For the third consecutive year, Rene Redzepi´s Noma in Copenhagen was voted the best restaurant in the world at the Restaurant Magazine’s annual S. Pellegrino “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” awards.
Will Noma make it a fourth time? I very much hope so. Hopefully a fifth time as well, if the restaurant does not close its doors before then.
Having the world’s best restaurant in one of our neighbouring countries, in this small part of the world, allows the spotlight to shine even on us. Sweden. Foodies, journalists and other gastrophiles don’t travel to Scandinavia to experience Noma only; perhaps they want to meet with the next Rene Redzepi at his restaurant in Österlen, to experience the mind of Björn Frantzén in the open kitchen counter at Frantzén/Lindeberg in Stockholm, or why not spend a day at Fäviken Magasinet, tasting the Nordic cuisine in its most extreme, challenging and fun way without using molecular cooking or water baths. Perhaps they also make a stop at the much acclaimed Maaemo in Oslo, or with Chez Dominique in Helsinki?
I don’t know, but being a foodie myself I love the attention given to some of the restaurants in Sweden over the last couple of years. Thank you, Rene. Thank you for placing the Nordic countries on the global map of gastronomy.
For me 2012 has been yet another incredible year with the blog. In fact, En Foodie has introduced me to worlds I never would have been able to experience otherwise. I have met with some of the most amazing, passionate and exciting people in the restaurant business. I have been invited to their table, asked to write for their magazine, even allowed to cook in their kitchen. You have taught me, challenged me and asked for my opinion. I have loved and I love every second of it.
In 2013 I look forward to becoming a dad, and then I guess we take it from there? Still, I can’t stop thinking about some of the interesting projects going on this year. Will we turn our ideas into reality?
Below I want to share with you my favourite meals of 2012. Enjoy.
# 10 Osteria Francescana, Modena (Chef Massio Bottura)
The culinary superstar Massimo Bottura is taking the Italian cuisine to the next level, describing his food as a reinvention of the flavours of his youth interpreted through the avant-garde. Yes, this is one of those restaurants where you have to let go of everything else and be open-minded about the experience to come. This was my second visit to Osteria Francescana and with Chef Bottura in the house, compared to my first visit, it was nothing but a great evening.
# 9 Relæ, Copenhagen (Chef Christian Puglisi)
I have to admit that I am a friend of classical tastes and strong flavours. Still, I have to accept the fact that my evening at Restaurant Relæ was nothing but wonderful. It was as challenging and frustrating as I had expected on beforehand, but what to expect from a Sicilian-born chef with at background from Noma and El Bulli that decided to open his restaurant(s) on Jægersborggade, the coolest street in the super-hyped culinary city of Copenhagen? I doubt one can find many restaurants in this part of the world, if none, being as simple yet creative and innovative as Relæ.
# 8 L’Ami Jean, Paris (Chef Stephane Jego)
Here everyone is eating too much, drinking too much and laughing out loud while Chef Jego is yelling at waiters and chefs, as well as guests, from his open kitchen. But L´Ami Jean is not only about the atmosphere. The food is seriously good and top quality ingredients are used. I was here a couple of times during my visit to Paris last spring and had everything from beautiful scallops, white pudding, a stunning cod cooked a la plancha to perfection and a fillet of veal which has not yet been surpassed by any other. Not to mention the rice pudding with candied nuts and caramel sauce. Wow.
# 7 Le Louis XV, Monte-Carlo (Chef Frank Cerutti)
Franck Cerutti, a long-time second to Alain Ducasse at the Le Louis XV in Monte-Carlo, puts all his energy into flavour. I had the opportunity to come back to Monte-Carlo this summer to try Franck Ceruttis food again and some of the dishes I have had here, not all of them, has to be counted as spectacular. The food here is simple and straightforward, allowing the ingredients to shine. Some might even find the food to simple but for me it has become one of the few restaurants that educate me in terms of top quality ingredients and flavours.
# 6 Hedone, London (Chef Mikael Jönsson)
Without a doubt I have to count Mikael Jönsson as one of the most exciting profiles I have ever met when seeking dining experiences all over the world. The former lawyer and food blogger is obsessed about trying to find the best ingredients this planet has to offer, and the dining experience at his Hedone, in the unfashionable London suburb Chiswick, is truly spectacular. I came back last summer to spend five hours in the open kitchen counter and perhaps I had too much food, but the few times I have the chance to come here I am prepared to try whatever Jönsson serves to me.
# 5 Fäviken Magasinet, Järpen (Chef Magnus Nilsson)
For Chef Magnus Nilsson it’s all about rektún mat (real food). In Järpen, located 390 miles north of Stockholm in an eighteenth-century granary, he runs a different restaurant with a kitchen unlike most others, where the Nordic cuisine is in its most extreme, challenging and fun way without using molecular cooking or water baths. Here you dont only eat a spectacular dinner, the whole picture that Fäviken offers is unique and absolutely amazing.
# 4 Mirazur, Menton (Chef Mauro Colagreco)
This summer I have had two meals at Mirazur. Both times I have been amazed not only by the restaurants beautiful location 100 metres away from the French-Italian border, but also by Mauro Colagrecos impressive skills of emphasizing and intensifying flavours in relatively simple ingredients. His food is creative, folding in the best of Mediterranean ingredients. I cant stop thinking of Mauro´s salade d´haricots; any chef who can make a salad this interesting will get my full attention. And be sure I will come back.
# 3 Daniel Berlin Krog, Skåne-Tranås (Chef Daniel Berlin)
A new year and a new season is approaching for Daniel Berlin, his family and restaurant in the small city called Skåne-Tranås in south Sweden. Perhaps with higher expectations than ever before. In Sweden he is mentioned as one of the best chefs and internationally, Daniel Berlin Krog has been named to replace Noma as the world’s best restaurant. I am looking forward to come back to a chef that can turn simple ingredients into some extraordinary (his cauliflower, oats and dill from 2011 is still one of the best dishes I have ever had) and to meet with all the lovely people working here, in this very beautiful part of Sweden. And I will most probably congratulate Chef Berlin again having entered the 50-best list of 2013, when he drive me back to the hotel after yet another beautiful meal at his restaurant.
# 2 Le Calandre, Rubano (Chef Massimiliano Alajmo)
Le Calandre is located in the not-so-charming town of Rubano about four miles from Padua in northern Italy. This town consists of nothing except a busy roadway lined with shopping malls and car dealers, and one of the world’s best restaurants. My meal at this restaurants was one of few meals I have ever had close to absolute perfection. After some of the dishes I was almost in the state of shock. Yes, it was that good. Massimiliano Alajmos dishes mostly contains of just a few elements but each of them shine and complement each other. The dishes were all beautiful and elegant, not to mention the flavours that were incredible good and intense throughout the whole meal. A divine experience.
# 1 Frantzén/Lindeberg, Stockholm (Chef Björn Frantzén)
This restaurant has hooked me in every possible way during the last two years. I am not involved professionally with food or the restaurant industry and I don’t dare to tell anyone how something should taste. I am happy though to tell anyone how something can taste and most of my references to ingredients and flavours come from this small restaurant situated in Stockholm Old Town.
During 2012, three dishes were never enough. I had hundreds of them, and each and every time I left the restaurant I felt humbled and amazed. On February 28th, the premier evening in the open kitchen counter, my world was turned upside down; live langoustines and king crab, 12-day aged halibut, a blood pancake, the coal flamed tartar of reindeer with Iranian caviar, satio tempestas, a scallop in three servings, scorched cod, Vidalia onions, cauliflower “Eton mess”… and much more. It was not for away from a complete gastronomic journey, led by the needs of each ingredient and the freedom of the restaurants creativity. Or perhaps it was the complete gastronomic journey?
The duo of Björn Frantzén and Daniel Lindeberg, together with their amazing team, has in a short period of time moved on to offering one of the very top food and restaurant experiences there is to find in the world today. If they continue down this path, the ultimate and highest recognition in the culinary world will soon come. I can’t wait to see how 2013 turn out.