Refinement for the future

Blog post

Ebba Svenung

Ruth Osborne

Niklas Karlsson

Three charred heads of cabbage. It is the first thing to great the guests. The thing that is starting to buzz around the table.

It is March 22, 2023 when Studio 2000 pops up again at Fotografiska in Stockholm. Had it been 1823, or even 1923, fresh produce would have been scarce that year. Because before the freezer arrived in the 1950s, it was largely storage management that applied in our part of the world. The food that would be consumed during all twelve months of the year needed to be collected in just four. A circumstance that differs from that in many other, warmer places, where the seasons certainly also control the supply, but where some form of fresh produce has been and is available all year round, albeit to varying degrees. In our case, preserving everything we harvested, picked, fished and hunted has been a prerequisite for survival. Because milk lasted longer as cheese, fish longer salted and meat longer dried, vegetables longer acidified, berries and fruit in sweet pickles (or spirits) – and grains were easier to store in the form of crispbread and beer.

Now it is 2023 and Niklas Karlsson, Ruth Osborne and Paul Svensson, who together explore whether it is possible to get 2,000 m2 of arable land to be enough for each of us to live on, stick to the premise. Unlike at the beginning of the experiment, they have now had time to refine what has been harvested so far. Which means that the evening's set menu is characterized by store food. Perhaps it could become a template for what future seasonal restaurant kitchens can offer like this at the end of March.Some of the ingredients have been fermented. Lactic acidification (as it is also called) is about using good bacteria to make life sour for often rapidly growing bad ones, literally because it helps to lower the pH value of the raw material. As a result, it lasts longer - and we avoid food poisoning. Pickling goes faster is fermentation and gives that desirable vinegar or vinegar tinge. Ruth goes all out, serving up a martini on a pickled chanterelle spade with a distinct hint of apple cider vinegar. The more sluggish-tasting fermented cucumber with its dollop of fermented carrot honey that Paul serves with provides acidity, saltiness, sweetness – all in one. That preservation is not exclusively about preserving raw materials, but also about preserving and not infrequently enhancing taste, many examples are given during the evening. Almost all dishes are light, the flavors all the more full.

And of course, in more food cultures than ours, people have devoted themselves to making the food last as long as possible. In Japan, umeboshi is now bought in a tube and is used much like our ketchup, although the main raw material is naturally fermented plums which are then fermented. In the dark red plum layer, in Paul's bottling, a bread made from miso, which is normally fermented on grain, is dipped, here on the bread left over from yesterday. What goes around comes around.Now the three jet-black heads will finally get to do their thing. Where they are, they have brought to mind The Walking Dead, but on the contrary are a tribute to the one of our raw materials that can live a natural life the longest. White cabbage was and is (together with the seed potatoes) often the last thing left in the soil cellar until the edge of spring. Tonight's charred specimens have been baked whole in 60 degree heat - for three weeks. And also lay on hot coals all afternoon. They may be black as sin on the outside, but are innocently white when steamingly tranched. And the taste is fresh and deep at the same time.

In another dish, it becomes clear how processing can make us skip a link in the food chain. It is about fodder lupine, a protein-rich crop that is normally converted into feed for ruminants, which in turn is normally converted into meat or milk for us. But fermented fodder lupine can become a kind of tempeh, an ancient Indonesian dish where mold meets – and preserves – cooked soybeans. (All this brings to mind the silage siding, the white bales that have long since replaced the husks in our paddocks, they contain hay and other fodder plants that have also been fermented with the help of lactic acid bacteria.) enhanced by confit in animal fat.In Sweden, we are self-sufficient in three foodstuffs: Cereals, carrots and sugar beets. The problem with the beets is just that they are as big as volleyballs and thus require much larger cultivation areas than Niklas thinks he can set aside for candy pigs. As a sweetener, Paul uses honey and birch sugar - because in addition to what the 2,000 m2 provides, what is found in nature is also available. Together with lupine pickles, the birch sugar turns into a fluffy meringue. The apple sorbet that is served with it, on the other hand, sweetens itself as it is with a twist and everything goes in 80 degree oven heat for a day and then frozen in a Pacojet for half a day. Especially winter apples, they also belong to those things that can be stored for a long time as they are. Or of course in refined form, like wine for example. Two variants can be found on the evening's drinks list, both from the Danish Andersen Winery. In what is sparkling, the must at Ingrid Marie has been fermented in oak barrels, the other, that which is served precisely with the lupine dish, is still, a little burgundy-like and made at Belle de Boskoop. Those who prefer a non-alcoholic version are served a fizzy raspberry and beetroot kombucha with hints of tarragon, as intense in taste as in colour.

The non-alcoholic drinks are all strong characters. Behind the recipe for late-summer pickled cherries is Fotografiska's Spanish-born chef Diego's grandmother (judging by the booze, she's also a character) - and in the misty glasses, a warm, mild "coffee" is served on self-preserved, dark-roasted hazelnuts.Sittningen's DJ Erik Olsson stands for a kind of conservation he with. Of the music that marked the 1970s - and no one can claim that Ottowan's D.I.S.C.O. aged well! Equally crowd-pleasing is the rare treat that everyone gets to take home for breakfast the following day. In the bag, two rye rolls and a sign that spring is on its way after all, and with it the hope of another season of fresh crops. The glass rhubarb compote is served in a mini glass jar, which is perfect for a few tussilagos.