When most people think of Scandinavians, they probably think of super svelte figures with thick golden locks, getting out of the sauna, and eating lots of hearty meals with friends and family. And that stereotype is pretty true! Some of them have brown hair, though. Nordic people really know how to live. In fact Scandinavians, are rated the most happy, healthy people in the world! So of course, we were really excited to showcase their rich culture and cuisine in a wine dinner.
Salmon Gravlax with Radish, Cucumber and Scallion
We wanted to stay true to authentic Scandinavian cuisine, and what better way to start things off than a mouthful of fresh fish? Gravlax, or cured fish, is a staple in Nordic food. We cured raw salmon with salt, sugar and dill to create the gravlax. Adding a little twist, we made a honey reduction to add during the curing process—to give it “mead-like” notes. Garnished with thin slices of cucumber, radish and scallion, we served this course chilled.
The amuse bouche was paired with Reventos “De Nit” Brut Rosé (Spain). The notes of light citrus, red flowers, white fruit and touch of cassis (referring to the black currant character) bring out the subtle, crisp flavors of the gravlax. This pairing is clean and direct. As you hold the wine in your mouth, that direct crispness becomes a more smooth, voluminous texture with a pleasant freshness and fine bubbles, making this a perfect wine for chilled seafood.
Butter-Poached Langoustine Tail with Caviar
When we get the chance, we like to introduce our guest to foods. We poached langoustines, also known as Norwegian lobsters, in butter. These crustaceans are a cross between lobster and prawns, their size and texture resembling a prawn as the flavor resembles a lobster. After poaching the langoustines, we glazed them with an orange reduction, adding a little acidity and sweetness, before placing them on a small bed of blanched asparagus.
This was also paired with Reventos “De Nit” Brut Rosé (Spain). The crispness of the wine rounded out the richness of the langoustine meat. And the orange reduction complemented the subtle citrus and white fruit notes.
Reindeer Stew with Onion, Lingonberry and Juniper
Like we said before, any chance we can introduce our guest to a food, we take it! Reindeer is difficult to get in the States. The meat used to be much more accessible, but farmers wanted to push the beef industry instead. But in the Scandinavian region (and other European countries) reindeer is usually more popular than beef. So when the reindeer meat arrived, we didn’t try different recipes and flavor profiles like we normally do. We waited until the day of the dinner to cook any of it.
As our guests ate the stew, Arianne (event coordinator and head chef) explained the process. “I had 5 recipes laid out the night before, still trying to decide how I was going to make the stew. I woke up the next morning and ended up leaving them all at home, so if you asked me to make this stew again, I probably couldn’t.”
It melted in our guests mouth—everyone was amazed at the creamy notes of the reindeer meat. We made sure the carrots had a slight crunch to round out the tender meat and potatoes. The lingonberry and juniper added a subtle sweetness (and tartness) to the warmth and spice that lingered in your throat. Everyone knew how special this course was—so much thought went into the flavor profiles and textures.
“And that’s exactly how Charles made the bread, too. He had his cookbooks out, looked over multiple recipes, put them back up on the shelf, and started baking—pulling all the ideas together to create the molasses rye. Our wine dinners really are one-time experiences.”
We paired this course with Ercavio Tempranillo (Spain). This savory Spanish red is brooding and complex with a brilliant ruby hue. Notes of tobacco, oak, berry, and anise pair nicely with the hearty stew. This wine is known for it’s supple tannins and the juicy berry note it leaves behind, which helped bring out the lingonberry and juniper flavors in the stew. The Tempranillo grape gives the wine a smooth and rich mouthfeel—slightly lighter than a California Cabernet, but deeper than Pinot Noir.
Pickled Herring and Fresh Dill Mustard Potato Salad
Pickled Herring is another staple in Scandinavian cuisine, and we were determined to use it without freaking out our guests who weren’t as “daring.” After doing some research we learned that potatoes, as well as other root vegetables, were significant in Nordic cultures. Because of the cold climate, Scandinavian’s had short growing season. Root vegetables can be easily grown and stored for longer periods of time. We decided to make a potato salad that was dressed lightly with herring. We pickled our own herring, giving it a nice sweet and smokey flavor unlike the herring you’ll find at the supermarket. We added some fresh dill and mustard to bring out the flavors of the fish, and cut the starch of the potatoes.
This dish was paired with Colomé Estate Torrontes (Argentina). This golden wine has aromas of fresh flowers that offset it’s citrus notes led by grapefruit, lime zest and herbs. This wine is lively crisp and fresh, and although has slight notes of tropical fruit, finishes savory and long with salt and limestone character on the palate—perfect for pickled herring.
Braised Lamb Shank with Fresh Rosemary, Garlic, Carrots and Fennel
We wanted to use another meat with creamy characteristics for the main course—for it to melt in the mouth. The braised lamb fell off the bone as we placed it gently on a bed of mashed carrots. Sticking with the theme of root vegetables, we peeled the carrots down to their core, where all the sugar is, and braised them in red wine along with onion and garlic. We mashed them, making their texture creamy and rich to pair with the lamb.
For the wine pairing we used Stoplman Estate Syrah (California). This wine has a dark aromas of black currant and rosemary compliments the bright fruit profile. Notes of tangerine and fresh red fruit make this wine lively, while the dark cherry, lavender, rosemary, and other earth notes round out the palate, giving it some spice. Like most Syrah’s this pairs great with rich, red meats and root vegetables.
Semla Pastry with Lingonberry Pastry Cream
By the end of the night, guests are stuffed, so we try to keep our desserts light. For this dinner we knew we wanted to incorporate lingonberries into this course. We decided to play off of the Scandinavian pastry known as Semla (sweet roll). Instead of making a roll, we used the same ingredients (including cardamom and almond) to make a pastry that resembled a crepe. We filled it with a light lingonberry pastry cream and topped it with some lingonberry jam.
The dessert was paired with a 90-year-old Lechuza Garnacha (Spain). Rich flavors of blackberry, wild strawberry and a touch of bitter chocolate are met with aromas of violets, blueberry and anise. This is a wine has an impressive energy with big flavors and a rich texture, shaped by smooth tannins that are quickly absorbed by the wine’s fruit.
Our next wine dinner is on Thursday, April 27. The theme is “Black Sails.” We’ll be showcasing six courses of carefully curated Caribbean cuisine, paired perfectly with five wines. Our sommelier promised that all the wines are rated 90 or above for this month—you won’t want to miss out on it! Reserve your spot today by filling out the form below or calling us at 417-626-0032.