10 Year Anniversary Dinner at Ekstedt

This is a bit overdue, I blame work, food poisoning and Midsummer (in that order) for this.

Anyway, on 1st June my love and I celebrated ten years together (where did the time go?!) and we decided to have our traditional anniversary dinner at Ekstedt, one of our all-time favourite restaurants.
This place never disappoints and it’s so wonderful to see that they manage to keep their strength amidst all the competition. This was our third visit to Ekstedt and while we knew what to expect in quality we were still pleasantly surprised by the flavour and texture combinations and the attention to detail. Huge gold stars goes out to the staff who took care of us that evening, chatted with us about the wine, the dishes and gave us a tour in the kitchen. Thank you for giving us a wonderful experience! And thank you to the man himself, Niklas Ekstedt, for taking time to stop by our table and say hi (I still can’t believe you remembered that we had been there before).

The food was delicious as always and we were pleased to see a couple of old favourites still on the menu. The only negative was a tiny bit of grit left in our mussels but other than that everything was really well executed and beautifully plated. As always, the care they took of me as a coeliac sufferer was wonderful, I never once felt like a burden to the kitchen.

1 Amuse Bouche glutenfri + original
A little starter of flatbread (socca for me) with quickly sautéed reindeer heart, mushrooms and lingonberries.

2 Blåmusslor, hälleflundra & sjökorallFire cooked blue mussels, halibut and samphire.

3 Ostron, rökt äppleOysters with smokey apple.

4 Havskräfta, rivet torkat rådjur & rotselleriLangoustine, grated dried venison and a variation of celeriac.

5 Gös, endive & jordärtskockaSmoked pike perch, endive and Jerusalem artichoke.

6 Svamp, kalvbräss & svartrotSweetbreads with mushrooms and salsify.

7 Lamm, spetskål & ramslökskaprisLamb with cabbage and ramson capres.

8 Flamberad bovetepannkaka, yoghurt & rabarberFlambéed buckwheat pancake with spruce, yoghurt and rhubarb.

9 SorbetSorbet as a palet cleanser.

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Contemporary surprises at Flickan

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you might know that last year my love and I went to Omakase Köttslöjd, a restaurant that focused on locally produced meat, fish and seafood and served it in an omakase style (follow the link for a description of our visit). When we were there we were told that they were closing the reastaurant in order to open up a new one in the same venue. It was to be in the same omakase style but with influences and ingredients from all over the world and it was to be called “Flickan”.

On Friday the 23rd of March I took my sister there to celebrate her birthday. Now, my sister loves food as much as I do but she can be very picky and so taking her out to eat can be something of an adventure. A few dishes in all my worries had disappeared, she was ecstatic and loved every dish that was placed in front of us!

From my previous experience at Omakase Köttslöjd I sort of knew what to expect but what we got exceeded all of them. The menu is not written out in words but in emojis, so you get only a hint of what you might get but you don’t know until the plate is placed in front you. Perfect for me since I love surprises (which is why I love going to restaurants who change up their menu every now and then depending on what they have available).
The people in the kitchen are as talented as ever, their attention to detail is impeccable and all the flavours are on point. The sommelier is equally talented and gave us great advice to what to drink since we didn’t go for the entire wine pairing menu. All the staff are so friendly and don’t mind talking to the guests and answer whatever questions they might have (and my sister had quite a few). I love this as it gives a relaxed atmosphere to the entire dining experience and you don’t feel silly for being curious.

It was an amazing dinner and I hope I will be able to go back soon!

1 Ostron + kål, äpple & fläder
Oysters with cabbage, apple and elderflower (this was followed by charcuteries but I forgot to take a photo)
2 & 3 Kikärtor + hummus, bläckfisk + paprika
Chickpeas with hummus and pulpo with red pepper sauce

4 & 5 Krabb- & ananastaco, tartar + curry
Crab & pineapple taco and steak with curry (originally smörrebrödstyle but mine is gluten free so no bread)6 Fröknäcke, fläsksida + surkål, dill & pepparrot
Pork belly with saurkraut, dill and horseradish on seed cracker (originally served in a steamed bun)7 Variation på rödbeta
Baked beetroot, cooked beetroot and beetroot broth (originally served as ravioli, this is the gluten free version)8 Iberico + bakad grädde & chimichurrismör
Pork with baked cream and chimichurri butter

9 Torsk + röda linser, spenat & smörsås
Cod with red lentils, spinach and buttery sauce

10 Minipavlova m blodapelsin
Mini pavlovas with blood orange

11 Jordnötssmör + choklad, möjlksorbet & maräng
Peanutbutter with baked chocolate, milk sorbet and meringue

Te på väg
Green tea in preparation, this was then poured into a separate pot with a little cup

It’s Raining Michelin Stars Over Stockholm!

(Sorry for the slight absence, work has been pretty intense lately and I haven’t had much energy to sit in front of the computer. But I have some ideas for new posts coming up soon so watch this space!)

Yesterday (19th February) it was the yearly unveiling of which Nordic restaurants would receive the highest honour in the global food industry, namely that desired Michelin star. Now, I have been thinking about our relationship with Michelin, 50 Best and other local lists and awards and how it shapes the way we view food and eating out.
I will write a more lengthy post about this but for now I want to focus on yesterday’s event and the fact that Stockholm got two new Michelin star restaurants: Agrikultur and my local favourite Aloë! If you have read my previous post about Aloë you might remember that I finished it by saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if a Michelin star was waiting around the corner. And I was right! I am so incredibly proud of Daniel, Niclas and their team, they have worked so hard to be where they are today with the restaurant and the star is well deserved. I pretty much screamed out loud when I read it, I was so happy!

But that is not all, Stockholm also got its first three star restaurant with Frantzén! Björn Frantzén re-opened his restaurant last year and to receive three stars now is not only amazing but also proof that they have put in a lot of time and effort to make the whole dining experience perfect. I still haven’t been there but I hope to one day!

So while we didn’t get bucket-loads of stars we got some really good ones and three new BIB Gourmands in Bar Agrikultur, Kagges (who have taken over Frantzén’s old premises) and Shibumi. I am proud to live in a city where the food scene is flouishing and with all this I think it will continue to grow and be happy.

New Year’s Eve 2017 Menu

Hello my dear readers and welcome to 2018! It still feels a bit weird to be in a year and I will probably keep writing 2017 for at least one more week (which will be interesting as I’m going back to work on Monday after two weeks much needed holiday).

Anyway, I hope that all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve, whatever you did and wherever you spent it. My honey and I went over to my mother’s together with my sister and her fiance to enjoy a homecooked three course dinner and watch the fireworks. We had decided that we would cook the dinner together and that everyone would be responsible for one part of the dinner.
My honey and I were in charge of the canapes and starter while my sister cooked the main course and my mum did the dessert. It was all very yummy and the menu worked perfectly, even though no one knew exactly what the other ones were doing.

We decided to do three different kinds of canapes that were easy to make and didn’t require any cooking. The first one was a creamy mix of cold smoked salmon, cream cheese, parmesan and chives on top of pieces of butter fried dark gluten free bread. They were all topped with more chives and some trout roe. The second one were skewers of smoked moose heart and pieces of parmesan cheese, dressed with a little reduced balsamic vinegar. The third one was Vietnamese style springrolls filled with red cabbage, avocado, spring onions, mango and wasabi mayonnaise. To these we served Bellini cocktails.

Nyår 2017 snittar & bellini
Homemade canapes, from left to right: salmon & cream cheese on gluten free bread, smoked moose heart & parmesan cheese skewers, Vietnamese style ovo-vegetarian spring rolls and Bellini cocktails.

Our starter was a fairly simple affair. Since my mother had previously said she wanted fish for main course I decided that game, and specifically venison, would be perfect for the starter. After some discussion with my honey we decided on a venison carpaccio with some fresh rocket salad, reduced balsamic vinegar, truffle mayonnaise (good quality store bought one as I didn’t have time to make my own), homemade pickled chanterelles, caramelized baby onions and fresh blackberries. I’m really happy with this one, all the flavours and textures worked perfectly together and it looked beautiful on the plate.

Nyår 2017 förrätt hjortcarpaccio
Starter: venison carpaccio with rocket, balsamic reduction, truffle mayonnasie, pickled chanterelles, caramelized baby onions and fresh blackberries.

My sister was in charge of the main course, which was fish. She decided to make a baked cod with a green salad, pommes duchesse flavoured with cheese and a champagne beurre blanc. I love that beurre blanc, it’s acidic and creamy at the same time and goes perfectly with practically any kind of fish. The pommes duchesse were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and tasted wonderfully of cheese. And thanks to the help of a thermometer the fich was perfectly cooked.

Nyår 2017 varmrätt torskrygg
Main course: Baked cod, cheesy pommes duchesse, green salad and champagne beurre blanc.

For dessert my mother decided to do a dairy free pavlova (because my sister is lactose intolerant and she wanted to try something new). She made indivudual meringues for all of us and topped them with a lime curd, fresh blackberries and raspberries as well as a chocolate ganache made with coconut cream. I’m a sucker for pavlova, it’s one of my favourite desserts because you can vary it to no end. In this case I loved the ganache, it had such a wonderful chocolatey taste and didn’t really taste of coconut. The meringues were perfect in texture, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. We all agreed though that it needed a little cream to balance it out. Maybe a bit of whipped coconut cream would have done the trick?

Nyår 2017 dessert
Pavlova with lime curd, dairy free chocolate ganache and fresh blackberries & raspberries.

This was the first time we all had cooked a proper three course dinner together and everything went smoothly, without any issues. And I must say it was really fun to cook with the family! We don’t do that very often, unless we’re having dinner at mum’s and she’s asking for help (but that’s not really the same thing). I hope that we will do it again at some point and maybe swich up who does what.

Complex simplicity at Gastrologik

Hello my dear readers! It’s been a little while since I posted here but the past few weeks leading up to Christmas were really hectic. Now that it’s over and I only have New Year’s Eve to think about (we’re joining forces with my mum, my sister and her fiance for dinner and celebration, but more about that in a later post) I thought I’d end this year with a post about the experience I had with my love at Gastrologik.
Gastrologik is one of the restaurants in Stockholm that has a Michelin star and just like the others they are well deserving of theirs. It has been on my bucket list for a while and last year I gave my love a gift certificate for a dinner there as a Christmas gift.
Their philosophy is to work with Swedish ingredients only and preferably with small producers. This means that they don’t get huge batches deliviered every day, but small ones and sometimes completely different things to what they had wished for (mostly in the fish and seafood department), which in turn causes their menu to change every so often and it’s always a secret beforehand.

Eating at Gastrologik is an experience, the food may sound and look simple (although incredibly beautiful) but there’s a complexity in the flavours and textures that surprise you from the first bite. The service follow the same script, the staff moves like a well oiled machine but still have time to talk to you in between and are happy to answer any question you have. And they are super friendly which is always a huge plus in my book.
As you might know if you’ve read some previous posts I have coeliac disease and so going out to eat can sometimes be an adventure. Here I was pleasantly surprised to receive some follow up questions as to what I can and can’t eat in order for them to create a menu that suited my needs. And I was not disappointed.

It’s a fairly long menu, roughly 20 dishes of various sizes, but the dinner itself doesn’t feel long. It’s very well composed with the first dish, a broth made out of either mushrooms and left-over burnt bread or seaweed, setting the tone of complex simplicity that is to follow.

1 Buljonger
Starter broths made out of seaweed (bottom) and mushrooms & left-over burnt bread (top)

Our menu consisted mainly of fish and seafood, all perfectly cooked and paired with different vegetables, berries, herbs and other foraged flavourings. As they grow a lot of their vegetables and fruits themselves they also preserve a lot of what they grow. Many of the dishes contained something lacto-fermented, which gave a nice and subtle sour flavour to balance the dishes. I think the best one to demonstrate this was their take on the classic Swedish combination of whitefish roe, potato and sour cream, which the had turned nto a lacto-fermented potato puree with quails egg, browned butter and loads of Kalix whitefish roe on top.

7 Kalixlöjrom, mjölksyrad potatis, vaktelägg & brynt smör
Lacto-fermented potato puree, quails egg, browned butter and Kalix whitefish roe.

I really love it when a restaurant manage to create and keep a clear difinition of what they are and what they want to do. Gastrologik doesn’t keep hide the fact that what they want you to experience is flavour and how complex even the most simple combination, or treatment of an ingredient, can be. That is also shown in their drink pairing, which for us consisted of both wine, blonde ale and gin (with the last two being produced in Sweden). Coming from a family who can be a bit nerdy when it comes to wine and pairing the right one with a certain dish it always makes me smile when a sommelier or restaurant owner manage to create a wine/drink pairing that not only matches one dish but at least two. It shows me that there’s a new revolution going on in the restaurant world where finding the right drink is becoming more important for the overall experience. And that makes me happy.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I would like to end this post with this: if you want to experience something new and delicate, yet completely in your face, this is the place to go. It might be a bit expensive but trust me, it’s more than worth it.
I hope you will have a wonderful New Year and I’ll see you in 2018 with more food adventures!
And to finish it all off, here are some more photos from our dinner:

5 Pilgrimsmussla, omogen tomat, kvannefrön & libbsticka
Scallop with unripe tomato, pickled nigella seeds, lovage and radish.

9 Nävergrillad röding m mjölksyrade grönsaker & gran
Char grilled in birch bark with lacto-fermented root vegetables and spruce sauce & puree.

10 Stekt kålrot m brynt jäst & gotländsk tryffel
Fried swede with seared yeast and truffle.

11 Vildand m slånbär, ramslök & lingon
Wild duck with sloe, ramson and lingonberries.

14 Mjölksyrade slånbär m åkerbärsglass
Lacto-fermented sloe with bramble ice cream

16 Vodkagodis m bipollen
Vodka treats with bee pollen.

 

Aloë – Luxury in the Suburbs

If you want to go out for dinner in Stockholm you really are spoiled for choice, no matter your budget. There are many affordable restaurants and quite a few high end luxury places are popping up here and there. What is not so common though is high end restaurants outside the city center.
Aloë is in the foreruns to change all that. Situated in the southern suburbs of Stockholm they bring luxury dining to those who either don’t want to go into the city or who are willing to take a trip from it.

When my boyfriend and I first visited Aloë two years ago we were already impressed with their high standard and attention to details in flavours and plating. Last Friday we, along with my mother as this was her Christmas gift last year, experienced first-hand how much they have stepped up their game. During our first visit they offered two tasting menus of different length. Today they offer only one, but by no means is it a small one. If you book a table here you better not have anything else planned for the rest of the night. That’s not a bad thing though as the entire dinner is an experience in itself. They also change the menu every now and then so what was served last week may not be what is served this week.

Two years ago the menu was a combination of Nordic and Continental flavours, beautifully executed with as local ingredients as possible. During our visit last week we found it to be heavily Japanese inspired (both in entire dishes, individual ingredients as well as plating) with Continental touches here and there. The Nordic feel was also present, especially in the choice of certain ingredients, like the squid that comes from the Swedish coast and is caught along with other fish. I’m not usually a fan of eating squid but this one, in combination with iced coriander, jalapeño and a green bell pepper soup was incredible and cooked to perfection.

4 Hjort, jordärtkockspuré, svamp, bakad lök, äppelmos, grönkålschips & sojasmör m tryffel
Aloë 2015: venison with Jerusalem artichoke purée, baked onion, apple sauce and truffled soy flavoured butter.6 Bläckfisk, grön paprika & jalapeño
Aloe 2017: Swedish squid with jalapeño, iced coriander and green bell pepper soup.

Now, I won’t give the entire menu away as I want your experience to be as much a surprise as it was for us. So instead I will show some of my favourites and try to describe the overall evening. The dinner started off with us being placed right by the open kitchen in order to be treated with a selection of “snacks”, or smaller treats. All three of us agreed that one of our favourites among these was the shawamushi made with halibut stock and served with Jerusalem artichoke purée, caviar and rice crisp. Shawamushi isn’t something you see on the menu very often in Sweden so to finally try it was really fun and the dish itself was amazing, so smooth and full of flavour!

1 Shawamushi m jordärtskocka & kaviar
Shawamushi with Jerusalem artichoke purée, caviar and rice crisp.

Once we were done with the treats we were led to our table where the non-stop flavour journey continued. Watching the staff changing cutlery, bring out new dishes and remove the finished plates was like watching a perfectly choregraphed dance, no one missed a beat (with the exception of a fork that shouldn’t have been placed out and needed to be changed). And the dishes that were placed before us were no different. Everything was so finely tuned, every single ingredient worked in perfect harmony with the rest and even though the dishes are very small they all pack a flavour punch.
The first dish was a perfect example of this, a baked char with kimchi and cucumber placed on a shiso leaf that you ate with your hands.

4 Röding, kimchi & ssäm
Baked char with kimchi, cucumber and shiso.

While this particular menu focused a lot on fish and seafood there were some meat dishes as well. One of these was my absolute favourite, the one thing I can never say no to: fois gras. Here it was served with a meringue cover and a kumquat purée which bitterness perfectly balanced the richness of the fois gras. The meringue was a completely new touch for me but of course you want something crispy to go with your fois gras and it worked like a charm.

11 Anklevergateau & kumquat
Fois gras gateau with kumquat purée and meringue.

I love a menu that surprise me and there was no end to all the surprises that we had. Everything we tasted had that “wow” feeling that left us talking about it up until the next dish arrived. You know how you sometimes feel a bit let down by the desserts? Like it doesn’t feel that they put as much love and care into them as the savoury dishes? Well, not at Aloë. Here the desserts are as meticulously thought out as all the previous dishes and we were not disappointed by neither flavour nor texture. There were two before the smaller sweet treats and I think my favourite was the first one, an apple parcel with Amontillado and raisin served with an apricot ice cream that really tasted of apricots.

14 Äppelpaket m amontillado & russin, choklad och aprikosglass
Apple parcel with Amontillado, raisin, chocolate twig and apricot ice cream.

Aloë is definitely one of my all time favourite restaurants and even though it’s expensive you do get a lot for your money. You don’t get just a dinner, you get a food experience together with an opportunity to interact with the chefs and owners. They are working hard at what they do and it shows in every single dish that they put up. It is obvious that they aim for a Michelin star and to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if one is waiting around the corner.

Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren – An Affordable Star

A couple of weeks ago it was my mother’s birthday and as is our tradition we all went out to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. The place she had chosen was Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren, a restaurant that has been on my own personal “Must Visit” list for some years. The restaurant has one Michelin star and it’s easy to understand why. The atmosphere is happy and carefree without beeing bothersome (especially for someone like me who has hearing problems and don’t like it when there’s too much noise), the staff is incredibly friendly and happy to answer all your questions and the food is cooked to perfection and plated in that sort of laid back high-end style that’s so popular right now (and that I like very much).
What I also like about Matbaren is that they always keep a number of seats open at the bar so that you can just drop in if you’re nearby and feeling hungry. More of this please!

Like so many other restaurants right now, Matbaren creates what we in Sweden call “mellanrätter”. A “mellanrätt”, or medium-sized dish, is something in the middle of a starter and a main course and the whole point is that you eat around three (well, two and up depending on your appetite) different ones in order to get a full meal. I’m one of those people who likes this as it gives me a better chance to try the menu but it also means that every little thing has to be on point. And trust me, at Matbaren it is.

The menu is laid out in front of you at the table and because it’s printed on paper it means that they can quickly make changes and notes that are needed. For me that meant getting a few dishes containing gluten crossed off my menu and a few marked as being able to exchange the gluten parts. I hate having to ask for every dish so this made me happy!

Foto 2017-10-28 18 01 21
The menu and a bag of crisp bread that was ready on our arrival

I like to start with something lighter and usually go for something vegetarian, or the occasional seafood. This time I decided for vegetarian and ordered their pumpkin and broccoli dish with cheese and almonds, a flavour and texture combination that was spot on and that I still can’t get out of my mind. For my second one I opted for their special of the day, duck breast with confit duck leg, corn and truffle. Whenever I go out and see duck on the menu I just have to have it, it’s one of my favourite proteins of all time! For my final dish I ended up with the almond cake (“mazarin” in Swedish) with mandarine, goats cheese and pine nuts. Definitely one of the best desserts I’ve had this year!

Foto 2017-10-28 18 33 45
Broccoli with pumpkin purée, almond, cheese and truffle.

Foto 2017-10-28 19 16 52Duck breast with confit duck leg, creamy corn and truffle.

Foto 2017-10-28 20 07 26Swedish “mazarin” (almond cake) with goats cheese ice cream, pine nuts, mandarine ice and lemon thyme.

Foto 2017-10-28 20 26 27After dinner treats: different chocolate truffles.

Not only was the food delicious, the wines that were suggested to all our dishes were perfect. They really know what goes with what and could even recommend dishes that would go well with specific wines. And the fact that they didn’t mind answering my sister’s extensive questions about certain dishes and wines is a huge plus point in my book! And it’s all very affordable, something that’s needed in our day and age. In Stockholm more and more people go out to eat but not everyone can afford to go to the really expensive ones. So affordable high end food with the opportunity to just drop in is something that I hope we will see more of in the future.

So if you ever get the opportunity to stop by Matbaren and have dinner, do it!

A Trip To Sichuan at Surfers Stockholm

I know I haven’t been blogging for a while but work and life pretty much got the best of me these past few weeks. I hope to be more consistent in my writing soon.

In late September, the week before I went to London (a post will be up about this trip soon!), my sister took me out for my birthday dinner. Since last year we have a tradition to give each other a restaurant visit as a birthday present present. And for my birthday my sister gave me a dinner at Surfers Stockholm, a Chinese restaurant that focuses on the Sichuan kitchen. I love Sichuan food, when my mother and I went to China in 2009 we occasionally got the opportunity to try some traditional Sichuan dishes and the way it balances the heat, spices and flavours is mind blowing.

We started with a couple of cocktails and then it was time to choose our dinner. I was very happy to find out that at Surfers they serve their food like they do in China, all at once and then you take a bit from each dish. We went with the recommended amount for two people, which is six, not including dessert and it was quite enough for us. Pictures will follow at the end of this post.

The restaurant itself is very cozy and it doesn’t feel kitchy, even though the interior is Chinese inspired. The staff is incredibly friendly and service minded and had no trouble with my coeliac which was very appreciated on my part. They even had gluten free beer! Now, I didn’t really drink beer before I got my diagnosis but when I was in China all we got to drink during meals was jasmine tea and beer, and I really wanted to relive those memories, so beer was the obvious choice.

Even though we didn’t quite manage to finish all of the dishes, both my sister and I loved everything. My sister is not that fond of spicy food but was pleasantly surprised, as was I, with how they had managed to balance the warmth of the Sichuan pepper, chili and the natural flavours of the ingredients. The chefs there know what they’re doing and I felt comfortable in knowing that verything that was placed in front us had been cooked with passion and a love for Sichuan food.

But enough with all this, let’s move on to the food!

1 Lu Long cocktail
Starter cocktail, Lu Long

2 Judasöron m lotusrot
Judas ears fungus with lotus root, shrimps and soy beans

3 Fläskdumplings
Pork dumplings

4 Stekt ris m krabba
Egg fried rice with crab, dried shrimp & mungbean sprouts

5 Tofu
Ginger scented crispy tofu (our favourite!)

6 Anka m endiv
Duck leg served in endive leaves with hoisin sauce & spring onions

7 Aubergine
Egg plant with garlic, ginger and chili bean sauce

8 Mangomousse och mjölkchokladkräm
Mango mousse with whipped vanilla cream & freeze dried mango and milk chocolate cream with Chinese apple and almond biscuits

Delicious Layers at Adam & Albin

Last week my boyfriend and I met up my mother to go out to dinner at this small place called Adam & Albin. As all three of us love to go out to eat and try new things this was my mother’s late birthday present for my boyfriend. My love and I had had a taste of what they could do at Adam & Albin a few years ago at a food festival here in Stockholm and so it was very exciting to finally sit down to eat at their restaurant.

The venue itself isn’t very large but at the same time it’s not very noise creating (unless you’re very sensitive). Its interior is best described as “nordic simplicity” with a hint of Japanese and this is something that runs through the dishes. The food doesn’t look very complicated but there are many layers that build them up.
They always start with a selection of snacks (I counted seven, including one extra addition that we chose) and then you choose your own four courses from the menu. As I have celiac’s disease there were a couple of things that I couldn’t have at all but the rest they did a very good job at adapting. I was especially surprised at the deep fried stick of soy flour pastry that I got as one of the snacks and the delicious chocolate ganache for an after dinner treat. We all chose slightly different things so prepare for a picture spam below with all the info about the dish underneath each photo.

What I found really interesting here though was the fact that it was so clear which ingredient it was that tied the whole dish together. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell and sometimes you can tell something is missing but you’re not quite sure what. This time I had two dishes (king crab and guinea fowl) that when I tried them without a certain ingredient (shiso and grape respectively) there was no mistake that these were needed to make the dishes whole. It made me think about the trick that is balancing and finding the perfect ingredients for a dish, and I never say no to a dish that does that to me.
I was also very impressed with the wine pairing. We chose to have the same red wine to all of the dishes (except for the snacks to which we had some champagne and to the dessert) and it worked just as perfectly to the crab as it did to the lamb and the guinea fowl.

I really loved it here and it’s clear why they have become rising stars in Stockholm’s food world. I definitely recommend a visit to Adam & Albin, and if this text isn’t enough to convince you, then maybe these photos will.

Foto 2017-09-13 09 57 22
Snack selection, including a miso treat, nori butter for the home baked bread, scallop, salad with pumpkin seed dressing, langoustine & iberico pork taco, deep fried squid balls & soy pastry with lemon dip and horseradish treats,

Foto 2017-09-12 18 44 31
Lamb tartar with crispy rice, cucumber salad and cress (this dish was my favourite!).

Foto 2017-09-12 18 44 37
Creamy mozzarella with avocado, smoked figs and oregano.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 06 54
King crab with broad beans, butter sauce, pine nuts and shiso.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 07 35
Yellow beet tarte with lovage, kale creme and pickled onion

Foto 2017-09-12 19 33 36
Guinea fowl fried in lots of butter with cabbage, macadamia nuts, grapes and pan juices.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 33 48
Chargrilled forest mushrooms with corn brioche, leek, fried egg and spinach.

Foto 2017-09-12 19 55 07
Ice cold white peaches with raspberries, sabayone and flower ice cream.

Foto 2017-09-12 20 26 05
After dinner treats of miniature chocolate cakes with licorice meringue and a chocolate ganache with cocoa nibs and olive oil.

The Importance of Taste

(Long post ahead, please bear with me on this one as it’s the first of its kind on this blog and I’m very much testing the waters here. Hopefully I will be better at writing these more philosophical posts with time.)

When asked what their best advice is to home cooks who want to cook good food, the answer from the professional chefs is that we taste, taste, taste. But what happens when it disappears? And I don’t mean like when you’re getting used to loads or no seasoning, killing everything that is basic flavour. I mean what happens when you lose your basic sense of taste or it changes profoundly?

If you, like me, have watched the show “Chef’s Table” you have probably seen the episode featuring Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea in Chicago. In 2007, two years after Alinea’s opening, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. The cancer was already in stage 4 when it was discovered and he was first told that he would need extensive and radical surgery in order to get rid of it. In the end that wasn’t needed, instead he went through a tough regime of chemotherapy and radiation treatment at University of Chicago. The side effect of this treatment, though, was that he lost all sense of taste. In the show he says that his taste buds were practically burned off because of the aggressive treatment. After the treatment had stopped he eventually and gradually got his sense of taste back, starting with intensely sweet and salty and working his way back to the delicate nuances of flavours he knows today.

I have seen this happen in my own family. About two years ago my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. One of the side effects he suffered (like many cancer patients do) was that nothing tasted the same anymore. Everything tasted too harsh, too sharp, too much, which made it difficult for him to eat as he missed what food used to taste like. That knowledge, that he would never be able to experience or do the same things like he used to, in the end is what took the most toll on him.
A couple of years ago my sister had her tonsils removed as they had caused her a lot of trouble during the years. She also suffered a strange side effect after the surgery as suddenly everything started to have a metallic taste to it. Now, my sister is a pretty picky eater and doesn’t like it when things don’t taste the way that they should so for her it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to eat anything because she knew it would taste weird. Her sense of taste is now back to normal, although she can still be a fussy eater.

Last November I went in for surgery on the inside of my right ear to get rid of a cholesteatoma that was wreaking havoc on my ear and hearing. Before the surgery I was informed that there is a taste nerve on each side of the face and that nerve just happened to be situated in the exact spot behind the ear where they would have to go in. Unfortunately it is so well placed that the surgeons can’t help but poke it during the procedure and it does happen that it gets cut. So I was warned that I probably wouldn’t have a normal sense of taste for a while. After the operation I got a pear juice to drink and all I could taste was… Pear. The juice tasted the same way it always had. It even surprised my surgeon until he realised that this meant that the taste nerve on the right side had probably been severed a long time ago because of the cholesteatoma. The only reason I had never noticed was because the left nerve had compensated during all that time. I still don’t know if the nerve will ever heal up but if it does it will surely be an interesting ride.

In the world of food taste is everything. And I’m not just talking about the taste we sense with our taste buds. We also eat with our nose, our ears and our eyes. If something looks and smells like it will taste good we in general are more inclined to eat it, whether it’s a dish we’ve had before or not. This is also why we can feel disappointed if a good-looking dish lacks in flavour and pleasantly surprised when something that doesn’t look that appealing reveals a complex combination of flavour and texture.

But it’s not just our five senses we use when we eat something. We also eat with our memory. I think that Vladimir Muhkin, of White Rabbit in Moscow, said it the best when talking about Russian cuisine: “Ask any Russian, ‘Do you like dressed herring?’ and they will say, ‘Yes! I love dressed herring so much!’ Even I am under the spell of that crap. When I see dressed herring, I understand that it is a complete piece of shit. But I take it and eat it. That taste it’s in our heads. Russians suffered 75 years, two and a half generations of Soviet time, when people were fooled into eating this gray urban grub. And our mentality has remained the same ever since. I really hate that period because it destroyed all Russian cuisine. And I will do whatever it takes to bring the genuine Russian taste back to the people.”

Because it is true, we learn about flavours when we are very young and that forms the basis of our palate as well as distinction between what we like and dislike. Sometimes we stick to that for the rest of our lives and sometimes we become adventurous as we grow older and will try everything we’ve never had before. Or we end up somewhere in the middle. We learn all this from our family, our friends and at school. I’m sure there are a fair number of you who have good and/or bad memories from school lunches, I know I do. My mum use to tell me that when I was little and we were eating out I would never go for the kids menu but choose something from the ordinary menu instead, simply because I thought it sounded more interesting. I still do that today. When given a choice I will go for the dish that stirs my curiosity. I love trying new things and experience new flavour combinations and while I can choose a core ingredient that I know and like it makes me happy when it is paired with something I don’t normally eat. For example, earlier this spring my boyfriend, my mum and I was at Lilla Ego (one of the most popular restaurants in Stockholm) and on the menu they had lamb with aubergine and veal with baked celeriac. While I love both lamb and aubergine I just had to have the veal. One reason was because I don’t eat veal that often (it’s actually quite rare to find it on a menu) and the other was that I knew that I had to try the baked celeriac. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten and the accompanied thyme gel was something completely new to me.

2 KalvVeal with salt baked celeriac, celeriac puree, chorizo sauce, thyme gel & mustard surprise.

Taste is important to make us enjoy eating and cooking and it has also been important for the human race throughout history. Because of our constant curiosity we have spent our existence tasting things and learning what we can and can’t eat as well as how certain foods can be prepared in order to be able to eat them. Along with the other four senses taste has kept us alive and helped us evolve and grow.