Ingrid – August 14, 2017
I’m still in baked turbot heaven after the “Cuisine and Spirits” evening on the lovely grounds of The Danish Home last Thursday evening. Such culinary delights from Danish Chef Stig Hansen there were! And the beer and wine pairings, chosen specially to go with his various delectable dishes, were tasty, too.
Though I’m not generally a beer drinker, I particularly liked the caramelized chocolate churro-porter – anything with chocolate and caramel is a sure bet for me, especially when paired with dessert. Wine is a different story; let’s just say I like it all. As you can see from the photo of my table at the top of this post, it was in ample supply!
Offering such courses as smoked brown trout on a bed of seaweed salad, grilled lamb chop with lingonberry and horseradish glaze, creamed pearl barley with oyster mushrooms, grilled duck breast with squash and beets and, yes, baked turbot with Norwegian lobster, Chef Hansen most certainly ascribes to the “New Nordic” philosophy of haute cuisine.
“Philosophy” is not really the right word, however; New Nordic is a movement. With origins dating back to 2004, when about a dozen prominent Scandinavian chefs (most notably Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer of Copenhagen’s famed Noma restaurant) signed a “kitchen manifesto” to recommit themselves to “purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics” in cooking, New Nordic cuisine preserves traditional Nordic techniques, such as smoking and curing meats, while re-introducing the regional and seasonal produce and game of Scandinavia.
Old Nordic recipes have re-surfaced, too, as have conversations with those old enough to remember the natural goodness of foods that weren’t shrink-wrapped or imported from the other side of the world. I imagine my great-great-great-grandmother Olivia Rose, a founder of The Danish Home, knew quite a bit about those old recipes…and nothing about shrink wrap!
A little over ten years ago, Claus Meyer and his culinary associates began to look into the history of agricultural production, learning that the world-wide success of clinically perfect foods had a devastating effect on small, local farms, forcing them to shut down.
“Why,” they wondered, “can’t such a large, relatively unspoiled area, blessed with rich soil, a temperate climate and wild seas, provide more?” No reason at all, they determined, and the New Nordic movement was born.
The movement has disciples, too, and not just top chefs like Meyer and Stig Hansen. My roommate Lindsay, whose grandfather, “Farfar,” is a resident of The Danish Home, told me that there’s an annual MAD (Danish for food) Symposium in Copenhagen that is something like TED, Burning Man and SXSW all rolled into one.
But the focus is definitely on Scandinavian food, no matter how metaphysical or arty things get. The two-day event takes place in a circus tent along the waterfront, attracting aspiring chefs, cooks, farmers, journalists, food professionals, and people who simply enjoy food, too. MAD itself is described as “a non-profit organization that brings together a global cooking community with a social conscience, a sense of curiosity and an appetite for change.”
While I’m not known for my cooking, the “Cuisine and Spirits” event inspired me to look into some New Nordic recipes and give them a shot on my own. The first one I think I’ll tackle is a turbot in breadcrumbs with trumpet mushrooms. Then, I may try my hand at dessert with a rhubarb trifle, reminiscent of the yummy fresh fruit trifle with crème fraiche that Chef Hansen created.
And if neither of them appeals to my palate, I’ll be sure to have my favorite sauvignon blanc on hand.