18 December 2012

2012: My Ten Dishes of the Year

Another year draws to a close and yet again I'm left wondering where all the time has gone (probably spent in restaurants judging by this post I'm sure you're thinking). Anyway, I thought I'd continue my tradition of looking back at the most memorable restaurant dishes I had over the year. I've been really lucky enough to have indulged in some epic meals this year, the highlights of which have undoubtedly been experiencing the truly magical Fäviken for the first time, a return to Noma and The Ledbury, and of course Oslo's sublime Maaemo.

So, in reverse order here is a list of the ten best things I ate in a restaurant in 2012:

12 December 2012

Fäviken Magasinet, Järpen – Restaurant Review

A late afternoon in November, somewhere in Sweden, and already the inky black swathe of sky seems to envelop the rental car tightly. Two narrow yellow beams from the headlights carve out our path through the gloom over the treacherously icy roads of this mountain plateau. It's captivating, hypnotic even; the dull rumble of tyre over ice, the ghostly soft glow from the dashboard, the car seemingly piloting itself. You see, a trip to Fäviken doesn't seem so much of a journey as a pilgrimage. For what else could a jaunt to eat at a restaurant just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle be? And, like all the best experiences in life, I never saw this one coming.

11 December 2012

Von Porat, Oslo – Restaurant Review [Now Closed]

Typical, isn't it? You wait ages in the freezing cold for a bus and then two come along at once. And so seems to be the case for the Oslo food scene. Restaurant von Porat and Oslo's shiny new food hall, Mathallen, where it is located are two such examples. Already, in the two short months the restaurant has been open I can see it (and the food hall) becoming an established favourite for the capital's food lovers.

20 November 2012

Noma, Copenhagen (revisited) – Restaurant Review

Just over two years ago I had a culinary epiphany. The event that led to this was dinner at Noma. It took me a while to process my thoughts on my meal there, but on that July night as I walked away from the old warehouse in Copenhagen's Christianshavn, I had this strange lightness of step and giddy excitement, like some spotty teenager with a newfound crush. But this wasn't to be a holiday fling, I promised myself, it was the real deal, we'd keep in touch. I vowed to come back.

So much for good intentions for it would be over two years until I returned. Courtesy of a kind invitation from Arve at Starve – "would you like to eat at Noma with us?" he asked; a question that could only possibly have one answer – I found myself standing outside that same mottled stone building looking out over the cold waters of the canal. A little flutter of butterflies in my stomach betrayed my concern. Would it be just as good as I remembered? Or was that meal one of those rare moments where the right stars aligned at the right time to create something utterly magical, never to be repeated. What if it was just a fling? How had time changed my Noma experience?

13 September 2012

Food Studio x Maaemo x Tim Wendelboe

The river flows in the rear of the towns, and we see all things from a new and wilder side. 
The fields and gardens come down to it with a frankness, and freedom from pretension, which they do not wear on the highway.” 
― Henry David Thoreau
There's the whisper of a chill in the Oslo air these days. The nights are drawing in and the leaves on the trees are just starting to give up their chlorophyll green. Autumn's here, and with it will soon come the bracing cold and frost. It's not quite here yet, but you know it's in the post, that's for sure. So I thought I'd take a fond look back at a unique event, held when the nights were longer and the air was warmer and long lazy dinners under the sky were the order of the day. For on that July night, in the middle of urban Oslo, a small secluded spot on the banks of Oslo's meandering Akerselva river played host to a very special evening indeed.

28 August 2012

Sushi Tetsu, London – Restaurant Review

I could save you some time and just say that if you're after the best sushi experience in London then go to Sushi Tetsu and be done with it. But where would be the fun in that? This tiny restaurant in an obscure Clerkenwell alleyway is serving up some of the most authentic sushi I've had outside of Japan.

Sushi Tetsu quietly opened in June 2012 and is the creation of Toru Takahashi and his wife Harumi. In just a couple of short months the restaurant has received near reverent praise from many quarters. Such is the minuscule size of Sushi Tetsu (just seven stools surround its blonde wooden counter) that many dare not even speak its name for fear that the restaurant will be fully booked in perpetuity. But it would be a shame to keep such a wonderful place a closely guarded secret. If you love the precision, theatre and ritual of authentic Japanese sushi then a pilgrimage to Sushi Tetsu is a must.

24 July 2012

Viajante, London – Restaurant Review

I was recently in London to embark on what can only be described as an epic week of eating. Over five days my fellow travelling companions and I ate at eight different restaurants with eight Michelin stars between them (reviews to follow, eventually). The damage to my waistline (and wallet) notwithstanding, it was a fantastic and truly memorable trip and confirmed to me just how exciting the food scene in London is right now. One of the highlights of the trip has to have been a monumentally good lunch at Viajante.

25 June 2012

Maaemo, Oslo – Restaurant Review (Jun '12)

(More recent reviews of Maaemo can be found here and here)
That's right folks, this is a look at another meal at Oslo's magnificent Maaemo. I've already written plenty about this restaurant so I'll try and keep this one fairly brief and let the photos do most of the talking. If you want to know more about this ground-breaking two Michelin-starred restaurant that uses only organic/bio-dynamic produce, then pour yourself a glass or three of something nice and read my previous reviews from Feb '11, May '11, Aug '11, Oct '11, Mar '12, and Apr '12.

14 June 2012

Mirazur, Menton – Restaurant Review

Perched on a sun-drenched hillside almost straddling the French/Italian border is Mirazur, a jewel of a restaurant with achingly gorgeous views over the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean. It's not often I have a deep, genuine longing to return to a restaurant – there always seems to be somewhere new to try – yet after one incredible lunch at Mirazur, which bordered on perfection, I find myself physically pining for another visit to this remarkable place.

6 June 2012

Le Louis XV, Monte-Carlo – Restaurant Review

I was recently in Monaco to indulge in one of my favourite things, namely watching insanely fast cars drive round a track. And when the Formula 1 circus comes to town, there's no better place to watch it than in Monte-Carlo, where the absurd speed and noise of these machines is in stark contrast to the perilously narrow and usually genteel streets of the Principality.

I'd taken an early morning flight from Oslo and was due to meet up with some friends travelling from London on a later flight. So, I landed at Nice airport at noon without a clue as to what I'd do to pass the five hours until the rest of the gang arrived. Of course, with my other passion being food I found myself in the baggage hall hesitantly telephoning the three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV restaurant in Monte-Carlo's Hôtel de Paris to enquire if they possibly, maybe, pretty please had a table for one available for lunch in an hour. The answer, to my amazement, was yes.

10 May 2012

Where to Buy Food in Oslo

A while ago I wrote a little guide about where I like to eat out in Oslo, and I thought it might be worthwhile to write a similar little guide about where to go food shopping. I've recently had a few questions (mainly from expats who have recently moved here) about where to buy decent food in Oslo.

I've added a new permanent tab at the top of the website which will contains a little list of some of Oslo's better food shops. If you've just moved to Oslo, are thinking about moving to Oslo, just visiting or simply want to have a look for the hell of it, you can see the list here: Where to Buy Food in Oslo.

It's by no means a definitive list; it's just some of the Oslo food shops that I like to go to. I'll try and update the list every now and then and I'm always happy to hear others' recommendations, so let me know if there are any other places I should check out.

8 May 2012

Koffmann's, London – Restaurant Review

It's not often you get the chance to eat at the restaurant of a genuine culinary legend, but chef Pierre Koffmann is just that. His first restaurant, La Tante Claire, opened in Chelsea in 1977 and went on to gain three Michelin stars, which it held for 15 years until it moved location to the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. There the restaurant continued until 2003 when Koffmann retired from cooking (or so he thought). The chefs that have trained under Koffmann read like a who's who of Britain's Michelin hall of fame: Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Eric Chavot, and Tom Kitchin. So it was with a huge amount of anticipation that Mrs. Nibbler and I went for dinner at Pierre Koffmann's eponymously titled restaurant.

26 April 2012

Maaemo, Oslo – Restaurant Review (Apr '12)

(You can read a more recent review of Maaemo herehere and here)

If you've just discovered my blog, then let me bring you up to speed by saying that over the last year or so I may have developed a teeny-tiny addiction to a certain restaurant in Oslo. Maaemo opened its doors just over a year ago, and in that short space of time its unique brand of food made from organic ingredients sourced predominantly from less than 100km away has revolutionised the Norwegian dining scene. If you've got a spare hour or five, then pour yourself a glass of something nice and read up on the background and philosophy of Maaemo from the 14,000 or so words I've written (yikes!) about my previous meals at the restaurant, which can be found here, here, here, here, and here. If you're a regular reader then you'll probably be thinking it's déjà vu all over again. Again.

18 April 2012

Roganic, London – Restaurant Review

Of course, by now you probably all know about Roganic, the London restaurant of Simon Rogan, head chef and owner of the Michelin-starred L'Enclume in Cumbria. Since its opening last summer, Roganic has quickly become one of the darlings of the London restaurant scene. The reviews of the restaurant's particular brand of modern British cuisine have been glowing, and following a recent dinner there, the praise is totally deserved – Roganic dished up one of the best meals I've had in London.

However, it's all change at Roganic now. Head chef Ben Spalding recently made the surprising announcement that he was leaving less than a year into the restaurant's 2-year "pop-up" run. In addition to Spalding's departure, Roganic's front of house team lead by Jon Cannon and Sandia Chang is also changing, with Jon moving to the L'Enclume flagship up north and Sandia starting a new London venture involving hot dogs and champagne.

22 March 2012

Moo, Barcelona – Restaurant Review

A recent weekend trip to Barcelona saw Mrs. Nibber and me have dinner at Restaurant Moo located in the über-sleek Hotel Omm, just off the city's glitzy Passeig de Gràcia. I'm not usually a fan of restaurants in hotels, often finding their atmosphere to be sterile and the food a bit of an afterthought, but I was intrigued by Moo. On paper at least, it's certainly got the credentials for a good meal – it has held a Michelin star since 2006 and the restaurant is overseen by the legendary Roca brothers, whose own 3-Michelin starred restaurant (and S.Pellegrino's second best restaurant in the world), El Celler de Can Roca, is about an hour up the road in Girona.

16 March 2012

Maaemo, Oslo – Restaurant Review (Mar '12)

(You can read a more recent review of Maaemo from me here and here)

This week’s release of the 2012 Michelin Guide brought with it what will surely be the story of the year for the usually quiet Oslo restaurant scene. The latest Guide Rouge for Europe came with the news that Oslo’s restaurant Maaemo had been awarded not one, but two of the French company’s coveted stars. In doing so, Maaemo becomes the only Nordic restaurant in history to have entered the famous guide directly at the two star level. In one fell swoop, a restaurant that has been in existence for just over a year joins a rare club that includes restaurant titans such as Noma, Le Gavroche, Mugaritz, and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

4 March 2012

Mathallen, Oslo – A Taste of Things to Come?

It's finally happening! In just a few months' time Oslo will boast its very own permanent food hall. Norway's capital has lagged behind its Nordic neighbours when it comes to indoor food markets. Stockholm has the wonderful Östermalms and Hötorgshallen food halls, Helsinki boasts the Kauppahalli food market, and Copenhagen now has the new gleaming Torvehallerne food hall. But until recently (and for a few more months yet) Oslo had nowhere permanent to buy speciality produce from local producers.

15 February 2012

Café Laundromat, Oslo – Restaurant Review

As far as ideas go, putting together a laundry, restaurant, library, café, and bar under one roof isn't an obvious one, but Oslo's Café Laundromat does just that. It's an ingenious concept that first started in Copenhagen in 2004 and came to Oslo in 2010. I must admit I had high hopes for Café Laundromat – all-day dining places are as rare as hens' teeth in Norway, and there was something about the quirky style of this place that just felt right.

27 January 2012

Goodman City, London – Restaurant Review

The debate about who holds the crown of 'London's best steakhouse' rages on. However, it's clear that there are two contenders streets ahead of the others: Goodman and Hawksmoor. Admitting a preference for one or the other can be as polarising as the Coke/Pepsi, PC/Mac, Stones/Beatles debate.

23 January 2012

Trancher, Oslo – Restaurant Review

Trancher is a cosy little restaurant located in Oslo's fashionable Grünerløkka neighbourhood. It is predicated on a simple, but great idea. To paraphrase Henry Ford, at Trancher you can have anything you like as long as it's roast beef. In fact your choice is limited even further as only entrecôte (that's rib-eye for us rosbifs) is served. This is no bad thing at all in my book as entrecôte is perhaps the king of beef – it's a wonderfully marbled cut that has such a pleasing depth of flavour. I was sold and went along to see for myself if Trancher would live up to expectations.

19 January 2012

Reindeer Calzone – Recipe

Calzones are a great portable dish, but I prefer to eat mine while slumped in front of the TV, remote control in one hand and a cold beer in the other. I tend to save it for when I've had one of those days as there's something very comforting about the crisp, yet chewy dough, combined with the molten hot interior of tomatoes and mozzarella.

Italian tradition dictates that calzones are filled with leftover vegetables, but you can pretty much add anything you like. Here's a little Nordic twist on this classic dish that uses reindeer salami instead of the more popular pepperoni.