and herb flowers. “Zucchini, Like You’ve Never Seen It Before” is presented as a low-temp grilled stump of rolled squash slivers accompanied by a coulis of bladder wrack and last year’s zucchini peel. Equally vegetarian-leaning is the “Herbal Bouquet with Egg Sauce”, an arrangement of lovage, coriander and artichoke tops in a pool of eggy sauce with a fulfilling boost of smoked butter and salt koji. And the whole, grilled onion, harvested at the co-op, is supported by a sauce of garlic scrapings, onion peel and toasted koji.
The non-alcoholic beverage pairing is highly inventive. House-made kombucha, barley water and ginger bug is expertly flavored with rose petals, elderflower, cassis, crowberries and fennel, often with a fizz or slight fermentation, creating the perfect, refreshing canvas for the dishes to thrive on. Wine lovers will relish the unconventional, sometimes even odd, but always spot-on choices of minimal intervention wines; Czech Pinot Gris, Alsatian Pet Nat, Romorantin from Cheverny and heirloom varieties of Terret Blanc and Gris from Languedoc.
Taxinge Krog is an impressive oddity, Öhman’s ability to deliver such an affordable yet innovative menu, with the small means available to him, is truly mind-bending. Sure, he and his mother only serve 12 guests per night, and it’s a 40-minute drive from Stockholm. But still.