This year started like a Hitchcock’s movie – from an earthquake and a trip to Frantzén, the first (and yet the only) three-star restaurant in Sweden. And then it got only better: the new Noma and Copenhagen again and again, Sweden, idyllic Poland and imperial Moscow …
Looking at the ready list I reassure myself, that what I like most is clarity and consistency, allowing the ingredients to fully express their best. Again, on the list, there is a lot of Scandinavia places, and its probably just because there I find places and chefs whose ideas are close to mine. But, with no further ado, let’s bring the stuff on the table. This list was supposed to close in 10 dishes, but … it did not work out. So let’s make it 20. Well, it was just how awesome this year was.
1. Scallop with kabu turnip and pickled ginger flowers, Frantzen ***, Stockholm
The dish tasted the way it looked: clean, elegant, subtle. Playing quietly but in beautiful harmony. Delicate crunchiness of the turnip was a perfect counterpoint to the scallop, so as the fruity acidity of the ginger and the sweetness of the mussel. An ideal prelude to the rest of the perfect enforced meal.
2. Fried langostine, Frantzen ***, Stockholm
The second dish in the list, from the same restaurant. Simply fried Norwegian langoustine tail on a layer of crispy koshihikari rice. Meat was perfectly soft and sweet in taste. Served on a piece of black stone, to eat with your hands. Served with whipped clarified butter infused ginger and sprinkled with powdered green onion. So little and yet so much.
3. Pike perch with leek, Daniel Berlin Krog **, Skane-Tranas
In the past year, I managed to finally reach a restaurant that has been on my „to visit list” for a while – Daniel Berlin Krog. And this time the reality met my expectations. From the first dish to the petit-fours (packed as a takeaway by the chef, so I could snack on them on the plane), every element of the dining experience simply clicked to another, and the individual dishes shaped a beautiful whole. It would be difficult to choose the one and only dish. That’s why I chose two 😉 The first one is zander with leek – slices of raw, delicate fish are intricately layered with layers of baked, sweet leek, watering the whole with umami-sour sauce from gooseberry, dill and kombu. All flavors in perfect proportions, none was lost and none of them was an excess.
4. Roasted celeriac, Daniel Berlin Krog **, Skane-Tranas
The second dish from Daniel Berlin Krog is a true icon of the place. But this title is fully deserved, especially that it happened long ago before the „no waste” trend made it fully into the restaurant business. The whole dish is based on a celery root, which is baked for 8-10 hours in a wood-fired oven until the skin is completely charred. The pulp of the baked root is served with a delicate, muslin sauce made of leftover pieces of the veggie and seasoned up with oil from its green parts, and the charred shells are used to bake bread. Importantly, this is not art for sake of it, but the dish is genuinely tasty and well-integrated into the whole menu.
5. Shrimps with fruits of the previous summer and chanterelles, Noma, Copenhagen
My favourite dish from the first menu of the „new” Noma. Sweet shrimps, sour fruit, delicate chanterelles. Surprisingly spring-summer for the middle of grey winter.
6. Milks skin pancake with truffles, Noma, Copenhagen
The vegetarian menu in Noma was a great surprise for me. Mostly because usually when you think about vegetables, especially in the middle of summer, you would think of light, crispy flavors. Meanwhile, Noma’s plant based symphony was loaded with umami – and butter – to the brim. And although probably the most Instagrammed dish was the celeriac shawarma, for me the most delicious dinner dish was probably a pancake made of milk skin , stuffed with fatty cheese and covered neatly with truffle slices. It was a salty-creamy point, nicely tying fingers and chin. Seemingly simple, but still giving the question „how the hell they did it”.
7. Potatoe bread, Amass, Copenhagen
For the first I have tried it during the Seed Exchange festival at the Christian Puglli’s farm. And this year I was able to eat during a proper lunch at Amass. Satisfying as much as addictive. Soft, filling yet fluffy, very „Polish” in taste. Probably it could make as a whole meal – especially with a knob of butter and some good oxidized wine on the side,
8. Pizza, Kwasne Jabłko Włodowo
The best pizza of the year (as I cannot give the award to the Copenhagen’s Beast for the second time ;-), although it was not eaten this year for the first time. Long-fermented dough, high-quality ingredients, homemade tomato sauce. And a glass of dry cider of old apple vireo. Cheers!
9. Pancake with Kamchatka crab, Savva, Moscow
Taking from tradition, but worthy of a modern, elegant restaurant. Buttery, deep-fried pancake, hiding sweet meat at the point of a prepared crab, plus a sauce with the addition of salmon roe. I hope to come back for more.
10. Hake, caviar, buttermilk; Geranium ***, Copenhagen
The meal at Geranium was one of the most beautiful I had last year or maybe even in my life. Again, what took my heart was the absolute consistency of the concept, the perfect balance between elegance and the sense of comfort I experienced as a guest; between simplicity and sophistication. And that was the dish – simple but exclusive at the same time. And just damn delicious. Pieces of white fish are first covered in a powder of roasted parsley, rolled tightly and then cut into thin slices, making into a beautiful marble pattern when served on a plate. All served with a simple sauce made of buttermilk and caviar. A dish that makes you cry from happiness.
11. Panucho with dzikilpak paste, Sanchez, Copenhagen
Sanchez was my love at first sight – mainly because the place revealed a completely different face of Mexican cuisine to me. And an example of this was panucho – fresh, soft corn tortillas, stuffed with a savory „dzikilpak” pumpkin seed paste (imagine something between pistachio butter and nutty, cold pressed pumpkin seed oil) and garnished with a pile of herbs and micro greens seasoned up with some lime. I hope this will return to the menu (Rosio, please please?)
12. Hokkien prawn mee, hawker Tiong Bahru, Singapur
Simply egg and rice noodles with egg, squid and shrimp. I do not know what they add to it, but its addictive. And forever I will associate this dish with my first trip to Singapore.
13. Crab and waffles, Barr, Copenhagen
Copenhagen Barr excels at tweaking the classics of the Danish home comfort cuisine. And so it was here. Warm, aromatic waffles, fried on brown butter, perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft in the center. Served with „salad” made of layers of gherkins, pickled green strawberries, crab meat and sour cream.
14. Kohlrabi, apple, oyster, AOC, Copenhagen (for Lexus Hybrid Cuisine)
Light, summery, tasting like the color of the vegetable it was hidden in.
15. Dumplings with fava bean, goat cheese and mint; Jadka, Wrocław
It’s hard not to love dumplings. Especially when they come with the last green asparagus of the season and the first sweet fava beans. Mellowy, bathed in refreshing, mint and dill oil. A perfect twist on home style cooking with some elegant refine.
16. Churros with parfait and cream, Sanchez, Copenhagen
Sanchez is one of my favorite restaurants in Copenhagen. And this dessert was one of the best I’ve eaten last year. Perfect churros, crispy but not dry, parfait served in the optimal temperature and a dollop of bitter cream on top. Indulgence , but not overpowering.
17. Ice cream with strawberries, Vollmer, Malmo
A dessert that evoked all the childhood memories of simple creamy ice creams with a handful of juicy, ripe strawberries. Here the ice cream are made practically just of heavy cream and are churned just before serving. Completed with a single strawberry poached with bay leaves. We ate and we smiled.
18. Kombu ice cream with caviar, 108 *, Copenhagen
Apparently this is already a tradition that a dessert from 108 must make it to the „The best of list”. This time ice cream flavored with kombu, served with caviar. I had it twice twice (though probably it’s a sin to eat twice the same dish in a restaurant that always has something new on the menu; but I simply couldn’t resist). I know, I know, I can already hear you saying that adding caviar is a „cheap trick” and a banal way to enrich the dish. But I executed a small mental experiment and tried to come up with a different ingredient that would give the same effect as a heaped teaspoon of black caviar. And, well, there is no such thing. The saltiness and sea oiliness of the caviar turned out to be almost created for greasy, creamy ice-cream, tasting – just like butter, as if it were nuts, and again like a nori flakes covered with salty caramel. In this dessert everything matched – the temperature of its elements, the consistency of ice cream. And finally – the way of administration.
19. Avocado, cream, caviar, Amelia *, San Sebastian
Again dessert with caviar and ice cream, but different from the offer from 108.
20. Cream, honey, wild strawberries, Water and Wine, Sprout
What to do when in early November life gives you the last seasonal, wild strawberries? Nothing. Or rather – as little as possible. That’s what Marek Flisiński and Kamil Raczyński did, treating the fruits simply and homey in style, serving them with sour cream covered with a shell of honey. Let’s fight for such desserts!
At the end, two special awards for not so many dishes, what additions. First of all – butter at 108 and 108 Corner. Supposedly, but in this case, AŻ butter, whose fatness was broken by the taste of leavened cream, and the whole was slaughtered, giving the usually heavy addition of celestial lightness. The acidic butter at the point suits the restaurant’s bread, moist and meaty, deep in flavor, with a caramel-baked thick crust. Hashtag # grubomasło was probably born here.
Secondly – a sauce of whiskey egg yolks that was served in Noma for fried velvet flowers. In my opinion, especially for the sale of Noma, should set up a souvenir shop.