Grand Champagne Vol.1

When thinking about what to write about Grand Champagne, I really had a hard time keeping it short. There is just so much to share. So I decided to split the story in two, starting with the press event and professionals tasting on Friday morning. The second post will focus on the consumer event as well as Master classes. Continue reading “Grand Champagne Vol.1”

To the Moon and Back – Saturday at Restaurant Kuu

When I was a kid growing up in Helsinki, going out to restaurants was something of a special occasion. There was nothing very innovative at that time. Or maybe there was, but most of the places I remember (stood outside the window drooling in) were finer with white table cloths, smooth lighting and nicely dressed staff. Food was traditional: pepper steak or salmon fillet with creamy mashed potatoes and some cooked greens. Kuu (the Moon in finnish) is one of these places. A finer neighborhood restaurant focusing on traditional Nordic dishes and produce. Its still there in the same corner I remember. Last week, my childhood friend and sommelier, Iisa, invited me to visit, as she was working there for the night.

Kuu is not the place to go to experience new, innovative or cutting-edge cuisine but they do offer very well prepared food. Looking at other reviews, the food seems to continuosuly get praise for being perfectly prepared. Service is also very nice and flexible. For example, M didn’t find anything on the menu that he liked among the starters, so they very nicely offered to make the beetroot and blue cheese risotto from the mains into a starter sized dish. I opted for the goat cheese salad with almond vinegarette. We were almost equally pleased with the food but I would say that the risotto probably was a bit sharper. From the mains we enjoyed the lovely reindeer as well as the garlicky lamb. Both dishes perfectly executed. Actually we were too full for dessert but still managed to share the vanilla ice cream with berries – simple but good.

The classic: goats cheese salad with almond vinegarette
The classic: goats cheese salad with almond vinegarette
Rudolf, perfectly done
Rudolf, perfectly done
The simple, but delicious dessert. How is there enough to share for two?
The simple, but delicious dessert. How is there enough to share for two?

And now for the part that interests most of the follower of this blog, the wines. We started the meal with a glass of Pierre Gimonnet 2006 Cuvée Fleuron. I really like the toasty style of the house, and I must say their newer vintages have been very drinkable already now. I have previously sampled the 2008 and that also seems to be peaking early. Staff  impressed with fantastic wine pairings. Ok, I am complementing a friend, but so what, she is a great sommelier. I had some Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) with my goats cheese salad and M went completely rogue by going for a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Jura. If you ask M, he is a bit of an ABC-person (Antyhign But Chardonnay), but the wine and the pairing with the beetroot risotto was excellent. We are starting to think that his complicated relationship with Chardonnay is due to drinking only poor Chardonnay in the past. I think he was already googling where to find a bottle in Sweden. With the mains we tried out a Rioja and a new (for us) interesting grape variety from Italy, Magliocco. As with the starters, the pairings were excellent. The wine list by the glass is not huge but carefully selected, so I suggest to check how the kitchen has thought about the matching.

Our light aperitiff: Perre Gimonnet 2006
Our light aperitiff: Perre Gimonnet 2006
The whites: Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre and Chardonnay from Jura.
The whites: Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre and Chardonnay from Jura.

All in all a great place and what fun to take a stroll down memory lane. There is a good reason Kuu is older than I am and I find it great that they continue true to their roots. What I may say is that to be a neighborhood restaurant it may be a bit on the pricey side to come every week, but for the quality its worth the small investment.

Wineweek 20: Easter greetings from Helsinki

It is Sunday again! But as with many other weeks, this Sunday is not the end of the holiday. A Sunday that does not feel like a Sunday – that’s great! We have been spending a long weekend in Helsinki, the city where I lived the first 30 years of my life. We had a wonderful agenda with meetings with old friends and of course wine, but that had to unfortunately be reorganized as we caught the bug just one day after landing. Before one might have risked it and just soldiered through with the flu, but now with many of my friends having small kids, we did not want anyone to have to share our misfortune. We did feel much better after a few days, so it was wining and dining for just the two of us, myself and M (and of course coffee)

The Helsinki cathedral
The Helsinki cathedral
Easter flowers
Easter flowers
Johan & Nyström concept store in Helsinki
Johan & Nyström concept store in Helsinki

I was not as well prepared as I usually am with reservations (as we were not supposed to have time to go out), but it seemed that people were out of town, so we got lucky and were able to visit some new cool places. We had dinner at Soil Wine Bar, a new wine bar and tapas restaurant on Fredrikinkatu. I met up with an old friend at Bronda for a glass of bubbly, and me and M also tried out the wine selection (and food) at Sinne Helsinki and VinVin on Saturday night. A pretty good round for such a short time, and I think I have found a few new favorites that we will for sure visit again on coming trips. Two of the places, Sinne and VinVin place clearly in my top-three wine bars in Helsinki, Soil Wine Room coming only a few steps behind (perhaps only due to the cramped space, the wine selection was really nice). Bronda does not place amongst the best places for wine, but it is a cool restaurant and I appreciate that they had something by the glass for the winecurious, not only main stream boring Champagne (Billecart-Salmon) and Prosecco (I didn’t even look). However, the glass of Clement Perseval Champagne had a high price tag (21€), so that is one of the reasons I would recommend to get your bubbly somewhere else. All good places that I would recommend trying out (I will review them all separately in future posts).

Glasses of bubbly at Vinvin
Glasses of bubbly at Vinvin
The garden room at Sinne Helsinki
The garden room at Sinne Helsinki
Soil WIne Room
Soil WIne Room

Tonight we are also sampling something special, a Quinta do Escudial Red (2009) that we brought back from our trip to Portugal a month ago. M wrote a long post about his visit with the producer (here), so I will not get into that. However, I can say that the wine is excellent! A light mix of Touriga National, Alfrocheiro, Jaeb and Tinta Roriz. No oak has been used in the ageing of the wine, however or perhaps thanks to, it still has character and a nice long finish. This wine would go great with some barbecue, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. We are very impressed by the producer and hope to be working with them in the future.

So that was it for the wineweek. The coming week we will be at home, finishing off the orders for our April window and sampling some more good wine. We might even pop into Matkonsulatet for a bite one evening. Now that I am looking back at the past week with some unexpected (and unwanted) days of taking it slow, we were still able to make the best of it and it was not such a bad wineweek after all.