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.


Amuse Bouche 1: Nýr (a fresh acidic cream cheese) and salty orange pearls of løyrom (Kalix bleak roe). The bottom layer of nýr is frozen while the top is still soft, giving a nice contrast in texture and temperature.
Amuse Bouche 2: Salad leaves from Korsvold farm dotted with a sweet elderflower gel. This was a light and playful bite of food; the clear floral gel looking like giant dewdrops on the soft feathery leaves.
Amuse Bouche 3: Potato crisps dusted with seaweed powder served with a warm velvety egg emulsion. Very moreish.
Amuse Bouche 4: Fresh raw radishes from Korsvold farm served with sour cream and pickled birch shoots.
Amuse Bouche 5: Lightly smoked, virtually raw scallops from the island of Frøya topped with scallop coral purée and a blade of fresh tarragon. These were served under a glass cloche that is theatrically removed to release wafts of wood smoke so evocative of the Norwegian hytte (cabin).

Amuse Bouche 6: Fenalår from Vik in Sogn on the stunningly picturesque West Coast of Norway. Fenalår is a traditional Norwegian speciality of salted and cured leg of mutton. It has a soft, silky texture and a rich lamb flavour. Think of it as Norway's answer to Jamón Ibérico. It goes really well with a glass of champagne.
Amuse Bouche 7: A crisp and cooling dish of cucumber with frozen yoghurt granules served with a light herb vinegar sauce.

Amuse Bouche 8: One of the many highlights of a meal at Maaemo is this stunning dish – oysters from Bømlo served as a soft emulsion covered by a thin disc of oyster jelly with a light sauce of mussel and dill. As always, simply divine! I also liked the way the waitress's dress was colour-coordinated with the sauce.

Course 1: "Gran Fra i Fjor & Sjøkreps" (Last Year's Spruce & Langoustine). Another highlight of a meal at Maaemo is this jaw-droppingly good dish. An enormous langoustine tail from Frøya has been lightly sautéed in pine butter and brushed with a sweet rapeseed oil, pine and vinegar emulsion. A pine infusion was poured over dry ice hidden around the dish releasing clouds of pine-scented smoke across the table. If you've never tried a Norwegian langoustine in its prime before, then biting into the sweet, fresh tail will be one of those life-affirming moments. Incredible!

Drink pairing: A vibrant and acidic 2010 Riesling Kabinett from the Schätzel winery that was a good foil to the sweetness of the shellfish.



Course 2: "Ramsløk" (Ramson). The next dish was one I first tried the previous spring. However, it's been refined since then and version 2.0 improves on what was already a great dish. Here, impeccably fresh mackerel fillets from Hvaler were cured quickly in a cool sugar/vinegar/brine solution and served with pretty dollops of apple-ramson gel and ramson flowers, while a balsamic-apple vinegar & ramson oil sauce cut through the natural oiliness of the fish.

Drink Pairing: An elegant and mineralic 2011 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre.

Sommelier and co-owner Pontus Dahlström pouring the beer for the next course:
Course 3: "Hvete" (Wheat) – warm rolls of bread made from wheat, spelt and emmer flours from Holli Mill in Spydeberg. The bread is served on squares of traditional Norwegian matpapir (food wrapping paper) with individual pots of whipped salted butter from Røros.

Drink pairing: A refreshing wheat beer from the tiny Bøgedal microbrewery in Vejle, Denmark, which had spicy notes of orange and coriander seed.

Next was a little presentation of an upcoming course. Inside a porcelain dish was a crown of organic chicken from Holte Farm in Drangedal. We're told that this crown comes from an 80-day old bird, whereas intensively farmed chickens would have a maximum permitted age of 30 days, as after this time their legs would start to buckle from the amount of weight they have been made to gain. Yikes!
Course 4: "Brent Kveite" (Burnt Halibut) was another dish that has been tweaked since my last visit. Halibut from Tromsø had been lightly salted to firm its flesh and then singed with a blowtorch. It was served with burnt onion purée, grilled onions, wild flowers and a thin acidic aquavit sauce.

Drink pairing: A light Poiré Granit pear cider from Eric Bordelet packed with aromas of fruit and herbs.
Course 5: A surprise extra course was next and this is a brand new dish. Geitrams (Rosebay Willowherb) were lightly grilled and served with a wheatgrass sauce, pea flowers, and a potato-cheese purée made with grotteost cheese from Hitra in Sør-Trøndelag. This award-winning cows' milk cheese has been aged in caves for two years, giving it a distinctly unique taste. The willowherb had a smoky bitterness to it that was offset by the slight sweetness of the sauce and the creamy aligot-like potato-cheese purée.

Drink pairing: A playfully named 2009 biodynamic Gamay Sans Tra-la-la from Domaine de la Garrelière was light yet spicy and full of the flavours of cherry and woodland fruits.
Course 6: "Skogens Flora Akkurat Nå" ("The Flora of the Woods Right Now") was another refinement of a course I had on my last visit. The chicken breast we were presented with earlier had been cooked en sous vide in milk then sautéed in butter to crisp its skin. It was served with a plethora of wild herbs and flowers and a glossy sauce made from chicken stock and Røros cream. This was just as stunning as before – the chicken being so soft and juicy and bursting with flavour, while the wild herbs and flower gave the dish a wonderfully fragrant freshness. This dish was such a joy to eat.

Drink pairing: A 2010 Grüner Veltliner from Veyder-Malberg.
Course 7: "Rødbete & Lavendel" (Beetroot & Lavender) was a new addition to the Maaemo menu. Lightly sautéed chicken hearts from Drangedal were served with beetroot that had been prepared in different ways – long thin raw strands, small pucks of cooked beetroot, beetroot gel and sauce. This was garnished with wispy fronds of bronze fennel, dark purple leaves of oxalis and lavender flowers.

Drink pairing: A floral 2009 André Perret Condrieu Chery from the northern Rhône made exclusively with Viognier grapes and with virtually no acidity.
Course 8: "Bjørk" (Birch) is an ingenious little dessert. Birch wood is roast in the oven for a couple of hours and then left to infuse into some milk. This milk is then made into an ice cream and is served with fresh birch shoots and ground toasted birch bark. The last time I tried this dish it had a very subtle flavour that you really had to think about. It's been refined since then and is now much more focussed as a result. It's a little sweeter for one and now has a more pronounced taste of cool misty forest leaves. The addition of toasted birch bark was a masterstroke as it is full of notes of chocolate, so much so that I initially thought it was chocolate crumble!

Drink pairing: Instead of birch sap, this course is now paired with a sweetened tea made from small-leaved linden.
Course 9: "Rabarbra & Geitmelk" (Rhubarb & Goat Milk) was an achingly pretty dish of rhubarb served with lilac flowers and goat milk ice and mousse. The tartness of rhubarb was tempered by the sweet freshness of the goat cheese-like ice.

Drink pairing: A 2011 Schilcher Spätlese from Austrian producer Langmann. This was an unusual yet deliciously light rosé with lots of sweet raspberry aroma.
Course 10: A surprise treat was next in the form of wild strawberries. These berries had been picked just a few hours earlier and were served with a sweet floral rosehip cream. Wild strawberries are one of nature's true luxuries. They taste very different to their larger relatives and have a much more pronounced floral taste. I know how time-consuming it is to pick them and to be served so many of them was a very special privilege indeed. This was the simplicity of nature at its best and was one of the highlights of the meal.
Course 11: "Smør Fra Røros" (Butter from Røros) is now firmly one of my all time favourite desserts. A smooth, light butter ice cream is served with hazelnut-butter crumble, coffee molasses and brown butter caramel. My God, it's indescribably good!

Drink pairing: A sweet 1995 La Chimera Vin Santo from Tuscan wine producer Castello di Monsanto that was full of aromas of tropical fruits, raisins, and vanilla.
We finish our meal with coffee and petit fours. At Maaemo, coffee from one of Norway's leading roasters, Tim Wendelboe, is served in the traditional kokekaffe (literally "boiled coffee") style over a gas camping stove so redolent of a trip in the mountains.
To go with the coffee, a liquid brunost-filled truffle dusted with granules of coffee.
Finally, in a clever visual trick, we finish the meal in seemingly the exact way we started it. Echoing the first amuse bouche we were again served frozen nýr except this time it was sweetened with maple syrup and filled with a sweet and sour sea buckthorn gel. A cool and cleansing final bite to end yet another sublime meal at Maaemo.











Food:          10 / 10
Service:      10 / 10
Ambiance:  10 / 10

Maaemo
Schweigaardsgate 15
0191 Oslo
Norway
Tel: +47 91 99 48 05

5 comments:

  1. Tor Anders Westgaard25 June 2012 21:55

    The early newspaper reviews made me curious about eating at Maaemo, but after reading your first review I was convinced. Since then I've been reading all your reviews with joy (and quite a bit of envy). We visited Maaemo for the first time in october 2011, and was blown away. We had already planned another visit in june, but the (well deserved) Michelin stars made reservation a little bit more exciting. We were actually there the same night as you (saw your tweet just after arrived). Couldn't agree more about your verdict. Our four favorite dishes from the first visit was still on the menu (Oysters from Bømlo, Langoustine, Wheat and Butter from Rørøs), and they had added some stunning new ones (especially Bjørk and Geitrams, and the wild strawberries was a really pleasant surprise).

    We're not able to eat at Maaemo quite as often as you do, but hope to visit once or twice a year. Worth every hard earned krone.

    Thanks for great reviews and some stunning photos (quite a lot better than the ones I took with a cell phone..).

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  2. Wow! This place looks incredible..I have definitely made a mental note to add this to the top of the list when we venture across the pond. Thank you for such detailed information on the dishes..truly can't wait.

    How would you say this restaurant compares to Viajante in London? Currently one of my all time favourite restaurants in London.

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  3. Wow amazing! So, please help a normal and new foodie. How does one book a table for this place???

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  4. Looks amazing. I have been wanting to visit Oslo for a short city break and I'm thinking this is the best place to dine while I'm there.

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  5. First of all, kudos for a lovely food blog. I stumbled across it only recently and I am very impressed by the quality of your writing. (Your review of Magnus Nilsson's Fäviken Magasinet, for one, is pure poetry.) Keep this up.

    After reading your reviews of meals at Maaemo, I made a reservation at the Vox Restaurant in Reykjavik (http://www.vox.is/en) as soon as I read that Esben Helmboe Bang will be in residence there for the annual Food and Fun (http://www.foodandfun.is/). A look at the menu (http://www.vox.is/en/moya/page/vox-food-and-fun_1) seems to indicate that I will be able to taste three of the dishes from Maaemo you like a lot. I am looking forward to it.

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