Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pure Nordic Tastes at Viking Line

Nordic flavours and the the clean ingredients of the Scandinavian cooking, courtesy of the clean Scandinavian nature, have been a growing trend for some time now. Inspired by them the chefs at Viking Line, a Scandinavian ferry company, created a new menu for the red boats' á la carte-restaurants which pays homage to all the wonderful ingredients at their prime right now: all the wild mushroom, berries, game, local fish... 

Pure Nordic Tastes is available on all Viking Line boats for October and November, but I got to sample the selection already last week. 

It was such fun to get to talk about the men behind the menu about everything that goes into creating one. And it's always exciting to get to explore the boat behind the scenes, you know, without the passengers. When everything is being prepared for the travellers, tax free is being cleaned, pianist is rehearsing for the evening...

We got to hear about where everything was sourced, all the goodies on the new menu, the inspiration behind it and the new investments that were required.

Viking Line sources many of its Champagnes directly from France, meaning that many of the Champagnes available in the restaurants and in the tax frees are not available anywhere else in Finland. 

Pure Nordic Tastes- menu, along with the accompanying wine menu are very attractively priced (food €38, wines €22). 

Marrying food with beer is another growing trend and every dish on the menu comes with a beer recommendation, too. Northern expertize is showcased there too: the beers are sourced from the Northernmost brewery in the world, a family-owned Mack in Tromsø.

Our journey around the Nordics started with warm chanterelle toast and smoked reindeer tongue crisps. Dear me, what a delicacy reindeer tongue is! And such as treat with chanterelles which got a lovely creamy richness from Västerbotten ost - #1 cheese in Sweden. 

Next up was lightly toasted fillet of cod. First brined, then gently poached in the oven to 49º, then chilled, topped with a fennel seed and paprika crust and then torched away. Wonderfully meaty, though I could have used a little bit more salt. And inside that cucumber parcel? Salad made of Barents Sea king crab!

The recommended wine for this dish was Marlborough'n Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc and its passion fruit-like fruity acidity worked well. Gulmack beer was a nice, crisp new acquaintance, too.

The main course, roasted ptarmigan came with dreamily light and crunchy shaving of ptarmigan fat and was so good there could have been a bit more of them.  The sauce, made of the ptarmigan carcass got a lovely sharp edge form raspberry vinaigrette. The ptarmigan was cooked to deep pink perfection but should you be that way inclined (please. Don't be.) it can be served well cooked too. 

The side dish was served in adorable little French cast iron pots (no, I didn't take any of them home as a souvenir...) The root veggies were cooked perfectly: they were still firm, but overall they had a lovely, risotto-like creaminess. Oh, how I loved it. 

The wine pairing for this was Vino Nobile de Montepulciano from Avignones.  Nice. The beer (Mack Bokøl) had lovely, soft chocolatey toastiness and apparently it would work well with desserts, too...!

French toast we had for pudding was made using brioche commissioned form France (doh...). Lovely butteriness, but I would have preferred a little more custary michness that French toast normally has. Lingonberry ice cream was a success though: they'd managed to avoid the temptation to go overboard with sugar and it had that lovely tartness typical for the berry. Meadowsweet coulis and dust made of dried blueberries were also a hit among us diners.

Nordic berries were the star in delicious, handmade pralines made in Åland, too. I definitely recommend!

The Chilean dessert wine from Torres, Nectaria, was made of Botrytis Riesling was a nother new for me. Lovely, balanced wine. 

PS. The selection at the buffet restaurants have been revamped to suit the Nordic theme, too. Ooh, I can feel the ferry travel fever coming on...!




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