Copenhagen: dinner at Bæst

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As you know I like to eat, and when I once a year have my day with friends (who luckily also likes their food) in Copenhagen, we make the most of it. Which is why we could fit in tacos for lunch (followed by some smørrebrød because why not?!), fika at our favourite place, wine and cheese pre-dinner at this nice little spot and then still had room for dinner. The August heat and the walking helped though.

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Bæst, our dinner spot for the evening was recommended by Daniel and all three of us loved it. It was laid back and cosy, and obviously a popular spot because it filled up as we sat there.

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The menu reflects the casual atmosphere and has the emphasis is on good local organic produce and sharing plates. Just what we like!

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The grilled courgette and kale salad what we started with was really nice. It had texture, a nice charred flavour on the courgette and acidity and freshness as well. It’s the kind of vegetable dish that makes you feel good.

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Next up we had a huge plate of chicken wings, covered in a herb-y finger-licking sauce. Delicious! And a lot fresher on the palate than regular buffalo wings (which I love, but this version was more interesting).

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After that we were ready for the main event; the pizzas!

Cooked in a 500C (!) oven these blistery, still soft but cooked just enough pizzas are to die for.

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Especially the classic margherita. With a delicious tomato sauce, their own (!) mozzarella and basil.

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I mean, look at this. Pizza perfection.

Bæst, Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N

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Gotland: Amazing cider and local produce

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This is a restaurant review I would have liked to post a lot earlier; straight after our visit to Gotland in August. But life happened and suddenly it’s February and about time. 

My childhood friend Karl is a person I very much admire, he has so much drive and passion when he starts a project I wish I had even half. A few years ago he started making cider together with his friend Mikael under the name Fruktstereo (‘Fruit stereo’). It’s made from 100 % fruit, without any additives, so have more in common with crafted wines than commercially made sweet cider.

Mikael hails from Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a real summer paradise, so when my parents and I went there in August, we made sure to book a table at his restaurant Nyplings Mat & Vin in Visby. It’s a summer pop-up serving local ingredients like vegetables from the family farm and meat and dairy from the island.

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It’s sustainable and delicious and we enjoyed our evening here so much! Especially because we started the meal with a bottle of their cider, called Ciderday Night Fever. It was dry and refreshing and so unlike all other ciders I’ve had. In a good way. This was far better!

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We started the meal with a selection of tender raw beans from Mikael’s family farm (picked the same morning!) and a lovely dip.

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Then we moved on to the starters. Dad I wanted to sample them all, and so decided to share two. The ewe tartar with beetroot, cress mayonnaise, wild garlic ‘capers’ and shoestring fries was absolutely delicious!

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But the other starter (which my mother also had) was lovely too. It was a poached creamy egg (almost like a 63 degree egg where the texture of the white and the yolk are similar) with kale, hazelnuts and caramelised whey.

Somewhere here the cider was finished and my mother and I wanted a glass of wine each. We tried to describe what we wanted (two very different wines) to Mikael, and like he could read our minds he poured us a glass each of what we had tried to describe! Very impressive!

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Then we moved on to the main course (we all had the same) of melt-in-the-mouth slowcooked chuck steak with parsnip and radish. We all loved this dish!

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The Swedish summer weather in general was quite poor but we had lovely sunny days on Gotland, although after the sun had set behind the rooftops we got a little cold sitting outside and moved inside the restaurant for our final course.

Which was this humble bowl. Underneath that caramel coloured layer hides blackberries and cookie crumbs, covered by that smooth and fluffy topping of yoghurt, caramelised milk and liquorice. Great flavours and textures to finish off the meal!

We had such a lovely evening here, and it was great fun to try my friend’s cider and meet his very talented business partner. Let’s hope this pop-up is here to stay.

Nyplings Mat och Vin, H10, Hästgatan 10, 621 56 Visby, Gotland, Sweden 

Red deer roast with rosemary, port and juniper berries, roasted almond potatoes and girolle sauce

Sorry about the world’s longest heading, but this meal was a special one.

Not special in the sense that it was a special occasion, it was just a Saturday night at my parents’ house in the countryside last time I was visiting.

But it is special in the way that this is the type of food my family and I love. The taste of course, and the preparation. But also the produce. Especially the produce.

The venison is from Red Deer and it roamed around free in the local area until shot by someone at an estate near by. It had a good life, died instantly and nothing is wasted on the animal.

The other ingredients are local too, the potatoes were dug up in my parent’s garden, the rosemary picked in the same garden and the girolles my aunt picked in the woods nearby. Sure, the port was not local, but most ingredients were and that is the way I prefer to eat.

And boy, does it taste good, when it is so close between produce and table.

Red deer roast with rosemary, port and juniper berries, roasted almond potatoes and girolle sauce, serves 4

1 Red deer roast, about 1.2 kilos once cleaned off tendons

3 sprigs rosemary

50 ml  port

1 tbsp juniper berries

butter and oil for frying

800 g almond potatoes, washed but not peeled

rapeseed oil

The sauce:

1 handful dried girolles

1 shallots, finely chopped

butter for frying

meat juices

300 ml cream

sauce colouring  

salt and pepper

perhaps another splash of port

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and place in a greased roasting tray flat side up. Drizzle with rapeseed oil and season. Put the girolles in a bowl and cover with hot water. 

Brown the meat on all sides in butter and oil on high heat. Season. Add a spoonful of rapeseed oil in another roasting tin. Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar and add to the roasting tin. Place the meat on top and pierce the meat with the rosemary sprigs. Pour in the port and place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Place in the oven until the inside temperature is 68C, it takes about 30-40 minutes. Remove the roasting tin and transfer the meat to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave it to rest.

Turn the oven up to 180-200C so the potatoes will colour. 

Squeeze the water out of the mushrooms. Add a knob of butter to a (preferably non-stick) saucepan on medium heat. Fry the onions until translucent and then add the mushrooms and fry until golden brown. Add the juices from the roasting tin through a fine sieve and add the cream. Bring to the boil while stirring. Add more port if needed. Season and colour.

Carve the meat into thin slices, serve with the potatoes, sauce and vegetables of your choice. (We had romanesco, but cauliflower, broccoli or carrots work too.)

Hix, Soho

My friend Kristin, who I know from Uni back in Sweden, lives in London too, and we try to meet up once a month to catch up, enjoy good food and speak Swedish. The first time we met up we had oysters and pig’s trotters at Terroirs, so it is safe to say we’re both foodies.

My last week in London before going on holiday we had dinner at Hix, where we both enjoyed baked bone marrow.

We met straight after work and had time for a glass at Mark’s Bar in the basement at Hix before dining on the ground floor. The food is prepared in simple ways to enhance the fantastic produce. Seasonal food and local produce are definitely key words here.

I started off with a plate of girolles, just lightly fried in herb butter. The mushrooms were beautiful (and I should now, us Swedes take girolles seriously) and very enjoyable.

Kirstin chose sand eels with caper mayonnaise and received a huge plateful. I got to try them too, and they were definitely the best sand eels I’ve had.

Both Kristin and I chose hanger steak with baked bone marrow for mains. The meat was perfectly cooked (mine rare and Kristin’s medium-rare) and again the portions were huge. The bone marrow was mixed with a mustardy stuffing and baked in the bone and was absolutely wonderful. And a fun way to serve it too.

Although the portions were big we still ordered sides, which was totally unnecessary. I hardly touched my chips or Kristin her salad. We also got three sauces with the steak; a mint sauce, a hot mustardy sauce and both our favourites, the bearnaise sauce.

The food at Hix was delicious, but rather expensive. Absolutely worth it once in a while but when spending money in this price range I usually choose more complicated gourmet restaurants. This was my first time at Hix and although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I prefer St John in this restaurqnt category, but it is definitely a good thing that such a restaurant exists in Soho,

Bonus: Mark Hix’s recipe of the main course we had; hanger steak with baked bone marrow.