Friday, 16 May 2014

When you let a blogger loose in a professional kitchen...

Just about anyone enjoys a meal painstakingly put together by a top chef in state of the art-professional kitchen. But then there's the type that derives even more enjoyment when they themselves are made to do all the work. That type, my friends, is food blogger. Dieta Heres who kits out restaurants invited bloggers to get to know their business and enjoy a five-course dinner designed by the chef at an award-winning restaurant Bistro Sinne in Porvoo. But executed by a fellow blogger...!

And anyone who's ever had the honour and joy to meet this esteemed colleague of mine knows that they're in for a blast. And that you can't keep her down even just for a photo...

Dieta is 100% Finnish and, if needed, will take care of all the needs of a starting restaurant: from equipment to crockery and design to maintenance. We were also let loose in their show room. For which we were a very grateful audience: no food blogger ever has complained about having enough dishes...!

And oh, the joy of snooping around a  professional kitchen where functionality has really been honed to perfection, equipped with all the treats! I wouldn't say no to cooking in one of those... Kai from Sinne (where do you think his masterpiece of a kitchen came from? Dieta, of course!) probably noticed too.  Luckily Nanna was on hand to show him how...!

The menu was based on Swedish chef Paul Svensson who recently did a stint as a special guest star at Sinne. It was a celebration of local producers, seasonal ingredients, the oh-so-trendy wild herbs, exploitation of family members (wood sorrel for instance is hand-picked for the restaurant by Kai's Dad!), dazzling techniques, Nordic traditions and brilliant combinations of flavours and textures. The result was sheer and utter bliss. For all senses. Ooh.

Norway lobster to start with. Wonderfully meaty. Brined for 10 minutes and and cooked for just seconds. Served with sauce that was nothing short of divine.

And then fish. Blow-torched kind. And bathed in brine. And God knows what else.

The initially planned white fish had been replaced with zander. Not that we complained! Breathtakingly beautiful and summery dish in which several components got their finishing touch from browned butter.

And my - it's almost perverse how exciting it is to watch dishes being so beautifully put together by professionals.

The star of the main course was duck from Alhopakka on the Finnish coast, which according to Mr Svensson is the best in Scandinavia. No objections here! The plates also featured beetroot (ooh!) and duck liver mousse (ooh AND ooh!). The sauce was made of stock cooked from dusch carcasses and meat from duck leg confits (you know how I feel about those!) and fermented raspberries. You know, the kind of no-fuss meals that are put together in no time and are at the table within half an hour so you have something to feed the kids before their footie practice...!

Burrata was heavenly rich and creamy. Spruce needle oil had been swopped to pine needle oil and its birch-like aroma was delightfully summery.

But the dessert. The dessert! Even those at our table who normally "don't go for sweet stuff" couldn't get enough of this one. Wild strawberries, rhubarb poached in thyme-infused liquid, mousse made with Turkish yogurt and cream, Swiss-style meringue cooked in Bain Marie and hard meringue crumble infused with liquorice (at least).

You didn't think that was all, did you? Arcus Finland has sent over a bar tender who came up with a new cocktail tailored for each course. They, too, made the most of surprising combinations, fresh herbs and lesser utilized liquors such as aquavit and absinthe.

A big thanks to Dieta, Kai, Nanna and all the fellow diners - some familiar, some new faces from the blogosphere. What an honour it is to be part of a crowd like you guys!




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