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!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Domaine de Chérisey Puligny-Montrachet "Hameau de Blagny"

If you're ever wondering what food to pair with a wine, pick chicken.  It goes with everything!  I experienced my ultimate in chicken pairing at Zuni Cafe, their infamous roast chicken and bread salad and a 2012 Puligny-Montrachet from Domaine de Chérisey.  Literally my heaven on earth.  I hadn't been to Zuni Cafe in years and I don't think we even ordered the chicken the first time I went. 

We started the evening with oysters and a glass of bubbly.

And then, the most amazing burrata toast.

And then the wine.....

Puligny-Montrachet is one of the most famous wine-growing towns in the Côte d'or in Burgundy and is known for some of the best Chardonnay in the world.  It's name in part comes from one of the most famous vineyards in the world, Montrachet, located in this region.  

This 2012 1er Cru wine comes from a small hamlet called Blagny, in the hills between Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault.  As with most wines from this region, this wine is 100% Chardonnay from vines that are over 60 years old.  It's a classic expression of white Burgundy, focused, smooth, rich fruit flavors with a creamy, limestone mineral finish.   

And now, for the chicken.  Perfectly crispy skin, with dense, chewy croutons sopping up all the goodness underneath.  Those greens....they're just for show, who are we kidding this dish is not a light chicken dinner!

The savory, rich wine complimented the rich salty chicken in the perfect way.  This might be a contender for my last meal on earth......

If you're visiting SF I highly recommend a trip to Zuni, and a bottle of white Burgundy to accompany you!

One more shot

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Ferdinand Tempranillo

I recently had a taste of Spain via this Tempranillo from Amador County of all places!  Apparently that's where the "cool kids" are making wine these days, and this 2012 Ferdinand Tempranillo from winemaker Evan Frazier is no exception.  He learned his skills from the ultimate "cool kid" Abe Schoener of the Scholium Project and consulting winemaker for Red Hook Winery.  

I enjoyed this wine with a delicious steak dinner at Press in St. Helena.  Medium bodied and full of bright red fruits, plum, and a slightly smoky, savory finish.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged in 20% new French oak producing tannins that show up but don't overpower.  It was especially fun to get to try something different than the typical Napa Cab.           

Wine:  2012 Ferdinand Tempranillo
Purchased:  Press Restaurant
Price:  $30 retail

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Clos Sainte Magdeleine 2013 "Bel-Arme" Cassis Blanc

Happy New Year!  2016, geez where does the time go??  I'm sorry for the radio silence, I spent the holidays unplugging with family and friends at home, with a jaunt down to Cabo to ring in the New Year.  But I'm back, and ready to share what I've been drinking with you all!

On Christmas day we started the festivities with this light and bright white from a favorite producer, the 2013 "Bel-Arme" Cassis Blanc.  I was first introduced to Clos Ste. Magdeleine while in Provence last summer so I was excited to try their other white.  It's a similar blend of Marsanne, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc in slightly different percentages.  The "Bel-Arme" grapes come from a specific plot of land; old vines and low yields make this a labor of love for the winery. 

  The nose is slightly floral with a touch of citrus, the palette is slightly richer with a clean, mineral finish.   

Our Christmas appetizer were these cute little prosciutto cups!  An amazing appetizer hack you must add to your repertoire.  So easy, all you do it line muffin tins with a piece of prosciutto and bake in a 375 degree oven until crispy, about 15 minutes.  We filled ours with sauteed pears and balsamic syrup for the perfect bite of salty/sweet.  They were so good, we made them again the next night with a dollop of brie, caramelized onions, and fig jam!


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