Monday, March 16, 2009

Fresh Oysters and Irish Whisky

I love oysters on the half shell. I have had amazing oysters that looked like art at C restaurant in Vancouver B.C. I've had them big and small, from all over the world. I found my favorite combination at a small Ottawa, Ontario Canada restaurant called the Whalebone Oyster House, recommended by Norman Hardie Winery in Southern Ontario.

I was touring the local Prince Edward County Wine region and came upon Norman Hardie in his vineyard. He came out of the vineyard and led us down to his cellar tasting room that was carved out the rock. In the mineral smelling cave I tasted his amazing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Cuvee. He then suggest dining at his favorite Ottawa restaurant, The Whalebone.

Now I'm getting to the "top it off well" part of the day. The chef had filled an old-fashioned glass vinegar bottle with single-malt scotch. Two of my favorite indulgences in one mouth-watering muse bouche, Ahhhhhh.

So as a twist for St. Paddy's day, get some fresh oysters and a dram of Irish Whisky; for a smoky option try the peaty Connemara, or for a sweeter note try a 16 year old Bushmills.

(photo from Whalebone website)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Let's have some more Smørrebrød

I tasted my first Smørrebrød in Denmark a number of years ago. A Smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich served on buttered dark rye bread. The toppings of cheese, herring, meats, eggs and more are laid artistically on top.

I ate at the famous Nyhaven restaurant, Ida Davidsen. They are a friendly, fifth generation family run place that has been making Smørrebrød for close to 100 years. I still remember the salmon, caviar, crayfish on a lick of lime and dill mayo and Rye, and the melt in your mouth liver pate with consomme aspic, onion rings and thinly sliced rare beef; all chased down with aquavit, or akvavit in Danish. Akvavit is a vodka-like shot flavored with caraway, dill, coriander and/ or fennel. Skål!

The Smørrebrød experience in the Netherlands is a bit different. The breakfast buffets contain all the Smørrebrød ingredients on separate plates and you pick and choose what you want on the hearty bread choices. Of course Dutch cheese is the main feature. Many of these buffets are included with the room rate.

But tonight I decided to focus on Danish ingredients for the most part. The Smørrebrøds consisted of Dutch rye bread topped with parsley pesto, Danish Monfars cheese and Danish smoked salmon. I served it with an avocado and tangelo salad in a dill cream dressing on a bed of arugula. I had a glass of Oakton Lane 2007 Chardonnay from San Luis Obispo, which was a good match for the smoked salmon. I got the salmon and the Monfar Brannvinsost, which is an aged Swedish cow's milk cheese, at Ikea. This is an fortrinlig elegant no-cook dinner.

Dill Cream Sauce

2 tbs sour cream
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbs Walnut oil.

Blend well and dress avocado and oranges; then pile on top of shredded arugula.