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Showing posts with label Copenhagen Eatery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Copenhagen Eatery. Show all posts

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Copenhagen: The new Nordic movement @ Relae, Kobenhavn - Copenhagen

My trip to Copenhagen allowed me to sample one of the top New Nordic Institutions in the world, Relae.  While I am not a textbook food nerd, my trip to Relae was a great opportunity to understand what exactly is the New Nordic Revolution and why there are such big praises for it.  Off the book its approach is the same like every other cuisine.  It aims to create food that are fresh, seasonal and simple with the use of local produce.  
Relae, in Copenhagen have some serious credentials to its name.  This includes claiming the 45th position in the World’s Best 50 Restaurants List and a Michelin star.  Walking in, I felt a sense of mystery.  This overly casual restaurant was a joy yet I knew that beyond this bare facade is a journey into the unexpected.

As you would expect, the waitstaff was attentive as ever and once my order was placed, Relae presented me with my first appetiser.  It was my nemesis, the cucumber. It was shocking to receive nothing but cucumbers and a dip because you can say or do will detract from that the fact that this is a cucumber, served in its most honest state.  It ticked all criteria you would expect and a bit more where it packed some serious juiciness and sweetness compared to the supermarket ones.  

But the part of this snack which I enjoyed most was its accompaniment of bread sauce salted by the anchovies. Prior to serving, the sauce is aerated to help the sauce stick more easily to the cucumbers.  Creamy with a mild saltiness from the anchovy, it complemented the sweet cucumbers well!

Cucumber, w/ Bread, anchovy and cream sauce - aerated

Complementary bread
The bread tasted like bread.  It has a very yummy savoury crust but that was as far as it got for me.  I did not really appreciate it too much.  It has been slightly over 4 years now but someone has yet to topple the best bread in Australia from Tetsuyas and in the global food scene, Le Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

The next dish could not have looked any more pure. Seaweed wrapped in a thin slice of celeriac and topped with a slice of black olive before sitting these little “wantons” in the juice of the olives.  Refreshing, and crisp but very “plain”.  It left my tongue feeling slightly rubbery afterwards.  Probably an overdose of olive flavours.

Celeriac, black olives and seaweed

The countries in Europe love for small forage fish is never-ending.  After having the Herring at HanTing, I was presented with another fish course by Relae.  Slight cured, the Mackerel yet still extremely fresh, it was surprisingly not as fishy as I had expected it to be.  More importantly, the pairing with bergamot peel and a neutral cauliflower made it even nicer.  Try let the Mackerel linger in your mouth and it was actually quite buttery!

Mackerel, cauliflower and Bergamot.

Course break -  Brown and champignon mushroom broth with olive oil.

This course looked almost too pretty to eat.  But what was hidden underneath the green pasture was a Danish Kimchee made from fermented Romaine lettuce.  Comparing it to the regular Kimchee, it was equally yummy without the spiciness but had a better scent to it!  Other than that, there was something unexplainable about the dish that made is special.  Maybe its just plain visual pleasure!
Romaine Lettuce

Carrots are a must in every slow-cooked stew I make.  But the chefs at Relae have decided that this is an understatement of the root vegetable and decided to make the carrot a star on its own.  These perfectly roasted carrots looked so bare on the plate.  Yet its soft-sweet flesh was wonderful to eat with the vinegary blackcurrant sauce.  The contrast of flavours between, sweet, salty and sour made it an addictive pairing.  Earlier, the waiter explained that the seaweed on the plate came from Iceland and carried a liquorice taste.  Surprisingly, I did not get any peppery-aniseed flavour which is a blessing because I am not the biggest fan of it. 

Carrots, söl and blackcurrants

My meat course was Relae’s Organic Chicken cooked sous vide.  There is so little on the plate again.  Which only means that the execution of every component had to be flawless.  True enough, it was.  Starting from the sous-vide chicken to the wilted cabbage and ending with a sensational crunch from the fine bits of chopped up chicken skin, it was safe to say that I was thoroughly impressed.    I thought that this dish spoke a language which I was familiar with.  It packed a load of flavour and everything complimented the chicken.  Even the liver bits hidden underneath were to a certain extent a little “creamy”.  Amazing.

Sødam Chicken. cabbage and lovage sauce.

With the savoury course done and dusted, it was time for the happy ending.  And my anticipation was running at an all time high after that successful meal of sous vide chicken.  The first dessert to come was an ice cream.  Creamy, extremely milky.  In some sense, if you dislike the strong flavours of “cow-y” you might be slightly turned off.  But I loved every bit of this creamy delight.  The toppings of very gently warned raspberries which accompanied desserts added a surprising touch when it exploded in my mouth upon first contact.  Its as though, all the fibres inside the little berry had perished due to the slow heating!  The grape seeds was a multi-functional element that not only the whole dessert texture, but a mild nuttiness too.
Milk, Raspberry and grape seeds

My last course came and it was a delicious serve of chocolate mouse, with apples and chanterelles mushrooms!  Earthy flavours paired with a fruity yet mildly acidic apples were nice.  Why no picture?  Because I ate it too quickly LOL.  I was THAT excited about the dessert course at Relae.

The Scandinavian landscape is rich and fertile but its harsh environment also means that harvest can be limited.   To earn Michelin recognition and a spot in the World’s Best 50 Restaurants List is like making gold from lead.  An act that is somewhat impossible. However, do not underestimate pure innovation for excellence.  When experimenting with simplicity, the outcomes can be extremely rewarding.  This is the amazing story of Relae by Christian Puglisi, an ex-alumni of top institutions like Noma and El Bulli. He has created a name for himself beyond his past.  But beware, Relae is not for everyone.  In fact, most who do not fine dine would consider Relae is an atrocity.  Carrots, cucumbers, herring and cauliflower?  Why would I pay for that they would think.  But for me, it was worth it. The last 4 courses were exceptional.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Copenhagen: Danish Pastries @ Lagkagehuset Bakery, Kobenhavn K - Copenhagen.

Danish pastries are a morning staple like Vegemite is to Australia.  In Copenhagen you are sure go past many bakeries in town with one the more popular chain stores being Lagkagehuset and it was my early morning stop on Sunday morning. The Lagkagehuset Bakery was perfect considering most of the other bakeries close on Sundays.  From the outside, one might mistake the modern exterior for an upscale bakery.  But do not be fooled as sleek exteriors are almost a must in this stylish Danish capital.  The baked products are on display so just tell the waitress what you want and she will pick it up for you.  Heating is available too. 

My two picks for breakfast were the chocolate croissant and the classic Cinnamon Snail.  Despite having some of the best layers for a croissant, the lack of an intense butter aroma made the usually decadent chocolate croissant very dull.  It definitely needed a re-work!  It was safe to say that when in Rome, do what the Romans do.  So do not eat Croissants in Copenhagen :P!

Thankfully the Cinnamon Roll was up to scratch and lived up to my expectations. Peeling the crisp layers off, you get you fingers all sticky before revealing the hidden pockets of tasty cinnamon sugar. First bite in and the tasty roll was faultless. Who am I kidding?  I am in Copenhagen after all!  Deeper inside, you get the soft more fluffy bits!

No wonder many have praised them for their pastries which I have to say was quality although not as amazing as what some have claimed it to be! Note that Lagkagehuset was one of the few hardworking bakeries open for on a dreamy Sunday. Its prices were decent and the quality of Lagkagehuset's pastries were up to scratch. Stick to the Danish basics and you will do just fine!! 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Copenhagen: Danish Pastries and the best Hot Dogs @ Andersen Bakery, Kobenhavn V - Copenhagen.

Great breakfasts make normal days better.  If you are in Copenhagen, I have a little place for you to start.   This bakery is the love child of a Japanese Baker and Danish Pastry that goes back some half century ago.  Conveniently enough it is located right along the walls of Tivoli Gardens, the worlds oldest theme park.  This is Andersen’s Bakery.  


The morning is a little drizzly when I got out at 8 in the morning but the good folks at Andersen Bakery starts before dawn to ensure everyone is well-fed in the rainy Autumn weather.  My pick for the morning was the classic Cinnamon Roll and a  Danish Vanilla Creme Crown.  To keep me warm was a pot of English Breakfast.

The Cinnamon Roll was a classic Danish Pastry. It smells so good it was unmistakable from the moment I stepped in Andersen’s Bakery.  Fortunately enough, it tasted as good as it smelt.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, this bun was absolutely more-ish with the little bursts of cinnamon & sugar mix in certain parts of the roll!

The second pastry was not a default choice of mine.  After snooping for awhile, I was overwhelmed with the choices pastries and I decided the to get waitress to recommend something she liked personally.  Her choice was the Danish Vanilla Creme Crown which was spot on!

Each bite was flaky and when you hit that custard centre, you get a silky smooth custard with a fragrant hit of warm-floral vanilla.  Best of all, this custard was the real deal.  Not some random custard out of the can.

But when the clock strikes 10 in the morning and you want something proper to keep you going through lunch, I recommend Andersen’s Hotdogs for a wholesome brunch.  My choice that afternoon was the Spicy Dog.  

For 55 Crowns you get a delicious signature hotdog in a white bun, both of which are specially made in house.  To finish, the hot dog is given royal treatment where it is topped with fried shallots, Jalapeños, relish and wasabi mayo. 

The Spicy Dog combination is simply potent and as you bite into the juicy hot dog, you soon realise why the Danes are one of the largest hot dog consumers in the world despite their relatively small population.  This had to be the best hot dog I have ever eaten.  Not to mention the toppings which paired with the hot dog so very well.  You get the crispy fragrant onions, the tangy relish and a chilli kick from the Jalapeños before thin slices of cucumber cools the tongue.  It was lovely.  To complement the chow, Andersen Bakery also had a freshly squeezed elderflower lemonade!

Andersen Bakery is one of the most popular places in Copenhagen and it is not surprising at all.  Top notch Danish Pastries paired with amazing hot dogs makes a formidable combination.  If you have one chance to eat Danish Pastries/Hot Dogs in Copenhagen, it would have to be this little bakery.  Also, do note that the prices here are a quite similar to what you would pay for say a fully loaded hot dog on the road while the Danish Pastries are the same price like the ones you would get from your local baker.  So if you ever go to Copenhagen in Denmark, remember to stop by Andersen Bakery.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Copenhagen: Modern Thai Dining @ Khun Juk Oriental, Kobenhavn K - Copenhagen.

I took my first step out of the Netherlands this month.  And it’s to the home of the new Nordic movement, Copenhagen.  The old city is home to several restaurants which are considered to be among the worlds finest.  Over my 3 days of stay, I visited several interesting eateries.  From the morning staple of Danish Pastries to a trendy Thai eatery before finishing on a Michelin starred ecstasy, it was safe to say I ate a lot. :)!


First night out and I am venturing out to a surprise candidate for my late night fuel.  Khun Juk Oriental is a modern Thai eatery Located not too far away from the touristy Kobenhavn area in Copenhagen.  If you fly in late Friday like me, its almost a blessing that most would have already finished their dinner, so I walked in to Khun Juk Oriental without a reservation at 8.30pm with no difficulties!  The sitting area was beautifully oriental and the service was welcoming. A rare combination coming from so many thousands of miles away.  Knowing it was going to be a modern Thai dinner, I did not quite know what to expect.

A hot towel sat waiting and tap water was served.  After refreshing myself, a prawn toast topped with sticky sweet chilli sauce was served complementary of Khun Juk Oriental.   This followed by my order of Tom Kha (98 DKK), a creamy - coconut almost Tom-Yam like chicken soup.  

Slurps!  Nothing complements a hot bowl of soup than a drizzly cold weather.  The fragrance of the galangal root, citrusy lemon grass and coriander just made melodies in my mouth.  It has probably been too damn long since I have had a decent soup from Thailand and this was sensational.  Tender chicken pieces and a creamy consistency could have easily made this a meal with steamed rice!

My main for the night was a very simple Lamb Massaman curry (238 DKK), only if you believe my very definition of “very simple”!  

If you are the type who always feel like their is nothing but sauce in a curry, then this dish is for you my friend.  A perfectly cooked rack of 6 lamb chops.  They were tender and pink in the middle with a lovely charr on the outside.  Served with celeriac chips, a vegetable stir fry, rice and a generous serve of Massaman sauce, it was top notch.  The slightly nutty, spicy and aromatic Massaman sauce is the perfect start for anything.  Use it as a a celeriac chip dip, sauce for the meaty rack of lamb or simply to put on your steamed rice.  It could go with anything!   I really liked how the racks were served like that.  It adds a sense of dimension where you really get your meat worth from the meal! Not just little pieces of piece which hardly adds up to much.  They also serve a similar thing with duck breast, and sirloin steak if lamb is not your kind of meat.

Despite being full, I found it hard to walk away without dessert.  I have had some amazing Thai dessert since I was a kid and I knew that I wanted something.  The menu came and there was only 1 dessert.  No choice dilemma here for sure haha.

Thai coconut pancake with caramel sauce with coconut ice cream and fresh tropical fruits from Thailand (85 DKK).

Piping hot pancakes with a silky caramel sauce and coconut ice cream is like playing with ice and fire together.  Its hot, its cold, and it stupendously delicious.  In fact, the caramel was the tastiest palm sugar I have had in awhile.  Yummy!!  This brings me recent memories of my mom’s sago pudding with palm sugar.

Khun Juk Oriental served me a meal worthy of calling my best first meal on a trip.  The service was courteous, and the food - amazing.  But the delicious food at Khun Juk Oriental does not come as a surprise considering the effort, the taste and the presentation poured into something one normally takes for granted.  My meal at Khun Juk Oriental is not cheap though, so I will not kid myself and claim that this was a simple take away.  I called for the bill and paid 420 DKK that night.  But for what I got, I still thought it was decently priced.  In comparison, a stall side hot dog costs 30-60 DKK and a meal at McDonalds is approximately 100 DKK.