Friday, February 5, 2016

Oslo Travelogue

In between bites of food we saw the sites.  Oslo is such a gorgeous city!  We did a fantastic bike tour with Viking Biking, took a ferry ride through the fjords and toured the surrounding islands, and made our way through the hipster hoods.

While we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city, I would be lying if I said food and drink weren't the highlights of our trip.  There is such an amazing food and drink scene taking place in Oslo right now and we somehow tapped right into the heart of it!

Torggata Botaniske crafts all of their cocktails with fresh herbs that they grow right there in the bar!

Craft cocktails at Himkok
We had a great dinner at Arakataka including grilled reindeer!
No shortage of condiments at the equivalent of 7/11, they take their hot dogs very seriously!

We went to Territoriet our first night and ended up coming back every night, it was like we were locals by the time we left!  With an amazing wine selection, snacks, a record player, and the friendliest staff, it was heaven!  

Two new to me and very different whites.
Is there anything better than Brillat Savarin and Chardonnay??
If you're planning a trip to Oslo I would recommend planning your trip to leave on Sunday as most restaurants are closed on Sunday/Monday nights.

We had such a great time, met so many amazing people, I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Winemaker Dinner with Valle Reale

While in Oslo, we were lucky enough to crash a winemaker dinner with Valle Reale, a winery in the Abruzzo region in Italy.  We settled in to the back room at buzzing Cru restaurant as the lovely Guilia gave us some history of the winery and region before tasting us through the portfolio of wines.  Flights of wine were paired with delicious food and amazing conversation with new friends.

Abruzzo is located east of Rome, is known as the "greenest region in Europe" and is home to many national parks.  Valle Reale focuses on the Montepulciano varietal, not to be confused with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (a Sangiovese-based wine from Tuscany).  The reds, while based in the same grape, ranged from juicy red fruit in the younger 2014 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Organic DOC to darker black fruit from the oldest vines on the property in the 2011 San Calisto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.    

The white wines were made with the Trebbiano grape, yielding a citrus driven wine with notes of stone fruit and a slightly herbacious finish.  The natural yeast and lack of filtration of the wines create a luscious, full-bodied finish.   

The whites were paired with a delicious Norwegian lobster tail!

Pea risotto with speck

Reindeer for the main course was delicious with the older reds.
Making new friends

The red wines took us right into dessert - creamy gelato with a rhubarb sauce
The lineup
A big thanks to Cru and Valle Reale for including us in this special night.  Such a fun way to cap off our weekend in Oslo!  

Stay tuned for part 3 of my Oslo travelogue including what we did besides eating and drinking!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Dinner in Norway

If you're ever asked if you'd like to have dinner in Norway, say yes, always say yes!

I was lucky enough to receive such an invitation, and flew to Oslo, Norway for the weekend where I experienced literally the most amazing culinary experience and best meal of my life at Maaemo.  From the moment we arrived, to our final bite over 3 1/2 hours later, the service, food and wine were impeccable.  

We pulled up in our taxi to find our host for the evening, Benjamin, waiting for us.  He quickly whisked us upstairs to the dining room which felt like a glass box floating over the city.  We went for the afternoon "tea" service at 4:30pm which allowed us to see the city transition from day to night as the sun set.  Bubbles were popped and we were off!  We experienced Maaemo's longest menu ever at 26 courses, a marathon for sure but it flew by.  Watching the servers pass from the kitchen to the dining room with each course was like watching a beautifully choreographed dance.  


I won't bore you with details of each of the 26 courses, but some highlights included Norwegian squid with preserved elderflower, salsify root pickled in juniper, slow roasted pumpkin with wood ants, emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters with mussel sauce, a 200 year-old clam from Nordskot with a broth of roasted seaweed and shiitake mushrooms, the famous langoustine with rapeseed oil and pickled spruce, cod with caviar, beets with chamomile and blackcurrant.  I could go on......

The first bite, frozen fresh cheese with vendace roe
Pickled salsify, chewy like gummy candy and unlike anything I've ever tasted before!

A cornett with chicken liver and pickled plum
Ants on a log or pumpkin in this case....the ants provide acidity and a bit of crunch!
One of the signature dishes that has been served since day one, an emulsified Norwegian oyster with a warm sauce made of mussels, the creamiest most amazing texture and flavor I've ever experienced.
The other signature dish, grilled langoustine on a bed of pine branches; rapeseed oil is poured over dry ice to create a fog that smells like a forest.
Cod with a fermented white asparagus sauce and caviar
The bread course!  "lompe" flatbread with butter "churned until almost separated"
Beets will never be the same!  
Charred onions and quail egg cooked in a sauce of roasted bone marrow

The wines were just as spectacular.  Mostly French, and to my surprise and delight, mostly whites.  One of my favorites of the night was a white Rhone from Domaine Christophe Curtat.  We also enjoyed a 2010 Chablis from Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix, an Arbois Chardonnay from Stephane Tissot, 2014 Alsatian Gewurztraminer by Roland Schmitt, a 2000 Rioja by R.Lopez De Heredia.... 

Thanks to the generosity of our neighbors at the table next to us, we were able to taste their 1966 Chateau Talbot Grand Cru, I've never had a wine that old!

And then the desserts......I would go back for the brown butter ice cream with molasses and roasted hazelnuts alone.  It was so unbelievable.  

Multiple dessert wines were served including a 2011 Tokaji from Disznókó, A 1997 Vinsanto Del Chianti Classico by Castell'in Villa and a red dessert wine, "Maury Tuilé" by Marjorie Et Stéphane Gallet from the Roussillon.  

I almost asked for a second round of this one....
Liquid "waffle" with mountain tea and herbs - it burst in your mouth into a sweet liquid pool of goodness!
Tartlettes made with the famous Norwegian brown cheese
Ending where we started, with a sweet version of frozen fresh cheese buttons with sea buckthorn

It was only 8pm when we finished dinner (and 1pm since we were practically still on NY time!).  Full, buzzed, happy and on such a high from such an amazing experience, we headed out for one more drink.  Stay tuned for more Oslo highlights, culinary and otherwise!


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