Wineweek 143: Tales from Tallinn

As many of you know, I am from Helsinki, and I visit quite often. My family and many of my friends still live there. I am around almost every other month. But it has been an embarrassing 10 years since I have visited Tallinn. No, I have no secret estonian relatives, but Tallinn is only 80km – a short boat ride away. Traveling from Helsinki, It’s a great destination for a day trip or even an overnight. Its almost a Finns national responsibility to check it out every now and then. It was actually M that came up with the idea a few weeks ago. And before I had even time to blink, he had mustered up a credible list of twentysomething restaurants, cafes and wine bars worth checking out. So we booked a hotel and the boat trip and off we went. And the trip was every bit as great as we thought it would be. Here are some of my best tips for a foodie in Tallinn. Continue reading “Wineweek 143: Tales from Tallinn”

My Best Tourist Tip in Town – The Flying Elk

I often get questions from friends visiting Stockholm: where would I recommend to eat. You would think this is a question I love answering, however, I actually find it a bit hard. I could recommend tons of places, but I run into hesitation. Why? Three things. Firstly popular restaurants in Stockholm require advance booking. A lot of advance booking. So all of those who are not extremely well planned (90%), will just hit a wall when trying to score a table. Which is a bit discouraging. Second, many visitors will find the Stockholm price level for food high. I find it inconsiderate to suggest something that will cost an arm and a leg, so I need to really think of those price worthy places that are easy on the wallet . Third, people like eating different things, and I am generally suspicious of restaurants that think they can master several cuisines (if you advertise that you master everything – I suspect you master nothing). And as you know, I never, ever, recommend something that I don’t think is good. Continue reading “My Best Tourist Tip in Town – The Flying Elk”

Riding the Waves of the Low-alcohol Trend

There is a particular trend in Sweden that I am very happy about at the moment, that is the increasing popularity of low- or non-alcoholic beer ans other drinks. It is just great opening a beer after dinner on a normal weekday evening. A luxury that I have before, as a mother of a toddler, reserved only for weekends. Its also great that these drinks are high quality and that there are several different to choose from. We have a full shelf of colorful bottles in fridge. I am beyond the point that I would open a beer just for the alcohol content. We have always said with M, that we would be so happy if there were more good quality non-alcoholic wine, so that we would be able to enjoy our hobby even more. Continue reading “Riding the Waves of the Low-alcohol Trend”

Wineweek 114: My Bangkok

It is the last day of our trip, and it feels like an end of an era. Well at least an end to a year. Tomorrow we make a long journey back to Stockholm, and on Tuesday I will already be back at the office. It stings a little bit less, as I know we will be flying comfortably in business class. But still the traveling has grown on me, and tomorrow already feels like something significantly different. Continue reading “Wineweek 114: My Bangkok”

Mikkeller Around the World

We have this weird habit: everywhere we travel, we always end up visiting a Mikkeller-bar. Unplanned. It’s an odd habit, especially when we travel in Asia, as it is something available in Stockholm and all over the Nordics. However, there is something fun about “collecting” the locations. There is usually only one Mikkeller bar in a city (with the exception of Copenhagen). Mikkeller is a Danish brewery making a wide range of delicious craft beers. The founders, former math teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and journalist Kristian Klarup Keller started experimenting with hops in their own kitchens, now Mikkeller is exporting their products to 50 countries all over the world. Mikkeller is internationally acclaimed as one of the most innovative and cutting edge brewers in the world. We really like the beers, even the non-alcoholic ones. Continue reading “Mikkeller Around the World”

Craft Beer Craze at Casa Lapin BKK

There is something about the warm weather that makes me crave two things: spicy food and beer. Many seem to agree with me, as beer is extremely popular in Thailand – could you imagine red wine in 35 degrees Celsius? The local beer market is protected with high taxes on export products, so other  products than Singha and Chang have a high-ish price tag. However, the Thai capital has still developed a taste for craft beers from around the world, and many new spots have opened that serve a wide range. I am sure it’s mainly the expats and tourists but there is enough of them. One of our favorite cafes, Casa Lapin has opened Tap Room, a restaurant and craft beer bar serving a wide range of international products from tap.  Continue reading “Craft Beer Craze at Casa Lapin BKK”

At the Bottl3.5shop

If you are wondering if I have been writing this post while tired, the answer is no; Bottl3.5hop is actually the name of the store I intend to write about. Or perhaps I should say I am writing about a phenomena, which is the rapid increase demand for low alcohol drinks, especially beer. There are small shops popping up in hipster parts of town specializing in small brewery beers that fit under the state controlled limit of 3.5%. These shops slash bars are great places to find interesting local products that are often too small scale to make it to the big players shelves, like peach beer (yuk). I am not kidding about the peach beer, but would like to emphasize that most of the selection is actually not as “special”, but rather something that I would consider excellent low alcohol alternatives to be enjoyed with food during the week or why not weekend. Continue reading “At the Bottl3.5shop”

Sunday Ramen at Blue Light Yokohama

There are two occasions when I feel like ramen: after I have had too much wine, or after I have had no wine (which would imply that I have been sick). For some reason both of these usually happen on a Sunday. This Sunday it was the case of the latter. And to spice up the experience, I made the mistake of leaving our home without an umbrella. Nothing beats hot ramen when your pants are all soaking wet.

Blue Light Yokohama is a Japanese restaurant here in Stockholm serving only ramen on Sundays. It has a real Japanese vibe, friendly staff and tasty food. The selection on Sundays is not broad, usually two types of ramen with a choice of meat or vegg. You can top up your meal with starters, edamame or japanese pickled vegetables, and some chicken karaage with rice; and you can order desserts from the a la carte. For drinks they have some Japanese beers: Sapporo, Kirin and Hitachino Red Rice Ale and Ginger Ale. They do also have some wine, but even the adventurous wine-blogger has to say at this point that I don’t recommend it. A restaurant that categorizes Prosecco as a white wine should stick to serving other beverages. The Sencha tea (their basic green tea) is wonderful and a cold beer is the perfect pairing with the hot ramen.

Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
The dining room
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
Tables for bigger groups
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
The tea is served from a cup with all the heads of the Japanese prime ministers
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
Hitatchino Ginger Ale
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
Pork-blackpepper ramen
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
The miso-vegg ramen
Blue Light Yokohama Stockholm
Yuzu Ice cream

On Sundays, Blue Light Yokohama opens at five in the afternoon. We were the first ones to arrive, my friend and I, and it was no trouble getting a table. However, after 10 minutes the place was full. Especially if you are a bigger group, I would recommend booking a table. They have some nice Japanese tables where you take off your shoes and all. A genuine experience. We ordered the two types of ramen they had on the menu: The pork-blackpepper (clear) broth with spring onion, and the thick miso-vegetable broth with pork and corn. Both wonderful and exactly what you need in the raw spring weather. We also ordered some edamame to share and my friend took the extra karaage with rice. The ramen its self is very filling so any side dishes are pure greed. We also warmed up with some green tea, and I tried out the Hitatchino Ginger Ale. Regardless of the high alcohol content (8%), the beer was light and fresh and a great pairing with the salty pork broth. Nope, we didn’t stop there, we also ordered some desserts. I took the white sesame brule and my friend the yuzu sorbet. The brule was a wonderful experience with tastes of sesame, nuts and burned butter (that is basically what it is made of right), and the yuzu sorbet was like a fresh breeze (great for a hangover I would say).

I must admit, Sundays is the only time I have visited this restaurant, so I can only comment on the ramen menu. For the price (around 130 SEK) it is value for money so a welcome option to making food at home when you are under the weather.

Fabrica Moritz and Bar a Vins: Great Wine bar at a Brewery, Barcelona

I have never really been a fan of the local (Catalan) beer brand Moritz but I was still somehow convinced to visit their combined brewery, restaurant, shop, bar and wine bar called Fabrica Moritz. The place has been extensively renovated and I will happily admit that it does look really nice. They are also making some special beer (not available elsewhere) in this location so there are actually some much nicer beers here than what is normally available under the Moritz brand. It also means that it is not just a design and concept idea since they actually produce beer here as well. What however did surprise me immensely was first that the food was pretty decent and second, which is the main topic of this post, that they have an excellent wine bar called Bar a Vins.

When I was browsing their standard wine list I did find some pretty decent wines and what I really liked was that it was possible to also have really small sips of the wine. I then started asking a bit about the wines and was then brought the full wine list and they asked if I also wanted to have a chat with the sommelier. Really appreciate that it was possible to order the full range of wines while seated in the restaurant and the good service attitude.

The set-up of the wines are a bit different than in some other places I have been. It is possible to order in three different ways: by weight, by the glass or by the bottle. Most of you are probably familiar with by the glass and by the bottle but the ‘by weight’ is perhaps a bit new. They are using a system with argon gas canisters on the bottle allowing to take small amounts out without damaging the remaining wine. It is very much similar to the Coravin system but this was from what I could see a different brand or producer. This does allow one to order either a specific number of grams of wine or if that is the preference order for an amount of money (and you will then be poured as much as that amount will buy you).

There are around 40 wines available by the glass (and by weight) and in addition to that more than 400 by the bottle. Spanish wines are very well represented here but there are international wines available. I did to my surprise find the excellent Carousel from Alvaro Castro (of Quinta da Pellada) by the glass here. The slight disappointment is perhaps that the selection of Catalan wines was not as good as I would have expected but it is still one of the better ranges of Catalan wines around. I was however happy to see four sparkling wines available by the glass. We sampled nice Cavas here and they also had some Champagne by the glass. A nice touch is also that all the wines served come with a little label around the foot of the glass with information on the wine.

The service is very good, friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. It does seem that the fact that it is in beer brewery makes it a bit more relaxed than some other wine bars. The possibility to order wines by weight also makes more high-end wines available to a wider audience so I think they are doing some really good things for the wine scene in Barcelona. The food is also very nice, and while perhaps not the cheapest meal it is still decent value for money.

The design of the place is pretty neat and I do encourage a visit to the toilets as they are pretty nicely designed as well. One objection I have is that it tends to get fairly loud as many people who go to the beer bar seem to be there more to drink a lot of beer than to sample different things so I do in general prefer to sit in the smaller space at the Bar a Vins than in the actual restaurant.