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NaCl - Nordic dinner at Selfridges review

NaCl - Nordic dinner at Selfridges review

by Sally Abé 30 October 2015

Great British Chefs check out what the 'bright young stars' of Nordic cuisine have to offer in their pop-up at The Corner Restaurant at Selfridges.

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant, The Ledbury, Sally is now technical food editor at Great British Chefs.

As part of their ‘destination Christmas’ theme, Selfridges are bringing the best of Nordic cuisine to London this winter with a series of dinners and an exclusive book launch. Björn Frantzén, Magnus Nilsson and Frida Ronge of Sweden and NaCl (Nordic Academy of Culinary Leisure) of Denmark are all involved in the lead-up to Christmas; we went along to the NaCl dinner at The Corner Restaurant to see what these ‘bright young stars’ were cooking.

NaCl is a group of chefs that got together six years ago in Copenhagen to have fun, cook and try out new things and they have since put on approximately forty dinners. I’m still trying to figure out if they called themselves the Nordic Academy of Culinary Leisure deliberately so that the acronym of their name could be the chemical symbol for salt (NaCl) or whether that was a lucky coincidence.

We kicked off with snacks and champagne while the chefs introduced themselves and the evening - it was to consist of eight courses cooked by eight chefs and served with eight glasses of wine! All the food was to be plated on the Champagne bar in front of the guests which gave a nice feel of involvement to the evening.

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Celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke
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The chefs plating up

We were treated to four courses of fish starting with a dish of grilled oyster with onion petals and horseradish which was a light beginning to the menu, the horseradish was just a glimmer in the background of a cream sauce so as not to overpower the delicate oyster. This was followed by raw scallops with an indulgent roe mayonnaise, sharp home-made sour cream and salty smoked almonds. Squid with pickled cabbage, thyme and truffle was the highlight of the evening for me: the squid was cooked to perfection, it was melt-in-your-mouth soft and bound with a fragrant thyme sauce with a grating of truffle. This was followed by monkfish with burnt butter and clam sauce which was smoky and full of flavour.

A dish of veal breast with Nordic ‘kimchi’ was also packed with flavour and was my companion’s favourite dish. It was served with a cabbage purée which the chef assured us tasted so good because of the huge amount of butter used in making it and it was just what was needed to offset the fermented vegetables.

The main meat course was influenced by the district of Nørrebro in Copenhagen, an area in which there are many Middle Eastern families; it was a taco of lamb, cumin and yoghurt that was originally supposed to look like a brick but as he couldn’t make it taste good and look like a brick, he settled on the taste and we’re glad he did. The lamb was tender and delicious with the tangy yoghurt and the whole thing was given a freshness from an abundance of mint and coriander leaves.

 
 
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Onion and grilled oyster
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Middle Eastern inspired lamb

The blue cheese with figs and dark beer was an interesting combination but the strong flavours actually worked well together though I wouldn’t have chosen a glass of Sauternes to accompany it.

Dessert was three preparations of sea buckthorn all of which were at different temperatures ranging from cool, to cold to super cold with the aid of a blast of liquid nitrogen. It was interesting to see how the temperature affected the flavours of the sour sea buckthorn. The mousse was silky and creamy, the ice cream was rich and the frozen balls were little sour bursts on the tongue. It was a refreshing choice for dessert as after so much food the last thing we would have wanted was a heavy pudding.

It was a hugely enjoyable evening and we were very impressed by NaCl. Even with so many different chefs and ideas they managed to put together a menu that was coherent, balanced and flowed well from beginning to end. It’s safe to say these chefs are at the top of their game and I’m sure we will see their names in lights in years to come.

The next Nordic dinner is with Frida Ronge on 10th November 2015.

 
 
 

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