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 78: A Touch of Summer

The weather is amazing. Plus 25 celsius and no clouds in the sky. This is how Sweden is in July. Of course we know it will not last. This kind of warmth in May is just a tease. The temperatures will for sure drop back to +10 and there will be rain. Lots of rain. Nevertheless we have enjoyed the great weather by walking around, taking some photos and drinking cava. Lots of cava. We still have quite a stock left over from our previous visits to Cavatast, so wed better make an effort to empty it.  Continue reading “Wineweek 78: A Touch of Summer”

The Best Wine Bars in Stockholm

It is almost 1am in the morning when I am writing this post. I have just arrived at my hotel in Poland, unpacked and answered the most urgent emails. I was actually considering going to sleep (as I should), but then thought I cannot leave the blog empty until Friday. Without putting major effort into the writing, this is my olive branch to you: a comprehensive list of the best places for wine in Stockholm. I really gave some thought to this list that I made for my travel site, Tripsteri. So it is definitely not a quick fix. It is THE list you should consider when coming to Stockholm for wineventures!

Enjoy!

19 Glas: Stora Nygatan 19
AG: Kronobergsgatan 37
Bar Nombre: Odengatan 36
The Burgundy: Yxsmedsgränd 12
Corvina Enoteka: Kornhamnstorg 47
Cultur: Österlånggatan 34
Eriks Vinbar: Stadsgården 6
Garage del Gusto: Västmannagatan 54
Gaston: Mälartorget 15 ja tavaratalo NK, 4. kerros
The Green Queen: Norr Mälarstrand 64
Hornstulls Bodega: Hornsbruksgatan 24
HTL Lounge (Cava-baari): Kungsgatan 53
Monks Wine Room: Lilla Nygatan 2
Naturligtvis: Kommendörsgatan 23,
NOFO Vinbar: Tjärhovsgatan 11
Vin Valvet: Södermalmstorg 8
Wijnjas Ost & Vinkällare: Scheelegatan 3
Xarcuteria: Hantverkargatan 40

xx Soile

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Gaston in Gamla Stan
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Corvina Enoteca
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Corvina Enoteca
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Cava served from low glasses at Monks Wine Room (big dislike)
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Visiting 19 Glas in Gamla Stan
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Hornstulls Bodega
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Hornstulls Bodega

Wineweek 75: Exploring Gamla Stan

This week, things have been moving forwards. We have finally contracted with our new warehouse, ordered all of our summer wines, and organized transport. In a week, the new warehouse in Copenhagen should be bulging with wonderful wine. I can’t wait! What is a bit special about these orders is, that we have started taking in much more small batches. The aim has been not only to increase the selection, but also have some more high end stuff to sell via the monopoly. The papers for selling at the monopoly are still lying on the table, but the intention of sending them in is (ahem) high. Continue reading “Wineweek 75: Exploring Gamla Stan”

Wineweek 74: Portugal on my Mind

The week has been exhausting. Not that I have been doing any heavy lifting. However, I have had to concentrate 24/7 on work. All good stuff, but just too much at the same time. Or wait a minute. Perhaps I can call that heavy lifting after all. Having to use your brain at such a high capacity can feel like you have a backpack filled with rocks on your shoulders. So when Friday came, I was feeling relieved. That first glass of bubbly Friday evening tasted better than ever. I am not a comfort drinker, but this time a glass of wine was just what I needed to relieve the stress. I also received a guest from Finland, so the rest of the weekend was all set t be awesome.  Continue reading “Wineweek 74: Portugal on my Mind”

Planning for the Big Apple

New York, New York! I am counting the days. You know, we got married there. It was just us and an officiant in Central Park. So the Big Apple will always have a place in my heart. But my marriage is not the topic of the post. It is the wine planning I we are doing for the trip. And I would really appreciate to get some help from you. Continue reading “Planning for the Big Apple”

The Best in Bangkok

It has taken four days to get rid of the Jetlag. I have been up at 5am every day and falling over by 9pm. Finally it seems that my body has adjusted and I slept until eight this morning. Starting a new job hasn’t helped, so it is completely natural that any posting has been postponed to the weekend. The first post I want to do and the place I want to reminisce is the Wine Pub – the salvation of any winecurious spending time in Bangkok. It is by far the best wine bar in town.

The bar is located at the Pullman King Power, close to the Victory Monument. The hotel as such is not that nice, and the huge King Power tax free makes the location slightly unpleasant. Too many buses and tourists loitering around next to the hotel. This would not be the block to come hang around at due to its charm. The ambiance of the bar is quite generic. The looks are no different from a normal hotel bar. It is the content of the wine list which makes the Wine Pub worth a visit. 48 different wines by the glass would tickle my fancy anytime, anywhere.

The list by the glass in divided into four sections: House Wines, Suggestions du Sommelier, Premium Wines and Grand Crus. Prices started at around five euros per glass up to 50. The Premium and Grand Cry wines could also be ordered in smaller sizes: three (3) and six (6) cl. This is a feature I always appreciate as it gives the opportunity to taste more expensive wines for a reasonable price. The wines were held in one of those air tight vending machines, so they were preserved nice and air tight. And the sommelier checked each bottle before serving. As they should do.

The list is nice and mixed with wines from France, Australia, NZ, Chile and South Africa. The Premium wines also have some old world vintages from Italy. France, as you can imagine, was most heavily represented. The list also features four bubblies by the glass: two Proseccos and two Champagnes. To my disappointment, the champagnes were quite boring (and I would not touch the Proseccos).

We tried altogether five wines: La Chapelle Viognier (Fr), Pegasus Sauvignon Black (NZ), Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc (NZ), Poiully Fuisse 2006 (Fr) and Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris 2004 (Fr). All whites due to the hot weather. All were actually really good for the price on the menu. How rare! The poiully Fuisse and Clos Windsbuhl were from the premium selection, so we took only 3cl tasters. That was definitely enough as they were quite intense, but delicious.

Service was also good. However I think there is a bit of a language barrier when the bartenders are local. Not that they don’t know their stuff, but some things that we asked about they just did not understand in the context we meant it. For example, we asked how often they rotate the wine list and they understood it how often do we open a new bottle (for wines by the glass). Not that far but still a completely different thing.

All in all I was really happy to find the Wine Pub. Regardless of its lame name and chain restaurant looks, it is by any standards a really great wine bar to visit.

xx Soile

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Vivant: Great foodie wine bar in Paris with a Swedish touch

Our recent trip to Paris, not surprisingly, entailed a lot of nice food and wine. We have already reviewed the excellent Frenchies Bar a Vin but we did also visit other places. On the day we arrived we wanted something close by the hotel so opted for Vivant Cave for dinner. It is a very narrow small space where the bar takes up a large part of the entire premises and behind it the chefs are working on creating the nice small or mid-sized plates. There is seating all along the bar as well as at a few tables that have been crammed in at strategic places. There are also several wine fridges lining the wall opposite the bar.

The restaurant used to be owned by Pierre Jancou but he has now moved on to new projects. I had not read up on the new chef before but being seated at the bar and having the chef take the orders for us I right away heard the unmistakable Swedish accent. The new chef is indeed Swedish, Svante Forstorp , but while relatively new at Vivant Cave he has plenty of experience from before for example from Aux Deux Amis. He makes some lovely small dishes behind the counter, the limited space does not seem to bother him at all. Not only is the food very good, it is also great to watch him at work. I am of course a bit of a sucker for the open kitchen but I am a firm believer that it keeps restaurants honest.

We opted for a selection of different dishes but among the highlights were the asparagus, the spicy pasta (chili and fresh lemon) as well as the smoked foie gras with cabbage. The place is known to have a good selection of, in Paris so trendy, natural wine and we were rather pleased with the wine recommendations. We tried an lovely Brut Nature champagne from Ruppert-Leroy  as well as an excellent Austrian sparkling from Strohmeier as well as some nice reds – the reds were very different, one extremely light while the other was much darker and fuller. I think the picture gives a pretty interesting comparison.

Service was in general very attentive and the staff were happy to explain the all-French menu to us. I also very much liked the pleasant atmosphere here, staff were relaxed and that made guests relaxed as well. We ended up chatting with people seated next to us at the bar and it did really seem very popular with foreigners visiting (we had Danes, Brits and Americans around us).The price level was rather decent as well, not exactly cheap but definitely value for money. Will be on my list for places to return to if in the area.

Wonderful food and wine at Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris

Frenchie Bar à Vins is the more casual ‘cousin’ of the more upscale Frenchie Restaurant across the street. The bar has a no reservations policy and it is rumored to be crazy busy all the time. We therefore headed there not at all sure to score a seat. However, arriving around 10 minutes before opening time there was a not too long of a queue outside so we happily stood there and were seated at 7pm. The waiter later explained that they just recently started staying open in Saturday and Sunday so not that many know about it yet. So we were just lucky.

The bar has a very relaxed atmosphere and it does to some extent remind me a bit of José in London. However, Frenchie is a bit more of a proper sit down meal as there are quite a few high tables, with chairs, so not that many people standing around.

The food is all made to share and it is some sort of mid-sized or larger tapas dishes so a great way to sample many things. It is clear that they have a lot of international guests as well as the menu is also available in English and the staff speaks English. The wine list is interesting: a lot of French wine as can be expected but also some well picked international ones mixed in there. The selection by the glass is also pretty good with 6 reds, 6 whites, 2 sparkling, 1 rosé and 1 sweet (as well as some beers).

Surprise, surprise we started off by sampling the sparkling wine. The champagne from Pierre Gerbais was very much what I would have expected and that was not bad at all. The Crémant de Limoux (Domaine Les Hautes Terres, Joséphine) was however not all what I would have expected. The nose of it was not that appealing but when tasting it I was really pleasantly surprised. It had a very elegant mineral taste and it just paired perfectly with our first dish, the terrine. Before going more into the food we also sampled some of the other wines, a pleasant Pinot Noir as well as red from Languedoc. Neither of these were bad but also not extremely memorable.

The food was really something extraordinary here, the start was a terrine and after that we had a very fresh ricotta tortellini with a pea sauce. Greta refreshing dish that really made me want more. That was followed by a ragu of tender lamb with pappardelle, the flavors were perfectly matched and the meat so tender that it just melted away in my mouth. At this point I was really starting to build up expectations for the dishes to come and when the chicken with asparagus and mushrooms came in I was amazed that it was also so great, this actually competes for the best chicken dish ever but after considering it both S and I still hold the chicken we had at Hedone in London as one small step above. Still it was a wonderful dish. We were now actually already full but we could not say no to a dessert (we did skip the cheese, but they do have some nice British cheese from Neal’s Yard) and went for a fresh coconut dessert with chocolate surrounding coconut and a creamy crust on top. After all that food we were full and very happy.

The service was very friendly and they could make good recommendations for the wines and it was possible to have some proper discussion about the wines and the staff actually all appeared to be knowledgeable about the wines on offer. The only drawback was that the service was a bit slow, I am however not sure if it was too slow. The dishes did not come quickly but I also believe that it is nice to have some time between dishes, and here I believe they were just within the limit of what is acceptable (I did however see some people waiting longer than us, and 30 minutes between dishes is too long when there are at least 4-6 dishes).

All in all I was however very pleased with the quality of food, prices were reasonable, the mostly organic wine selection was also great so this is without doubt one of the top places, on my list, for food and wine in Paris. It also seems very good to head there on Saturday or Sunday as it is not yet that well-known that they are actually open then as well.

Wine review: Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2013

I will not repeat the story on Kloof Street and Mullineux as I have written more about it in a previous review of the Kloof Street Swartland Rouge, read it here. What can be said about this Chenin Blanc is that it is not your run of the mill entry level wine. The vines used for this are over 40 years old so this is actually really interesting wine for this price level.

The Kloof Street Chenin Blanc is reminiscent of a Loire Chenin Blanc, or at least that was part of how it was described to me by the knowledgeable sommelier at Monvinic where I sampled it, and I can see what they mean. It is pale straw yellow in color but the nose was a bit strange to me, it had notes of ripe pear and apricot but also a bit of wet granite. There was however a scent that somehow was a bit stale about it, and at first I thought something was off about the wine. With some air it did however disappear but I was almost on the verge of checking with the sommelier if it corked. The wine is fresh and clean on the palate with dry pineapple and mineral but combined with a nice creaminess.

Despite my initial hesitation the wine won me over when it had some air. It rates as a 3.5 for quality and price wise it will set you back between €13-17 and that is decent value for money so also there a 3.5 rating. Pleasant, drinkable and would consider having it again.