108, Noma’s little sister

108

Almost one year ago, Kristian Baumann, opened the ´terrestrial´ version of one of the best restaurants in the world. He worked for some time at Noma, then he left to help Christian Puglisi to open Manfreds and Relæ and stayed with him for four years. After that, Baumann began to have many ideas that he felt in the need to start his own project. An then, he went back to the master: René Redzepi. They talked; Baumann had the motivation, but not enough money and Redzepi wanted to open a restaurant catered to a wider audience, but not led by him. What a wonderful coincidence isn’t it? That is how 108 was born.

108 is now considered Noma’s little sister because Baumann has Redzepi as a bussiness partner, but not only for that. They share a common style with their food essence: Noma (Copenhagen, of course) is characterized for the use of traditional Scandinavian ingredients, but they have to deal with seasonality and harsh winter. In order to still use this ingredients no matter the season, they both make use of fermentation techniques to preserve their ingredients. Baumann’s 108, have tree main piles in his cuisine: the first pillar is the use of herbs, flowers and greens, which they source locally. Second pillar is the pantry, where they keep all their wild produce. And third, and maybe the most iconic: fermentation. This last pillar has become so iconic for Noma’s cuisine (and now for 108) that they share a fermentation laboratory where a lot of formal research is being made!

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Nevertheless, 108 maintains a particular identity which separates it from Noma. The atmosphere here is much more relaxed an casual: people hang their own coats, people serve their own wines, waitress are casually dress and they leave a lot of the traditional formality behind just to make you feel more comfortable and relax. For example, when I asked a kitchen personal that brought our main course “which dessert will you recommend?” he answered to me, “I am so sorry, but I am a little child that does not know very well what I like, so I always have to first ask my mommy”, and then he turned around and asked our waitress “Mommy, what dessert I like the most?”. I found this funny, and really honest.

The food

Another aspect which makes 108 different from Noma is the menú dinamic. 108 does not have a tasting menú. Instead, it has seven savory dishes and three desserts from what you can choose. It also has the ´Livretter´ which is the danish word for -your favorite dishes- and are intended to be served in a family-style (to be shared with two to four people).

Of course at the beginning: bread. This is common in all restaurants, and I usually do not pay atention because, of course… is just bread. But the sourdough from 108 is just impossible to forget, probably the best bread I have ever had. And I certainly saved a piece to chopped into the glazed pork belly (so classy of me!).

As a main dish, I went for the Glazed Pork Belly with salted apples and last year’s redcurrant. I must say that the apples were a surprise for me. They were salted with a spice that reminded me a spicy candy in México (a type of ate enchilado). The apples in that dish felt really Mexican to me.

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-17 at 5.34.37 PMOne of the desserts was Rausu Kombu Ice Cream with toasted barley and an oil of blackcurrant wood. Surprising detail here for my own personal experience was the use of a raw oil on a desert. I would say it works pretty well, specially since blackcurrant wood oil is extremely aromatic! (Blackcurrant is native to northern Europe).

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I also ordered a sorbet of wild blackcurrants with hazelnut milk. The sorbet was sour, but had a crust of sugar on the top. The hazelnut milk was also a strange element for me in the dessert, since everything was already so black and white (sorbet super sour and crust of sugar super sweet) but the hazelnut milk was kind of the calm of the dish: a really neutral flavor.

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With only one year since it first opened, 108 has been already awarded one Michelin Star. This award has bring a bittersweet discussion to the table in whether 108 really deserves the Michelin Star. From one side, I have read (mostly informal reviews) that 108 is lacking the ´formality´ to be awarded as a Michelin Star restaurant. Some people find it really unpleasant to be sited so closed from one to another table, or for waiters to be so casual. And even worst: they find it even offensive to be asked to hang their coats themselves. Also, Baumann has been criticized of being  too straightforward with his dishes, and lacking of the´wow´ factor.

Regarding criticisms, I have a very strong opinion on this: haters gonna hate. If people go to the 108 hopping to have the typical Michelin Star experience with all this ´chick´ little details in the service, they are gonna be disappointed. As how I see it, 108 is about creating a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy your meal an enjoy the evening with whomever you are with. And for me, that is specifically what I search on a dinning experience. After a nice dinner, I remember the environment, and I remember the food. Baumann has break this Michelin Star tabú about being extremely over-done and elegant, to create a more ´terrestrial´ experience, to stop drifting and focus on what really matters: the food. As Baumann stated in one of his interviews:  “It’s okay to do something comforting, as long as it’s delicious. You don’t have to challenge people all the time.”

The corner

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The Corner is a cafe which is part of the 108 building. It is connected to the restaurant. They serve coffee and danish pastries from early in the morning, wine at midday, and the dish of the day as a lunch from 11.30 til 14.30.

Alex Villar is the Chef de Partie. Their pastries are characterized for the use of beef caramel as a topping in their pastries. Beef caramel is a fermented beef stock from the Noma’s fermentation lab, reduced with sweet and savory. They also have another typical danish pastry, which they covered with concentrated aronia berry concentrated, which has been reduced with kelp (a seaweed) and gives an umami flavor to the pastry.

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References

Noma’s Casual Spin-Off Restaurant 108 Copenhagen Wins it’s First Michelin Star

Inside 108. The new restaurant from Kristian Baumann and René Redzepi

108 CPH: Noma’s Stunningly Unstuffy New Copenhagen Cafe

Noma’s taste of tomorrow: creating the future of food

Noma’s sister restaurant opens in Copenhagen

Sweet Swiss!

I recently made a one day trip to Zürich. So I made my homework: write down all the places I wanted to visit in and fit them to schedule. Not an easy task!

Sprungli confiserie

A Swiss classic. It was opened on 1836 by David Sprungli. He was one of the pioneers of Swiss chocolate and a central piece for its worldwide reputation. At first, Sprungli started on the Marktgasse street at the Zurich town hall. In 1859, Sprungli decided to move to Paradeplatz because a train station was supposed to be constructed there, but this was not the case. Sprungli struggle for a while, but later on, Paradeplatz become become a popular meeting place at the Bahnhofstrasse in downtown Zürich. In 2017, the confiserie is still working at the same place.

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Even tho Sprungli confiserie is worldwide known for its chocolates (Lindlt & Sprungli), there is also another delight for which they are famous: the Luxemburgerli, which is in essence, a macaroon. Camille Studer, a Luxemburg pastry chef working at Sprungli, brought the recipe from a French sugar baker to Zürich in 1957, and he refined it. The result: a Zurich’s classic! Some macaroons-lovers even think Luxemburgerlis are superior to macaroons made by Ladurée.

And this is the point on my post when I admit: I do not like macaroons. This is due to one time that I had a really bad macaroon on a wedding, it was extremely sweet and its flavor was too artificial. Since then, I refused to taste macaroons again, arguing they are overrated. I still think they are overrated, specially Ladurée (which are also overpriced, in my opinion). Nevertheless, this time I decided to try the Luxemburgerlis…. and now I am in love ❤ . Macaroon-lovers claim that Luxemburgerli, unlike Ladurée macaroons, are characterized by their fresh flavor. The raw materials like butter, cream or eggs come from the Zurich region. When you buy them, the box advice to eat them  right away, since Luxemburgerlis can loose their texture due to humidity. I tried some flavors: Pistachio, champagne delux, bourbon vanilla, caramel with fleur de sal, hazelnut and raspberry (Valentine’s special). I loved the caramel with fleur de sal macaroon; the filling reminded me the dulce de leche, which I used to eat in México from time to time, but I have not been able to find it in the Netherlands.

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Läderach

Läderach is a much newer Swiss company. This chocolatier was funded by Rudolf Läderach Jr in 1962. Little by little the company grew and now it has some shops outside Swiss like Germany, Arabic Emirates and Korea. Chocolate here is magnificent and very fresh. They make large tablets of chocolate called frischschoggi which means fresh chocolate. They add different ingredients to this chocolate tablets, like pistachos, caramelized nuts, cranberries, and so on. I tried a very classic one, the Hazelnut milk. This chocolatier has a more modern ambiance, but still elegant. I think Läderach chocolates are the perfect souvenir for someone who visits Swiss 🙂 .

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Conditoreit  Schober (Peclard)

This coffee shop started as a sweets shop in 1845, un Zürich. Is located at the old town of the city, and the building itself is a Historic Monument. The coffee went to an extensive renovation on 2008 but the results were really positive. They were able to recreate the historic atmosphere with romantic details, giving you the feeling of a patisserie from France. Since the renovations, they introduce French pastries; although they of course also conserve pralinés and chocolates. Chef in charge of the Schober’ cakes, macaroons an pastries is Patrick Messiano, chief patisserie at Hotel Metropol in Montecarlo.

I took a seat in the tea room, with the read plush armchairs and the low lights that made me feel at a different century. I ordered a coffee, a cheese quiche and a almond croissant. Although everything was delicious, I did not feel the food as if it was something special 😦 . It could have been any other good bakery. Nevertheless, ambiance in this coffee shop is just magical.

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Sprungli confiserie

Zürich HB, Bahnhofstrasse, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.

website: https://www.spruengli.ch/cms/de/

Läderach

Bahnhofstrasse 106, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.

website: https://www.laederach.com/ch-en.html

Conditoreit Schober

Napfgasse 4, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

website: http://www.peclard-zurich.ch/

 

 

Black forest cherry cake at Gmeiner confiserie

I am having a serious obsession with sweets nowadays. Usually, when I visit a new city, one of my first research is: the typical dessert. I didn’t search in beforehand for this specific patisserie, but I was walking around Freiburg hopping to find a nice coffee place where I could enjoy the mythical Schawarzwalder kirschtorte . Instead, I found this lovely and very traditional confiserie with all different kinds of cakes, cookies and chocolates.

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Schawarzwalder kirschtorte, which means literally Black forest cherry-torte (Pastel Selva Negra) is a typical German dessert, specifically from the Baden region. The cake commonly consist on various layers of chocolate sponge, soaked in kirschwasser (sour cherry liquor) which is also typical from the region. The cake is filled with sour cherries and whipped cream. The bottom of the cake consist in a sweet crust similar to a biscuit, and finally is covered with whipped cream and decorated with chocolate.

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Confiserie Gmeiner is a very old cake shop in the Black Forest area in Germany. They have been making cakes for already more than 100 years, so I bet they have some experience! They have shops also at Stuttgart and Frankfurt, and even Japan!

The cake shop was lovely. Even though I wanted to order everything, I went for the classics. I asked for the Schawarzwalder kirschtorte  to go. Even the shopping bags were perfect, all girly and vintage. The cake also exceed my expectations, it was different from other Pasteles Selva Negra that I had tried in Mexico. The cherry liquor in the chocolate sponge gives the cake a really strong flavor, which contrasts the whipped cream and the bottom crust. But the best part of the cake were for sure the sour cherries in the middle.

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I am not used to fresh cherries because I’m from Mexico and we really do not have the weather to grow cherries (we would need larger and colder winters). If we consume cherries on a desert, they are usually those bright red cherries that taste like medicine (I hate them, with all my heart). But in Europe, cherries are common and therefore cherries used in bakery are fresh. And this means that the flavor will not be super sweet and artificial. In fact, tart cherries are usually a bit sour. I enjoyed this cake a lot! Wish the piece was a little bit bigger tho 😦 .

The Black Forest region in Germany has a culinary magic, and this piece of cake was just a minor proof of that. I would need an entire week to taste everything I wanted!


 

Information on Gmeiner confiserie

Kaiser Joseph Street 243, Freiburg, Germany.

Website: http://www.chocolatier.de/kh_koenig.php

 

 

Christmas lunch at Hotel de Wereld

This past Christmas I decided to give myself an special gift: a Christmas lunch at the Hotel de Wereld. For a couple of years, I have been curious about experiencing a meal in a Michelin star restaurant specially with all this Netflix documentaries.

I currently live in a small town (about 40,000 ha ) in the Netherlands: Wageningen. It is a famous place because of its University, Wageningen UR, specialized in life sciences.But Wageningen is also an historical place for the Netherlands. The city suffered  greatly during World War II; but it was also here when, in May 5 of 1945, the  German occupying forces surrender at the Hotel de Wereld. German general Johannes Blaskowitz surrender to the Canadian generals Charles Foulkes and George Kitching. Capitulation was formally signed the next day (May 6, 1945) at the entrance to the Aula, the oldest building which owns the university of Wageningen, formerly  Landbouwhogeschool. Now, each year on the 5th of May, the Liberation Day is celebrated in the Netherlands.

Restaurant O Mundo is then, not only famous because of its food but because of the history behind the place where is located.

The food

I believe this is the first time I’m writing an opinion, or personal thoughts about food from a particular restaurant. To be honest, I don’t feel completely comfortable, since I am not an expert in this matter. I didn’t studied to be a chef… or something related to food, I just, like it… So, I am just going to share with you some of my thoughts 🙂 .

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Entrance 1. Mousse of pumpkin served with foam and oil of pistachio, crunch and gel of pumpkin seeds and maple syrup.

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Entrance 2. Caramelized tomato with sesame and soy. This was one of the most interesting dishes I tasted in this menu. It was kind of unexpected mixture of flavors. The caramel with sesame seeds made me remember some candies I used to eat in Mexico when I was a kid.

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Mackerel. Served as tartar with sorrel cream, carrot flavored ice-cream, several structures of cucumber, radish and roasted black rice. Carrot ice cream was a very pleasant flavor surprise! A neutral flavor to mix with the fish.

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Wild pigeon. Rose roasted with glazed sweetbread, smoked beetroot, baked onion cream, spongecake of beetroot, cresson and vinaigrette of beetroot with capers.

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Venison. Rose roasted with gnocchi of sweet potato, sprout, chestnut, Jerusalem artichoke, crumble, crisp of bacon and its own gravy.

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Granny smith. Caramelized Granny Smith with meringue, apple gel, mousse of Ceylon tea, lemon custard, powder of clove and yogurt flavored ice-cream. Mouse of Ceylon tea! is so strange because you would have though it may be little bit tasteless, but the tea was really concentrated so the flavor of the Ceylon was definitely there. This dessert was well balanced, you had the neutral (but still spiced) flavors from the Ceylon mousse, and the acidity from the yogurt ice cream.. and then the heavy spiced caramelized apples. Really enjoyable 🙂 .

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Coffee and speculaas sweets :). Is always hard to leave a restaurant without a coffee right? feels almost like if you were incomplete. Speculaas is a very spiced biscuit (clover, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and ginger ❤ ), typical Dutch, and they are usually eaten for the Sinterklaas celebration.

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Overall, my first experience at a Michelin star restaurant was very positive! The attitude from the staff was extremely relaxed and warm, contrary of what I though. Maybe it was a prejudice of me, but I expected the ambiance to be more tense due to the nature of the restaurant itself but that was not the case. Sommelier Yvo Kwak was in charge of our table and I he was really talkative, and interested in explaining the dishes and the ingredients they were using. I really think that the warmness from the staff made our meal even more enjoyable.


Information on Restaurant O Mundo

5 Mei Plein 1, 6703 CD Wageningen, Netherlands

For reservations info@restaurantomundo.nl

http://www.restaurantomundo.nl/contact/

 

 

 

A party without a cake is just a meeting!

December is a really good month to bake, don’t you think? I usually bake a lot of cookies, fig breads, alfajores, and some canapés for this season. I still haven’t started my annual massive cookie and alfajor production, but las weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday, and we organized a small party… and since a birthday without a cake is just a meeting, I made him a Vanilla and Dulce de Leche Cake (Pastel de Vainilla y Dulce de Leche). Continue reading