Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Mystery Wine Dinner at Canoe restaurant, Toronto

This evening was a get together of a group of friends with interesting cellars, who meet about every 3 months for a wine themed evening at a special resto. 3 or 4 apps are presented while the various wines are tasted in sequence. After the tasting each wine, the group will try to guess the grape, the region, the vintage and the wine.

The fabulous meal that matched our wines was created by one of Canada's top chefs, John Horne.


Apps: left to right: venison tartar with crispy bacon on pretzel toast; veal tongue slider; tree syrup glazed chicken drummette.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Copenhagen Restaurants: Noma, Schonnemann's, Kadeau, Geist, Amass, Relae

Copenhagen has some of the very best restos in the world, restaurants that like some of the great Spanish restos, have taken the relms of contemporary cuisine in a completely novel direction. These innovations and ideas have influenced contemporary cuisine world wide, and Rene Redzepi, chef/owner at Noma and his entrepreneurial staff, have been the spear head of this unique revolution.

The mermaid in Copenhagen harbour. The surfaces that are shiny are touched by up to a few hundred people an hour!

Schonnemann's

Schonnemann's is perhaps the best resto in Copenhagen to enjoy a wide range of very well made open faced sandwiches (smorrebrod) (the unique and exceptionally appealing national culinary treat where each sandwich is a culinary and gustatory work of art). This resto also has an exceptional snaps list. It is my "go to" resto for lunch in Copenhagen.

"Sun Over Gudhjem": Smoked Bornholm herring, raw egg yolk, radish and chopped chives.


Fried filet of plaice topped with remoulade and accompanied by lemon. 


Freshly peeled Greenland shrimps in pyramide with white and red mayonnaise, dill and lemon, served on white bread. 


Madame Schonnemann: boiled salted veal tongue with chicken salad and watercress. 


"The butcher's steak tartar": beef tartar mixed with XO cognac, mustard and spices accompanied by a raw egg yolk, diced red onions, shredded raw horseradish, capers and fried rye bread.


Veal liver pate with olives, lettuce and watercress. 


This hand chopped beef tartar was featured off the menu, accompanied by fried rye bread and raw egg yolk (and was my fave beef tartar).


Kadeau

Kadeau was one of my 2 very favourite dining experiences in Scandinavia (the other being Noma, which was even better this time than my first experience there about 5 years ago (and that experience was really fabulous!). Although Kadeau only has one Michelin star, I can assure you it should have at least 2. 

Several years ago, Chef Nicolai Norregaard opened the original Kadeau on the Baltic island of Bornholm, where the resto still maintains a presence. Ingredients featured in the Copenhagen resto are mostly foraged from around Bornholm. Many dishes feature ingredients that are pickled, cured, fermented or smoked. 


When you read the dish descriptions below, you will find the flavour combinations inspiring and harmonious. For us, it was a remarkable evening and and a great gustatory experience. When you see the dishes and read the dish presentations, you will know why I feel certain that this resto truly belongs among the top 50 restos in the world.



The resto staff greeting us in the open kitchen.


After our arrival we were ushered into the garden where we enjoyed a non-alcoholic drink in front of a wood fire.


Yogurt whey infused with wild mint, fermented strawberry juice, red current juice and gooseberry juice. We enjoyed this drink in the garden, before being escorted in to the dining room, and dinner.


The open kitchen and the first part of our dinner being prepared. 


Lovely, artfully selected, colourful flowers at our table. 


The presentation of fresh Danish peas. 


Danish peas, reduction of fermented pea juice, spinach purée, celery marinated in horseradish oil, leek flowers, sauce of razor clam, green gooseberry juice, black currant leaf oil. 


Presentation of the crackers.


Cracker of Øland wheat, grilled Danish squid, koji, cockle emulsion, Elstar apple preserved in lilac syrup, pickles of elderflower, lilac, cyprus, burnt garlic and wild carrot oil. 


Bornholm grown cabbages wrapped around, hemp, beach herbs (cowslip, samphire, portulak etc), grilled oysters, vinaigrette of parsley, pickled green strawberry, green gooseberry, and hemp oil, emulsion of oysters, fermented pea powder. 


House-milled Emmer wheat flatbread cooked over wood fire, rendered lardo, buttermilk infused with burnt cherrywood and a powder of aromatic herbs.



Chef serving us smoked salmon. The salmon is first smoked for 7 hours at 25 degrees C. Before dinner service the salmon is smoked a second time until the internal temperature reaches 46 degrees C, then brushed with cep mushroom oil and finally served (see below). 


Smoked salmon served with a sauce of cherry blossom with rhubarb, gooseberry, plum juice, fig leaf oil, raw slices of rosehip, and unripe figs preserved in fig leaf oil. 


The presentation of the langoustine. 


Raw slices of langoustine with semi dry tomatoes, green tomato hearts, raw hazelnut, sauce of fermented tomato water, and kelp oil. 




The presentation of the sorrel.



Withered leaves of sorrel dusted with kale powder,  Bornholm new potatoes, smoked mackerel, lovage emulsion, elderberry capers, sauce of turbot and butter. 


Mussel and squid ink tart filled with sautéed and steamed blue mussels, fried chanterelle mushrooms, mussel emulsion and topped with pickled silver fir pine shoots. 


The presentation of the Norwegian king crab. 


Norwegian King Crab, fried and raw cauliflower, shaved walnuts accompanied by sauce of last years red berries, king crab bisque with cauliflower. 


The presentation of celeriac and ants (look very closely and you will see a few). 


Hay-baked celeriac, hay ash, Bornholm wood ants, sturgeon caviar, sauce of last year’s fermented white asparagus and buttermilk. 


Here in this big close up you can see the ants. I really do not know what ants do in adding to any dish that I have had with them, anywhere, however, that remains a mute point. 


The presentation of the vegetable terrine.


Vegetable terrine (slices of carrot, radish, courgette, kohlrabi, celeriac, mushroom, beach coriander - a combination of raw, fried, and pickled), egg yolk cured in mushroom broth, slices of brined unripe plums, beach onion, pickled pine cone, wild carrot flower with wild mushroom broth and cep oil. 


Danish pork - 3 weeks dry aged in brown butter crust. The loin is cooked over a hardwood fire and accompanied by onions, shallots (fermented, roasted, raw, pickled), black garlic, "Bornholmzola" blue cheese emulsion and pickled fireweed. 


Young leeks brushed with beef fat, "goat fraîche" (soured goat cream), accompanied by shaved dried lamb heart. 


Tart filled with hay-infused cream, hay ash, rosehip gelée and last year’s pickled rhubarb. 


Double-cream crème fraîche, lightly fermented raspberries, white currants soaked in gooseberry juice with homemade walnut snapps. 


Top: spelt, almond, and juniper cookie, filled with carmelized apple and juniper oil.

Middle left and right: charred yellow beet, pear purée and pumpkin leather.

Middle bottom: Bornholm mulberry soaked in fermented honey with bee pollen. 



Geist


Bread and butter.


Potato mash with lojrom (the roe of a species of salmon found in the Baltic Sea). This was a seriously addictive dish.


Spinach stewed with samphire (slight taste of anise), walnuts and gooseberries.


Carrots with young pidgeon (breast, wing and thigh), charred skin and served rare with mustard.


Chanterelles with pigtails and elderflower.  Very good crackling. A delectable dish that was a little heavy handed with salt.




Blackberries with oellebrod and creme fraich.

Amass



Danish mackerel, salted knotweed, Indian gherkin, charred shishito peppers, pine burnt lemon all topped with nasturtium leaves and flowers.


BBQ's potato flat bread.....really delicious, served with roasted kale, salt chard stems, pumpkin hemp, coriander seed, parsley, black pepper, olive oil and yogurt curd.


Fresh and semi dried tomato, raspberry, pickled wild rose, burnt wood oil with tomato water flavoured with grilled fennel.



kale, soured yogurt, hemp seeds, coriander seeds, parsley and olive oil.


Danish potatoes, white fish roe, emulsion of cooked egg yolks and hazelnut oil.


Raw beef neck, beef fat that had been aged 100 days, black chestnut, cep mushrooms and all topped with oxalis.



Chicken of the woods, summer beans (wax, romano and fava), grilled kale, plum, horseradish, beach mustard, various toasted seeds and herbs, smoked fish oil, marigold flowers and sour cream oil.



Lamb belly rillete, unripe apple, swiss chard, almond milk and black pepper oil.


Milk whey, corn sorbet, corn relish in layers, sprinkled with douglas fir pine oil.

Fennel frond ice cream, wild blueberry, dried yogurt and olive oil.

Sage and red current cake.




Coffee (from leftover grinds) crisp and burnt tea (from leftover tea leaves) marshmallows
Noma


This was my second visit to Noma in 5 years. My experience this time was more evolved from the first time, which was indeed quite fabulous.


Live king crab and lobster being presented to our neighbours.


This fabulous presentation was first apple of the new season.

Removing the top of the apple was tricky because the seam was so fine as the top so perfectly sliced that the seem was hard to see. The cored apple was pickled with salt for 30 days, enriching the apple flavours. The apple is then combined with apple juice, lemon verbena, lavender and oxalis in this final presentation.

A presentation of late summer fruits: reeves plum with kelp skin and puree of plum; fresh green hazelnut with hazelnut oil and smoked salt; rosehip filled with summer berries; nasturtium stuffed with black current berry.

Radish pie, kelp crust, reduced cucumber fudge, horseradish puree and radish.

Grilled baby corn wrapped in nasturtium leaf with parsley and mushrooms and cooked in its husk then opened and topped with horseradish cream.

Fermented sourdough bread using Oland wheat and hulless barley accompanied by butter from an area near Trondheim Norway that had been cultured for 3 days.

Semi dried tomatoes with verbena oil, black current shoots, white current sauce, black current wood oil and fresh milk curd.

Sea urchin from the Faroe Islands and summer cabbage cooked in hazelnut oil, seasoned with pine salt.

Lobster, charred onion and lavender, rose oil vinaigrette, young garlic, lemon thyme paste and lemon thyme flowers.

BBQ'd butternut squash, fermented barley, beach nuts and white sturgeon caviar.

Steamed king crab, egg yolk sauce flavoured with butter and miso, fermented beet juice and salt.

Langostine heads, pan fried and glazed with lemon thyme.

The presentation of the whole bbq roasted wild duck (teal). The duck was hung for a few days before cooking.


The duck for 2 was carved and presented and accompanied by the dishes in the photo below.

The duck was accompanied by pickled lovage, cabbage, maitake mushroom glaze and plum sauce. 

Various charred greens and herbs (sage, mustard greens, lemon verbena, artichoke leaf, wild rocket, hemp, stinging nettle, bronze fennel) and was presented with caramelized scallop sauce.


Mousse of sheep's milk yogurt, lemon verbena paste and spruce wood oil, fennel tops, sorrel juice, elderflower syrup and coriander flowers. Very intense flavours.  

Presenting ice cream.

Ice cream made of walnuts and pear with a grain glaze was topped with the purple juice of konini berries.

An eggnog schnapps with fermented elderflower liqueur made in the summer of 2016, was presented with the dessert. 


In the large bowl the tableau was of moss cooked and sprayed with chocolate and dusted with pine salt and 72% chocolate coated cep mushroom (which had been salted and lacto fermented for 4 months and finished with licorice). The accompanying small plate had creme fraiche with seaweed caramel.

Noma is truly one of the great restaurant experiences in the world.



Relae


Oxalis root, salted and fermented green strawberries from last summer (still quite salty) (crisp, crunch too).


Danish trout with cucumber juice, Asian cucumber, green coriander seed and seaweed.

Belly of trout wrapped in seaweed and shaved nasturtium bud. An exceptional dish.


Aroma apple grilled on a bbq, apple broth and anise hyssop leaves. This dish was a touch too salty.


Enochi mushrooms, Danish brown crab, fried onions, mustard cress and nasturtium leaves.



Chargrilled eggplant, burnt cream and black summer truffles.


Grilled beet root.





The presentation of roasted salt marsh lamb.


The lamb revealed: pan roasted salt marsh lamb from the west coast of Jutland with beach herbs, roasted spigarello, toasted swiss chard leaves and a sauce made of lamb bones. This chef has a rather heavy hand with salt! In this dish, the lamb was salty to the degree that the salt on the lamb burned my tongue.


Freshly stretched sheets of today's made mozzarella cheese, strip of raw mushrooms and mushroom crumble. Again, this dish was way too salty, to the degree that the saltiness affected adversely affected my tongue. 


Lemon curd yogurt sorbet topped with a powder made of marigold flower and leaf powder. I took a scoop of the dessert to show the interior. 


Cold brewed coffee sorbet, caramelized grape seeds and barley and milk foam from cows on their farm.

These creative and well conceptualized dishes were sometimes ruined by the very heavy hand with salt. 

Pardon this rant, but, chefs should be taught to try to under salt, and consider their guests, particularly those with high blood pressure. In Canada, 18% of the population over 12 have high blood pressure. In the Uk, 25% of the general population have high blood pressure. In Australia, 32% of the population over the age of 18 have high blood pressure. Salt levels can have a serious health impact on blood pressure for those medicated or with already elevated blood pressure. 


What's indeed remarkable is that I have not seen food writers ever remark about this issue.