22 July 2017

Routine bbq... aka burgers

steaks on the grill...

flip the steaks...

... and voilà!
Brioche bun, organic minced beef-pork combo, pickled cucumber, Raclette cheese (from the french Alps - certainly one of the best fit for burgers), and a cucumber mayo upgraded with chopped red onions and cayenne pepper. Oh, and of course, the mandatory (organic) ketchup below the meat. Quick, cheap, and tasty.

16 July 2017

Japanese bbq... and a thai noodles salad

Beautiful weather on Helsinki - for once. Ideal for some grilling action... japanese style!

A bbq sauce made of Teriyaki, ginger paste and Shishimi Togarashi (a blend of chili, japanese pepper, black & white sesame seeds, dry seaweeds, orange peels and ginger) for the salmon & pork ribs. We've been introduced to this japanese blend of spices by Sasu Laukkonen, Michelin chef in Helsinki. Since then, we've been addicted to this stuff, Awsome!

The ingredients for the salad dressing: organic soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, red chili paste, organic cane sugar (... instead of palm sugar. We couldn't put our hands on some in time), thai basil, coriander, red onion and organic red chilis (+ peanut oil, not on the photo).

The salmon coated with the teriyaki sauce is put to the grill.

Same for the ribs.

Surf & Turf.
left the ribs, right the salmon. Both sprinkled with extra Shishimi Togarashi powder for extra spiciness.

Thai salad with rice noodles, roasted peanuts, spring onions, chili, thai basil and coriander.
The perfect side dish!

15 July 2017

Snack stop at Casa Italia 15.7.2017

Casa Italia is a small trattoria on Bulevardi, Helsinki. Small but loaded with goodies imported straight from Italia. When nearby, we always make a stop, either to buy food or to have a quick snack in their (really) small eating place. So, 2 lukewarm paninis (one with prosciutto, gorgonzola cheese, chili sauce and olive oil on left. The other stuffed with mortadella, mozarella di bufala, grilled eggplant, olive oil and black pepper). To go along, a bottle of chilled Ribolla Gialla.

Sicilian cheese cake Tatin way. Sponge cake on top, cream cheese below.

Homemade Tiramisu.

Expressos, Grappa and Limoncello to wrap up the meal.
How do you say "buuuurp" in italian?

19 June 2017

London 1983 (memories of)

THE ROMANTICS talking in your sleep
(from LP "In Heat")

20 May 2017

Wedding Anniversary Dinner at restaurant Chef & Sommelier - Helsinki 15.5.2017

Long story short: it's our 25th Wedding Anniversary. And so, I've decided to make a surprise for Saila, and a big one. A truly unique stuff indeed. I've rented for the whole evening - just for the 2 of us - Michelin restaurant "Chef & Sommelier" in Helsinki, and its famed chef Sasu Laukkonen. So, Sasu's gonna cook a menu that I have initiated 6 months ago, and then designed and refined with him. The menu is based on Saila's prefered food from Finland, Japan, Spain & France. Useless to say, it's miles away from what Sasu usually cooks in his restaurant. It's 8.30, and we arrive...

One basic principle in gastronomy is that, great food needs decent wines. It's kinda mandatory. 
As the photo shows, it could be worse!

Roughly 4000 bottles have been produced that year.

It's me who's gonna be in charge of the liquid part of the dinner. I'm replacing Johan Borgar, the usual sommelier of the place. Now, I'm just waiting, thirsty, because...

Saila and Sasu chat, and chat... blah blah blah...

At last, we now may begin!

It is the trend in most fine dining restaurants in Helsinki, to have laconic menus. If you visit C&S website, you'll read things like "Carrots and Buckthorn", or "Pork and Potato". But behind the dry and simplistic description, lies a very elaborate and complex cuisine.

So, to go along with the Dom Perignon, some tasty blinis with finnish caviar, fish roe, mushroom salad and smoked fish. Sasu told us the recipe for the blinis, but frankly, there were so many ingredients involved that I don't remember even the beginning. Ah yes, I do remember that he let the blini dough to rest for 2 full days. Crazy stuff!

From Finland to Japan. A charcoal grill is heated for the Yakitoris.

Yakitoris with rabbit are being grilled. The meat has been soaked in a soy based marinade, along with zillions of japanese spices. The grilling smell in the kitchen was truly unbelievable. My suit remembered it well the day after!

The man is so passionate about food - some would say nuts about it - that he has to explain what he does every step of the way. But it's not just with us. If you have the chance to go to his restaurant (and for that you have to book well in advance), he will come to your table and spend time with you, explaining everything from A to Z. And he does that with each and every guests in the dining room. An experience in itself.

Cauliflowers and broccolis Yakitoris. Never heard of that before to be honest.
They are cover with a sauce made of ginger, sesame, and errr... again so many ingredients that it is near impossible to remember them all. But it was original and damn tasty!

 Yakitoris with rabbit. They are served with Shichimi Togarashi, a blend of spices (chili, japanese pepper, black & white sesame seeds, dry seaweeds, orange peels and ginger). Basically, you rub the pieces of rabbit in the powder and eat them. Spicyyyy...

Ideally, Sake should have been on the table instead of Chablis. But with already 1 champagne, 2 wines and a sweet wine, it would have been way too much for the stomachs to take. Most of us know too well how, in the middle of the night, it all ends. Bucket anyone?

Now, these pieces of Tofu have been (again) marinated. They are served luckwarm with ginger and soy sauce. Amazing consistency as we thought we were eating custard.

This soy sauce comes from a little producer in Japan (obviously). It has been the same recipe and principles of production for the last 350 years!

This tuna was supposed to be part of the spanish tapas, but Sasu decided otherwise. And so, what we got was lightly seared tuna with japanese mayo and Wasabi. The japanese mayo is different in the way that they use the white as well. The sauce is fluffy and light, almost like a "hollandaise"

This almost "dumb" face has a perfectly reasonable explanation: Saila just learned that she's about to take a cooking lesson with one of Finland's top chef. This is probably the first time that Sasu let someone other than one of his fellow chefs, cook in his own kitchen. And this is even more memorable when you'll know that Saila is a walking desastre in a kitchen. It's not advisable to give her a knife, or a cleaver, or any tools remotely connected to food!

King prawns are her next victims.

 Ready. Steady. Go...

Spanish Tapas. King prawns, grilled white fish with garlic, calamari with red peppers and spicy oil. All served with homemade rosmary bread, piments d'Espelette, and 3 kinds of olive oil.

Piment d'Espelette (chili), from the Basque Country.
Can be found on either the spanish or french side of the border.
This one is french as the label shows.

The Chambertin has been put in a carafe 2 hours prior to be served, and is at a perfect temperature.

The beef has been seared, then slow cooked in oven at low temperature (around 40°C). Inside, the meat is red, juicy, and so tender that it could be cut with the fork alone.

Filet de Boeuf à la Truffe Noire
Black Angus tenderloin with demi-glace and black truffles sauce, sliced black truffles, served with a truffles mash. Words cannot describe how heavenly this tasted. Gastronomy at its peak.


Why not end the dinner on a light note... errr... wrong tape.
Rich and decadent dark chocolate cake flavored with red chili and sea salt, and topped with blackberries. The cake has been baked by one of Sasu's friend who's a chef in another fine dining restaurant in Helsinki (and he'll join C&S cuisine staff from next August). The blakberries come from Espoo (from a C&S regular customer).

A glass of Cossart Gordon Bual 1962 Madeira to go along the coffee.

Checking the restaurant wine list. Because we already have booked a table for the last day of the season before the summer break, Johan (the sommelier), asked Sasu to ask us if we wanted to have special bottles put on the side. Nice touch.


The evening after at home.
We left the restaurant with a huge doggy bag full of beef, mash, black truffle and half a kilo of chocolate cake. It was a kind of after, one last hooray before going back to the daily food routine. But as you can see, Chef & Sommelier it ain't :(

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