I am aways keen to expand my horizons and as usual I am way behind the trend in terms of Nordic cuisine. In food, as with my dress sense, when I get around to a trend it is usually hopelessly out of date and my only hope of being on trend is for the fashion wheel to have turned full circle such that it catches me on the next revolution purely by chance.
Nordic cuisine seems, however, to be a bit of a long term trend and as such despite being late to the party I remain keen to try this style of food.
As a result an event organised by “Find My Dine” which included food by Nordik Kitchen (Shane Davies – Nilsson) and Hiraeth Kitchen (Lewis Dwyer) rather piqued my interest.
It offered a chance to dip my toe into the Baltic, tempered by dishes from outside of the Nordic sphere from Hiraeth Kitchen. I very much hoped it would prove to be a case of Hwyl x Hyyge = ffantastig/fantastisk and tickets (£62.50 a head) were duly booked.
This was a pop up event and took place at Little Man Coffee in Cardiff city centre. Nice spot for an evening event, based in the downstairs room with the benefit of an onsite wine merchant in the form of Chilled and Tannin for booze needs
The menu was intriguing, with descriptions rather minimalistic in nature.
First up was a double amuse bouche of beef croquettes and nuggets of NFC (Nordik fried chicken).
The chicken has a nice crisp exterior (utilising buckwheat and spelt) with a pleasing contrast of tangy lingonberry hot sauce and cooling (probably) skyr yoghurt (as is heavily used by Davies – Nilsson). As good as these nuggets were, they were bested (in mine and J’s view at least) by the other number on the log.
Full on beefy loveliness, with a parmesan infused shell adding seasoning and the capers a pleasing hit of acidity to cut through the richness of the beef (shin I think)
It sat on an nice mushroom infused base that added earthiness. Really, really good this.
Next up was some excellent bread,
which from Hiraerth Kitchen’s Instagram feed seems to be “mock soudough” with the dough enriched with kefir. Lovely crisp crust, but a soft (unsourdough-esque) interior. The perfect marriage, which I would love to be able to buy retail.
It came with cultured butter, which was heavily salted (properly salty butter is just the best) and not overly churned. As a result it retained a lovely lightness of texture and full on creaminess.
Nice portion size, which enabled me to indulge in my preference of adding a thin layer of bread to my butter.
On to what I considered to be the first course, which was described rather concisely (something readers of the blog will know is an entirely alien concept to me) as “Grains, skyr and lamb“.
Not much of a looker, with a bit of a gruel vibe to it, it more than made up for that on the flavour front.
The grains formed a sort of porridge/congee type affair, with a nice level of bite still being retained in the grains. Pickled veg. adding acidity and the skyr a touch of tartness.
The advertised lamb element came in the form of dried heart that was generously grated, trufflesque, over the whole ensemble. This had an intense favour of (such a way with words me) lambiness to it, which was not reminiscent of offal at all.
Loved this use of the little utilised and underrated lamb heart, here almost as a seasoning.
The next course was as pretty as a picture,
such that I almost didn’t want to ruin the asthestics by tucking in (that sentiment lasted precisely 1 millisecond mind).
Lovely flavour and textural contrasts here, with micron thin yet still crisp pastry shell, a really interesting nettle pesto (new one on me, but very successful and sort of reminiscent of a rocket pesto), tart goat curd and a crispness from well a crisp and deep fried kale (I think).
Next up was lobster with tobika (flying fish roe, roe being the seeming darling ingredient of a lot of chefs at the mo – see my Milkwood review).
Nicely cooked and flavoured lobster on display here, but this was probably mine and J’s least favourite dish of the night. We both found the buttermilk(?) sauce a tad salty (and I am a bit of a salt fiend) which rather detracted from the main lobster element.
Back to meat and a duck dish was an absolute truimph
The duck was cooked on point, with a lovely flavour, and came with a killer sauce. I really enjoyed the umami hit from the miso in the mix here.
The purple sprouting brocolli had an intense charred smokiness to it that worked really well with the richness of the duck and the sweetness of the caramelised hazelnuts. Absolutely cracking dish this.
A granita of rhubarb and star anise performed its palate cleansing function admirably.
Nice mix of tart and sweet, with a pleasing hit of aniseed.
The main dessert was a bit of a boddy dazzler, with lovely tempered chocolate encasing chewy heather honey and banana marshmallow.
More chocolate was on the side, as well as the sweet sharpness of pineapple to temper the chocolate.
An (unadvertised on the menu) brucey bonus was a set of petite fours
Both lovely, with J preferring the chocolate number and me the fudgy one.
One of the beauties of eating at a pop up at Little Man Coffee is that fact that you have a choice of wine from pretty much the full range of Chilled & Tannin’s products.
Here you get that wine at its retail price, with a meagre £4 corkage charge. Total bargain that when you look at the level of mark ups most UK restaurants apply (3 x plus retail not unheard of by any means).
We decided (when I say we I mean me as J had precisely zero input into the choices made) on a white and a red to match with the diverse flavours of the tasting menu here.
Having toyed with both New World and Old World Riesling, as I waited for the inevitably late arriving J, the white I eventually settled on was an old favourite from Wales in the form of an Ancre Hill Chardonnay (2018) (£21 – I think).
Nice nose of citrus nose and flavour, with a good slake of minerality and a lingering hit of orchard fruits, this worked well with the non meat savoury elements of the menu. I love the fact that this is a mere 10.5% ABV – ideal mid week wine.
Nice raspberry notes, that worked well with the duck, as well as there being a pleasing slatey minerality on display here. Interesting (in a good way) wine this (note to self – buy more Austrian reds).
With corkage, we paid a very pleasing £40 in total for these two bottles. To me that is a great price for two decent bottles when eating out.
A joyful meal this, with two young, ambitious, chefs putting together a really nice, balanced, menu.
They certainly seem to be enjoying themselves in cooking up this meal and it showed in the rather delightful playfulness of the menu, with some great flavours on display.
Will definitely be looking out for further events/pop up done by either of these two chefs. Details of which will, I assume, be on Find My Dine who put together this event.
Hiraeth Kitchen: Details of events etc. can be found on Instagram @hiraethkitchen and at https://linktr.ee/hiraeth.kitchen
Nordik Kitchen: Details of events etc. can be found on Instagram @Nordik_kitchenrestaurant and Twitter @nordik_kitchen
Find My Dine: https://www.findmydine.co.uk/