Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not just pickled fish and dark breads

Dining in København was delightful. I shouldn't say I was expecting to eat badly, but I can't say that I had high expectations either. Well, what a delight to be proven that my pessimism was unjustified. The Danish cuisine we had was excellent. The ingredients were always fresh, the presentation was aesthetically pleasing, service was professional and smily. It seems that the Nordic countries, namely Denmark, Norway and Sweden, have entered a sort of culinary renaissance for a while now. There is an extreme enthusiasm to rejuvenate traditional cuisine with influences culled from all over the world, ideas brought back from chefs who have gone abroad and returned home. In turn they have created culinary hybrids like smushi (a cross between a smørrebrød, the Danish open faced sandwich, and sushi), found at the Royal Café... the more conceptual and experimental cuisine at the restaurant Geranium, situated by the lovely Rosenborg Have, a picturesque park in the city centre. The restaurant is headed by Chef Rasmus Kofoed who in 2005 won bronze and in 2007 won silver in the Bocuse D'Or (the Biannual Chefs World Championship in Lyon) and Søren Ledet, a friend and colleague who worked with Mr. Kofod when he was at another fabled Danish restauarant, Noma. At any rate they are creating some fine culinary moments at Geranium, very much in the spirit of El Bulli. Lot's of bubbles, gels, organic produce and poetry.

ok, less talk, more foodie photos.

The ambiance at Geranium is tranquil, super chill, we were definitely feeling the hygge.

The amuse gueule was comprised of 2 savoury marshmallow-like morsels. I believe there were little nuggets of bacon throughout. On the side we were served paper thin sheets of a sort of rye bread. I savoured my marshmallow, B downed his like it was a big peanut.

Appetizer of lobster soup (poured at the table) with tiny portions of lobster meat, raw shaved carrots and diced carrot confit. Plus alfalfa like sprouts as garnish for good measure. Now isn't that a handsome bowl! I would also like to point out that the spoons were marvelously designed, with a slightly extended lip to rest on the diner's lip when tipping the soup back into one's mouth. Ah, the Danes and their design sensibility.

Next up, and explained by (in french) the very chef who had prepared it, was a dish of lobster pieces (done up 3 ways), plus some morsels of venison, walnut pieces, thin medallions of wild Danish apples at the base, covered by a sheet of subtly infused apple gelatin, topped with young pea shoots, dollops of some mysterious cream, mystery jeunes pousses, and apple blossom petals. B and I had no idea how to eat this dish. Do you eat everything off the top first? Do you go for all layers at once? Do you eat in a clock-wise or counter clock-wise motion? So we asked the opinion of the chef. In response he shrugged his shoulders and answered, "oh, well, whatever feels most comfortable". So we just massacred this poor masterpiece. It tasted like a spring pasture by the sea.

B and I diverged on the selection of our next dish. He went for surf and I went for turf, as usual.

This dish was envisioned by the chefs as a walk on the beach. A cold Nordic beach. So from what I recall the dish consisted of a white fish (turbot?), wrapped in a light silky seaweed, on a bed of white savoury foam, and covered with poached pearl onions, mystery orange berries, and an assortment of sea plants. On the side there was a bowl of frothed potatoes and golden fried potato chip flakes. Looked gorgeous, though I preferred my plate over his.

A thick medallion of venison wrapped with a melting sheet of animal fat (I know, doesn't sound appetizing, but it's a common technique for a french dish whose name escapes me at the moment), chanterelle mushrooms, blackberry, thin slices of beets, plus beets 2 ways, and a frothing mound of potatoes and potato chip flakes. Imagine the aromas and textures of a slight fruity tea like sweetness, slight saltiness, and the smooth melting venison. mmmmm.....

Next up was the cheese course, which was, well, sadly lacklustre. Pitting most countries against France in the cheese department is formidable and daunting. Danes simply do not have the same affinity for cheese the French do. As our server explained to us the Danes prefer their cheese mild. So no photo for this course, which was pleasent enough but not memorable.

Our dessert was by far the most entertaining dish I've ever been served (well, with the exception of a condor carved from one very large eggplant in Peru). We were served a ball of white meringue encasing a very "fresh" (perhaps it was lemon?) tasting gelato with a centre of chewy melting caramel. But the best part was the gold bowl of small pine branches and bubbling vapour they set on the table. The bubbling liquid heated the pine so it set off a very pleasant warm forest scent. Who is allowed to have this much fun coming up with these fun ideas in the kitchen?!

As with all good things our meal came to end, with a delicious latte and mignardises of caramels and a traditional Danish licorice, all soft, black and spongy.

After our relaxing meal we ran to the metro to be late for the concert at the new concert hall by Nouvel, and then to later on be stuck in a malfunctioning elevator. But that's another story.....All in all we loved Copenhagen and we will be back.

1 comment:

Jon said...

that dessert looks incredible! how exactly was that bowl o' forest made to boil, any ideas? couldn't have been dry ice as you say it was warm (and clearly boiling)...i am most curious. clearly danish cuisine has changed considerably since we last visited in 1997...

now tell us about that nouvel elevator experience!