I have been to many Michelin-starred restaurants, But I noticed they were all in the nordics. 3 star Maaemo, Ylajali and Kontrast in Oslo, Noma in Copenhagen (sadly no blogpost), Ask and Chef and Sommelier in Helsinki, Kadeau in Bornholm in between others, but somehow I totally missed German Michelin-starred restaurants, So I decided to start with VAU here in Berlin.
This small pink fassade camouflages in a narrow street next to Gendarmenmarkt and Berlin's Concert Hall, and entering through a courtyard, you can find Vau. A beautiful place with place for about 60 people. Nicely adorned with cooper plates and wooden accessories. The light is dim and gives the place a golden look.
In 1997, they were granted with their precious Michelin star... 17 years and still they are still holding it.
The head Chef, Kolja Kleeberg, is one of a kind. He is an actor, singer, storyteller, entertainer, and cook.
A very rare combination, but shows how creative he is, inside and outside the kitchen. Sadly he was on vacation the day I was there, but you can find him in the kitchen and around the restaurant when he is there.
I didnt see any wine pairing menu, but well, I can't drink more than a glass a week at the moment, so I was recommended a Tobias Knewitz Sauvignon blanc instead of the Riesling I was going for...10 extra points for sommelier as it was delicious!!
I went for the "Composition Menu". It is a more traditional menu than the "Improvisation Menu"... But I was excited about the truffles and the Valrhona chocolate and mango dessert.
In every Nordic Michelin-starred restaurant I have been, the food is brought by one of the chefs or sommelier, there was no difference with this restaurant. The first dish was an explosion of seafood and spices served with a "salad" on the side (the combination of the tomato sauce and lentils and the fresh foams was a perfect match) Loved the detail of serving it on a Weck Glass.
The second dish was the béchamel potatoes with truffles I was waiting for and they were perfect. And slowly I started noticing the difference between German kitchen and Nordic kitchen: The dishes here are heavier and less airy but that doesn't mean the aren't delicious as hell.
The Turbot with eel, was once again a very strong dish, though the chervil root purée made a perfect contrast to it. This was a huge portion and I was starting to get worried about how much food I would be able to eat. All the different roots in the dish were delicious. Thanks Norway to make me love roots!
A palate cleanser of the day was the Oyster with just pearls, a smooth and yet appetizing dish. It cleared my taste buds for what was coming:
A dish made of different ways of making black feather chicken: Celery puree with crispy chicken breast, a roll with slow cooked and caramelized chicken, coq au vin, a traditional french christmas sausage with chicken liver, truffle & onion and a juicy chicken wing. This was a very french dish, exquisite and rich in flavor.
The second palate cleanser was amazing and mouthwatering. The sorbet was perfect and the cheesecake cream was a dream! I should try this at home, definitely!
And then The Valrhona bonanza started: White Valrhona chocolate ice cream over a mousse Au Valrhona chocolate with Valrhona chocolate cake with mango and passion fruit sauce. Salty Caramel sauce with a twig of Valrhona chocolate and Valrhona chocolate sprinkles. Lots of "Valrhona" on this dish :)
Dinner was divine, and I totally recommend people to try this out. Be prepared to have a German-French fusion with loads of flavor.
I realized I need to explore more the haute cuisine in Germany, because it is a world difference between it and the nordics. Maaaan now I need a Valrhona Chocolate!!
Lucky Bird is the word! Don't you know about the Bird? We thought everybody's heard about the Bird? Well, if you haven't before, now you know. Lucky Bird has opened in the same neighborhood as Mathallen, in the venue next door to BAR Vulkan. The sign reads chicken and ribs. Simple, classic, delicious food.
The owner, Tarje, explains their philosophy: "We take good ingredients, treat them with respect and keep the menu short". We love their concept! The ribs are from one of Norway's best butchers; Albert Idsøe in Stavanger. The chicken is from Stange, and is free range, guaranteed free from medicine and with no additives.
The place is inspired by a Southern USA style chicken shack. All the interior looked so well made that we thought it must have been really expensive to make. However, Tarje tells us that they actually made it in a very inexpensive way. The colored wood is from an old house in Stavanger, the roof from an old barn and the hand rails along the stairs are from a church. The lamps in the ceiling are made from old oil barrels!
Tarje is an experienced restauranteur. He already operates the three venues of Døgnvill Bar & Burger, two in Oslo and one in Stavanger. Why did you call the place Lucky Bird and decide to serve ribs as well? "I love ribs so much, I cried myself to have it on the menu!" Tarje tells us. "I like the ribs a bit chewy. I don't want the meat to fall off completely, as others may prefer. To achieve the perfect result every time we use sous-vide."
Salmon & Flowers
This dish is partly inspired by a dish we made together with Mikkel Marschall on Bornholm, the langoustine dish at restaurant Kadeau and a foraging class we attended in Oslo. The dish we made with Mikkel was a potato compote with fried herring (we will remake the complete recipe on the blog later). After visiting Bornholm we were tipped by our good friend Helle about a foraging class at Geitmyra food culture house.
Two of the flowers we learned to be edible were Cuckooflower or Lady's smock (Engkarse in Norwegian) and Ground-Ivy (Korsknapp in Norwegian). They happened to be growing close to Geitmyra, and on the way home we picked up a few. Foraging wild plants and flowers seems to be one of the biggest food trends in the Nordic restaurant scene and hipster home cook crowd.
400 g salmon
12 potatoes, unpeeled
250 g Røros butter
Salt & pepper
Send me dead flowers every morning
Cook the potatoes with the peel until they are done. Pour the water off and let them dry. Use a potato masher and roughly crush the potatoes. Add the butter and a few table spoons of apple vinegar, stir around a few times and let it rest until the butter is melted. Taste with salt and pepper and more apple vinegar if needed. A potato compote is rougher than a mash, the peel is included and the potatoes doesn't need to be completely mashed. The butter and vinegar is just stirred into the compote. It should have a clear acidic sting from the vinegar.
Rub the salmon with salt and pepper and fry on one side in butter. Remove from the pan before it is cooked all the way through and get dry. Plate with potato compote underneath and salmon on top. Pour some of the frying butter over the fish. Decorate with edible flowers.
Restaurant Kadeau on Bornholm
After three days on Bornholm we were already sold. This really felt like a dream. The passion and dedication for food that we saw, reflected in organic farming, animal welfare, sustainability and great utilization of local produce had us convinced. Not to mention the stunning nature with beaches in the south, mighty cliffs in the north, and endless fields of rapeseed flowers and forest floor covered in ramsons wherever you wander. However, the true diamond of this island had yet to be explored. Restaurant Kadeau was booked for our Friday evening.
Imagine you went to heaven and there were no pearly gates. No soft clouds to step on or angels with feathered wings. In stead there was a small cottage, soft sand to dig your feet into and white clad waiters. That's what Kadeau felt like. A little paradise on earth.
Kadeau opened in 2010 and is co-owned by Magnus Koefoed, Nicolai Nørregaard and Rasmus Kofoed. They have a sister restaurant by the same name in Copenhagen with one Michelin star, as well as a bistro called Pony which also serves Bornholm food. This summer they opened SommerPONY on Bornholm, which will close during winter months just like Kadeau.
We arrived early to take some photos. Our waitor and sommelier for the evening, Kristine, was waiting for us in the doorway. "Should I put some Champagne glasses outside for you?" Yes, please do! We inspected the beach. Sand as soft as cotton. Rumor has it that Napoleon used it for his time glasses. In the horizon is only sea as far as the eye can see. The Baltic sea.
Talking about herbs from the garden, we had to take a stroll in the amazing backyard of Kadeau, where they grow a lot of the plants and herbs they use for their presentations. The place reminded us of Amass in Copenhagen, where we dined last year.
The interior of Kadeau is designed like a small cottage with wooden furniture and even a cast iron oven.
Ylajali's Final Chapter
Ylajali is closing. This is their final chapter. When the news broke that Even Ramsvik would conclude the adventure of his one Michelin star restaurant by the end of this year, we knew it was time to finally pay him a visit. Due to the same reason as we wrote in our Maaemo feature, we had not been here before. In hindsight, a big mistake. Ylajali turned out to be a remarkable dining experience.
The name Ylajali is closely linked to the location at St. Olavs plass 2 in Oslo. In this very building lived the character Ylajali from the book "Sult" by famous Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. In the real world the building has housed an old apothecary for almost a century. If you go right, in stead of left, you enter Tekehtopa, which is "Apotheket" spelled backwards. Even Ramsvik now runs this café as well. From a separate kitchen, mind you, and with a completely different style. The food is more rustic and simpler, but very tasty and with great value for money!
Booking a table at Ylajali was not easy after the newspapers wrote that 2015 would be the last chance to dine here. In fact, we weren't able to book for two people at all. Only a table for four was available this day. We tried to get someone to join us, but a sudden Ylajali evening isn't something most people do spontaneously. In the end we asked to change our reservation and the restaurant was nice enough to comply. It turned out to be a quiet evening, though, which was weird considering the difficulty to book. We are guessing a lot of people have placed several bookings this year, and cancels last minute...
Our waiter, the head sommelier, was with us the entire evening. He was attentative, knowledgable, polite and did his job in every way. However, we notice a difference between restaurants like Ylajali and Kontrast on one side, and Noma and Maaemo on the other. At the latter two the waiters managed to connect with the table in a different manner, almost become part of the group, but in a way that felt very right. We didn't get the same feeling at Ylajali, but in stead we had both Even Ramsvik and chef Matthias Bernwieser come out to talk with us several times. No complaints, just an observation!
Even could reveal that he definitely will start up again after closing Ylajali. He is scouting for the perfect location, and they already have a few in mind. He simply needs a bigger kitchen and dining room to truly release his potential in the restaurant world.
Bordeaux Blind Tasting
A blind tasting of Bordeaux red wines at Restaurant Ni&Tyve during an early spring afternoon. We love wine, we love Bordeaux and the restaurant was unexplored by us so far. Blind tasting of wine sounds easy, right? You taste, and you either like it or not, no? Well, it's not quite that simple. We also had to describe the smell and taste, guess the area (if we could) and rate them.
We were together with far more experienced wine tasters, for sure. Wine writers from different specialty magazines and sommeliers from known restaurants and wine bars, amongst them our friend Magnus from Territoriet. Regardless of that, we tried our best to describe the seven different glasses of red wines from Bordeaux. In the end we rated them, and to no surprise, when the identities were revealed, it turned out Andrea's favorites were the three most expensive wines.
We also learned about the bacteria "Brett" or Breattanomyces. A fault in wine that can both add flavor to the wine or ruin the wine completely. Young wines can get more complexity and/or an aged character from Brett. When a wine is spoiled by Brett it smells of horse manure or a musty basement, and it may have a metallic taste. This could of course be confused with cork taint as well, which makes it even more difficult to distinguish.
After tasting we went to the terrace to eat. We were served a three-course meal from restaurant Ni&Tyve and we enjoyed red, rosé and white wine from Chateau Rauzan Despagne. They come in plastic bottles (PET), which is very handy e.g. when you are traveling to your cottage or going to a picnic. The bottles are less heavy and can't be broken. The wine is quite cheap, but still with a good quality to it. We tasted the Chateau Rauzan Despagne Bordeaux rouge too, and in July that will be released in a three liter bag in box for NOK 450.
Anders picked to no surprise the entrecôte with béarnaise sauce and fried potatoes. He asked for rare and they managed to cook it correctly. The meat was decent, the fat was soft enough so you could eat it, and the sauce was rich and tasty. The potatoes were ok, but the mushrooms and green beans were a bit boring.
Chef's Table at Maaemo
A Michelin starred restaurant is usually not where we dine on a regular Thursday after work. This kind of luxury is reserved for vacations. However, we realized that by following this logic we would never get to test the best restaurants in our own hometown. Thus, when our good friend André Blomberg-Nygård asked if we wanted to join for a small snack at his favorite neighborhood shack, Maaemo, we accepted his invitation.
Maaemo is Oslo and Norway's only two Michelin star restaurant. It is also the only Nordic restaurant to be awarded two stars directly, the very first time they were mentioned in the Michelin guide. In the list "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" Maaemo was ranked no. 79 last year. We're looking forward to see where they rank once the 2015 list is revealed on June 1st.
Danish head chef Esben Holmboe Bang leads the kitchen, while co-founder and sommelier Pontus Dahlström from Finland leads the restaurant. We were lucky enough to have Pontus almost entirely to ourselves this evening, at the test kitchen table on the second floor. From this table you overlook the kitchen with all the chefs hard at work, and you also have a panoramic view of the barcode buildings of Bjørvika.
All of the ingredients at Maaemo are organic, and most of the produce are sourced within a 100 km radius of Oslo. Esben explains that the menu is a reflection of the Norwegian nature, and they even go into the forest themselves to forage wild plants and flowers. The wine is organic as well, and some of it is biodynamic, but Pontus doesn't choose strictly "nature wines" like we experienced at restaurants like Noma and Relæ in Copenhagen.
Pontus welcome us in the door as we enter. We are late, and André has already waited for us 15 minutes upstairs. Not the worst place to wait, though, watching the chefs of Maaemo plating dishes with microscopic accuracy.
Esben stands on the right side of the kitchen, looking almost like a conductor of an orchestra. He has complete control. Pontus, on the other hand, is busy being the perfect host for the guests at his table. Esben is equally welcoming, of course, whenever he comes out to put the finishing touches on a dish, but Pontus feels almost like he is part of our table this evening.
This feeling of having your waiter and sommelier so up close and personal is something we've only ever experienced once before, and that was at Noma in Copenhagen. We're beginning to see a pattern at these two star restaurants!
Coffee is taken just as serious as any other beverage at Maaemo. We love it! The coffee of choice is Tim Wendelboe "Finca Tamana" and the brewing method is the very traditional way of boiling coffee in a coffee pot. Pontus made sure to remove the bitter layer of foam that forms on the top before he served it. The result? The best restaurant coffee we've had, to date.
Stammershalle Badehotel was our home on Bornholm for three days when we were there with Visit Denmark. We say home because that's what it felt like. Stammershalle is nothing like a hotel in the traditional sense. The owners, Henriette Lassen & Henrik Petersen, make you feel welcome like a dear friend from the past. All of the decoration inside is done by Henriette, as she is an upholstery professional, and it feels like she has made the entire hotel her house.
More than anything Henrik & Henriette wanted to make their hotel restaurant a destination for the locals on the island. If a local Bornholmer would be asked by a tourist where to go, then Stammershalle should be in the top five list of advices. We find this to be a great philosophy, and even believe they have succeed with this goal to a great extent. This also makes them less dependent on tourism, which is concentrated around the spring and summer months on Bornholm.
Built by a German in 1911 who had his own zoo in the backyard with lions and bears. One hundred years later, in 2011, it was bought by Henrik & Henriette. Located along the northern coastline of Bornholm, not far from the city of Gudhjem (God's home), in a beautiful rocky scenery. Waking up to the view of the Baltic Sea every morning is the best start of a day we could imagine, and it makes us want to go back to Bornholm as soon as possible.
The hotel restaurant "Lassens" is also one of the main destination for foodies visiting Bornholm, in addition to Melsted Badehotel and of course restaurant Kadeau. Head chef, Daniel Kruse, is part of the Danish culinary team and was named chef of the year in 2012. He has previously worked as a pastry chef at Michelin star restaurants Formel B and Søllerød Kro, and won many prizes for his sweet creations.
In Lassens restaurant they strive to satisfy all the senses, and the food looks as great as it tastes. As many of the ingredients as possible are gathered from the local area, very much in line with the Bornholm mentality. However, Henrik points out, sometimes they simply feel like oysters and foie gras. Hard work the last couple of years has even resulted in a place in the White Guide. Without further ado, we present to you the evening's meal.
The breakfast at Stammershalle is one of the best hotel breakfast we have experienced. Everything was freshly made from the same kitchen we dined in the previous evening. We could choose between a variety of ham & cheese, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, tomato salad, five types of homemade bread, overnight oats, five types of homemade jams, four different beverages, and more variety of yoghurt and cereal toppings than we knew existed.
Pop-up restaurant! The word is so hot it hurts. Still a fairly new concept in Oslo, although the trend is slowly and steadily growing thanks to influence from cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm. Svinepels is a new pop-up restaurant that caught our interest earlier this year. When they announced a dinner at Seeds in Oslo a month ago, with a 10-course tasting menu and drinks to match, we just had to go check it out. Seeds is a backyard bar and club, and is part of Mesh - the coworking space in Tordenskiolds gate. They have a lot of events, concerts and DJs playing. The musical element of this evening was Jay Nemor.
Svinepels consist of Magnus StÃ¸re and Even RÃ¸mo. Neither of them are educated chefs, they're simply two friends interested in food and fascinated by the modern restaurant experience. Eating out has become almost theatrical in execution. The experiments in the Svinepels kitchen are based on the latest trends that Magnus and Even pick up from the top restaurants around the world. Both in terms of ingredients and presentation.
This specific evening had the coming of spring as topic, and was a reflection of Mother Earth facing the Northern hemispehere toward the sun and all the life that wakes from hibernation. Martin Kloster from Moestue Grape Selection attended the event and served drinks to match each course.
"Risotto kan vÃ¦re godt, men husmÃ¸dre vet bedre" - Porridge of grains with carrot and VÃ¤sterbotten cheese. We ate a nordic risotto at RelÃ¦ in Copenhagen last summer, which inspired us to make our own recipe of sunflower seed risotto as well. You'll find it on the blog. A nice twist from Svinepels to use Swedish cheese in stead of parmesan.
"De de franske kaller petir four, som egentlig bare er munch" - Brown cheese tart, freeze dried apple and macaron with seabuckthorn. Maaemo serves a brown cheese tart too, but this was more similar to a traditional cheese cake and very tasty! Seabuckthorn taste amazing and Svinepels has obviosuly gathered that it is very trendy as well.
Svinepels pop-up was a nice experience. The food, the drinks and the music put together made it a great evening. We wish the team good luck with future events, and encourage them to work even more with the flavors and contrast, but also the presentation of each dish. In terms of price they match restaurants in Oslo like Kontrast, Pjoltergeist and Bon Lio. That means expectations from guests are pretty high as well.
To the left as you exit Torggata towards the adventure bridge. In a narrow venue in Hausmannsgate, just opposite of the church Jakob, a new French restaurant called Rôtisserie has opened. It may not come as a surprise that they are cooking a lot of their food in a rotisserie. Skewered or hung meat is cooked in an oven while it rotates and cooks evenly in its own juice.
The restaurant manager Loris welcomes us as we enter. He asks whether we would like to sit at a table or along the marble counter facing the chefs working the kitchen. An easy choice, we sit down at the bar, which has very comfortable chairs and the best view. "A glass of wine to start?". "Yes, please, recommendation?" "How about Le G de Guiraud?" Perfect. We study the menu.
A simple and short menu and a simple and short wine list. We love it already. Almost every wine is offered by the glass, and almost every glass is priced below 100 NOK. The menu has three starters, the choice between three cuts of meat for the main dish and various side dishes. Lastly, some specialty desserts from pastry chef Constance Charpentier.
The best thing about this place is that the kitchen will be open till at least 23.00. Too many decent restaurants these days close their kitchen around nine or ten. Pjoltergeist has been our only go-to-place for late night snack. At least now we have a new good alternative.
Profiteroles filled with ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. On the sides are some petit fours. One filled with custard cream. The choux pastry is perfectly crispy and airy. The only part we would improve here is the ice cream, and Loris explained that they are working on that and will make their own ice cream soon.
I am Andrea, or as my friends call me, Jinx. I am a foodie living in Berlin, eating my way through life. Here are my recipes, cooking events, dining experiences and more...