Tag Archives: Food

The Long Tail of Winter

White fluffy stuff? Not so much this year... (Photo credit: Amass Restaurant)

White fluffy stuff? Not so much this year… (Photo credit: Amass Restaurant)

The end of winter in Scandinavia can go one of two ways.

Scenario 1: In February/early March the sun actually shows up. The temperature rises to 5C or 6C and everyone gets excited. Vegetation shoots up and you say to yourself, “Yes, spring is here!!!” Then it snows and everyone freaks out.

Scenario 2: From January until April, the temperature fluctuates between -5 C and 12 C.

Scenario 2 has been the trend over the past few years. I had a friend send me a picture of ramson shoots right before Christmas. Ramsons are not supposed to sprout until the end of March. Before, you used to commit to a menu to get you through the dead of winter. Those days are gone. This winter the temperature dropped below freezing for a total of 13 days. Now cooking in the Nordic regions during the winter is about being able to change and adapt. I think it is safe to say that we can all thank climate change for the variable weather patterns.

 

How do I give this carrot a texture and flavor beyond a normal carrot? (Photo credit: Amass Restaurant)

We’re used to working like this in the summer, but the main difference is that we don’t have the amount or the variety of products. I always start to stress a little as the colder months approach. The first few dishes seem to be missing something. But the dishes aren’t missing anything. It’s the mentality – you have to switch into a different mode. After a month, a sense of calm comes over you and you embrace the products that you have. You start to look at them for the potential they have rather than what they’re missing. You are constantly thinking to yourself, “How do I make this beet root taste more like a beet root than it does naturally?” and “How do I give this carrot a texture and flavor beyond a normal carrot?” Then right when you make peace with the winter…….it ends.

You might think that early spring comes as a relief. Not really. It’s the time of year that truly tests your capacity to keep cooking seasonally. Others order white asparagus from France and peas from Italy a month before they are ready in Denmark. You could easily give in and take the easy road. Or you can define your terroir and pay the greatest respect to it by listening to what it is saying to you. Last year we changed our menu more times in the months of April and May than we did during the months of July and August. Mother Nature was giving us a run for our money. I cursed her name a few times, but in the end it only made us stronger as a team and as a restaurant. As we enter these challenging and exciting couple of months, I want to wish every chef out there good luck. Let the products talk to you. They know what’s best.

Big In Japan

I’m still exploring Japan and finding out that there is more than I can possibly capture in any of these photos. Fermented squid guts? Check. Mahagony clams? Yep. (Sorry Roddie…) And souvenirs for the folks back home in Denmark? Smoked octopus beak.

So I have come to find out that most beef in Japan is from Australia because all the beef in Japan that is produced is of such high quality that it is too expensive. (Photo Credit: Amass)

So I have come to find out that most beef in Japan is from Australia because all the beef in Japan that is produced is of such high quality that it is too expensive. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Fish market in Otaru (Photo Credit: Amass)

Fish market in Otaru (Photo Credit: Amass)

Sorry Roddie. These little guys exist in Japan as well. Let Battle Mahagony Clam begin! (Photo Credit: Amass)

Sorry Roddie. These little guys exist in Japan as well. Let Battle Mahagony Clam begin! (Photo Credit: Amass)

These ladies produce about twenty different kinds of fish cakes. They sell out everyday. They would give the Danes a run for their money. (Photo Credit: Amass)

These ladies produce about twenty different kinds of fish cakes. They sell out everyday. They would give the Danes a run for their money. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Breakfast of champions. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Breakfast of champions. (Photo Credit: Amass)

The view from the best bakery I have ever set foot in. They open at 11:00 and sell out by 12:00. (Photo Credit: Amass)

The view from the best bakery I have ever set foot in. They open at 11:00 and sell out by 12:00. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Smoked Tofu. This smoke shop sold smoked octopus beak. I bought a bag to bring home. OUTRAGEOUS!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)

Smoked Tofu. This smoke shop sold smoked octopus beak. I bought a bag to bring home. OUTRAGEOUS!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)

Ioanna and Hisashi picked this spot for lunch. The first serving was raw squid legs marinated in its own fermented guts. The owner pointed at me and said that the foreigner probably should have something else. I finished mine first :). Everything we ate was just grilled and came from the waters right out in front of the restaurant. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Ioanna and Hisashi picked this spot for lunch. The first serving was raw squid legs marinated in its own fermented guts. The owner pointed at me and said that the foreigner probably should have something else. I finished mine first :). Everything we ate was just grilled and came from the waters right out in front of the restaurant. (Photo Credit: Amass)

The broth is the highlight of the show in every soup. (Photo Credit: Amass)

The broth is the highlight of the show in every soup. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Sake+beer = The best ramen of your life. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Sake + Beer = The best ramen of your life. (Photo Credit: Amass)

Scandinavia representing!!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)

Scandinavia representing!!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)