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

Scheveningen and Den Haag

When someone talks about the Netherlands, you start to imagine a lot of things: tulips, wooden shoes, cheese, wind mills, canals, no fue penal!, or greenhouses. But one thing that never crosses your mind: beaches. And still, in Europe at least, the Netherlands is pretty famous for its beaches. I think is mainly because their beaches actually contain a lot of fine sand.. and they are really wide and long.

Scheveningen is probably the most famous beach in the Netherlands. Pretty popular among Germans to go on holidays. It is located 7 km from the city center of Den Haag, which is actually part of the magic: the unexpected. When you walk around Den Haag, you see all this majestic buildings, you never imagine that 7 km away you would have a nice sandy beach!

I went not in the most ideal day. It was a little bit cloudy, although it was one of the most warm days we have had since this cold winter. I have to admit I was surprise when I first saw the beach, I wasn’t expecting something like that in the Netherlands. It has kind of a Santa Mónica beach feeling (maybe I’m being too optimistic), with the pier and the super long sandy beach. The only thing missing that day was the sun 😦  (and the surfers).

Scheveningen has some curiosities. One of them is the Kurhaus of Scheveningen (now called Grand Hotel Amráth The Hague), which is a five star hotel build in 1885. Besides a hotel, the Kurkhaus was also a popular concert hall (even the Rolling Stones played there in 1969). The hotel started to decay, and there where concerns about being demolished. Nevertheless, the building was saved from disappearing in 1975 and listed as an historic building.

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The most famous pier in the Netherlands is also located in Scheveningen. The pier was first constructed in 1901, made of wood on a steel foundation that was directly connected to the Kurhaus Hotel. During the World War II, the pier was completely destroyed, but a new Pier was constructed years after the war ended. This was an ambitious project: a two floor Pier with a shopping mall and a few restaurants. They invested big amounts of money, and yet the Pier went through periods of decay. The last one was in 2011, when after a fire occurred, the Pier fall into bankruptcy, and the town management had to closed it do to safety issues. The pier was renovated and re-opened on July 2015.

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Cris Scheveningen

I’ve to say, nowadays, is a pretty depressive Pier. Its under poor maintenance and it seems really neglected. It gives you the feeling of a sadness, something that back in the days could have been a fancy Pier, but now is completely forgotten. And I don’t even think is salvageable. But at the same time, is such an iconic Pier in the Netherlands, that they can’t just let it die. If I were to decide, I would just build a whole new Pier, modern.. maybe less ambitious.. and realistic to maintain.

There is also a beautiful spot in this beach: the Scheveningen Harbour Entry. The entry is surrounded by big cubes of concrete, placed as if someone just drop them off, in an unorganized way. This stone blocks serve to protect the harbor entrance from the waves . It is a very popular spot to fish.

 

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If you would continue along the coast, you would arrive to Rotterdam’s port. Is strange because Rotterdam’s port is more close to Den Haag than to the city of Rotterdam. However, is the biggest port in Europe. In fact, until 2004 was the busiest port in the World, until Shanghai and other Asian ports surpassed it.

Den Haag

Den Haag is a very special city in the Netherlands, primarily because is the sit of the dutch government, parliament and the supreme court. All embassies (or well, most of them) and also some other international organizations like the international court of Justice and the international criminal court are located in here

I would say that Den Haag is one of the most charming cities in the Netherlands, because numerous historical buildings incredible well preserved (the race for me is between Maastrich and Den Haag). Also, is not a very crowded city, like Amsterdam. So, it still  preserves its essence as an old city, with an elegant atmosphere, and is not over-exploited by tourism.

The Binnenhof is a very impressive building. Is located in the city center alongside the Hofvijver lake. I think the most impressive part about this complex of buildings is that, The Binnenhof, is the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use.  There are several other buildings, like the Palei Noordeinde (one of the official palaces of the Dutch Royalty) and the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) that definitely worth visiting.

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Visiting Den Haag is a very convenient alternative to the touristic over-exploited Amsterdam. Since is the third largest city in the Netherlands, is easy to get there (direct train from Amsterdam Central to Den Haag). Once you are there, and only if there is sun 😛 , visiting Scheveningen is something you must do! Is also convenient to get there; just take red line 1, 5 or 9 of the tram and you will be there in less than half an hour 🙂 .

Coffee pitt-stop in Den Haag!

If you want to reload energy, try Lola Bikes and Coffee. An unusual shop, since is a bike shop but also a coffee place. Besides the place itself, coffee is surprisingly good (ask for a cortado!).

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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

 

 

Madrid’s Triangle of Art, Part 1.

There is a very popular boulevard at Madrid, called Paseo del Prado. This is one of my favorites avenues, not only because it beauty itself but because of cultural load that is in it. Along this boulevard, we can find three of the most important museums in Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; and people call this set of museums as El Triángulo del Arte (Art Triangle).  Continue reading