Stockholm and Stars – Michelin Guide Nordics 2017

Yesterday was a day I had been waiting for: the revelation of 2017 Michelin stars in the Nordic countries. Not that I need a star to think that a restaurant is good, but rather, stars are quite rare here in the dark North, so it is always a big thing to get them. This year Stockholm gained one star, but lost four, as two two-star restaurants closed down. Continue reading “Stockholm and Stars – Michelin Guide Nordics 2017”

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”

The Afterlife of Noma

I did something really fun and spontaneous in the beginning of this week: I took a last minute flight to  accompany M to Copenhagen (where he was heading for a business trip).  He had been going on and on at home about his plans to visit 108, the new restaurant opened by the people behind Noma. So what can I say: you shouldn’t brag about going if you don’t want your wife to join. Noma was one of the most well known restaurants in the world (1st on Worlds top 50 restaurants for many consecutive years) until it’s closure this fall. As Noma turned down the lights, 108 was born; with René Redzepi as the owner and Christan Baumann as head chef. 108 is a cafe, bar and bistro keeping the trend of New Nordic Kitchen alive, but in a more casual setting. Continue reading “The Afterlife of Noma”

Sundown Dinner at Torvehallerne

Last week, I was on a business trip in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Alone. Its not that much fun traveling by yourself. I often end up hanging out at the hotel, just working and skipping a proper dinner. I don’t really like going out to eat by myself (very Finnish of me). This time however, I had a plan: It was beautiful weather, I had my camera with me and an appetite for a good meal. From my trips with M, I also knew where to go if you are eating out alone, the Torvehallerne food market at Norreport. Continue reading “Sundown Dinner at Torvehallerne”

Wineweek 94: A Walk in Copenhagen

This week has reminded me that there is still some summer left. Perhaps just a few more days, but nevertheless, temperatures have hiked up to 25C. The mornings have been crisp though, so every day I have dressed up like its ten degrees colder. A bit annoying actually. Just look at the pictures below, everybody (else) is wearing shorts. I spent a few days in Copehangen this week, as you can probably tell based on the topic. I was there for business but had time to walk around the center and visit some of my favorite places: the Torvehallene market, Coffee Collective and Ved Stranden 10 wine bar.  Continue reading “Wineweek 94: A Walk in Copenhagen”

Perhaps the Best Wine Bar in Copenhagen

It is a warm and sunny August afternoon an I am strolling down towards the canals in central Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. I am not wandering aimlessly. I have a destination. It is Ved Stranden 10, perhaps the best wine bar I know. At least the best wine bar I know in Copenhagen. Ved Stranden is also a wine shop, so if you like what you drink, you can buy a bottle to take home. I wish this kind of concept was possible in Sweden. Continue reading “Perhaps the Best Wine Bar in Copenhagen”

Fine Dining in the Nordics – Michelin Stars for 2016

It is that time of the year again, that Guide de Michelin launches its stars for the Nordic countries. This is not that much of a star-struck region (compared to France or Britain for example). Its only a hand full of cities that are evaluated and I secretly suspect the critics avoid this part of the world during the winter. So we are proud of every single star we can get. This year, Stockholm was granted 13 stars (28 in Sweden), Helsinki 4 , Copenhagen 19 (26 in Denmark) and Oslo 7. Two restaurants in the Nordics reached that magical three stars this year: Maaemo in Oslo and Geranium in Copenhagen. Bjorn Frantzen in Sweden, who is said to be completely obsessed about that third star was yet again left with “just two”.

As we are semi-serious foodies, me and M, we do try to visit as many of these restaurants as we can get reservations to. Due to the absurd cost, we of course have spread these visits out as we cannot afford too many in a year. We always have something in the plan though. We have reserved Chef & Sommelier in Helsinki for Easter and I really want to finally visit Operakällaren, serving traditional Swedish cuisine in Stockholm. Perhaps something to wish for my birthday.

And now to the serious part of this post: what do I actually think about the stars? Is it worth all that fuss, and not to mention all that money? What I can say is, that it is definitely interesting. My best (ever) restaurant experiences have not been from the three star restaurants though. I rate many of the two star experiences much higher. Perhaps its the expectation versus what you actually get. However none of the three starred restaurants make it to my top-five list.

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Eye candy at Takasawa, which is said to be the best restaurant in the world without a star

However, when talking best value for money, they have always been the one star restaurants (although the quality varies a lot). Or actually, lunch deals at the two and three starred restaurants. I don’t know why they don’t do this in the Nordics, but in London we used to go for set menus as great restaurants all the time. A three course menu with wine could be one third or even one fourth of the dinner price. For example Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester had an awesome deal for around 50£. Writing this post makes me miss London again (ETA 14 days).

So here is the list of 2016 starred restaurants in Stockholm. Even though many of these will cost you an arm and a leg (Stockholm is a expensive city), they are worth truing out.  I have been to three of them: Gastrologic, Volt and Matbaren and can recommend all three. Perhaps worth mentioning though that I seldom find the wine lists that interesting (read: reasonable in price), so I am definitely there for the food rather than the drinks.

** Frantzen
** Oaxen Krog (gained one star)
** Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen
* Gastrologic
* Esperanto
* Volt
* Ekstedt
* Operakällaren
* Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren
* Sushi So (NEW)

 

I would also like to mention that Fäviken up in the north of Sweden was also granted two stars (the prices doubled over night)

Have a great week!

xx Soile

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Champagne for lunch at l’Effervessence (**)

Forloren espresso -among the top places for coffe in Copenhagen

Today the coffee bar review focuses on Copenhagen and then most of you are probably thinking that it will be Coffee Collective but think again. While I am actually writing this from Coffee collective at Torvehallarna the focus is one of my favorite coffee bars, the small Forloren Espresso. They are a nice addition to the otherwise largely touristy area around Kongens Nytorv. They have a clear focus on quality coffee and often have for example La Cabra available. They do however rotate the selection and usually have a few different hand brews to choose from. Execution is usually very good, have had a few that have been really great but always at least good. Espresso based is also reliable.

  
Service is usually polite but I would not call it friendly. It is also very meticulous and may be a bit slow at times. So while the execution is good, there may be a wait for your coffee and there is perhaps not much of an invitation to chat or talk with the staff. That said I still like it and while it feels more un-Danish (would be more Swedish or Finnish) to be a bit quiet they still do a good is job. There is also free wifi so while the place is small it is still possible to sit around for a while.

  
There are also some pastries and cafe style food so no need to go hungry. I would however perhaps still mainly come for the coffee. All in all a very good place for coffee in a city that despite some really good places suffer from a pretty poor average quality.

So how does rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Food: 3
Vs local competition: 5

Wineweek 30: Sword and Legos

It is finally Sunday again (or Monday as something went wrong with WordPress on Sunday), they day of the week I try to dedicate to resting (and some creative writing). One can see that vacations are closing in as everybody is extremely busy. I, as many others, like to have things done and out of the way in advance of the well deserved break. Stockholm has also started showing signs of summer: temperatures above 20 C and the migration of the Burger boat. Yes, the burger boat! It arrives when it is summer and it leaves when it feels like it. I have not had any burgers there yet, but I will, when I am on vacation (as it often shows up around lunch time to the marina close to where we live).

This week we made some interesting purchases. M (finally) received his birthday present, only a week late (thanks to crappy UPS, seriously do not understand how they can even survive as their service is horrible outside the US), the beautiful champagne saber from Georg Jensen. I really liked it’s clean design and I felt it was about time that M, married to a Finn, gets his own knife (all the Swedes joke about Finns carrying around knifes, don’t ask me why). I have sabered before, and it is not that hard, but it requires some practice. Let’s see how many lamps we have left in our living room after the first session. One thing is for sure, regardless of whether the sabering is done wrong or right, is that our floors will from now on be mopped with  champagne. We also purchased some nice Bodum Pavina double glass cups. The double glass shields the hands of the holder from extreme hot or cold, so these will be great for coffee, tea as well as beverages with ice.

There was also some extreme dining this week. Not that I am at all jealous, M traveled to Copenhagen (originally to meet our accountant and warehouse manager) to eat at Noma, one of the most known restaurants in the world. It sounded like a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience, however I am not sure what I would have thought about eating ants. Yes, one of the dishes contained ants. Supposedly they tasted like lemon.

We also did some nice dining last night at a new restaurant in Stockholm, Punk Royale. It was a weird and fun experience with some of the best seafood I have had all year. We played with Legos on the table and the staff went around rubbing the guests with a fox fur. The food was fun, quirky and amazingly tasty. There was a scent of burned butter in the air, perhaps due to the fact that almost all dishes had been prepared with a fair amount of it. We took also a drinks flight with the meal and it was very nice: diverse, with beer, snaps (vodka), wines and punsch (a Swedish arrack flavored alcoholic beverage). This was one of the best meals I have had all year and I cannot wait to go back again when the menu has changed.

Being wine merchants one would think that we drink our own wines all the time. Among all the sampling and curiosity for new things, that is seldom the case. So I was very happy on Friday to open a bottle of one of the best cavas we have in our selection, the Rimarts Chardonnay. It is a Gran Reserva from 100% Chardonnay grapes. This is not a variety indigenous to Penedes, but it is more and more used in the production of cava. The chardonnay gives the wine some of the toasty and nutty notes that are more often found in champagne, but you can still taste the limestone from the Sant Sadurni terroir. I love the combination.

So an eventful week with a lot of wine and great food (especially for M). Next week it is time for Midsummer, the celebration of the longest day of the year in the Nordic countries. Midsummer is often celebrated at the cabin (summer house) with great food (barbecue), wine and in Finland a great big bonfire (and in Sweden with dancing around the maypole/midsummer pole).  As we are not cabin-people we will be escaping to Iceland, where there is no Midsummer. There we will be celebrating with some great food and wine as well, just without the mosquitoes and out-of-control fires.

Coffee Bar Review: Mean Coffee, Stockholm

Mean coffee is a small coffee bar located across from the train station in Stockholm. A rather unlikely spot for a really good coffee place but here it nonetheless is located. He same spot used to house another great coffee bar (V Street) so seems to be something about these premises that are superb for good coffee. Style wise it somehow reminds more of a Southern European coffee bar but luckily they serve good coffee here as opposed to what one can expect in Italy, Spain or France.

The space is fairly small with three lower tables, two high tables and some chairs along the window. In summer time there are some seats outside but as it faces a heavily trafficked road it is not that nice to sit outside. Free wifi and very friendly and knowledgable staff makes this places a favorite of mine. The big minus is the lack of a toilet so not the place to lounge for long.

They serve a lot of excellent simple cafe style dishes (the hot sandwiches are exceptional) and great pastries. Breakfast is also good with an assortment of sandwiches as well as porridge, yogurt and juices and smoothies. The main thing here is however the coffee. There is a rotating selection of roasters offered for hand-brew coffee. There is usually something local such as Koppi, Drop Coffee, Johan&Nyström or Love Coffee as well as some international roasters (lately I have seen the Berlin’s the Barn, London’s Square Mile Coffee, and a variety of Nordic roasters such as Tim Wendelboe and Coffee Collective. Coffee quality is usually excellent and price level is pretty decent as well. The espresso based beverages are also superbly prepared here.

For me it is the top spot for quality coffee in Stockholm. Unfortunately it is only open on weekdays and frequently closed during summer and winter holidays so I do not come here as much as I would have wanted.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 5
Ambiance and service: 3.5 (loses out on the lack of toilet)
Food: 4
Vs local average: 5