Wineweek 88: Summer in the City

It is the peak of the summer here in Stockholm. Sun has been shining almost all week and traffic is slow. Perfect. There have just been two things hindering us from sitting outside and enjoying a lot of wine: the flu (of course it comes when you relax a bit) and a curse called Pokemon Go. M has become obsessed with it, and of course spread the addiction to me as well. It is so funny to observe how other people are so hung on it as well. I notice many adults like us walking completely transfixed, heads bent over their phones, hunting for Pokemon. There were also a huge number of people (adults) sitting at a kids playground fiddling with their mobiles because there was a Pokestop there. I suspect many of them did not have their child with them. If you don’t understand what I am talking about, good! You are lucky. Do not download the game.  Continue reading “Wineweek 88: Summer in the City”

Riding the Izakaya Wave with Jason Atherton – Sosharu London

Jason Atherton is opening new restaurants at a rate not seen since Gordon Ramsey had his rapid expansion phase. And note, I have always been impressed with the consistently high quality. But after a recent disappointing re-visit to his Singapore restaurant Esquina I was not sure what to expect from his new upscale izakaya in Londons Farringdon. We visited a few weeks ago during our short spring break in London.

Sosharu has jumped on the izakaya trend, and as most of the places in Europe, it has missed the point and idea of an izakaya.  The common missunderstanding seems to be that an izakaya is fine dinign or at least a nice Japanese”bistro”. It is rather the opposite, a shady and smoky bar with some simple food (like yakitori and ramen), that one crawls to after a drunken evening at a bar before heading home. As most new European izakayas, Sosharu is made much fancier than an izakaya usually is in Japan. My initial annoyance has however started to subside, so I can sort of forgive Sosharu for this sin. And I must say, it does seem that Jason at least has some idea of what kind of food an izakaya should have, as beneath the fancy outer layer, there is a simple and delicious menu. If it werent for the price tag and difficulty to get reservations, I could definitely chow down some of that tempura as bar food.

The ambience aims to be an upper mid-range cool bar and restaurant and in that they succeed really well. The space is cool and inciting, and you can see some into the kitchen. They offer a nice selection of cocktails and wines. I love the house champagne, Les Murgiers, which comes from Francis Boulard. The beer selection could however easily be expanded. I am much more fond of having a fresh malty drink with my asian dishes rather than wine. The beers that were on the list however were nicely selected.

The main attraction here is the food. It is a mix of small dishes and some bigger bowls and I strongly recommend sharing. All the food we had was really good but the standout dishes were in general the tempura and the different grilled meats. I was also really happy about the bacon wrapped cherry tomatoes (I think I love everything with bacon). The rice bowls were also really good but required some waiting time, so I would make sure to top up with some starters.

Service was friendly and a despite some waits for drinks I would still say they got the basics right. Would happily visit again.

xx Soile

Wineweek 37: The last days of July in Stockholm

Summer in the Nordics is always short. This year it is even shorter. The weather has not been great for me all July. Wherever I have traveled, plus 15 (C) and rain has followed. Or at least that is how it feels to me. I am actually looking forward to the fall, as then I know at least that Cavatast is coming (2.-4.10).

Regardless of the rain, it has been a productive week. I have been working on my “secret” project, which I can now reveal to you is a travel guide to Stockholm. Now that I have enough content ready, I dare to go public about it. So to all you Finns (as the guide will be in Finnish) out there, the Tripsteri Stockholm guide will open later in August, unless I run into some serious technical difficulties. My linguistic targets have already been reached. I must confess, I was very nervous about writing in Finnish, but as this blog, the text started coming out after a while.  This is something completely new to me, so be gentle (but honest) with the feedback.

I also found a wonderful new wine bar this week in Stockholm. This is all thanks to my friend Agnes at Yelp, who arranged a social night for all those interested about wine (or just afterwork). Nofo Wine Bar is located in Södermalm and is in connection with the Nofo Hotel. It is a friendly place with a comfortable bar and a courtyard where one can sip wine and eat charcuterie. I will review the place in coming posts, but I must already say their champagne list made an impression. It was short (three different champagnes) but the bottles were all from great producers, like Larmandier-Bernier, Francis Boulard and Olivier Horiot. Boulard and Horiot are some of my favorite grower producers and a place that offers them cannot be bad. No way. The only downside was that none of these were offered by the glass, so I need to go back the coming week with a group (or by myself).

Talking about champagne, we opened (me and M) a bottle of Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve on Saturday and concluded that we have a clear winner for the years value for money champagne. It tasted of mature yellow apples, brioche and fresh citrus. What a wonderful wine and you can order it for just 300 SEK/bottle (if it would not be sold out at the moment) from Gaston. I will for sure be getting some more of these babies when they come back into stock. We also tried a red wine, Selecta, from Almeida Garret, a Portuguese producer we are considering adding to our collection.  We have really been impressed by the quality of their wines, even though they are fairly new in the trade (think of what they can achieve with some experience). The Selecta was not necessarily one of my favorites, but I suspect it is due to just not being my style. The taste profile would complement our selection very nicely, so we will keep it in mind. Even though we have been very keen on having solely wines that we like ourselves, it is perhaps not in the long term the best road. We have quite specific tastes.

That was it for this wine week. Enjoy the pictures! I will now retire on the sofa with a box of ice cream and a brainless TV-series to finish of the Sunday with style.

My office for the week, Coffice in Södermalm
My office for the week, Coffice in Södermalm
Stockholm Pride did not wear off even with masses of rain
Stockholm Pride did not wear off even with masses of rain
New wine bar in town
New wine bar in town, Nofo
I wouldn't mind this kind of decorations in my own office
I wouldn’t mind this kind of decorations in my own office
Almeida Garret Selecta Red, a candidate for our selection
Almeida Garret Selecta Red, a candidate for our selection
New Mochi ice creams in the supermarket. They look good, but are they?
New Mochi ice creams in the supermarket. They look good, but are they?
Perhaps one of the best value for money champagnes ever, Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve
Perhaps one of the best value for money champagnes ever, Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve

Wine Shopping in Reims – Les Caves du Forum

I love wine shopping! These days, I can go on for days just touring wine boutiques and lugging around bottles in a backpack. Or usually it is M who does most of the heavy lifting, but I am there for moral support. As this is an activity we enjoy, we made some time, while in Reims last week, to go around browsing in a few boutiques. Our agenda was to find some nice souvenirs for taking home that could not be bought in Sweden, and also finding a wedding present for a couple who is getting married this Friday. Reims can be quite touristy when it comes to wine, but we got some nice tips from the staff at G.H. Mumm and found a place that well suited our consumption needs.

Les Caves du Forum is a large shop in an underground cellar next to the Reims Center (10 Rue Courmeaux). You need to first enter an inner yard before you see the entrance, but after that it is quite obvious, the red blinking arrow gives the location away. The wine shop is a few sets of stairs down in a cool cellar. The temperature and humidity are almost optimal for storing wines and the space gets no sunlight. Browsing around you can see that some of the bottles have been there for a while, judging from the amount of dust they have gathered. It is like a cave of treasures awaiting for the winecurious to rummage around.

The entrance
The entrance

Stairway to heaven
Stairway to heaven

Bottles gathering dust
Bottles gathering dust
Regardless of a great selection of French and other red and white wines, we headed directly towards the section for sparkling wines. We were in Reims and there to source champagne, so that was what we were there for. And my oh my, what a treat! The champagne room, located another set of stairs down from the main floor was big and plentiful. The big brands were of course represented, but the selection consisted mostly of small producers and grower champagnes. I am not sure, but I don’t think I saw one bottle of non vintage Möet or Veuev Cliquot on the shelves. Instead I saw names like Eric Rodez, Savart, Laherte & Fills, Marie-Noelle Ledru etc. Many of these producers we had just met at Terres & Vins de Champagne a few blocks away. It was truly an inspiring view.

The champagne room
The champagne room

Prices were marked on top of each bottle
SOme vintages – prices were marked on top of each bottle

Laherte & Fills and other treasures
Laherte & Fills and other treasures

In the champagne chamber
In the champagne chamber
We could have gone crazy in this store. I am sure it would have been no problem to find 20 or 30 bottles that we would have wanted  to bring home. However, that was not really an option. So we settled for a bottle of Savart and Francis Boulard and made our way to the cashier. We did not see that many vintages on the shelves, so the wedding present would have to be found somewhere else. But all in all a wonderful selection of grower champagnes for very affordable prices.

All in all a wonderful shop. I was not only impressed by the selection but also the conditions the wines where kept in. We did not have that much time to browse through the white and red wines, but we did see some interesting stuff peeking out from amongst the shelves. For example, the section for non-traditional wine countries, while small, featured not only Canada but also Slovakia and Palestine; this is really a shop to feed ones curiosity. The strength when it comes to reds and whites did however, understandably, appear to be to domestic French wines. So if in Reims and in the mood for some shopping, Les Caves du Forum is the place to go.