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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