Saturday, January 20, 2007

The dinner January 20th - wines: The guest of honour - Chateau La Rose Figeac 1986

I found this bottle in a case in a wine shope at Merode in Brussels in 1986 and paid the decent price of 3500 BEF (those were the times of the Belgian Francs) or today €90. I have browsed through the net to find the current price, and found a magnum bottle priced at €210. I was, back then, very pleased to read Parkers wine guide giving this wine a score of 96 out of a 100. But he recommended to wait for another 10 years to drink it.

Tonight is the night!!!

I am excited to drink a wine from a very good vintage in Pomerol, and tonight it will be enjoyed slowly with quails filled with spanish paté, ceps, onion and covered in thin slices of Traminer Brettlspeck.

I cannot wait!!

The dinner, January 20th: The Wines - Château Haut-Claverie 2001

To the duck foi gras I will serve half a bottle of a good sauternes wine. The Chateau Haut-Claverie 2001 (120 NOK / €15) is less expensive than the Chateau Myrat (180 NOK / €25), but still it tastes great, with the sweetest aromas from tropical fruits.

For those of you that have not tasted a Sauternes wine - do! It is great with foi gras, as well as strong blue cheese like a roquefort or a stilton or as a dessert wine.


The dinner, January 20th

The entrée - a change of plan

While visiting a chinese shop during todays shopping I spotted something interesting in the freezer. I am not often tempted by ready made food, but when I see a tray of frozen dim sum for steaming I am ready to let all principles go. Why? I love steamed dumplings in any shape, form and filling.

So my friend Ketil Zahl will eat four different varieties of dim sum. The Shrimp Ha Kao is a dumpling made with Ha Kao flour and filled with shrimp, fish, bamboo shot, and spices. The Shrimp Sui Mai is a wheat flour dumpling filled with shrimp, fish, carrot vermicelli (a very thin noodle) yam bean and spices. The Shrimp Yuba Deli is filled with shrimp, cuttlefish, and wrapped in a beancurd skin. The fourth, Flower Sui Mai is a wheat flour dumpling filled with shrimp, fish, shiitake mushroom, carrot, shallot, and spices.

This is seriously good when prepared in my steamer and served with some drops of sesame oil, sweet chili dipping sauce and soy. And half a bottle of bubbly.


Friday, January 19, 2007

What is for dinner today, then?

Chicken risotto with ceps and spanish chorizo

Risotto is one of the dishes it's difficult to provide a good recipe. It is however imperativ to use the native arborio rice with much starch that make the risotto very creamy. Then use bacon or any other salted cured meats, I will use a chorizo.

Fry the rice, onions, sliced ceps, and the chorizo in some oil until rice is covered in oil and slightly browned. Then add good stock and stir until the rice has soaked in the stock and then add more stock until rice is tender. When rice is nearly tender, add some cream, some sherry, saffron, and grated parmigiano. The saffron is a Midas touch - it will give this dish a golden colour.

At the end add fried chicken and allow the meat to be heated through. This is comfort food for the cold season.

And what to drink? I love a pint of beer.

Try it - and enjoy!!

A dinner to look forward to

Tomorrow I will prepare a very good meal. The occation is connected to what Ketil and I are suppose to drink. In 1996 I bought a bottle of Chateau la Rose Figeac 1986 in a wine shop at Merode in Brussels. Since then it has rested, hidden in my cellar. But tomorrow I will open up this wine from a very good vintage in the Bordeaux area.

So I am preparing a meal around a very good wine from a good chateau and from a very good year. But maybe it has turned to vinegar? Who knows!

As a starter I will serve foi gras de canard produced by the weell renowned firm Rougié, in Sarlat in the Perigord district. Served simply on melba toasts and accompanied by half a bottle of Chateau Myrat, from the Sauternes district, the winner when served with foi-gras. The beautiful round sweet taste of honey, apricot and peach, turns the richness of the duck liver into magic.

Then, I'm a little bit uncertain what to do, but definitely seafood, most probably scallops or tigerprawns. What ever, we will drink half a bottle of cava, maybe Freixenet Cordon Negro. I'll let you know what I'll do.

Then the quails. I have served these birds previously stuffed with chicken liver mousse with brandy and black truffles, and covered with thin slices of bacon. Maybe this time I'll use some pork paté iberico I bought in Barcelona, slightly mixed with fried onion and dried ceps, that my brother picked at Holandsdalen in northern Norway. Then serve with warm figs and Vermont wild rice. I think that will prove the good wine worthy. We'll see. I might consult my Larousse Culinaire to get other ideas.

And the dessert. I have no sweet tooth, but I thought marinated warm blackberries with sherry.

So tomorrow, or rather sunday, I will so much to tell.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shopping in Barcelona. The airport - the final temptation

If you have strolled up and down Passeig de Gracia, combed all the floors at Il Corte Ingles or looked through the foodmarkets without having found anything, do not be unhappy. You may buy the things you need at Barcelona airport.

The airport in Barcelona is one big shoppingmall intending to lure away the euros you were supposed to use somewhere else. I think this airport has the larges numbers of shops I have ever seen during my travels. And you can buy toys, clothes, jewellry, local food, wine and much much more. Many different brands, spanish or international are represented here and you can purchase articles, expensive and inexpensive.

So if you have some money left or a large creditlimit - shop till you drop!! Good luck!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Casa Milà: The flat

The dining room in the flat on the fifth floor, has an interior you would expect to find during the years following the turn of the 19th century. The style was called Art Nouveau, or Jugenstil. As Gaudi, the design was inspired from nature, organic and alive.

Casa Milà: Strange chimneys!

The extraordinary shapes were even applied to the chimneys. They remind me of a group of soldiers with strange helmets.

Casa Milà: The roof terrace.

Through one of the archways one the roof you see the Jewel of the Crown of Gaudís work, the Sagrada Familia. I think this picture illustrates the impact Gaudí has had on Barcelona.

Casa Milà: The museum.

You find the museum under these beautiful archways in the attic. Constructed in dark red bricks they stand as a contrast to the bright colours of the rest of the house. The museum tells the story of Gaudís life and the sources of his inspiration. The way he incorporated shapes i.e. from shells and trees in his architecture.

Sights of Barcelona: Casa Milà

Casa Milà was built the first decade of the last century. It is situated in the Eixample district, on the Passeig de Gracia, close to Placa Catalunya. It is a wonderful building where you recognize the organic shapes that you also find in Park Guëll and la Sagrada Familia. As a tourist, you have access to the museum, in the attic, through it, to the roof terraces and an art nouveau flat on the fifth floor.

We were lucky and passed the house just before opening hours, and we did not have to wait very long. I strongly recommend you to stand in line and enter this wonderful building, listed as part of the world heritage by UNESCO. Through the strange gates, and the open courtyard. The museum contains stories from Gaudís life, the inspiration he found in nature and on the different techniques he used to construct his buildings.

The flat also breathes the atmosphere of the Fin de Siècle, the elegant Art Nouveau or Jugendstil that took over from the heavy styles that dominated the decades earlier. I will take you on a short tour of the house.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eating at Los Tapetes de Gaudí

Fried mushrooms served as a tapa. A very good idea!!

Eating at Los Tapetes de Gaudí

Untraditional: Fried, lightly salted green chilis served with seeds. A little strange, not very hot, not much to taste, really!

One of my reeaders, Grey, himself from Barcelona told me that this tapa is called "pebrtos del Padrón" (catalan) or "pimientos del Padrón" (spanish)

Eating at Los Tapetes de Gaudí

Paella, served as a tapa - made with chorizo and crisp breadcrumbs. Delicious!!

Eating at Los Tapetes de Gaudí: Patatas!

Traditional Tapas: Patatas bravas and croquetas served for lunch.

Eating at Siddharta: Pizza with rocket

Pizza with mozarella and rocket - a great and very rich choice. I had just salad the same evening.

Eating at Siddharta: Scrumptious beef skewers

Beef skewers with thin baked slices of pineapple - very eclectic, indeed!!

Eating at Siddharta: Delicious skewers

Chicken skewers as served in darkness at Siddharta.

Eating at La Fonda: Per's dessert

Pers choice at La Fonda: Crepes with chocolate sauce

Eating at La Fonda: Desserts

Susannes choice at La Fonda: Greek yoghurt with nuts and honey

Eating in Barcelona: Some other restaurants, and what to eat there.

During our week in Barcelona we really experienced the diversity of the restaurants of Barcelona. Here comes a few other restaurant to consider and what to eat there.

La Fonda - Eating black rice!

Black rice or arroz negro (image) is one of the most spectacular dishes one can eat. Coloured with squids ink, it looks like black caviar when you plate it. We had black rice at La Fonda, not far from Placa Reial. This paella is made with good fish stock with different varieties of fish, mussels and crustaceans, and the taste is great! Per, however, was not very keen on this dish and chose veal. But I think he was served beef, as veal is supposed to be very tender, and it was not. The desserts, crepes with chocolate sauce and yoghurt with almonds and honey was delicious.

Score: BBB+

Siddharta - eating in the darkness of the dungeons

In one of the narrow streets of Barri Gotic we enterred into a basement restaurant Siddharta. Dark and mysterious with an eclectic kitchen with influences from the mediterranean region and further away. We had one dish each. I had a great pizza with rocket. Per and Susanne had two different skewers. Very good food and a very different restaurant experience.

Score: BBB

Los Tapetes de Gaudí - within walking distance from Sagrada Familia

Visiting Sagrada Familia made us very hungry and we found Los Tapetes de Gaudí in the immediate neighbourhood. And what did we eat? Tapas ofcourse. Some tradtional and some very different. Very good food, but the service was very slow. Still it is worthwhile to have a bite there.

Score BBBB-