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Malling & Schmidt


Mjx
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Denmark does not seem to be a particularly well-known country, especially outside of Europe (the best response I got, when I mentioned to someone at Newark airport that I'd just come from Denmark was 'Oh... yeah... the capital of... Amsterdam?'). Even those who know perfectly well where Denmark is, are unlikely to be familiar with any of its cities other than Copenhagen (although Odense, home of H.C. Andersen and an internationally familiar brand of marzipan is its 3rd largest city).

Danish restaurants? 'Noma, of course! What do you mean, "other restaurants"?'.

This is not so surprising, because Denmark is small, has about 5.5 million people, and by and large, Danish food is... edible. Anybody who thinks that Noma is even remotely representative of Danish cuisine needs to try shopping for food in Denmark.

However, there are other restaurants in Denmark that are reputed to be innovative and excellent, including Malling & Schmidt, in Århus (the 'Å', alternatively written as 'Aa' is pronounced like the 'a' in 'draw'), Denmark's second largest city. I haven't eaten there yet, since my dining-out budget is in the takeaway sandwich bracket, but my boyfriend did (business dinner given by a deeply satisfied manager), and was duly pleased and impressed. We were discussing it the other day, and I wondered whether Malling & Schmidt is known outside of Denmark; I had my doubts. However, my boyfriend felt fairly certain that among those who take food and dining seriously, the name would be familiar, at least on their radar.

What say you? Have you heard of Malling and Schmidt? And if so, where are you located?

For the curious, they have a blog, where most of the updates to their menus are posted (also a video of them in action at Madrid Fusion 2010; that's Rene Redzepi of Noma, there at the beginning); English language option is in the black bar at the very top of the page.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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WE went to Malling & Schmidt last October for my husbands birthday with foodie friends. It was excellent, very innovative and fun, and of extremely high quality. Also, the staff was very approachable, something you often sadly miss in the better places in Copenhagen.

We had a brilliant and fun evening, and the size of the wine menu meant that my recollection of the desserts are a bit hazy :-)

Is it cheating that that I'm from Århus, but live in Copenhagen?

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  • 2 months later...

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend took me out to dinner at Malling & Schmidt (M & S), a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for several years, ever since he came home from a business dinner there with an extremely enthusiastic report.

The restaurant is the joint effort of Thorsten Schmidt (Chef) and Rikke Malling, and lies a little outside the centre of Århus, the largest city in Jutland (the mainland of Denmark, bordering Germany to the south).

I was particularly interested in seeing how their premise of creating 'regional Nordic food' would turn out, since my quest (ongoing since 2000) for attractive Danish cuisine has been a little disappointing, to say the least: Although many Danes have gardens that yield wonderful produce, unless it is served fresh, it tends to be boiled at length, and since the growing season is short, most of the year only imports (mysteriously second rate or worse, despite their really high prices) are available. I've eaten at some excellent restaurants, but none that focused on locally and seasonally available ingredients. I had hopes of fresh, kindly treated produce and meat, and some interesting Danish specialities and presentations (and licorice: I love licorice).

The restaurant definitely lived up to expectations: From the site to the food, there was a sense of every detail having been carefully thought out. Their menu changes monthly; this was their June 2011 menu.

M & S do a single seating, and we arrived at 19.00 (Danes dine early, usually at about 18.00, so this was 'late'), with the sun filtering through the leaves of the linden trees outside.

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The amuse-bouche are served on the small, enclosed terrace, while you look over the menu. There is a choice of three, five, or eight courses, accompanied by three, five, or eight wines.

We considered this over a glass of wine and smoked paprika potato crisps in a sealed jar with smoking twigs,

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Something very like prosciutto, but from leg of lamb, and lightly smoked,

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and soft-cooked quail’s eggs in a nest of twigs:

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I'm not an egg person, something I got around by approaching the eggs as a completely unfamiliar food, and ended by really enjoying these; the texture of both white and yolk was almost creamy.

Having decided on the five course menu, with five wines for my boyfriend, and three for me (I was taking the pictures), we happily moved indoors (it as starting to get chilly, although a few brave souls remained outside, wrapped in the blankets provided by the management).

The kindly sommelier described each wine (and the beer) in earnest and enthusiastic detail. Unfortunately, what with my Danish being particularly thin in this area, and my having a very poor memory for wines (nope, didn't think to take notes, either), I am ashamed to say that I have no recollection of the names or vintages: I feel this needs to be mentioned, or my failure to discuss the wines might suggest they were best not discussed, which is not at all the case (to use technical terms: I really liked them).

The first course was langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus) with green gooseberries, baby greens, including nasturtium leaves, and a langoustine reduction, and made me feel glad that my birthday is in the summer:

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Some extremely good rye bread – full of rye flavour, but not at all heavy or gummy – accompanied by a flavoured butter and seasoned ymer appeared between the first course and

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the second, a straw-inspired salad of steamed new potatoes, lovage, flakes of well-aged Svendbo cheese, and a flax-straw-smoked egg yolk. This would have been a challenge for me, since I don't normally like eggs or cheese, but I'd taken a preemptive strike at my array of ingredient prejudices by carefully absorbing a couple of glasses of wine, and actually wished there had been more of this savoury mix.

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The next course was roe deer with freshly ground spices, a blackcurrant reduction, and a game foam. The flavour was full, without being harshly gamey, but texture puzzled me: It was extremely soft, almost like a pâté, and the flavour did not mesh with my idea of what venison would be like if cooked sous vide. So, we asked: it was a tartare. I confess I would have been happier without the foam, which I felt diluted the fantastic blackcurrant reduction that could have easily stood on its own (in general, although I don't dislike them, I'm not enthusiastic about loose, bubbly foams).

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The main course was pork tenderloin, with red currant preserves, small ‘charcoal briquettes’, quenelles of pork tenderloin dusted with asparagus charcoal (used, it was explained, because it does not become bitter when it carbonizes), with demi-glace, baby greens and mustard (?) flowers. This was extremely tender without being mushy, and the demi-glace left my lips nice and sticky :smile: .

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Dessert was accompanied not by a wine, but a beer, which I thought was unusual and interesting, although I had some doubts as to how this was going to work out. It actually worked extremely well with the summer vegetable ice cream (asparagus was specifically mentioned, but other vegetables may have been in there, too) and foam on a bed of immature strawberries and a Bornholm licorice sauce, adding a traditional note to an untraditional ice cream flavour (licorice is an extremely popular and familiar flavour in Denmark). The layering of flavours, textures, and temperatures made this one of the most interesting dishes, despite my initial (usual) scepticism regarding vegetable ice cream: This is something I would seriously consider making.

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We finished with coffee, which was accompanied by chocolate ‘stones’, and a brief fictional narrative involving Vikings, delivered by the slightly blushing sommelier (by this point, it was well past ten, and the light was going, so the image isn't what it could be).

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This was the perfect summer dinner, including their lovely, light take on traditional dishes, and ingredients that were in one way or another, very characteristically Danish (in terms of source/role in Danish cooking). The interior too, was full of light and air, the decor managing to steer a refreshingly welcome course between minimalist and rustic. The waitstaff was friendly without hanging all over the diners, and the open kitchen was interesting and reassuring to watch.

If you're in Denmark, and looking for a place that does terrific job of showcasing some of the most interesting and attractive ingredients that the country has to offer, Malling & Schmidt is definitely a place to check out: I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Wow. Sounds pretty amazing. What's with the Danes and the use of wood, straw and twigs? I am particularly interested in how you eat the quail egg dish. Do you spoon the soft-cooked egg out of its nest?

And for comparison's sake, what does a meal like yours cost?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Wow. Sounds pretty amazing. What's with the Danes and the use of wood, straw and twigs? I am particularly interested in how you eat the quail egg dish. Do you spoon the soft-cooked egg out of its nest?

And for comparison's sake, what does a meal like yours cost?

The eggs were just firm enough to pick up with the fingers, which is what we did.

Wood, twigs and straw? Wood is just very traditional (and makes for nice warm surfaces in a climate that runs to the cold and clammy), and I'm guessing the straw and twigs are about 'being in touch with nature', or something.

I can check their prices – I know they're listed on their site – but don't know offhand, because it was a birthday present, so I made a point of not looking. I do know that it's not cheap, however.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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  • 3 months later...

I've visited M&S a few times and Thorsten Schmidt is a lovely man, and a great talent. One of the best on the New Nordic scene. I think the tasting menu at Malling & Schmidt is one of the best in Denmark currently, and Thorsten doesn't just play around - his food is well thought through, well composed and extremely well tasting.

I recall the prices at M&S are about 890 dkr for the 9 course menu - which is a really good price for the experience. But you can actually get a 3 course menu for about 350 dkr, which is a bargain.

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I've visited M&S a few times and Thorsten Schmidt is a lovely man, and a great talent. One of the best on the New Nordic scene. I think the tasting menu at Malling & Schmidt is one of the best in Denmark currently, and Thorsten doesn't just play around - his food is well thought through, well composed and extremely well tasting.

I recall the prices at M&S are about 890 dkr for the 9 course menu - which is a really good price for the experience. But you can actually get a 3 course menu for about 350 dkr, which is a bargain.

Actually, DKK995/8 courses. For a meal of this calibre in Denmark, I agree the prices are quite good, although I don't think I'd use the term 'bargain' :wink:

I'd love to try the current menu...

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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