Sometimes its not a coincidence why great wine bars stand out in a big city – there are usually a handful of very wine curious people who decide to open more than one place. We are drawn to a particular style of wine bar, M and I. We like small, cozy, bodega-style places with a well-selected list by the glass and some bar food. We don’t mind if its fancy bar food, but the service should be casual. In a big city like Amsterdam, we have been lucky to find our favorites, and I would like to share them with you. Its not a coincidence that t´both bars share the same owner. Continue reading “Two Great Wine Bars in Amsterdam”
This summer, I have become nerdy about architecture. Not that I know anything about it, but I have expanded from food and wine pictures to buildings (still in the category of things that don’t move). So for our summer road-trip, M planned a quick stop in Rotterdam, the cradle of experimental and brutalist architecture. And we had a blast. Not only did I enjoy running around with my camera (I was so distracted that I walked into a pole), M and our travel companion P, were pleased with the coffee and food offering. I can warmly recommend Rotterdam as a weekend destination. Continue reading “In the Cradle of Brutalist Architecture”
Finally its time to start unraveling our great food trip to Amsterdam, and I would like to start with the finest: Restaurant Choux. The word choux is French and it means cabbage. It gives a little hint on the theme, Choux is what one might call vegetable forward. There is meat on the menu, but it does not play the leading role. Choux also houses an awesome selection of nature wines. Continue reading “Amsterdams Finest – Restaurant Choux”
As some of you may have gathered I do have to spend some time in the Netherlands due to work now and then. When I started coming to Amsterdam the coffee scene was not really much to talk about and then when it started the quality was not really there. For me the place that made all that change was Scandinavian Embassy. It took me some time to make my way there as it is not really close to the areas I go for work (and it is not smack in the center but not too far off Albert Cuyp Market by the calm Sarphati park). The area is lovely so can understand why they set up shop here. When I entered I was promptly met by a cute little dog, one of the owners (Rikard) has a tiny little dog that will happily stare at you in an attempt to get some food from you.
The second thing I noticed was a familiar face behind the counter. Nicolas who used to work at one of my local favorites cafes in Stockholm (Drop Coffee) was now one of the people running this place. I then immediately knew I was in good hands when it comes to coffee. Nicolas is one of the top baristas in the world so I fully trusted him to make me a decent cup. When I was there the first time they had a wide selection of coffees from some of my favorite Scandinavian roasters like Danish Coffee Collective, Norwegian Tim Wendelboe and Swedish Drop Coffee. I sampled several of the Kenyans and they were awesome! On subsequent visits they kept to the Scandinavian roaster and always served impeccable coffee. The coffee is also most often paired with the food they serve.
Food wise there is also a clear Scandinavian touch to the menu and a lot of the things sounded great. I have tried some of the pastries as well as the food (among other things the wild boar sausage as well as poached eggs). In general high quality food, made with carefully sourced and selected ingredients. The food is better than what you will have in most restaurants and I just love sitting at the bar looking at them prepare it. The ambitions are high and yet the prices stay reasonable.
The design is also clearly inspired by Scandinavia. For me, it looks really great and of course familiar, so not sure how the locals like it. The seats are perhaps not the most comfortable but I still like to hang out here. The tables in the back are more nice to sit for a long time at. There is free wifi as well so fine for doing some work. The staff are really friendly and happy to chat about coffee, food and stuff.
So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4.5
Ambiance and service: 4
Vs local competition: 5
The coffee Monday this week goes back to Amsterdam. When people talk about Amsterdam and coffee in the same sentence it has historically been more the coffee shops where there is more smoking than coffee drinking go on. The specialty coffee scene in Amsterdam is however really taking off and in the past couple of years a variety of new places have popped up. One of my recent discoveries is White Label Coffee in the western part of Amsterdam. I first encountered their coffee at Kokko in Helsinki and then decided to make sure to have time to visit.
They have a rather spacious café where they roast coffee, sell beans and some equipment as well as of course serve the coffee. They have a wide range of coffee for sale and upon my visit they had an impressive seven different coffees available to order as hand-brewed filters. The guys working here really know how to make their coffee, very nicely prepared. The roasting is also very good and I was impressed by filter as well as cold brew. For me they are among the top coffee places in town and for me they are currently only beaten by Scandinavian Embassy but I do believe the fact that these guys roast their own coffee is something that may in the long run make them number one.
There is some simple café food on offer and nice apple pie and other pastries but I would still not say that it is the place to come for a full meal. What they have is however nice and decently priced. I like the atmosphere of the place and the people working there are very friendly so it is a nice place to hang at. It is fairly spacious and has free wifi so it is also possible to hang around for a longer period of time.
So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 4.5
Vs local competition: 4.5
These days I seldom find much of interest at airport duty free shops but occasionally there are some real bargains to be made so if I have the time I often at least browse what they have. I stumbled across the Mumm de Cramant Blanc de Blancs at Schiphol airport where it was sold for around €45 which to me is a really great value for money.
Mumm is one of the old champagne houses. It was officially founded in 1827 but already in 1761 the family produced wine in Cologne under the name P.A. Mumm after its owner Peter Arnold Mumm. The family also had ownership of vineyards in the Rhine valley and as they were business minded they also realized that there was a great business opportunity in the excellent sparkling wines produced in the champagne region. They then decided to establish a branch of the company in Reims in 1827. The focus was decided to be on quality with the motto of Georges Hermann Mumm “Only the best”.
Mumm’s own vineyards cover an area of nearly 218 hectares and they are Pinot Noir heavy (78% is Pinot Noir). The Pinot Noir is mainly in and around Montagne de Reims with the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant and Avize. They do however also have vineyards dedicated to Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs and in the Vallée de la Marne Pinot Meunier prevails.
The prevalence of Pinot Noir makes the Mumm de Cramant sort of an oddity being 100% Chardonnay. Historically it was only made for friends of the family and was sent with a folded business card. This history can still be seen in the label that has integrated the folded part in the top right of the label and an old style bottle. The wine is made from a single Grand Cru vineyard that Mumm acquired in 1882. This champagne is actually only aged for two years on the lees. The idea is to preserve the fresh, citrus flavors of the Cramant Chardonnay, before disgorgement and not to give too much away but it works. This cuvée is bottled under lower pressure than normal (4.5 atmospheres of pressure vs the normal 6) and this creates a more delicate wine with tiny bubbles that sort of melt in the mouth.
The color is pale yellow and it has a wonderful aroma of brioche, lemon, fresh fruit and white flowers. The palate is creamy with fine texture and a pleasant acidity. The aromas present in the nose are also present in the flavor but there are also hints of almond, ginger and pleasant mineral note to it. A really excellent Blanc de blancs and to me by far the best that I have sampled from Mumm. Actually I have not been that impressed by what Mumm has produced in Champagne, I have even preferred Mumm Napa above the champagnes but this really changes all that.
For me it deserves a 4.5 in quality rating and when I bought it at €45 it deserves a 5 in value for money. That is perhaps not entirely fair as it was a sale on and normal price would between €70-90 (in Sweden it would cost 799 SEK approximately €85-90) and at that price the value for money rating would more be like 4. I am however glad I managed to pick up two bottles and will have a look next time I pass through Schiphol.