VERY FINE LEVEL
Stora Nygatan 11
742 31, Östhammar
Slow down with intense flavours
Getting in to Östhammar takes its time. In front of us is a leisurely motorcade of five (5!) EPA tractors, cars repurposed as agricultural vehicles whose drivers may be under 18. But it’s just as well we get a chance to slow down, because Forslundska Villan is no place to be in a rush. In the bright dining room a group of merry seniors are leaving – they hug the owner, Michaela Puls, and promise to be back soon. We are given a table by one of the large windows. In the parkland dusk outside, the EPA tractor gang indulge in a modest Friday night session, while ours begins somewhat more grandly: Bonnaire in our champagne flutes, and two delicious amuse-bouches. Can a shrivelled-up carrot be delicious? Yes, because its flavour becomes more concentrated, and with a mild local yoghurt and roasted hazelnuts it raises expectations for what awaits. And the other little goody – a cod croquette with jalapeño mayo – has the same effect. This tasty and fluffy little ball actually gives most croquetas we’ve had in Spain a run for their money. From here things roll on gently, with a tender and mildly gin-cured halibut, and lamb (raised by Elin in Östanå, further inland) served with Jerusalem and ordinary artichoke. The hollandaise with browned butter that accompanies the zander makes one of our party whisper ‘is it OK to lick your plate?’ Well, why not? We’re eating a fancy meal, but with a relaxed vibe. Roslagen folk are supposed to be a bit dour, but here adjectives like ‘pleasant’ are much closer to the mark. The wooden villa with a view over Östhammar Bay may be named after an owner called Forslund, but Michaela Puls and her husband Luke Hurst have turned it into their very own in less than a year.