Wednesday 24 August 2016

Oaxen Slip, Stockholm.

On the last evening of our Stockholm trip we make our way back to Djurgården on the ferry from our hotel in Gamla Stan, the old town. Can there be a better way of visiting a restaurant than by boat?
It was an easy journey as well and scenic too via the Gröna Lund Amusement Park. It's only a short walk to Oaxen Slip, a smart water front bistro that looks from the outside like a boatyard warehouse, inside too with boats and paraphernalia hanging above you.

We order a selection of dishes to share, mainly starters. This helps keep costs down as well as letting us sample a variety of dishes.
Oaxen dried pork neck ~ Deep fried onion filled with smoked marrow. This was a doozy, it explodes warm smoked marrow liquid on your tongue, delicious!
Tartar of topside with mustard mayonnaise, sour cream & sour-dough croutons. A great version of steak tartare.
Smoked Shrimps with garlic mayonnaise. We still talk about these smoky prawns as we've not had any quite as smoky as this before.
Grilled chick pea bread with tongue of lamb, braised endive, anchovies & artichoke cream. The bread was so perfect but we struggled to taste the lamb's tongue.
Seasoned, roasted cauliflower with mint & pumpkin dressing. A favourite of Mrs B's. We compared this favourably to an unsuccessful cauliflower course we had in the UK that was way too bitter. (Cauliflower is ubiquitous right now it seems). This was just right. Also Norrøna herring with potato, butter fried rye bread & sour cream and French Fries & Smoked Mayo.

Dessert to share ~ Sorbet of raspberry with lemon verbena, roasted white chocolate & almond cream. (Another good one).
We ended our trip to Stockholm in real style strolling from the restaurant at dusk and back onto the waiting ferry. We loved our evening at Oaxen Slip, maybe next time we'll get to visit their Michelin Star Oaxen Krog too on the same site.
Dinner cost us £108 for two.

Monday 15 August 2016

Gastrologik, Stockholm.

Already in August we start thinking about the best meals of the year. Sacha in Madrid, certainly, Quique Dacosta of course, Ynshire Hall is up there too. Aponiente next month will, I expect be top notch as ever. Gastrologik in Stockholm might just top the lot of them though. The food here was truly sensational, such clarity in the flavours. The service too is impeccable. To be honest it's a joke that this place is just a one Michelin star. To my mind it's a two at the least.
Most days the tasting menu is different, based on what's good that day. Chefs Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr 'let today's produce decide'. So what we ate on the 30th July could be completely different from what you eat. They work closely and passionately with their local suppliers (I know this as they kindly gave us a little book at the end of our meal). Lots of places say these sort of things about local and seasonal but in this case it really does translate onto the plate. I often file these places under 'worthy' rather than joyful sometimes it's forgotten that the food should always above all be delicious. Not the case here.
The product is up there with the best we've eaten too and with such intensity of flavours. The restaurant interior too matches the simple yet beautiful food.....
Flat-bread with broad beans, smoked sour cream and carrots.
Oyster from Mollösumi with cucumbers, chamomile and spruce.
Sourdough bread made of spelt from Warbrokvarn with hand churned butter from Kittelberget.
I struggled to limit my bread intake, the bread is excellent here.
Wild salmon from Junkön with green strawberries and blackcurrant leaves. This is so good!
Garlic from Ugglarp with baked cream and enzymatic fermented garlic.
Chard from Rosendal with grilled butter and wild herbs.
Soured potatoes and vendace roe from Junkon, onion and fennel flowers.
Flowers from the garden with mackerel and broccoli.
Quail from Vidbo Norrby with grains, peas and parsley.
Suckling Pig from Hornsborg with cabbage, horseradish and blackcurrant.
Fresh goat's cheese from Löfsta with potato and flowers.
Lovage and green sorrel.
Berries from Törnvik, cream with cherry stones.
Roses from Rosendal with raspberries and beetroot.
Propolis and bee pollen vodka Pia's kalvdans with red currant and angelica. Sweet, salty, sour.
All these plates of food and not a weak course in any of them. It was almost impossible to choose a favourite but the oyster, the salmon and strawberries and the garlic courses were amongst the best dishes of the year. The desserts too were superb. The bottom line is this for me; everything we ate here was bloody delicious. You'd imagine this would always be the case with restaurants like this but it isn't. You really can't underestimate how good this place is. I don't really score any more but this is a 10/10.

The tasting menu for two plus a couple of drinks cost us £ 313.36. 
If you can't get in, Speceriet next door is their gastro-pub. 
Next time we're in Stockholm I hope we will do both.

Monday 8 August 2016

The Parkers Arms, Lancashire.

Most bank holidays, a few of us all go off camping somewhere like The Lakes, maybe the Yorkshire Dales or Shropshire. Except we became too old and lazy to camp and couldn't be bothered packing and unpacking in the rain any more. So we stay in the nearby pub whilst our friends upgraded to camper vans and trailer tents. We regularly get to eat in various country pubs that are not necessarily food orientated. The weekend isn't really about food to be honest, it's about walking (a little) and having a laugh with our mates and getting pissed (a lot). It's a good job too. In our experience food in the average British country pub really isn't that good. I'll usually order a steak pie (never the steak) but all too often even the pie is the awful puff pastry lid variety, rarely a proper pie with a proper crust. That would most likely take too much effort.
My argument has always been, if you choose a country pub at random in the UK, more often than not the food is awful, average at best. This isn't proper cooking, it's catering like you find in a school or a hospital. The menus are often the same too, even in the 'gastro' pubs, few seem to have much of an emphasis on local produce.
That's why The Parkers Arms really is such an exceptional pub. They've won several awards since my last visit which has been too long. On this occasion of course I over ordered but I couldn't miss anything out....
Home-made Ricotta & Flat bread. (a 'Tweet Treat'. If you follow Stosie on twitter & let her know you're coming and she'll send extra snacks out.
Salt Cod & Potato & Wild Garlic Puffs.
Crab Parfait.
Black Pudding & Bowland Pork Sausage Rolls.
Goosnargh Duck Liver & Cognac Parfait, crispy skin, apple & ginger chutney sourdough toast. The parfaits are always so good and this new one on me might just be my favourite.  
East Coast Lobster, triple cooked chips, Duerden's watercress, wild garlic & head juice butter. 

This was one of the best lobster dishes I've ever had, I think it maybe the garlic & head juice butter, and the produce is beautiful too. Only £21 too. Such incredible value.
I was stuffed at this point and had to rush off but not before Stosie sent one more dish out! I had guessed it'd be a dessert but she wanted me to try this beauty (a brand new dish).
Local young Dover sole, local Native lobster roe butter, Pilling samphire & sea purslane.
* My bill came to £62.60.
* Thanks to AJ & team for the warmest of welcomes as ever. It's been a while but Sam remembered where the treats came from (above).