Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hey Dad...

I forgot to say so on the phone, but the blackberries in the back are beautiful again this year. Great memories of picking them last summer. At the perfect stage of ripeness, so they were big, sweet and juicy for breakfast.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More wine bars

We were in a couple of other good wine bars:

Le Baron Rouge, 1 , rue Théophile Roussel, off Place Alígre, the market square. A good local place, our 'hosts' recommendation. A wine store with an old zinc bar, where you can get a glass of wine and a bite of cheese and charcuterie. They have oysters Sunday morning, we didn't catch that, pity. Lots of good Loire wines, the Paris locals. Some other stuff, too. We had two nice Loire reds - Borgeuil og Chinon - and brought a nice white, Touraine, home. Wines by the glass, bottle and in your own container from casks along the walls.

Lavinia, 3-5, bd. de la Madeleine. More for the wine store, it has a huge selection of wines and spirits. The bar itself, on the 1st floor, is rather soul-less. We had glasses of chablis and champagne with a little food, everything ok, nothing memorable. Closes 8.30 PM. Lots of wine accessories. We played guessing games for a long time with Le nez du vin, the sæt of small bottles of wine aromas - ceder, quince, gardenia. No sweaty saddel, though...



There's something nice about having the demons frowning down on my head from their perch on Notre Dame. Instead of having them living inside. I used to think that the most important thing was getting rid of them altogether, that that was the ultimate freedom. Now it feels more free just to live kindly, whether they're there or not.

It's great to be back home, haven't completely left Paris yet, though.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Le Baratin

A super little wine bar/bistro without white tablecloths, 3, rue Jouye-Rouvé, Belleville in the 20th arrondissement. Metro: Pyrenées. A great find by my otherwise food-uninterested companion in Pariscope, the what's-on-in-Paris-this-week mag. Our last dinner in Paris, couldn't have been better. Delicious food and wine; warm, knowledgable people, full of wry humor. There was soul in everything.

We had a mild quail/onion appetizer, beef cheeks in a summer variation, with a light bouillon and new vegetables. Topped with pureed sorrel, that donated the acidity, that kept the whole dish light. Mussels, too, and a delicious cherry dessert with vanilla mascarpone cream. The food builds on the French classics with new variations. We had a great time with the people at the next table, they told us that the cook is Argentinian, a woman.

The wines: a Loire chenin, Benoit Couralts Gilbourg, a table wine, VdTdF. Chenin is one of my favorites, this one had the body and little tight bzzz, that I go after. Mmmm. Class. Then a Bandol, good. For dessert I had a Côteaux du Layon, Loire's well kept sweet wine secret, from Domaine Cousin-Leduc. Organic. As good as everything else, and I'd been longing for a glass all week. The waiter brought some great sweet bubbly rosé, too, that was perfect with the cherries.

Not expensive. 40 Euros/55 dollars for two, tip included. We called first, a good idea... they've got 10 or 12 tables, and it's crowded. You can buy their wines to take home, too. Great place.


Last nectarine...

The last plate of breakfast fruit in Paris, a last portion of sweet, ripe white nectarines and rasberries. One of my all time favorite fruit kombos, a classic that just keeps tasting good, year in, year out. Sheer pleasure. Perfect with a madeleine and some ewe's milk yogurt.

I'm really going to miss the fruit. Damson plums, greengages, peaches, apricots, melons. Muscat grapes. All juicy, headily perfumed and sweet. Bought at the markets, the good, daily at Place de Alígre (Metro Ledru Rollin next time you're in the neighborhood) and the big Sunday market, that starts at Place Bastille. Chosen to be at the perfect stage of ripeness to eat for todays lunch or tomorrow evening.... Ohh the precision! and the quality it ensures!


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I've wanted to drink wine at Willi's Wine Bar in Paris, rue des Petits Champs, for a while, even more so after my helper at Mad med mere worked there a few years ago. We weren't disappointed. The wines were delicious, a 2004 Jurançon sec from Cahaupé and a Tokaii, 3 puttonyos - sorry, no details, I'll have to get used to taking notes - that was perfect with our rasberry dessert.

The food was good, the waiters were freindly and knowledgeable. I've more or less lost my desire to comment on the food and wine. Both were the way they should be, 'just' there, a part of the experience. Each playing their unique part. There are so many important condtions and choices, that make up the 'just', so it feels completely natural, completely effortless. Elegance, the goal of all my recording and analysing.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Champs Elyseés

It's a bit anticlimactic this year, cheering for the boys with their beautiful shaved legs and colored jerseys on the podium on this mythical boulevard. Sad...


Saturday, July 28, 2007


Back again in this beautiful city. In the apartment we've traded with a French couple through Home Exchange. So good to spend our vacation in a real home instead of a hotel.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A good hamburger

We had a great garden day, dug flower beds, cut down trees, built frames for the roses to climb on, put up the washline. Thanks, guys! And ate some great cheesebugers for lunch.

My local halal butcher has good chopped beef. Made the burgers on the barbecue, with just a bit of black pepper and oil. Salt and a slice af aged Irish cheddar, when they were turned over. On toasted rolls with tomato slices, fresh garden lettuce, thin slices of new onions. Ketchup for the boys. Really simple, with prima ingredients... really tasty!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Baking powder bisquits

These are made from Craig Claiborne's recipe from The New York Times Cookbook. I grew up with it and bought a used copy a couple of years ago. Complete nostalgia... The bisquits are more scone-like than those my mom and grandmother made, though. For 6-8 bisquits:

1/2 cup flour
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 butter in small pieces (orig. hardened vegetable shortening)
3-4 tbsp. cold water
2 tbsp. heavy cream, optional

Preheat the to 400° F. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and butter in a food processer. Blend while adding the water, til the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Form a ball of the dough and roll out to 1/2 thickness. Cut the bisquits out with a 2 1/2-inch cutter. Brush, if desired, with the cream. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes.


Strawberry shortcake recipe

My childhood strawberry shortcake is made of baking powder bisquits, strawberries and whipped cream. (No bread - the slice in the photo is a leftover from lunch.) For 4 servings:

4 baking powder bisquits, unsweetened
1 lb. of strawberries, sliced and sweetened to taste
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1 tsp. confectioner's sugar

The strawberries and cream are prepared in advance and chilled. The cakes are assembled when the bisquits are just out of the oven, and eaten while the bisquits are still warm and the berries and cream are still cold. Half a bisquit, cut side up, then a spoonfull og berries and juice, then cream. The other half bisquit, cut side up, berries, cream. Topped off by a whole strawberry with the green still on.

There were 8, 10, 12 people for the Sunday or holiday dinners, where we ate desserts like shortcake. I loved the logistics involved in getting them to the table at the right moment. Somebody cut the bisquits, somebody else put the first layer of strawberries on, the next one dollopped the cream and so on.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Strawberry shortcake

I love strawberry shortcake, and we had it sometimes on my birthday, with the first strawberries from Florida - or somewhere else in the South - when I was a kid. When we weren't having Nana's German baker's Black Forest seven layer chocolate cake. Mmmm....


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ahh... the light nights and the bright days!

Midsummer... the traditional bonfire floating in the harbour, Copenhagen's mayor Ritt B. at the mike for the traditional speech. Nice to be in town with an old friend and her half-daughter, now a young women. Nice that Jonas grew up with these good people and all our network-families.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

New potatoes, new beets and baby lettuce

Yesterday's cats and dogs rain is just a memory, it's summer.... pre-summer.... almost midsummer. The trip home on the back roads from Rørvig was pre-summer beautiful, wheat and safflower fields, poppies and elderflowers. I picked up some new potatoes and tiny new organic beets at a roadside stand.

Had them boiled on baby lettuce leaves from the garden. With a simple dressing of
1 part Greek yoghurt
1 part homemade mayonnaise and
salt, pepper and chopped chives.

It was the mayo, made with safflower germ oil, that made it taste so good. If I hadn't had homemade mayonnaise, I would have made a different dressing, probably of safflower germ oil, a little lemon juice, salt, pepper and some freshly chopped herbs.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Polenta with butter and cheese

Antonio Carluccio writes somewhere that braised cime di rapa is good with polenta. It is. For years, I didn't like polenta. Until I started making it with butter and cheese. Real polenta, that takes 45 minutes to cook, has a better consistency than instant, 1-minute polenta. Not so much better, though, that I make it very often. Til polenta for 2:

4,5 dl. boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
1,5 dl. good quality instant polenta
1-2 tbsp. butter
1 dl. freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino

Wisk the polenta in the saltet, boiling water until it thickens - it takes about... a minute. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.

Eaten with braised cime di rapa and a little leftover rabbit and rabbit sauce. I thought the hot cime would be too strong for the rabbit, but they were fine together. The chili actually brought out the rabbit's slight sweetness. Mediterranean summer dreams, with a glass of Rosso Piceno, right out of the fridge.


Braised cime di rapa

The weather's hot and sunny and my cime, growing like weeds from seeds I bought last summer in Florence, is bolting. Them for dinner, before their small, yellow brocoli flowers really start bloomimg.

Blanched for about 2 minutes in boiling water to soften the slightly bitter cabbage taste. Then in cold water to keep them bright green. Braised for a few more minutes in olive oil with a clove of chopped garlic, half an inch of finely chopped chili without the seeds, a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of water.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Somebody's Grandma's salad dressing

'Old fashioned' salad dressing, eaten on Boston lettuce, one of the only kinds of green salad everyone but the odd gourmet ate, when I arrived in my adopted country 30+ years ago. It was a hard transition - one I never fully made, having grown up on all sorts of salads and a lot of crunchy, tasty Romaine.

But it's food for the divine, this cream and lemon dresing on a freshly picked head of soft Boston lettuce. Last night we ate it with chicken, new potatoes and raw, sugar marinated rhubarb.

9 tablespoons of heavy cream
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons of sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix everything and let the dressing sit for half an hour. Toss with the washed and thouroughly dried leaves of a head of Boston lettuce just before eating.

The wine was a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc from St. Clair in Marlborough, New Zealand. It's a heady Sauv, with more concentration and less acid than the Loire Sauvignons, that I usually drink - and love - with this kind of food. A real pleasure, though, and great with the rhubarb. Good with asparges, too.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The first locals. I ate them for dessert with the traditional cream and sugar after a dinner of new potatoes and asparagus. Soon there'll be roses and elderflowers blooming everywhere. Pre-summer...primordial force and soft, perishable beauty.

Pre-summer... another translation knot. One of the charms of the precious, short summer in my adopted country is it's dissection into phases - pre-summer, mid-summer, actually early summer, summer, late summer - the praises of which are sung in rich detail in classical Danish litterature, song and art.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Marinated baby artichokes

The other day, I got my hands on some tiny artichokes, the young ones that can be eaten whole. I don't have them often here and they're such a delicacy, so they usually 'just' end up as homemade marinated artichokes. This time, too.

Clean the artichokes, which means get rid of everything, you wouldn't want to get in your mouth. Snap the outer leaves off and cut the stem away if it's stringy. Cut off the tough ends of the rest of the leaves on an angle, so the outer leaves lose more than the inner ones. Halve the chokes.

Boil the halved artichokes for 8-10 minutes until they're partly tender in plenty of water with salt and some lemon juice - that keeps them from turning brown. Let the artichokes drip off in a colander. Let them simmer on the lowest possible heat in marinade until they're tender. This time the marinade was made of 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 small branches of fresh thyme, a halved clove of garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. They're good eaten right away and can also be kept for a couple of days.


Light tomato soup

I had some tomatoes left over from a job, that I wasn't going to use - tomatoes have no taste in May in Denmark. But I had trouble just throwing them away, so we made tomato soup.

My 3 1/2 year old assistant handled washing the tomatoes, I cut a cross in them, gave them a minute in boiling water and skinned them.

We cut the tomatoes - there were 11 - into large chunks and fried them in a pot in 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter for a couple of minutes. Then we added 1/2 sweet onion, 1 teaspoon of sugar, salt and some freshly ground pepper.
After 20 minutes, the onion was removed and the soup was blended and heated through with 3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream. This soup retains it's taste of fresh tomatoes, because it simmers just long enough to soften the tomatoes and because it's only ingredients are the tomatoes and a few taste enhancers.
It was a really nice bowl of soup, my negative view on tomatoes in May notwithstanding. My assistant, who is usually quite clear about not liking vegetables, devoured 2 bowls.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More beans with ham ends

Same recipe as last time, but this time I actually have a little bag of ham ends in the fridge. And yesterday I stumbled on the season's first favas, I think they're broad beans in English. The first row is sown in the garden, too, for this summer's beans with ham.

They were good. Felt privileged, and opened a bottle of Barolo, Cascina Cucco 'Vigna Cucco' 1997. From Carlo Merolli. Seductive, weekday Barolo at it's best...

Monday, May 7, 2007


It's a garfish, my horn fish from the last post... Belone belone. They migrate through Danish waters to spawn from the end of April until June. Locally they're caught in the Sound (between Denmark and Sweden), and a popular sport fishing spot for garfish is in front of Kronborg, 'Hamlet's castle' in Helsingør.

The bones of this long-nosed fish are bright turquoise green, which make them relatively easy to see and remove before eating. Not easy enough, though, to entirely dispense with my mom's fishbone catching rule nr. 1: chew the fish in the front of your mouth first.

The season's first... uhh... horn fish?

Finding the English word for hornfisk is only one of the challenges of this bilingual blogging. Writing about Swapan's curry was easy - we speak English together. It's something else rewriting my Danish post on horn fish and the glories of spring in English. I think I immerse myself in the world of the language that I'm speaking. Switching requires extracting myself from a whole context and stepping into another. That cross-over fascinates me, though, so I'm in for the investigation.

The fish? Cleaned and gutted, head and tail removed. Cut into four pieces, rolled in whole spelt flour and fried in some cold-pressed safflower oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Eaten with steamed green beans and boiled tiny new potatoes - nice, firm, sweet ones from France, as the Danish news are still exorbitant. The rhubarb in the garden is still too small to pick, or I'd have had some, sweet-pickled, with the fish, too.

And spring? Hornfisk is a local harbinger of spring. And you can't get into or out of the house without going by the
big, blooming white lilac bush in the driveway - the smell of spring itself.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Beans with ham ends

A favorite, veggies with a bit of depth, good for those evenings when the desire to eat something tasty is greater than the desire to cook it. Had a big bowl last night, a whole meal with half a creamy buffalo's milk mozzarella and my local baker's crusty bread.

In Spain, where I learned to eat them, they use the ends of cured ham, that you have laying around after eating the ham itself. Here in Copenhagen, I usually use bacon. Different taste, good, too...

100 g. of ham ends i small pieces and a shallot
in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot. When the onion is translucent add

500 g. - about a pound - of beans
and stir until the beans have changed color to bright green and are coated with oil. Pour

1/2 glass of water
into the beans along with some salt and freshly ground peber. Cover and let the beans simmer very gently until they're soft. This is a dish, where I like the vegetables beyond the al dente stage.

The beans I used last night were done after 15 minutes of simmering. When I can find them, I use favas, the beans, they use in Spain for this dish - they're even better. Young ones will only need to simmer for 10 minutes. Older specimens may need a half hour. Good hot or at room temperature, and for the next couple of days, as well.


Rhubarb compote with strawberries

Rhubarb - an ode to spring, I use it a lot from May to July, when it's in season. It's still a little early for local, this compote is made with German barb. For years, I boiled my rhubarb compote, until I saw a recipe, where it was baked. The baked tastes better the boiled, and is easier. I haven't boiled it since.

The rhubarb, I could get my hands on, was greenish, not one of the more red sorts, that give a nicer pink color when prepared. The compote is for a trifle, so I added some strawberries for color. An ok use for imported Spanish and Italien strawberries - they don't taste anything like fresh, local berries, but the illusion is seductive!

500 g. - about 1 lbs. - of rhubarb, in 1 cm. pieces
180 g. sugar
1 vanilla bean
250 g. strawberries, halved or quartered, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 180
°C. Put the rhubarb in a cassrole in a layer about 2 cm. deep. Scrape the vanilla bean into the sugar and add the sugar to the rhubarb. Tuck the empty vanilla pod pieces under the rhubarb and cover the casserole with tin foil.

2. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft, but not yet mushy. Taste the compote as soon as it comes out of the oven. If it isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar while it's still hot, so the sugar kan dissolve.

3. If you're using strawberries, add them, too, while the compote is still hot. They
lose their rawness, but keep their shape and color. Rhubarb - and other fruit - compote is typically eaten cold as dessert in Denmark, with milk or cream poured onto it.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Swapan's Friday's chicken curry

Swapan and his two colleagues live upstairs for 6 months while working on a software project for a big Danish financial company. On Fridays he makes a big pot of chicken curry, enough to eat then and a couple more times during the coming week. We've been talking about how he makes it, on Friday I was invited to dinner.

Swapan marinated
2 kg. - 4,5 lbs. - of boneless chicken
for about 15 minutes in

3-4 tbsp. chili powder
3-4 tbsp. ground turmeric
3 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil, mustard if possible.

While the chicken was marinating, he fried
2-3 large coarsely chopped onions and
1,5 tbsp. garlic paste
(1 green chopped chili goes in now if you like it hotter)

in a pot, that was big enough to fit the chicken. When the onions were golden, he fried
2 big potatoes, peeled and cut in big pieces
with the onions for a minute, then added the chicken and fried everything for a couple of minutes.
When the chicken started giving off liquid, he added
3 glasses of water
and finished the curry in the pressure cooker, they've brought with them from Bombay. That took 10 minutes, in a pressure-less pot, it will take about 20. We ate it with rice and mango chutney. Mmm...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Riesling, mmm...

The pig was Asian inspired. Served with stir fried brocoli with black beans and shitake mushrooms. The rice pilaf stuffing. A salad of steamed eggplants marinated in sweet chili sauce, Thai basel, ginger, sesame oil...

The wines were a couple of German Rieslings with some residual sweetness, perfect with the sweet, slightly hot food. These were from Weingut Rappenhof in Rheinhessen, a Spätlese 1996 Alsheimer Fischerpfad, and an Auslese 1990 Niersteiner Pettenthal. The '96 was a great match, the '90 was amazing.


Piggy II

There's something about preparing a whole animal that makes me reverent...


Piggy I

The pig is dried inside and out and rubbed inside with a mixture of ground cumin, a little less ground coriander, even less ground fennel seed and some Maldon salt. And a pinch of cayenne pepper.Half of the spices are mixed to a paste with 30 - 40 grams of butter.
The pig is stuffed with a pilaf of rice and wild rice - with shallots, fennel, finely chopped ginger and garlic, salt, pepper and another pinch of cayenne pepper. The belly is lined with Thai basel and lemon grass before sewing the whole thing together.
After a rubdown with the spice paste, the pig is ready for the barbecue. A ball of tin foil keeps the mouth open while it cooks, so there's room for a (small) apple later on.


This little piggy

I had planned to serve a buffet of cakes and desserts for my birthday last weekend. While totally enjoying filling my cart with chocolate, double cream, mangoes, limes, and other necessary dessert ingredients, I happened to catch a glimpse of three beautiful, fresh piglets hanging in the butcher's department.

Raised in France, the piglets were sold at about 14 lbs., instead of the 45-pounders usually sold as suckling pig here in Denmark. Besides needing a fire and spit arrangement - and 7 or 8 hours - to cook it, the older pig has a completely different taste. That ruined the cake plan, I couldn't leave the shop pigless. Suckling pig for birthday dinner....