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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The amazing Ahiru Store in Tokyo

Happy sausage drinking Foillard "Cote de Py"
Getting ready to eat, standing at one of the 3 wine barrels in the tiny restaurant
Pork rillette
Avocado and octopus salad
Hues of cloudy yellow
Spinach quiche
Pork sausage
Onion and cumin flatbread
Squid and squid ink stew
Seaweed and potato croquettes
Lamb sausage, daikon and cous cous
Chicken, potatoes and beef tomtao

Pistachio ice cream, caramel tart and something with prunes that was delicious
Owner outside Ahiru Store
Friendly sign
Natural wine wall of fame with messages from Pacelet, Pfifferling, Dard et al.
Friendly light/sweet/heavy/dry taste compass
The 2 chefs working behind the bar
LOCATION: Ahiru Store, 1-19-4 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
CATEGORY: Japanese, French, Wine bar, natural wine 
DRINK: Lots of wine, including:
Whites and sparkling:
La Grapperie "La Bueilloise" petillant naturel (2011)
Domaine du Moulin "La Bodice" Cheverny (2009)
Jean-Pierre Robinot "Fetembulles" L'ange Vin Chenin Blanc (2010)
Julien Courtois "Originel White Blend"(?)
Jerome Jouret "Sueurs Froides" grenache (2009)
Christain Venier "La Pierre Aux Chiens" Cheverny Pinot Noir (2011)
Bois Moisset "Cuvée Marguerite" (?)
Domaine Les Bois Lucas "Cuvée Kuniko 2nd" Touraine Gamay (2007)
Philippe Bornard "La Chamade" Arbois Pupillin Ploussard (2011)
Jean Foililard "Cōte de Py" Morgon Gamay (2011)
Bénédicte and Stéphane Tissot "Vieilles Vignes" Poulsard (2011)
WE THINK: We love this place so much that we went twice on our last visit to Tokyo and it didn't feel like nearly enough. Now, all we want is for Ahiru Store to exist in New York and it's killing us that it doesn't. The restaurant/wine bar, which is located on a tiny side street in the Tomigaya section of Shibuya, is microscopic and focuses on serving a small but well curated list of natural wines and a selection of dishes to go with the wine--more like hyper-elevated bar snacks. Such as the sausages (both pork and lamb) and marinated daikon that explode in your mouth with flavour, the ridiculously tasty rillettes and home-baked savoury breads and the wonderful salad of tender octopus with avocado. The bar is the only place to sit in the restaurant, with 8 stools that overlook the tiny kitchen where 2 chefs cook up magic--the type of kitchen that makes you embarrassed for ever complaining about the size of your kitchen at home. Next to the bar, in a cramped hallway too narrow for health and safety approval in most other cities, are 3 wine barrels on top of which food and wine are also served to standing guests. We spent many hours, happily huddled around a barrel on our first visit, and were lucky to get some seats at the bar on our second visit where we befriended one of Japan's most legendary actors and his film director daughter. This is an underground hipster magnet, but Japanese style--more happy, measured and unpretentious. Most of the wines are served by the glass so it's possible to taste a lot of different wines. So awesome.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

They're killing it at Kadeau in Copenhagen

What we drank.
Small edible delicious things (we forget what they were)
Some more small edible delicious things
Some more small edible things
And some more small edible things
Some bread and butter
Squid, oysters, radish, apple, dried herbs
Burnt scallop, kale, hazel, fermented pea juice, cucumber
Cod, cabbages, burnt butter, whey, green strawberries, whitefish roe
Raw beef, dried beetroot, beach rose, marrow
Creamy cereal grains, egg yolk, mushrooms, parsley, pickled rhubarb
Something delicious which we've forgotten...
Lamb, salsify, gherkins, verbena, pear, smoked butter
Apple, browned butter, walnut, honey
Wild blueberries, tea made from blueberry marmelade, sour milk, cream, woodruff
Petit fours (chocolates)

LOCATION: Kadeau København, Wildersgade 10A, Copenhagen, Denmark
CATEGORY: Danish, Nordic, gourmet, fine dining, tasting menu
DRINK: Too much. See wines above.
WE THINK:  It's been a while since we had this phenomenal meal at Kadeau. It was the opening night of their new restaurant in Christianshavn in Copenhagen, which embarassingly was 6 months ago! Ugh. But we still remember most/some of it vividly, despite the large quantities of natural wine we consumed, and we think it would be wrong not to share our underexposed, shitty iPhone photos from the night. Kadeau, which originally started as a beach restaurant on the remote and tiny Danish island of Bornholm, is run by guys who all hail from Bornholm and wish to spread their love of the local produce available on the island and in the waters around it. According to Kadeau's website, "the fish, the meats, the eggs, the dairy products, the honey, the flour, the oil, and the beer will always be from Bornholm". So there! Very modern Nordic. Paying homage to the violent reputation of the people from Bornholm and their propensity for getting into fist fights, the tasting menu at Kadeau is called "Bornholmerbank"--something equivalent to "a Bornholm beat-down"--and the dinner kind of felt that way, with the large amounts of food and wine we had...but a really enjoyable sort of beating. This place is awesome. We can't wait to go back and can't recommend it enough. Also try Kadeau's younger brother, the tiny Pony on Vesterbrogade, which is killing it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Relæ in Copenhagen

Pre-dinner snack of celeriac tacos

White onions, langoustine and fennel
Turnip, chervil and horse radish
Hokkaido hazelnuts and seabuckthorn
Celtuce (stem lettuce), pistachio and burnt leaves
Cauliflower, veal, sweatbread and basil

Fresh goat cheese and parsley
Art in the making
Say cheese!
Chanterelles, apple and granita
Personal cutlery drawer
Cloudy whites
Smoked beets and pickled elderflower
Squid, oysters and seaweed
Jerusalem artichoke, quinoa and coffee
Fried salsify and bergamot
Chicken broth, cod and leeks
Cheese - kornly and buckwheat
Sheep's milk yogurt, beetroot and blackcurrant
Herbal tea
LOCATION: Restaurant Relæ, Jægersborggade 41, 2200 København N, Denmark
CATEGORY: Danish, Nordic, gourmet, tasting menu
DRINK: (on our 2nd visit) Pinot Blanc '11 - Bruno Schueller, Alsace. Vin Montbled 09, '10 and '11 - Guy Blanchard, Macon.  Baco Pérez '10 - Noranjuez, Granada.  Equiss '06 - Julien Courtois, Soings en Sologne.  LE Bulle Gamay '11 - P-U-R, Beaujolais.
WE THINK: We have now been to Relæ in Copenhagen twice and both times forgotten to post pictures, so here is a delayed double post. Opened by Christian Puglisi, an ex noma chef (bla bla bla, the Copenhagen story) Relæ--now with 1 Michelin star--is known for its reasonably priced and innovative prix fixe (4 courses for 375kr with add-ons possible) and its great natural wine list (shared with Manfred's--it's sister wine bar across the street). Located in what used to be a dodgy neighborhood, made infamous by a prolific drug trade, disgruntled youths throwing molotov cocktails and occassional gang warfare, Relæ is one of the many hipster food-coffee-wine establishments which in recent years have opened in the Nørrebro borough and on Jægersborggade in particular. The restaurant itself is situated in a half-basement with a basic but practical decor. There are small cool details like personal drawers under the table which contain the exact amount of cutlery and napkins required for a tasting menu. The service was too cool for its own good on our first visit (like a waiter rolling his eyes at our wine choice, commenting that it wasn't to his taste as it wasn't rock'n roll enough--in fact if it were left to him, the wine we ordered wouldn't even be on the list…he was more of a "James Dean" type of wine drinker), though on our second visit the service was less self-congratulatory, less arrogant and quite friendly. The food is delicious and natural like the wine and tastes light and modern. Three dishes which we remember with particular fondness were 1) an otherworldly dessert of chanterelles, apple and granita which was a perfect marriage of ingredients consumed almost entirely with our eyes closed, 2) a very playful cheese plate of liquid goats cheese and parsley which aside from being delicious was fun to play around with and 3) a chicken broth, leak and cod dish - the cod so silky smooth it almost slipped off our tongues. A reliable spot with great possibilities for wine and coffee next door.