Around the World – Geranium***, Copenhagen, Denmark (March 2017)

Day 2 of my business trip (and venture into the Nordic cuisine) was very satisfying. After spending the entire day in negotiations for a Danish tax audit, its satisfactory result made the visit to Geranium*** that night even better.

Geranium opened in 2007 in Copenhagen’s Rosenborg Gardens but the original inception had been closed due to bankruptcy of one of its investors in 2009, but reopened in its current location at the Per Henrik Lings Allé in 2010.

The head-chef Rasmus Kofoed has a quite impressive resume as he is the only chef in the world that won bronze (2005), silver (2007) as well as gold (2011) on the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition. The restaurant got its first Michelin star in 2012 and the second and third followed in quick succession: 2013 and 2016. On April 5, it was announced that Geranium holds the 19th spot on the 2017 San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (up from 28th in 2016) and wine list – overseen by Wine Director Søren Lodet – has been awarded the best Champagne and Sparkling Wine list for 2016. Enough accolades, I knew for sure that I was in for a treat that night…

The restaurant is advertised as dining in the canopy overlooking the Fælledparken, which sounds a lot better than dining on the 8th floor of the FC København football stadium. However, as soon as you exit the elevator, you step into a totally different atmosphere. Greeted heartily, I was ushered into the light dining area with indeed beautiful views over the park. The sunset was already at 8pm, but it must be spectacular dining there in the height of summer.

I was seated at a large round table just in front of the open kitchen which had been remodeled last year so that the entire dining area has a view on the kitchen rather than only the first four tables (which are no longer there) that had a side view. Luckily there was also a Dutch guy in the kitchen, Coen, who served and explained some of the dishes and helped impromptu on Dutch translations of some of the ingredients.

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After choosing a glass of champagne from 3 options – I went for a 2009 Brut Nature Champagne, La Pulpe et Le Grain Champagne by Charles Dufour (DKK 200 / € 27) – I was handed a small letter with a welcoming message from Rasmus and Søren, explaining their view on how they cook and source products as well as the wine list. It was immense: close to 80 pages with incredible wines, which often could also be offered as vertical tastings.

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About the menu choices
On the back of the note was the set menu, “The Spring Universe”. In principle, there are 4 seasonal menus but besides the signature dishes there are occasional changes within the seasons too. The menu is DKK 2.000 / € 269 and consists of 5 appetizers and 11 dishes – 8 savory and 3 sweet – and concluded with sweets to go with coffee or tea. The regular wine pairing was DKK 1.400 / € 188 (for 7 wines) and a juice pairing will set you back DKK 700 / € 94. As I was feeling much better than the night before, fermented grape juice it was…

Besides the regular wine pairing by the glass, also 3 more exclusive options were available. A Wine Lovers Experience with 6 rare and special wines by the glass for DKK 3.300 / € 443. To top that, for larger groups, there were also two possibilities to go berserk with pairings of 6 entire bottles, but those wines are exceptional (top cuvées from Taittigher and Krug, a 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild, a 1986 Chateau d’Yquem, etc.) and therefore also come at an exceptional price level: DKK 30.000 / € 4.000 for the The Great Bottle Experience and a whopping DKK 75.000 / € 10.000 for the Extreme Bottle Experience.

“More important than the food pairing is the person with whom you drink the wine…”

This quote from Christian Moueix of Dominus Estate donned on the first page of the wine list. So, there I was, stitting on my own, flicking the 80 pages of the wine list… I proptly decided to splash out and go for the Wine Lovers Experience. 😇

The Appetizers

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Lobster, Milk, Juice from Fermented Carrots and Sea Buckthorn
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Jerusalem Artichoke Leaves, Hazelnut Oil and Rye Vinegar

Next appetizer was the ingenious “Tomato Water, Ham Fat and Aromatic Herbs”:

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Charred Potato in Aroma from Bark and Sheep’s Butter
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“Razor Clam” with Minerals and Sour Cream

The Savory dishes
First up was the “Dillstone” Trout, Horseradish and Frozen Juice from Pickled Dill:

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Salted Hake, Parsley Stems and Finnish Caviar in Buttermilk

These first two savory dishes were accompanied by a 2014 Pouilly Fumé Tryptique by A. Cailbourdin, a citrusy fresh and clean Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France.

The next dish was Scallop, Filippa Apple, Scallop Roe and Browned Butter which was paired with an amazing 2014 Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay by Ceritas Wines sourced from grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

An entire bread course(!) followed the scallops: “Crispy Grains, Bread with Old Grains and Gluten Free Bread with Seeds”. No wine pairing, but my leftover Chardonnay was not bad at all.

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“Pickled Carrots, Smoked Pork Fat and Melted Vesterhavs Cheese” which was paired with a vibrant yet dry 2009 Silberlack Riesling “Erstes Gewächs” by Schloss Johannisberger, Rheingau, Germany
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Lightly Salted Turbot, Celeriac and Pickled Pine
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Walnuts, Cep Mushroom Soup and Black Truffle

The turbot and mushroom dishes were paired with a glass of exquisite NV Grande Cuvée Champagne from Krug, a special blend of more than 120 wines from 10 or more different years.

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“Grilled Lamb, Ramson and Sheep Cream with Smoked Lumpfish Roe”

The lamb dish which was paired with a 2009 Les Forts de Latour by Château Latour, Pauillac, France. Although this Les Forts de Latour is “only” the second label of this famous winery, this excellent 2009 vintage was incredibly powerful, but paired very well with the grilled lamb as well as the roe.

Intermezzo
At the end of the savory part of the Spring Universe menu, Coen invited me for a quick tour of the restaurant and the different sections of the kitchen. Explaining along the way the rigor and methodological approach in the kitchen: from getting the fresh produce via different stations for cleaning, prepping, storing, portioning, all the way to the open kitchen that needs to finish and assemble the dishes during service. His favorite was the drying room for the charcuterie that they make themselves at Geranium. The smell escaping when he opened the door was very special, a huge wall of umami. It was chockful of experiments with various stages of drying and jars of pickled ingredients. The wine cellars sections were pretty impressive; big wine list = big storage. After having a look in the test kitchen and the private dining area, we made our way back to the dining area. The actual Bocuse d’Or trophies were on display at the back of the restaurant!

The sweet dishes
After the tour, it was time for desserts, which were all paired by an Hungarian sweet wine: a 2005 furmint-based Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos by Oremus.

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A Bite of Beetroot, Blackcurrant, Yoghurt and Tagetes
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Ice Cream from Beeswax and Pollen, Dried Apple, Black Honey and Elderberries
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Caramel with Roasted Grains, Chamomile and Pear

To finish this amazing night, I ordered an espresso which was prepared at the table.

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It apparently started with a joke from Rasmus as he bought this ROK espresso maker on eBay and tasked the Italian waiter to get the hang of it. Italians should know how to make a proper espresso, right? After 3 weeks of experimentation with process and quantities (and therefore getting a serious workout), he indeed succeeded to crank out very nice espressos.

As the pièce de résistance there were sweets served with the espresso:

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Front to back:
Caramel, Dried plum juice and aromatic seeds
Pumpkin tree and cake with pumpkin seed oil
Marshmallow with rose hip
Chocolate with oats and sea buckthorn
Green egg with pine

About the dinner
As to be expected, the delicious food was stunningly presented, inventive yet harmonious and ever so subtle in flavors and textures. The wines themselves were absolutely special and worth the hefty price. The service was impeccable: incredibly attentive, knowledgable, inquiring beyond mere courtesy and willing to answer to all my questions on the wines and food. It was a pleasure to sit back and just watch everybody serve the different tables as a well-oiled machine.

In conclusion: simply the best dinner I have ever had. I must have been sitting there with an idiot grin from ear to ear the entire evening.

One thought on “Around the World – Geranium***, Copenhagen, Denmark (March 2017)

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