Swedelish –  Nordik Kitchen, Cardiff city centre

I have always been a keen proponent of the pop up, with its symbiotic benefits for the chef and the venue owner.

The chef gets to sell his/her wares and show off their cooking prowess, without the overhead costs of having their own gaff, and the venue gets (I presume) a cut and (here) booze sales. For the most part (based on my experiences) it all tends to work rather well.

The latest one I have been to was at Little Man Coffee featuring Shane Davies- Nilsson of Nordik Kitchen, with it all put on by Find My Dine.

Shane Davies – Nilsson’s family hails from Malmo in Sweden (hence my proudly cringe post title – one of my best/worse to date) and the Nordic cuisine from that area has clearly been very influential on his cooking style.

J and I went for the shorter (very good value at £38.50) tasting menu which looked rather fine I have to say

First up was the intriguingly titled whipped beef fat with pancake. Now I love a bit of tallow/dripping (carry a fair bit myself) and used to adore my grandma’s beef dripping on toast (food of the gods if it hadn’t been on the gawd awful plastic white sliced bread my grandma adored – she truly believed in the “best thing since sliced bread” adage), so this sounded right up my street.

The fat had been whipped to an almost ethereally light texture whilst still exuding robust beefiness.

Copious in quantity it was great slathered on the accompanying potato pancakes. Potato pancake can (in the wrong hands) be lumpen and heavy, but again there was a lightness of touch on display here. My sort of “get you ready for the winter/to fight a polar bear” food this!

The next course was another belter, with piggy royalty (House of Pork) on display.

A cured slice of fat dominated manglitsa pork sat drapped atop slow cooked iberico pork cheeks resulted in porcine paradise (for me, not so much the piggies).

Lovely caramelised exterior to these cheeks, with the mangalitsa fat melting into it. This gave way to a spoon tender, flavour packed, interior.

This all sat on a blood pancake (blodplattar) made using whipped blood  (can imagine these as proper “blood curdling” viking food), with the richness of the pork tempered by sour lingonberries. The leaves (did ask what they were, but have forgotten – old age and all that) were not mere redundant garnish (a bugbear of mine) and brought an refreshing cucumber – esque taste to the dish.

The next dish came with seemingly minimal ingredients of just potato and a wild garlic ferment,

but boy did this deliver on the flavour front.

Silky smooth potato puree, with bob on seasoning, and a real hit of mellow (rather than astrigent) wild garlic. I could happily have bathed (with a large spoon) in hand in a trough of this stuff.

An extra “off menu” dish then arrived, with a seemly sweet on sweet corn and jam concoction

Whilst the corn was super sweet, with a nice smokey char, the expected double dose of sweet from what look like jam actually delivered an earthy salinity and fruitiness from fermeted blueberries. Really “chemistry” clever stuff this.

One of my favourite fowl was next in the form of duck

Cooked on point (for me- with my “slap its arse, show it the pan and put in on the plate” attitude to the cooking of most meats), with a beautifully crisp skin (apparently starting it off in a cold pan is the trick), well rendered down fat and a nicely rare interior.

Properly rested this had a great flavour and a pleasing texture. Bob on bit of duck cookery. The jus looked a tad insipid, but actually packed a real flavour punch.

The beetroot ribbon added a nice earthiness and I enjoyed the almond and thyme elements in the cream and jus respectively.

On to the pud and another boddy dazzler of a dish.

Slightly sour/tangy sheep’s milk yoghurt ice cream complimented the silk smooth cocoa rich chocolate mousse. The sweetness of a honey gel operated as a pleasing counterpoint to the touch of bitterness from the chocolate.

Proceedings were finished off nicely (on the food front) with polkagris. No I had no idea what that was either so I (what on earth did we do before) googled it. Seems it is well loved (if slightly old fashion) Swedish boiled sweet (usually in a candy cane format).

These were pepperminty, with a hit of booze (vodka – don’t mind if I do) in the liquid core.

They rounded off an excellent meal rather nicely.

The Drink

On the booze front, the deal here is you buy (at retail prices) from Little Man Coffee’s wine arm – Chilled and Tannin.

Decent selection from the wine “wonder” wall and having been on their online site I had two in mind. This plan was stymied by J getting there early (What next the Pope isn’t actually a catholic, OK probably a bad example with this Pope!!) and being a glass into a bottle of Domaine Bosquet Mendoza malbec (£14) before I arrived.

Despite my concern that J had gone rogue on me and chosen a wine (she once turned up, rather proudly, at my house with a bottle of Nineteen Crimes – all against wine – which I told her to never darken my door again with before setting it aside to clean the outside drain), what she came up with was actually quite nice (I have clearly trained my young padawan well, with the Nineteen Crimes episode hopefully a mere “journey to the dark side” aberration). It went particularly well with the pork dish, with nice ripe dark forest fruits and a touch of chocolate and tobacco in the mix.

I choose a priorat (I invariably go Spanish if given the option) in the form of a 2017 Set garantxa (£21) from the Cunning Anchovy (love the joke on their website of “How do you make a small fortune in the wine industry? Well, start with a big one!” which I immediately complained to the police about).

Only 841 bottle of this wine were made and it brought nice black fruit, black pepper, chocolate and a touch of violet to the table. Quite grippy tannins meant I felt it a tad young. Needs a bit more sleepy time (5 years plus) in the bottle in my view.

I do love the fact that you have access to pretty decent selection of wines at fair prices at these Little Man Coffee hosted events.

The verdict

Excellent meal from Shane Davies – Nilsson, who is a rather talented chef. I really enjoyed the fact he came out with each dish to present it and was eager to engage with us in terms of the dishes. I love hearing how chef’s minds work (most of them seen totally bonkers 😂)! These people to wake up in the middle of the night with a “eureka” new recipe/process moment, whereas with me it is “Ooh did I put the dishwasher on?”.

Whilst he is continuing with his Nordik Kitchen pop ups, he will be (J got this info before I arrived) heading up the kitchen at the Humble Onion in Dinas Powys (just outside of Cardiff). Well worth a visit on that basis as he is a chef to certainly keep a watchful eye on.

The details

Details of Nordik Kitchen seem to be mainly on Instagram

Tickets for the pop ups tend to be via Find my dine.

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