I am slightly in love with all things Nordic – people from that region have beautiful accents, generally are beautiful (who wouldn’t love to be tall and blonde?), and seem to be genuinely nice people. Of course there are always exceptions, but I am yet to find any which have made me love the Nordics less. I have never actually travelled to that region, despite having a good friend living in Sweden (who is inconveniently returning to the UK soon, so dammit I have missed my chance of a holiday there). This is the reason, I feel, why I always confuse the the countries in the Nordics … telling people that Andrew had recently returned from Copenhagen, Norway, and not entirely understanding why I was receiving such blank looks.
Anyway, I have come to realise that geography will never be my strong point, and accept that when speaking about other countries my faux-pas will usually make people laugh at my stupidity … I am used to Andrew rolling his eyes at me when I ask him if there are two places in the world called Crimea (I thought it was in Africa or India – don’t ask me why), or explaining earnestly to him that Timbuktu and Tipperary are fictional places. I did believe until my late teens that the only beaches in the UK were those of the south coast, which is probably giving you an understanding of how geographically thick I actually am (it’s not put on, I am this stupid).
But I digress. Denmark, which is the country Andrew has actually been to (he loved it, and bought me back some gorgeous treats including cheese, chocolate, and a book of Hans Christiansen Anderson fairy tales), is the subject of our latest Alphabet Adventure, and this time we had Jane joining us for our culinary treat.
Apparently the only Danish restaurant in London has closed, and so I instead made a reservation for the Nordic Bar in Soho. At 6.30pm on a Monday night it wasn’t busy, but it still had a very nice friendly and laid back atmosphere which made me think it would be a great place to go to for drinks with a big group of friends. And the waitress was really lovely with such a cute accent, I wanted her to be my friend.
We agreed on a smorgasbord to share to start, which went very well with our lime and elderflower Kopparberg cider. Smorgasbord is a very cool word, and this one was a very nice platter of Nordic treats, including crayfish tails, pickled herring, deep fried cheese (what is not to love about cheese which has been deep-fried? nothing, that’s what), potato wedges, and some flatbread with butter.
Apart from the cheese (which it goes without saying was fabulous) I also really liked the pickled herring. I thought it would be in a vinegar, but it came in a kind of pickle-y mayonnaise which was very tasty, albeit a bit rich if you had a lot, which I greedily did. The crayfish tasted fresh and the potato wedges came with chopped rosemary and salt crystals, which I will definitely do at home when I next make wedges.
For my main course I had Pytt I Panna, which is apparently one of those kind of recipes which appears all over the Nordics, and is, I suppose, a bit like our own bubble and squeak. It was a mixture of diced potato, sausage and bacon, fried together and topped with a fried egg, and served with gherkins and beetroot. It was very nice and flavoursome with lots of seasoning (and someone tweeted me afterwards that it makes a perfect stomach liner before a busy night – I am sure they are correct!), although maybe a little bit on the oily side for my taste. Jo had meatballs and mash, which came in an absolutely huge bowl and tasted of Ikea meatballs (which we all agreed was no bad thing). Jane had a veggie burger and fries – not the most Nordic dish in the world, but according to her it was a good burger, and Charlotte had possibly the most fabulous concoction in the world: a hot dog in a bun, topped with mash, and served with chips. Atkins-friendly it was most certainly not, but we all had the most insane food-envy and Charlotte and her bump very much enjoyed it!
The portions at the Nordic bar are extremely generous, and so we could not manage any puddings (choices of various types of cheesecake or ice cream), but our lovely waitress did give us each a complimentary Aquavit to help us digest our food. I have never tried it before, even though Andrew did bring a bottle of it back from Copenhagen (which is in Denmark, don’t you know!), and I thought it was quite nice – not too harsh and it definitely set me onto the wrong side of tipsy after two large ciders.
Andrew was so jealous that I had tried a type of alcohol that he hadn’t, he subsequently opened up his own bottle of Aquavit so that he didn’t feel left out! He (unsurprisingly) likes it too.
So our Danish Alphabet Adventure and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recent Scandimania series on Channel 4 has made me even more convinced that I must go to to visit these wonderful countries, which are becoming more and more renowned for their food and restaurant culture. Until then, the Nordic Bar is a great place to whet your tastebuds for food and drink of the region, and I am sure I’ll be going there again with a group of friends to enjoy the atmosphere.
Next stop, E … as Charlotte is going on maternity leave soon, we’ve tasked her with the challenge of finding a suitable venue – after all, we don’t want her forgetting about our Alphabet Adventures …