Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dinner of the Year, 2012 (Stockholm)

I recently had the occasion to be in Stockholm, Sweden (!), a trip for work. The whole trip was amazing, but I want to tell you about one meal I had there, what easily for me is the dinner of the year in 2012. What made it so good? Well, the company, for starters. I work with really nice people. And the wine. The list was interesting and smart, and there were a few gems that are quite difficult to find back home. And the food was wonderful, showing an honest dedication to local ingredients and typical Swedish cuisine, and also prepared with a modern sensibility.

The restaurant is called Volt, and if you ever have the good fortune to be in Sweden, I strongly urge you to eat here. Not cheap at all, but one of those expensive meals where there is no doubt that you have gotten your money's worth.

While looking through the menus we were served this amuse, a plate of thinly sliced cured, spiced pork belly.

And this plate of lightly pickled pumpkin topped with pumpkin seeds. Both were appetizing and delicious.

The bread service was wonderful - crusty, airy, fresh bread, served with tangy local cultured butter and chicken liver paté. We had a 6 course meal coming, and yet we couldn't stop eating this bread.

I saw a few special bottles on the wine list, and we decided not to select from among them, instead ordering them all! And we got the 6-course tasting menu too. We were in Sweden, near the holidays. Why not splash out a little?

First we ordered this beautiful bottle of Cédric Bouchard 2006 Roses de Jeanne Le Creux d’Enfer Rosé. This wine, Bouchard's single vineyard rosé, has become essentially impossible to find here in the US.And it is very expensive. Oddly, in Sweden, one of the most expensive countries in the world for an American, and at this fancy restaurant, the wine was no more expensive than it would be on the shelf at a NYC retail shop. Except it will never again be on the shelf at a NYC retail shop because almost none is made and it is snapped up by collectors before it hits the shelves. It is a wonderful wine and a few years of age amplified the savory tones. After a few hours the wine showed clear bitter herbal notes that you might find in Campari.

We ate langoustine with seafood broth, thinly sliced turnips, caviar, and langoustine crackers.

At about this time I realized that we needed to submit to how good everything was going to be, and we ordered two bottles of Overnoy wine - the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2011 Poulsard. Our gracious and incredibly competent sommelier decnted the Poulsard for us and we enjoyed the beginning of the Chardonnay with the Langoustines.

And then came scallops, with raw cauliflower crumbles, gooseberries, and several "sea-lettuces." Excellent with the bright and expressive Chardonnay. Overnoy bottles are never uniform, and this bottle of Chardonnay was different from the bottle I drank in July. Not as perfect, not as focused. But it was lovely nonetheless.

We returned to Bouchard's Champagne for this fantastic dish of beef carpaccio with almond and parsley puree. Two summers ago I was at a ridiculous Bouchard dinner and we drank the 2007 Rosé and it was suggested that rare beef would be a great pairing. Well, on this night I was able to verify that indeed, this is a wonderful synergy of flavors.

Then we ate Pike Perch from the Baltic Sea, local waters. It was perfectly cooked, meltingly tender, and served with roast cabbage, fresh cockles, and capers fashioned from elderberries. Whoa, this was delicious and expertly prepared. And great with Overnoy's Chardonnay, which was becoming more and more detailed as time went by.

The sommelier appeared with the decanter of 2011 Overnoy Poulsard. "Like raspberry juice," he smiled. And he poured. I've had great bottles of Overnoy Poulsard, and also completely uninspiring bottles. If you drink the wine outside of France, there will be variation. This bottle was amazing, among the best Ive had. Such intense aromas of dried roses, so detailed and complex, such delicate texture and such presence in the mouth. As perfect as Poulsard can be, I would say. A wonderful and moving wine. My companions had never before had an Overnoy Poulsard and they were swooning. It was fun to watch.

We drank it with a dish of "fallow deer," a small variety of local deer. Very lean, it was served with Jerusalem artichokes and topped with fresh juniper berries. Yes, fresh green juniper berries. I've seen only the dried black ones here. These were vibrant and pungent and herbal and very compelling, and they amplified the forest undertones of the Poulsard. What a meal we were having!

After that dish we took our time finishing our wines, reveling in our good fortune. And then we had dessert. The best restaurant dessert I've had in years. An oval of green apple sorbet, tart, not sweet, served on a dollop of white chocolate pudding, white chocolatey but not sweet, topped with shards of frozen green apple and young pine needles. Absurdly delicious. And with this, a glass of sparkling wine from Anjou that smelled like pine needles, something the sommelier selected for us.

An incredible meal that I will remember for a long time. I hope that as 2012 comes to a close, you are enjoying delicious food and wine too, with good friends. 


Anonymous said...

OMG. What else to say?

Puteljen! said...

Sounds great!

Next time you find yourself in Stockholm, try to get a table at Franzen/Lindeberg. Just amazing food!

johan4711 said...

I've been casually reading your blog for what.. a few years? I enjoy your writing and I suspect we share tastes in what wines we like judging by the contents of your blog and I know you for natural reasons have an American focus but now, all of sudden and quite unexpected you post a piece on how you had the best dinner this year in MY hometown? In Sweden? That is so cool! And you should take Puteljen's recommendation: if you ever come here again, you had better make sure you find a place in your budget (and in the restaurant) for a visit to Frantzen/Lindeberg. It's easily Stockholm's and maybe Scandinavia's best restaurant.

Thomas said...

Great reading. Glad you enjoyed it and what a brilliant selection of wines you had with the dinner.

Best from,
(Mad About wine)