Fika, fika, fika

Stockholm is all about dat fika, a culture of coffee and pastries that seems also to extend to a broad array of other drinks and snacks and sandwiches.  Two forms of deliciousness, one liquid and one to eat.  And folks take their coffee seriously, as much as they do their leisure time.  There are a lot of young families in these shops during the day.  So many baby strollers, and so many dads.  God bless your 18-month maternity/paternity leave policies.  I feel like such an American barbarian in that regard.

People with laptops and also with books.  Homogeneous as all get out, but whatever.  I still ride for coffeehouse culture.  We visited a handful of places – Cafe String (Sodermalm), Drop Coffee (also Sodermalm), Bakverket (Bondegarten), and Snickerbacken 7 Cafe (Norrmalm).

A latte and a peanut butter chocolate rice crispies at Cafe String (Google Maps).

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Some breakfast pastries and coffee beans at Drop Coffee (Google Maps), also in Sodermalm.  Across the street from the Sandqvist store where I got my backpack.

Mazariner (almond tartlet) and a jam shortbread cookie at Bakverket (Google Maps) in Bondegarten.  The space has a more proletariat vibe, if you will, but whatever, they still put butter in the pastries, don’t they?

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Mazariner and latte at Bakverket Sodermalm Stockholm Sweden

And later on our trip, we had ourselves a real healthy lunch at Snickerbacken 7 Cafe (Google Maps) in Norrmalm.  It’s a really hip, but lovely space, and gets super busy around lunchtime, humming with meetings and mommy meet-ups and co-working and readers alike.

Stockholm Escapades – Pt 2: Oaxen Krog

The other half of Oaxen is Krog, this polished open-kitchen powerhouse of a fine dining establishment.

We sat at a communal table for six people, sharing the same tasting menu, some with wine pairings and myself with the juice pairing.  Initially, I didn’t know we’d signed up for the communal dinner, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meal experiences – not just in an asterisk’d way (like, favorite meal in a foreign country or something) – but one of my favorite meals.  It was a four-hour marathon, paved with luxurious bites and flavors, blessed with laughter and stories, that showcased the magic connectivity of what good food and drink can conjure at a dinner table of strangers.

We started with some amuse-bouches.  Not all of these I remember, but the bone marrow dish had a really nice clean finish. And I’m always about that head-on shrimp.

Oaxen Krog also served up some luxurious bread – some brioche knobs, some fresh butter, and this warm black bread, savory, sea-salt crunch, syrupy sweet.  Basically cake with butter at mid-meal.  It was cool to share the meal with Swedes who had grown up eating variants of these dishes, obviously more homey versions, to see them wax nostalgic about their childhood food memories and the long-ago places and times that these flavors recalled.  I just love that stuff.  Food with stories, with soul. Continue reading

Paris, A Moveable Feast, Part 2: Spring

Our second night in Paris was spent in the dining room at Daniel Rose’s Spring – its elegant floor-to-ceiling windows peering out onto a quiet cobblestone’d backstreet, an openness that extends to the restaurant’s tidy cold kitchen.  The design is both industrial chic and rustic, clean lines of white, wood, and iron alongside the dull gleam of copper pots and warped support beams from another era, encased in glass.

Chef Daniel’s story is compelling, the story of an American moving to France and of food and learning and cooking and doing it at an extremely high level.  In some ways it is unique, because of how Spring started as a one-man show in one of the most food-obsessed and -particular cities in the world.  In other ways, it is a story of falling in love.  This Charlie Rose interview is pretty cool (Chef Rose’s part starts around 31:00).

Service was cordial, unpretentious, attentive.  The sommelier brought us some champagne, and recommended me some ridiculously tasty peach nectar from Alain Milliat (unpictured).  At our 7pm sitting, the restaurant was just whirring to life, with only a table or two having started before us.House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Kitchen House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris ChampagneThe meal started with small bites: fried oysters, cured foie gras with artichoke hearts, and marinated scallops.  The foie gras was especially delicious, cold and intensely savory, with a bit of crunch from finishing salt and cracked pepper. House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Fried Oysters Foie Gras Artichoke Hearts Marinated Scallops House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Marinated ScallopsThen this amazing langoustine tail, in a broth of enormous depth with crisp bok choy, atop of a bed of tapioca pearls.  It conjured obscure memories of some magnificent soup that an old Chinese restaurant might nurture out of a master stock, but with the precision in that langoustine tail of a technically savvy kitchen.House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Langoustine Bok Choy Tapioca Pearls House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Bread BasketAfter the bread, a filet of red mullet with baby spinach, squid, and shredded Galician beef.  Again the broth was very satisfying, enhanced by the beef’s pungent salinity.House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Red Mullet Filet Baby Spinach Squid Galician BeefRoasted venison with venison jus, kumquat, and another garnish I don’t remember:  House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Venison Kumquat JustA play on shepherd’s pie with braised venison and celery root purée:House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Venison Shepherds Pie Puree Celery RootA glimpse of the restaurant:House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Open Kitchen House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Exterior Main Dining ROomA trio of sweets – sorbet, clementine, and pineapple (the last cooked in butter).House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Dessert Trio Sorbet Clementine Pineapple House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Dessert PineappleAnd Spring’s play on a traditional bûche de Noël – a little hazelnut cake with meringue and caramel hazelnuts.House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Hazelnut Bouche de NoelChocolate truffles and tea & coffee to finish:House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris Chocolate Truffle Cappuccino TeaA view of the passe as we were leaving:House of Haos Spring Restaurant Paris PasseSpring Restaurant (map)
6 Rue Bailleul, 75001
Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 45 96 05 72
(le fooding)

 

Breakfast at the Nomad – New York

I was impressed enough with my lunch at the NoMad that when I had a few hours to kill one morning before heading to New Jersey for a wedding, I snuck over to 28th and Broadway for breakfast at the NoMad.

To kickstart my brainface, I started with a latte, which was both perfectly frothed (with beautiful latte art) and a buttery sliver of biscotti.DSC_0655-001A flaky almond croissant, with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar – almost as good as my old neighborhood bakery in Paris, with crunchy almond slices and croissant corners.  I like my almond croissants with a heavier marzapan layer atop, but that’s just a minor personal preference.DSC_0657-001And the grand finale – the eggs benedict, with crab, hollandaise, and tarragon.  The crab meat was succulent, lightly sweet, almost tart, compared to the luscious, velvety hollandaise.  Chef Humm’s roast chicken for two (a lunchtime thing) uses a hollandaise made with a whipped cream dispenser, so I’m curious how the kitchen made such a creamy hollandaise that held its consistency and an even presence of lemon.DSC_0656-001Awww yeah.  NoMad, you dirty son of a bitch.DSC_0658-001It’s really impressive, how a restaurant can deliver such excellence in food and service across two services that are often overlooked.  Au revoir, NoMad, until next time.IMG_1955

Nomad
1170  Broadway & 28th  Street
New York, NY 10001
T 212 796 1500

 

The NoMad on Urbanspoon

 

Tokyo – Caffeine Paradise

I drank a ton of coffee in Tokyo.  This is because there are some damn well-run coffeeshops in Tokyo.  Here are some of the ones I went to.

Sarutahiko, in Ebisu.  Something about their cappuccinos and lattes.  Incredible sweetness in the espresso.

DSC_0186 DSC_0192 DSC_0191 Continue reading

Saturday Lunch at Sapori – Shanghai

Late on a sunny Saturday morning, a few of us piled into Sapori, a new Italian restaurant on Jian Guo Lu that was getting some buzz about its familial atmosphere, cheerful owner, and its array of pizzas.

We started with some coffee – I had a latte, which came in a Parisian-kitsch mug.

Winston ordered the charcuterie plate and a pizza for the table, to which I added an order of spaghetti vongole and the other guys added two beef lasagnas.  Both the communal dishes were surprisingly robust in size, with bright, fresh-looking ingredients – an array of bruschetta toppings: roasted tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, eggplant, salami and prosciutto with a scattering of olives, smoked salmon, caprese, with a few slices of toasted bread hidden under the meats.

The pizza, one of the many on Sapori’s menu, was quite sizeable, one being enough to split among our relatively hungry group of four, and with a nicely toasted thin-crust and an ample spread of toppings (prosciutto, artichoke, mushrooms, and olives). Continue reading