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Percyn in Stockholm and Paris


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#1 percyn

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:01 PM

Since I am in Stockholm, Sweden for this week on business, I thought it might be a good idea to allow my fellow eGers to tag along as I sample the cusine.

On my way back, I will swing by Paris, where I have dinner reservations at L'Arpege and lunch at Le Cinq and hope to hit a few other spots too.

So, let the journey begin....

The flight over had us change planes in Munich, so I had Weiners & Beer for breakfast

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A few hours later, we were in Stockholm and our taxi driver gave us a great tip on a local pub which has a live band and serves Swedish food to the locals. Its called Engelen (which means Angel). Unfortunately, the band was not playing as the lead suddenly fell ill. We plan to check it out later this week...so stay tuned.

While there, we other a variety of dishes, thereby creating our own little smorgesboard.

We started with

Reindeer Carppaccio - Simply delicious....melts in your mouth.
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Herrings and Egg Salad - with raw yolk to pour over it.
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Herring 3 ways - Pickled, in Mustard and in Tomato sauce. There were surprisingly good, especially the mustard one, which was covered in a mild, sweet mustard
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The Herring goes down well with some
Spendrups Larger and Aquavit - We also had some Pear Cider, which was not pictured
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For our main courses, we got...
Sweedish Meatballs w/ Mashed Potatoes and Lingonberry - I had to see if there was any different that what we got in the States. This was familiar, but the sauce was much bolder and richer and the meatballs were very soft.
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Saithe in Cream Sauce w/Mashed Potatoes - For those not familiar with Saithe, it is a white fish found in Europe, which is mild in flavor, might firm in texture like Cod.
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Plank Chicken - Chicken that is roasted on a plank of wood.

Engelen is a charming little place with a bar, an upstairs stage, a downstairs stage and a restaurant. The restaurant has a whimsical decor with stuffed animals and cartoon characters on the walls.

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Overall, the food was delicious and I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for some Swedish homecooking.

On the way back to the Hotel, we came across this place...

Would anyone like Gooh for dinner? :wacko: :wacko: :raz:
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Edited by percyn, 06 November 2006 - 12:07 PM.


#2 Ling

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:13 PM

The food looks really good across the board. I especially like the idea of having a cup of raw egg yolk to pour over your egg salad sandwich!

#3 percyn

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:37 PM

The next day, since it was a rest day before our meetings, we went to went on a sight-seeing of the city via bus and boat (on the canals). The tour ended around lunch time, where we found this great little place by the Royal Palace.

Turns out this was a prison in the 1600s-1700s and the king was actually imprisoned here during a revolution. The owner, who is a relatively young guy had spent a few years in New Jersey (seems like a common thing in this country) so he entertained us, gave is sight-seeings tips and made it fun.

Cafe Sten Sture
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Here is the enterance leading to a cave like setting for the restaurant
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More pictures from the inside...
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We ordered...

Goulash
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Ham & Cheese Quiche
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Seafood Quiche
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Shrimp Crepes - The crepes tased great and the egg was quite pronounced
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Don't want to pay the bill, eh?? :raz:
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Later we went to the

Ostermalmshallem Market
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Eels anyone?
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Fish Fish everywhere, but not a place to cook :sad:
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I want to create a cabinet of goodies like that - Foie Gras and Caviar
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Great looking Chanterelles
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And when I saw some Jamon Iberico, I had to get it (while we are on the wait list to get this in the US)
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And now...for something I have been wanting to get since I saw Anthony Bourdain get it on No Reservations...
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Milking the ketchup? :raz:
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Anyone want to guess what the "toppings" are?
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Might go later tonight to hunt another place with good eats. However, I am not sure if I will be able to post on it immediately, since my meetings begin tomorrow...stay tuned.

Anyone reading this from Stockholm have any recommendations?

#4 percyn

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:40 PM

The food looks really good across the board. I especially like the idea of having a cup of raw egg yolk to pour over your egg salad sandwich!

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Interesting you say that Lorna. To be honest, before I came here, I was not sure what to expect foodwise. I have to say that so far, I have not had a bad meal (knock on wood) and judging from the amout of Tapas, Mongolian, Thai, Indonesian, etc place we passed by, I hope that trend continues.

#5 Abra

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:46 PM

I haven't been to Stockholm in years. Do they still eat pea soup and pancakes on Tuesdays? If so, do. It was still traditional back when I was an au pair there in the 70s. It's one of the odder food customs I've encountered.

#6 little ms foodie

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:49 PM

Percy I love Stockholm!! If you get a chance go check out the Berns hotel restaurant- it is stunning!!

#7 percyn

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 09:53 AM

Thanks LMF. Had a corporate dinner last night which was good, but nothing to rave about (will post later). Have to leave for another meeting/dinner in a few minutes.

#8 percyn

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 04:06 PM

Went to a Tapas place for a late dinner/snack and got a dry Sherry with some

Chorizo
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Gambas al pil pil - excellent, succlent shrimp in a sauce that was soooo good, I just scooped it up with some bread
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Beef in Whiskey Cream Sauce - a bit salty, but quite good.
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The next day we had a group dinner, consisting of
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The venision was very very tender and did not taste overly gamey.
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Accompanied by several bottles of wine, and followed by some cognac

Today we went to this wonderful castle on an island, which was reserved exclusively for us.

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Inside, the castle was candlelit
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And a traditional Swedish meal of 4 different kinds of Herring and 3 types of salmon and some meat were setup
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Wash the Herring down with some Aquavit
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Dessert was these intensely flavored strawberries with a white chocolate/whipped cream.
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Edited by percyn, 08 November 2006 - 11:45 PM.


#9 philadining

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 04:38 PM

Anyone want to guess what the "toppings" are?
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I'll try: Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Ketchup, Mustard....sour cream!? potatoes!?!

How was it? How drunk were you? (I suspect the answers to those questions are correlated.)

Edited by philadining, 08 November 2006 - 11:49 PM.


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#10 percyn

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 11:40 PM

I'll try: Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Ketchup, Mustard....sour cream!? potatoes!?!

How was it?  How drunk were you? (I suspect the answers to those questions are correlated.)

Close... one key ingredient missing....shrimp salad !! And yes, those are mashed potatoes.

Unfortunately, I was not drunk at all :shock: and I suspect it would have tasted better if I were. The mashed potatoes were quite filling.

Edited by percyn, 08 November 2006 - 11:42 PM.


#11 Bridgestone

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:38 AM

Nice to see some updated pictures from Stockholm.

I live north of Stockholm (sort of between Stockholm city and the "castle" - Vaxholms kastell - you had rented for you).

Are you still up for some tips? Let me know what you are interested in!

Two bars that are worth checking out (and they're right next to each other!):

Gondolen and Akkurat. They are both located at the Subway station and area known as "Slussen", right between Old Town ("Gamla stan") and the island of Södermalm.

Gondolen is located on top of Katarinahissen. Katarinahissen (or the Katarina elevator) was built in 1883 and seems very unusual in today's age of indoor elevators. It's sort-of an ourdoor elevator, standing as it does outdoors and connecting the sea-level area of "Slussen" (the sluices connecting Lake Mälaren with the Baltic) with the built-on-a-cliff edge of Södermalm (Stockholm's southern island). I think it initally served as a tourist attraction and a welcome break from a lot of stairs for Stockholm's upper crust in the 1880's. Now, it's a 10 kronor historic ride up to Gondolen. Gondolen (means "the gondola" and comes from the restaurant's unusual shape) has good enough food - I just don't find it worth the prices. The bar, though, is excellent. Drinks are the way to go as you'll find Stockholm's absolute best bartenders here. Purchase something unusual, pay through the nose for it and enjoy the view!

http://www.eriks.se/

Time things right and you could maybe see an outdoor vendor selling freshly pan-fried herring ("strömming") on your way from Gondolen to Akkurat...

Akkurat is a nearby bar really only for those hyper-interested in beers and/or whisk(e)y. They've got a selection of Belgians on tap that would blow most non-Belgians away, not to mention what they've got in bottles/in their cellar. Whisk(e)y is sold per centiliter and you can always find some serious rarities. I normally stick to one or more of their handpulled English beers or even some of their Swedish house-brewery's (Jämtland's bryggeri) products. A few secrets: Look for non-labelled/strange-labelled bottles of Chimay, Orval and Westmalle (I think). These run over 15 bucks/bottle but are a special beer that is normally only served at the monestary (said to be for the monks themselves and served to visitors). They also have a few bottles of a special Cloudberry lambic that the bar has had brewed for them by Brasserie Cantillon. They do some decent Belgian-style bar food with emphasis on mussels.

http://www.akkurat.se/

P.S. - it's a southern-Swedish holiday tomorrow (not a bank holiday but a traditional one...). It's called Mårtensafton and goose is traditionally served. So, be on the look-out for restaurants with set menus, probably containing: 1) svartsoppa (or, black soup), made with goose blood, stock and the good ol' Swedish gingerbread spices, 2) roast duck, 3) some sort of apple pie/cake dessert.

Gondolen
Stadsgården 6
Stockholm
Telephone: 08-641 70 90

(The herring guy, if he's around, is set up outside the subway station across the street from the foot of Katarinahissen...)

Akkurat
Hornsgatan 18
Stockholm
Telephone: 08-644 00 15

Edited by Bridgestone, 09 November 2006 - 03:51 AM.


#12 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:32 AM

Thanks Bridgestone, I now have less than 24 hrs before I leave for Paris, so will see if I can make it to Akkurat, sounds fun.

#13 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:36 AM

I haven't been to Stockholm in years.  Do they still eat pea soup and pancakes on Tuesdays?  If so, do.  It was still traditional back when I was an au pair there in the 70s.  It's one of the odder food customs I've encountered.

Abra, I got your message on Wed, so I just missed it and my Swedish host was suprised that I knew about it when I inquired about this. That's the power of eGullet :wink:

#14 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:59 AM

Went to F12 restaurant for Lunch today...

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The bread was excellent, especially the walnut bread.
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Ahi Tuna au poivre with (very mild) wasabi, arugula, caviar and frozen apples
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Monkfish "steak frites"
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Creme Catalana w/Mango Sorbet
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More on this meal later...I have to run for dinner in the Old City now.

Edited by percyn, 09 November 2006 - 10:02 AM.


#15 lemniscate

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 11:19 AM

Bridgestone quoted:
"P.S. - it's a southern-Swedish holiday tomorrow (not a bank holiday but a traditional one...). It's called Mårtensafton and goose is traditionally served. So, be on the look-out for restaurants with set menus, probably containing: 1) svartsoppa (or, black soup), made with goose blood, stock and the good ol' Swedish gingerbread spices, 2) roast duck, 3) some sort of apple pie/cake dessert."


Wow! My Polish grandmother made a soup out of duck's blood called czarnina, which I loved as a kid. We called it "Chocolate soup" due to the color. I know there was allspice and clove flavors, along with vinegar. She did not make it with dried fruit as others do. Man, I miss that soup. I'd love to try svartsoppa. Is it only served on the Holiday?

#16 Parmhero

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 02:50 PM

Nice pix of some obviously good eats, percyn. Looks like a great trip.

And you're in the world's fifth best country, according to the latest survey by The United Nations, which just ranked Norway as the world's best nation to live in for a sixth consecutive year.

Iceland was No. 2, followed by Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan and the United States.

The U.N. Development Program's human development index is based on such criteria as life expectancy, education and income.

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#17 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:24 PM

And you're in the world's fifth best country, according to the latest survey by The United Nations, which just ranked Norway as the world's best nation to live in for a sixth consecutive year.

I think you are right Parmhero. If I decided to "switch continents" (again), Sweden would be on my short list (despite the long winters)

#18 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:58 PM

Sushi and Coffee anyone?? :wacko:
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No?? How about some Caviar in a tube?? Actually, this stuff is great. I bought a couple tubes of this and lobster and dill paste. :unsure:
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#19 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:19 PM

For dinner we went to FEM SMA HUS in Gamla Stan (Old Town), which is about 700 years old and by the look and feel of this door, it may have seen at least 300 of the 700 yrs.
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Another restaurant with an ancient cellar like setting.
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Today, we dined on

"Caviar" (not sure what kind of roe it was)
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Reindeer Steak - I love Rudolph...I mean Reindeer. The meat is tender, succulent and not gamey. Does anyone know if we can source it in USA? This was served with sides of mashed potatoes, lingon berry, salsify puree and a demi glace sauce. I forgot to take a picture with a loaded plate.
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Dessert - I can't name the Berries (our waiter did not know the English translation for it but I think it is cloudberry). It had a unique taste and went well with the chocolate wafer it was served on.
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Beer, wine, aquavit and coffee accompanied out dinner.

Stockholm has been great. While I have tried to share my dining experiences, what I have not been able to share is the great culture, cleanliness of the city, its history, the museums, an eye for design and the special genes of the Swedish people. I hope I can visit this place soon (but hopefully in summer this time).

OK, my next post will probably be from Paris (if I can get a wireless internet connection relatively easily). I will be landing in Paris in the evening, take a quick shower/change and off to dinner at L'Arpege. Pray that I can recover quickly for lunch at Le Cinq worthy of documenting.

Edited by percyn, 09 November 2006 - 04:24 PM.


#20 snowangel

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:26 PM

Percy, I have been drooling over the photo of the strawberries. When I was but a young lass, I spent the summer after my senior year in high school in Sweden. I've never had strawberries that were as "strawberry" as the ones in Sweden. I wonder why?
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#21 Grub

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:46 PM

Great foodblog! I had a hotdog with mashed taters and shrimp salad in Norway once and it was fantastic -- mind ya, you've gotta be as drunk as a priest to truly appreciate it :) The caviar in a tube is great stuff; you can buy it here in the US, if you can find a store that stocks it.

#22 docsconz

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:46 PM

Wonderful report, Percy. I am curious about the shrimp "pil-pil" that you had. Pil-Pil is generally made with salt cod and olive oil and a fairly involved cooking process. Would you happen to know if this was a real pi-pil to which they substituted shrimp after the sauce was made, or a variation that they called "pil-pil" because of a textural resemblance?
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#23 little ms foodie

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 05:48 PM

yes I think I recognize those cloudberries!!! great post, have fun in Paris!

#24 rlibkind

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:46 PM

Great foodblog! I had a hotdog with mashed taters and shrimp salad in Norway once and it was fantastic -- mind ya, you've gotta be as drunk as a priest to truly appreciate it :) The caviar in a tube is great stuff; you can buy it here in the US, if you can find a store that stocks it.

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Ikea has it.
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#25 SheenaGreena

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 10:11 PM

well after reading this thread, I had to read your foodblog. THEN, I read up on another webpage about your religion because I found it so interesting. Finally I read the parsis (sp?) cooking thread on egullet.

This usually happens when I read threads on egullet, I quickly get carried away. I learned alot though

oh yeah and I almost forgot, this is a great thread. My favorite picture is the pic of Engelen, because the walls are a greenish color. If you can't tell, green is my favorite color

oh and the roe in the tube, is it ground up or does it come out in it's normal shape? Those berries are cloudberries, you can also get that at ikea as well but only in jam form
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#26 percyn

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 11:41 PM

Wonderful report, Percy. I am curious about the shrimp "pil-pil" that you had. Pil-Pil is generally made with salt cod and olive oil and a fairly involved cooking process. Would you happen to know if this was a real pi-pil to which they substituted shrimp after the sauce was made, or a variation that they called "pil-pil" because of a textural resemblance?

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Thanks Doc ! I wish I had more time to give a more complete report, but I am squeezing posts in between meetings, shopping and of-course, eating.

I can't intelligently compare the Gambas "pil-pil" I had to the version you reference, since I have not tried the Bacalao pil-pil. Though there was olive oil, I don't remember any Cod in the version I got and would not be surprised if they took a few short cuts compared to the Bacalao pil-pil from Basque, however, for comparision, the sauce of seemed to have a much more complex flavor than the typical Gambas tapas I have ever tasted.

Hopefully I will get a chance to make a "Tapas trip" to Spain soon and perhaps then I can offer a more informed opinion.

#27 Bridgestone

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 12:35 AM

Maybe I can answer some of the question re: Sweden that have popped up.

Yep - it's a pretty good country to live in. I'm an American that's been living in Sweden for 10 years now. Swedes are always amazed that I've decided to settle down here (my wife is Swedish, we met at college in the States) as opposed to the States but I personally think it's normally due to a good case of "grass-is-greener"...

Onto the food.

Swedish reindeer is from up North and I suppose I'd classify it as "free-range", or so. The Sami (widely known to us Americans by their non-PC name, the Lapps) up North still make much of their living from farming and selling reindeer. There are (at least) 2 subspecies of which the "tame" reindeer is what is found in Sweden as of the beginning of the 1900's. Reindeer meat in Sweden is still inspected for radioactive contamination after the Chernobyl disaster. The reindeer eat a lichen which sucks up large amounts of the radioactive fallout that was blown up to Sweden following the disaster. Obviously, if it's in the store or has been served to you at a restaurant, it's passed the inspection!

We've seen two types of caviar thanks to Percyn. The stuff in the tube is actually cod roe. It's been salted and there's a good amount of sugar in there, too (which is why I don't think I've ever developed a real love of the stuff... Swedes love the "sweet/salty" flavor combination and I've learned to like it to. Throw in "fishy", though...). There are a few fancier brands that have been lightly smoked, too. Swedes spread this on toasted bread and/or eat it on hard-boiled eggs. The caviar that Percyn has been served at the restaurants is considered a delicacy and is normally translated as "bleakfish roe". It's good stuff! Not on the level of Russian or Iranian caviar but quite nice in its own way. It's even been mentioned on the Rosengarten Report. See this Rosengarten Report As mentioned in the article, as "Swedish" as Swedes feel this dish is, a large amount of bleakfish roe is imported from the United States!

Those were definately cloudberries that we've been seeing. They are also a product from northern Sweden - they grow in the vast bogs up there. I think I remember reading that they are actually related to roses which wouldn't suprise me as the flavor, once one gets past the berry's glaring sweetness, reminds me of rosehips.

As far as the strawberry question goes, I agree wholeheartedly that Swedish (and/or Scandinavian) strawberries are outstanding! Now, I can't claim that the ones Percyn was served were especially Swedish (there are patches of snow on the ground up here already!) but believe him when he says that they were tasty. I think the reason why Swedish strawberries are so good is the long, cool growing season and the fact that so many people have been growing them at home for so many generations. This has led to a relatively small market force for commercial strawberry farming and a survival of many of the fragile, delicate and tasty varieties that normally would die out in favor of large, pretty and robust (unfortunatley often tasteless...) varieties.

The gooseblood soup is exactly as someone has described their grandmother's version. It's really only served during this holiday and even then normally only to the older generation and/or people born and bred in southern Sweden. Many other people are perhaps a little too squirmish these days... I've been wanting to purchase a goose myself to recreate the entire dinner but we're in the middle of a major house renovation and a fresh goose goes for well over 100 bucks in Stockholm...

#28 percyn

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:52 PM

Part II - Paris

Sorry for the delay in posting, the traffic from CDG to the hotel has terrible and barely left me time to take a quick shower, get dressed and head to Alain Passard's L'Arpege a 3 star restaurant in 7e. Also appologize for the quality of the pictures in advance, as this is not a place you want to use the flash.
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I was quickly seated at my table and presented with the menu, which included a 20th anniversary tasting menu. It took me a minute to figure out that the years next to the dishes where years in which the dish was introduced and not the vintage of the suggested wine pairing. Mind you, at 340Euro, I would expect wine to be included (that's twice the price of a fixed menu at Per Se). The wine list was extensive, but did not include wines by the galss or any bottleunder 100 Euros. I was told that the 20th anniversay menu was suited for white wine and I inquired whether they have half bottles to which the sommelier first said no, but then said he would check the cellar and came up with a 2005 Sancere (I did not get a chance to note the name) and it was quite good (for the 60Euros I later found it had cost me).

So on to the menu...

Amuse Bouche - Alain Passard's garden vegetables on kitchen-made potato chip. (For those not aware, Alain Passard is fanatical about vegetables and it shows in his cooking. The essence of whatever vegetable is presented jump right at you. I was further amazed in how the vegetables paired on the plate "influence" each other. Not a harsh clash in any of the dishes, nor a forceful compliment, but rather a gentle kiss of essence. He treats vegetables the same way a master sushi chef would treat a prized fish).
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Egg w/Maple Foam - Extremely light foam with a hint of maple and a yolk that was so sublime, I could not have duplicated the texture via sous vide techniques (and I will try). This first dish set the bar pretty high. A simple yet perfectly executed dish.
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Sweet & Sour Lobster topped with Black Raddish - Once again, the sauce was sweet with a gentle touch of vinegat to cut the sweetness. The lobster was perfectly cooked and must have been poached at an ultra low temp.
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Vegetable Puree Soup w/Japanese Bacon (spek) Foam - The soup seemed to be a puree of root vegetables of high quality. You could not pick our too much of one vegetable over the other. Like a good wine, when I thought of a particular vegetable like parsnip, I got a faint taste of it, turnip the same, etc
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Salt Roasted Red Beet w/12 yr Balsamic Vinegar - I was instructed that I would eat the skin if I preferred. The beet had a gentle sweet flavor, which the balsamico could over-power. However, the skin was soft, yet dense with flavor and stood up well to the vinegar. The texture of the beet was just past crisp. So it was not hard and not muchy...just right.
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Scallops with Spinach and Parsley Puree w/Cepe Sauce - The scallops were not pan seared, but must have been slow poached just to the point that they were not raw, but preserved all their natural flavors and sweetness. A few moments later a waiter arrived at the table with a sizzling copper pan to place a baby leek which was sauteed in butter on my plate
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Saithe w/ Yellow Wine Sauce and Roasted Potatoes - Succulent piece of fish, which had a firm texture. I wish we could get Saithe in the US, it has such a great flavor
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Fish Consumme w/Vegetable Ravioli - The delicate flavor of the comsumme was given a boost by the crunchy and extremely flavorful vegetables wrapped in extremely thin ravioli skins.
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Pigeon w/Caramelized Almonds - The only dish that needed a red wine. The whole pigeon was roasted and presented at your table before it was taken back to be carved and plated. The sauce was just increadibly....I can still taste it. It must have tons of reduced pigeon jus, crushed bones and I think it might have some liver in it too. I soaked it up with bread and could have had another plate of sauce as a substiture for another dish.
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Formage - The cheese "tray" was this huge block of redwood which needed 2 people to lift and carry from one side of the room to the other. For most of the night this was placed next to me and I could sometimes smell the cheese aroma. There was a big wheel of 4yr Comte, which they claim there are only 5 of in the world and it was being served to everyone. I can't remember to names of the cheese but when I told him I liked soft cheese, he gave me a sheeps milk, a runny mild cheese and an runny and extremley strong one. Over the next few days I will try to find the names and post it.
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Chocolat Napolean - This was extremely flaky and cracked like thin sheets of plaster or a very old canvas. Not too sweet
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Petit Four
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Green pepper and Chilie Gelee - This was a first. It was 2 of each, sweet to start but a finish with a pronounced green pepper or chilie flavor.
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The service was good, but it seemed a bit rushed and it seemed like the wait staff was rushing and occassionally dumping into each other in the relatively small restaurant. Not something I expect from a 3 Michelen star restaurant.


So that was dinner at L'Arpege last night, I will post about today's lunch at Le Cinq and othe food things when I return to the US in the next day or so.


Cheers
Percy

#29 percyn

percyn
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Posted 13 November 2006 - 05:29 AM

On to day 2 in Paris.

The day started with a walk to Notre Dame and a stop for a café and croissant at the counter of Café Notre Dame (you can people watch and get a good view of Notre Dame.
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My lunch reservations at Le Cinq were at 1pm, so I strolled around a bit and headed back to the hotel to get changed before heading to Le Cinq. When I saw these ducks, I thought of I_Call_the_Duck, an eG member and frequent dining companion.
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Was tempted to try some oysters and homard, but had to restrain myself knowning that a big lunch was to follow in a few hours.
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#30 percyn

percyn
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Posted 13 November 2006 - 06:05 AM

Now on to my dining experience at Le Cinq.

If you have not had an opportunity to stay at the Four Seasons, George V in Paris, I highly recommend going there for a meal or afternoon tea. The hotel is one of the most beautiful Four Seasons properties and they call it the hotel of flowers for a reason. In every corner or nook you will find fresh roses and other flowers in amazing decorations….and this coming from someone who perhaps shares the macho view that flowers and bouquet are overrated.
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The room, décor and ambience at Le Cinq is truly amazing. Zagat says “..this is what royalty must have felt like” and they are not kidding. There are 20 ft windows draped in heavy silk. Frescos on the ceiling and flowers everywhere. The furniture seems to be in a Louis XVI(?) style and the chairs are very comfortable.
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To start, I was offered a selection of Champaign and I choose a Rose, which was excellent and worth the 30 Euro/glass. But I guess you have to forget the price if you want to enjoy yourself. It did come with excellent buttery, cheese twists.
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Based on the correspondence with the hotel and the fact that they have my profile in their system (the four seasons is very good about keeping track of their guests likes and dislikes across their properties worldwide), they inquired whether I would be interested in their “light” tasting menu. Mind you, “light” is very subjective and you will soon see why. I was also glad to see that they had some good wines by the glass, so I ordered a 2002 Puligny-Montrachet


The bread I was initially offered was a slice of salt-free white bread. One might think that is very odd for a classic French restaurant, until the waiter pours some Tuscan olive oil from a carafe and invites you to dip the bread in it, which I willingly comply with. I have never tasted such an olive oil so full of flavor and complexity. The fluffy white bread was a perfect carrier for this amazing oil as it slowly dissolved in your mouth, releasing the oil’s aroma and leaving a slightly grassy, pungent, peppery flavor on your tongue.
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Next were 2 amuse bouches – the first was goat’s milk cheese wrapped in a thin slice of zucchini and topped with a pimento pepper (pictured next to champagne above) . Amuse Bouche # 2 was a thin Canoli like shell, filled with a puree of chestnut, cepes and truffle. I was also presented with other bread such as baguette, bread with lardon and country bread, with unsalted and salted butter. I wish I could get such great mini baggets locally. The crust was not too thick and had a nice crunch, while the inside was filled with air pockets and chewy.
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The first course was “Risotto” of eggplant with Cepes (porcini) and a few olives. The eggplant was fantastic, not only in taste, but especially in texture. It really did have the texture of a slightly soft arborio or bomba rice.
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Next, was Pan Seared Scallops Root Vegetables and Cream Sauce – The sweetness of the scallops complemented the excellent cream sauce.
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Wider shot of plate
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For the next course I had a choice between Veal in Lobster Sauce with Carrots and Artichoke or Pigeon in truffle sauce. Since I already had pigeon the night before, I chose the veal and requested that it be prepared the way Chef prefers to which the head waiter quickly responded – pink ! and gave a smiled. This was a good choice for the sauce alone. The veal was well cooked (a tad bit stringy), but I loved the lobster sauce, which the waiter came over with some extra and poured over the meat. The bread stick like thing resting on the "lobster sausage" was a piece of what I will call "french toast".
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By this time I was convinced that someone was playing a joke by calling it a “light” tasting menu.

Next came the Formage cart. Don’t ask me to name them all, but I did get a selection of cheeses with the help of my very friendly waiter. I forgot to take a picture of the cheese on my plate.
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Now for something that gives this restaurant that little extra (in addition to the personalized china, etc) which probably contributed to the 3 stars. They exchange your napkin used for the meal with a smaller one more appropriate for dessert. To “get you in the right mood”.

Then came the pre-dessert, a “minestrone” of fruit. Hard to describe the texture and taste of the cake, but it was dense outside, soft inside and felt like it had dates. The fruit was mango and pineapple.
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Then came a Passion fruit crème brulee on top of mango, pineapple and passion fruit. Sorry for not having a picture of it, I can’t believe I did not capture it.

Next, I was presented with a drink menu of coffee (Gand Cru Blue Mountain), Chocolat Choid (hot chocolate), Aperitifs, etc to which I selected the Chocolat Choid. A few moments later came the dessert cart. I was full, but couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to taste their rendition of my favorite sweet, marzipan, along with kitchen made marshmallow and some chocolates. They even pour you a special mineral water (poured in the glass with the blue tint in the picture below) to “energize you” after the lunch. For those who don’t believe that water can have different tastes, I challenge you to try this one. If you can taste the different between Fiji and tap water, this is another quantum leap.
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Two hours later, I was glad the meal came to an end and thankful to have such a great experience. I have been to many restaurants, some more expensive, but none came as close to a perfect dining experience as the one I had at Le Cinq. The wait staff were charming, polite, appeared out of nowhere like magicians and moved with a grace of dance professionals. The head waiter noting that I enjoyed food even gave me a complimentary copy of Les Grande Tables du Monde.

I have been thinking about the food, the service, the décor, the ambiance…what would I change? How can they improve? And nearly 24 hrs later, I can’t think of anything but trival, minute things. I have an overwhelming amount of good things that come to mind. A new bar has been set.

In summary, this restaurant has reinstated my trust in the Michelin guide and is truly a bargain when compared to the other 3 star restaurants.

Cheers
Percy

Edited by percyn, 13 November 2006 - 06:36 AM.