Amass ing! An incredible evening @ Amass.

Amass ing! An incredible evening @ Amass.

It is a frost worthy Nordic evening, silver mist hangs overhead and a light dew dapples our coats as we climb the stairs to our next foodie adventure. Matthew Orlando, former chef of Per Se, Noma and a host of other serious places has opened his new venture. Amass. Graffiti lines the walls, the kitchen is insanely open and the crowd is a mix of dressed socialites and hipsters. This is Amass, because food is for everyone and they don’t care how you come.

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We’re greeted and seated at what can only be described as the best seat in the house. Inches away from the pass we can see the kitchen pumping out seriously fine fare, snacks arrive and we jump straight into the world of Nordic food with attitude. Cod head rillette looks like a stegosaur, grey spikes peaking high off the plate, the spikes are in fact deliciously puffed fish skin filled with the savoury rillette mix. Textural, creamy and delightful.

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Next a curious looking wrapped parcel arrives, this dish was probably my favourite as it was so complex. Wrapped inside a vividly green chard leaf was a baby leek that had been perfectly steamed and stuffed with pieces of salted mackerel. The bright nasturtium on top brings bitterness in contrast to the salty mackerel and sweet leek, this dish wanted to be eaten! Bitter greens, salted mackerel vinaigrette, young onion. And eaten it was. Yum.

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Another semi snack dish arrives; crispy oats, hot smoked foie gras, walnut. A winter snow is the only way to describe the texture of the foie, delicately shaved over a wafer thin crisp made of oat. The foie is rich, with the smoke bringing a lovely depth after eating. At this time we are also tempted with some insanely good fermented flatbread, charred and gnarly, Jess and I could not stop eating, but there’s more food to come and I need to save room.

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The next course arrives looking like a piece of art, squid, beans, sour plums, marigold. This beautiful dish was oceanic and herbaceous, the unctuous, melting squid, the little pop of sour plum and the wonderfully crisp green bean. This is cookery performed beautifully, complexity concealed by simplicity. This is the mark of a true craftsmen, it is a pleasure to eat.

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Burnt kale, chicken skin, almond. We hear our next course crackling away in a pan, then it arrives, the kale is crisp in places, wilted in others, it is delightfully textural. The chicken skin gives that slovenly fattiness that is just naughty and enjoyable, almond is another little crackle. The dish is devoured, that is all I can say. Earthy kale, chicken fat, more please!

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An egg is placed in front of us. Glistening golden and smelling of rich toffee, it sits in a velouté of sorrel and young herbs. The egg yolk is cooked slightly beyond runny allowing for different flavours to develop. It has an almost lingering sweetness, with caramel and honey notes. The velouté brings the whole thing into the earth with wonderful herbaceousness.

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Now as Jess and I are in the midst of an extended tasting menu the fantastic food just keeps arriving. Danish monkfish with ceps and brown butter. Fish and mushroom is such a great combination. The mushrooms provide an intense savouriness that allows the meaty flavours of fish to shine. Brown butter here brings a hazelnut, salty delight swimming in and amongst the exquisitely cooked monkfish. From the sea to me. Dive in.

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Now time for some serious meat, it arrives as lamb breast, squash, baby corn and sunflower seeds. This was a dish celebrating the wonderful squash and corn. Don’t get me wrong the lamb is mighty tasty, soft and fork tender I polish this plate off in just a few bites. Sunflower makes for a delicious bite and oiliness that pairs well with the rich lamb. Yum!

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With our savoury courses finished Jess and I sit back and wait on dessert. Brought to us by chef Orlando himself our little taste of wonder. Blueberries, the freshest of the nearly finished season, drizzled with honey from a Nordic fisherman. Yes I said a fisherman. Matt tells us the story of a jaunty man on his boat bringing in many treats from the sea, one day he arrived with jars of honey. When asked where the honey was from he replied “the boat of course.” The fellow keeps bees on the roof of his fishing vessel. A wonderful story of how food comes to us in incredible ways. The honey is deliciously floral and makes the little sweet pops of blueberry step forward in a different light. This is a dish that makes me marvel at the world and all of the bounty that lays before us chefs.

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Our evening draws to a close and dessert is served. Apple, black pepper ice cream, bitter caramel, oregano. Intrigued? Jess and I certainly were. The apples are cooked in the caramel, the heat of black pepper contradicts the cold cold ice cream, oregano brings spice to the dish absurdly reminiscent of apple pie. It is an incredible play on spice, heat, cold, sweet. It is fantastic and ends our meal in a way that almost sums up our dining experience. Incredible.

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Petit four is whisked out with some serious coffee, kitchen is on the scrub and we take this opportunity to snack on some bay cakes and chat with the chefs. Matt is humble, driven and fantastically passionate. Each of his chefs look like creating great food is what they do rather than just a job. It is infectious and Jess and I truly love meeting inspiring people that love the industry as much as us.

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It’s amassing!

Josh and Jess

Amass Restaurant
Revshalevej 153; 1432 Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.amassrestaurant.com

Souvenir shopping in street markets. Day 70

Souvenir shopping in street markets. Day 70

What a beautiful day outside it is today, Josh however is so tired from work we spend the morning in, again. Sooner or later we will see London before lunch but for now we laze about waiting for Josh to once again leave for work. Because of the rare London sunshine, I decided to join Josh on the venture to Notting Hill and then start my day from there.

Located a few blocks behind The Ledbury is Portobello Road. Most know this spot is the place to go for great coffee, funky restaurants and bargains in the street markets. I start with a coffee and what a coffee it was. It was rich and creamy, perfect temperature and finished with a pattern on top. It has been so long since I really enjoyed a coffee, and at £1.30 it was a bargain too. I sat in the window, drinking my coffee, reading the local paper, eating a caramel slice and watching the people stroll by. Before now I never use to sit alone in a coffee shop but it has become my favourite thing to do.

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Perked up on caffeine I head onto the street. It’s almost closing time and fruit and veg vendors are shouting new prices for their produce. All boxes for one quid! If I didn’t have to carry them back on the tube I would have bought the lot. All of the produce you could think of and more was on sale here and it all looked fresh and vibrant. There was fennel, radish, carrots and beetroot, all thrown together like a colourful artwork from Picasso. As well as produce, a lot of antique stores are along Portobello Rd along with leather goods, clothing and lots of London souvenirs. A little secret when dealing with vendors … all prices are generally the same store to store however no one wants to lose out on a sale. Ask how much, if you have seen it cheaper somewhere else or just think it’s too much, say no and walk away from them. One in three will come back and ask you what price you want for it or they will discount it. I managed to get a few presents a little cheaper than advertised which is always good when holidaying on a budget.

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The markets go on for several blocks, never being a real fan of markets I get tired of seeing the same things in all store and head back towards the tube. I can see my mum really loving London for these little street markets as there will be plenty more to come I’m sure.

Shop till you drop.

Jess and Josh

“To walk alone in London is the greatest rest” – Virginia Woolf. Day 68 and 69

“To walk alone in London is the greatest rest” – Virginia Woolf. Day 68 and 69

Google has become my friend today as I set myself up on the couch and research all that London has to offer. With Josh on an afternoon shift, I take this time to write a list of all the sights I’m going to see over the next few weeks whiles Josh is at work. If anyone tells you that you cannot explore London on a budget, don’t believe them! Over the next few weeks I’m going to show you some of the popular tourist destinations and then some not so popular off the beaten track destinations. For more details checkout websites like Timeout London for 101 free things to do in London.

Day 69

Armed with a list a mile long, I head out for my first official day of exploring. Stop number one, the Museum of London. This museum explores the history of London and the people within it. It’s located in north east London and is absolutely free, unless you want to explore specialist exhibitions on throughout the year. When first entering, you realise how different museums are in London than the other places we have been. Pops of colour are everywhere which makes reading the facts much more interesting. There is also a section on how the sections of the museum were created with the help of school children from all over London. This I find very intriguing and I feel proud that museums are encouraging people of all ages to visit and learn, I wish I had a better interest when I was younger.

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The exhibitions and collections start at London before London, taking you forward through Roman London, Medieval London, the Black Death and the Great Fire until you end at London as we know it today. One section I fell in love with is the Victorian Walk where you feel transported through time to the late 18th / early 19th century streets of London. You can stop in at the local cafe, sit at the bar of the pub or just wander down the cobblestone streets peering into the windows of many shops and stores.

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From the museum I head down to the Barbican, an arts and conference venue. This is an astonishing venue where you can find a range of events including the opera, conferences, free concerts, theatre and cinemas. You could spend all day wandering through the building, I choose to enter the library and spend the rainy afternoon looking through historic articles, books, magazines and a number of other resources available. After a few hours it’s time to head on home. I walk back to the underground through the barbican walkways, bridges that cross the busy streets below where you can access office buildings, cafés and boutique stores. You also get an amazing view of the courtyard of the Barbican and the pool that fills it. This pool is not for swimming, instead it adds colour to the brick Barbican and is filled with a walkway surrounded by plants and a water feature down the far end. I recommended everybody go and check out the Barbican, but be sure to look up what events are happening whilst you are in London.

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Virginia Woolf once said “to walk alone in London is the greatest rest.” I could not agree more.

Jess and Josh

Wheels turning and bells ringing. Is anyone home? Day 67

Wheels turning and bells ringing. Is anyone home? Day 67

I have a list of a million things I want to see and do whilst Josh is at work over the next few weeks, I also have a list of things we need to do together. So with Josh having a day off today it’s time to cross a few sights off that list. Today we see the sights that make London  famous for visitors and tourists and some of the most recognisable buildings and structures in the world. On our list today is the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

As we emerge from Westminster underground station our eyes are drawn to the magnificent structure on the south bank of the Thames River. Standing at 135 metres tall, the London Eye spins showing visitors some of the best views of London. This observatory was first developed in 1999, opening in 2000 and is one of the worlds most recognisable observatories in the world, and crowned the largest Ferris Wheel in Europe. We can see the line from where we stand and decide that we will explore south bank and ride the Eye another day.

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Suddenly we hear bells chiming behind us and we spin to realise that we are standing directly under Big Ben. This clock stands tall and shadows the ground beneath it. It really is an amazing sight and a must see when you travel to London. Big Ben is attached to one of the Houses of Parliament, a row of buildings that were built to house government officials. As we walk along we stumble upon the Queens entrance where security seems much tighter.

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Next stop is Westminster Abbey, a church most of you would know as the location of Prince William and Princess Katherine’s wedding. The exterior of this church is stunning, so much detail has gone into every inch of stone and although we missed out on going inside by five minutes, we did sneak through the gift shop and quickly stick our heads in. It is undeniable that the inside is just as stunning as the out.

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A quick walk through Parliament Square leads us towards Downing St. But first we need to engage in a classic London tourist tradition, we take our photos inside the famous red telephone box. It’s so popular in this area that we actually had to wait in line just to get inside one! When we arrive to the entrance of Downing St it is blocked by black gates and several security guards. There’s no getting close to number ten, the home and office of the Prime Minister, but you can catch a glimpse if you look close enough.

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The good thing about sight seeing in London is that a lot of things are within walking distance to another. We realise we are close to Buckingham Palace and decide to cross that from the list as well. We walk through the Horse Guard and into St James Park. Walking along the lake we see ducks, swans and geese being chased by children, squirrels being taunted by dogs and people relaxing and enjoying this sunny London afternoon. Finally we reach Buckingham Palace. The flag is raised so somebody is home, although they aren’t going to just let anyone inside. The gate is raised high with guards standing at every entrance, eyes peeled for anybody not doing the right thing. We snap a few photos before it starts to pour down with rain. We take that as our sign to head home and Josh is more than happy to have a night of nothing, before he heads back to work tomorrow.

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imageJust a taste of merry old England.

Jess and Josh

Wining and dining. Day 65 and 66

Wining and dining. Day 65 and 66

What better way to start our first London weekend than with Big Breakfast Saturday. Poached eggs, bacon, pork sausages and homemade hollandaise with a coffee from the local cafe. Today is going to be a good day. It’s 11am and time to load up the pork. Josh is busy in the kitchen with Viv watching his every move, hoping to replicate this when we leave. Fresh herbs, onion, cider, tomatoes, garlic and more go into this 5 kilo beast and then it’s in the oven until dinner time. Pulled pork can’t really overcook so we leave this suckling in the oven for 8 hours.

Now usually I would be the first one to raise my hand to make desserts but creativity is lacking today, instead we head to Camden Passage, a small antique community filled with shops, markets, cafés and patisseries. David points out the best gelato in London that I store in my memory for another time. Finally we stop at a cafe that is overflowing with cakes in the window and people out the door. We send in Viv and after what seems like a lifetime, she emerges carrying bags of pastries, cakes and slices. A quick stop at the park so Maggie can run off some energy and it’s back to check on the pork.

David cracks some wine as guests start arriving, it’s showtime. Pork is removed from the oven to rest and while we wait chef Josh and I prepare the mushrooms, carrots, polenta and creamed leeks for the feast. Now to get our hands dirty, pulling pork is not hard work when you cook it for as long as we have, meat falls from the bone and we toss it through the sauce it’s been cooking in. Accompanied by some pork crackling and dinner is served. There is something so relaxing about having a dinner party and it’s something Josh and I really enjoy but don’t do enough of. But look out because when we return your all invited.

Dinner winds down shortly after midnight and with work tomorrow Josh is in need of some rest. With uniform and knives ready to go he falls straight to sleep.

That 8am start is looming closer and closer.

Day 66

The day is finally here where Josh starts his stage at The Ledbury, lead by non other than fellow Australian chef Brett Graham. As most of you know, Josh won a culinary competition last October where he was awarded a scholarship to travel to London and work at The Ledbury, ranked number 13 in San Pellegrino’s Worlds Best 5o Restaurants.

While Josh is hard at work, I decide to treat myself to a day of nothing. With very little on tv we all sit down to watch a movie so terrible I won’t even mention the name, the highlight being the gelato we ate while the movie was on (some of that ‘best gelato in London’ I mentioned before). While the rain pours outside we all settle in with some spicy salami pizza from the local pub and some more tv.

There’s nothing like a lazy Sunday.

Jess and Josh,

London here we come. Day 63 and 64

London here we come. Day 63 and 64

There seems to be a reoccurring theme amongst the travel section of this blog. Once again the alarm is set at a god awful time. With eyes bulging and arms aching from carrying luggage we head out the door. I guess it’s the price you pay for paying a good price on airline, train and bus tickets. Luckily the train is fast, the wait at the airport is quick and the flight will be the perfect time to nap before arriving in London … or so I thought.

Once again luck does not strike down upon us. Josh is fast asleep whilst I have a young boy who insisted on kicking my chair and smashing the tray closed repeatedly for the next two hours. Finally it’s over, we can enter London and not have to worry about flying for a month, I have never seen Josh so excited! At the mention of our occupations, passport control were not going to let us in so easily, as so many tourists come here to work without visas, it has ruined it for all young chefs and waitresses to just be welcomed in. They want to know where your staying, flight details of when you leave, what you plan on seeing and if you know anyone that lives in the area. My advice is to have an answer for all of these questions.

An hour tube ride later and we are buzzing the door of David and Viviane’s apartment. We are lucky enough to be spending our time in London with Josh’s uncle who’s only charge is a bit of babysitting the gorgeous Maggie and cooking some delicious dinners. Family is so important when you embark on a trip like we have, the rent in London is astronomical and the constant living from a suitcase quickly becomes a pain. But the best thing of all are two things you take for granted, a washing machine and a kitchen! Finally we can cook again!

As David heads off to work and Viv takes Maggie to the park we decide to go explore Upper St, the main road filled with coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs and boutique shops, including a grocery store. We grab some supplies and then it’s pasta for lunch, nothing has ever tasted so good. Well maybe not nothing…We fill the rest of the afternoon with tv before heading to Brixton for a concert at the O2 Academy. Anyone who knows us knows our love for music and live shows, and when you hear one of your favourite bands is performing at one of the most popular London venues, you go. The line to enter laps around the block and back to the start, luckily we were in the middle of the pack. Two Aussies start the show with The Getaway Plan and Hands Like Houses, followed by The Summet Set and finally Sleeping With Sirens. This show was amazing and we ended coming out with two new bands that we now loved.

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With music still ringing in our ears, we head to bed for a much needed rest.

Day 64

Sleeping in until lunch time did us well. We felt refreshed and ready to explore what London has to offer, and what better way then to spend a day in the life of Viviane. We head on the tune, grabbing a monthly Oyster card on the way. This is one crucial tip for all tourists heading to London. You can either purchase a timed card or a pay as you go option. If you are planning on taking public transport it makes any trip in London a lot cheaper including buses, the underground and overground trains.

Tomorrow David and Viv are hosting a dinner party and Josh has been selected as head chef with me as his trusty apprentice. We find ourselves at Borough Markets where the produce screams freshness as soon as you walk through the door. On the menu is pulled pork, polenta and an array of vegetables. The markets are busy so we start with lunch. For Viv a falafel wrap but for us, what Aussie can resist a pie, and what a pie it was. Josh’s was filled with venison and rich gravy whilst I opt for chicken, leek and cream.

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Now it’s time to shop. I turn around and Josh is lost, great! He is never going to find his way back to the tube. Luckily he is tall and I see him engrossed in a cheese tasting a few stalls back. I’m going to need to keep my eye on him. I pull him away with the thought of mushroom hunting where his smile quickly grows. We leave the fresh produce section with many bags in hand before stopping for meat. Josh finds a 5 kilo pork shoulder that’s perfect, and with a little talk to the butcher, Josh has him scoring, tying and chucking in a free jam as well. Last stop is a Spanish grocer so Viv can stock up on gazpacho and then it’s home time. The hardest thing about going to markets like these is not filling up on all the tastes people want to offer you. Any other day we would have been stall to stall, trying everything on offer but we have our first dinner in London tonight so we had to resist. We will definitely be back to finish what we started.

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Tonight, reservations are at Tom Aikens Restaurant in Chelsea. We are dining at Tom Aikens because a fellow chef and friend of Josh’s worked here a few years ago. The room is dark with wooden features and single lights shining down on individual tables. Service is professional, efficient and friendly with a significant number of French waiters filling the room. We of course opt for the tasting menu which allows you to choose between two mains and two desserts, we have one each. Food here is tasty, well presented and well thought out. Although it’s not as creative with ingredients as we are use to (no moss or ants in sight) the quality and technique used is not to be overlooked. It was classic with a twist which is exactly what I love and a must if in the area. After dinner we are offered a look into the kitchen, something we never refuse and shake hands with Tom Aiken himself. A quick chat with Tom and the Restaurant Manager and we are headed back home on the tube.

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Lots of cooking tomorrow, we can’t wait.

Jess and Josh

Eating and drinking. Day 61 and 62

Eating and drinking. Day 61 and 62

Today is the day. The one day we have been waiting for since we left Australia sixty one days ago. Today is the day we eat at Noma. After countless emails, phone calls and stalking of the booking website the day is here and we can not be more excited. We jump out of bed, I’m ready in ten minutes which is quite quick for me and Josh is so excited he is bouncing up and down like a kid in a candy shop.

In just under an hours walk from our hotel we arrive. We are caught snapping a few photos out the front by front of house manager James. He snaps a few of the two of us and shows us inside. Greeted by the entire kitchen and floor staff, we walk to our table and then the magic begins. With a beer and cider in hand we are ready for whatever Noma wants to throw at us. Now you all know that Josh is the restaurant review guru so I’ll leave that to him. I will say that Noma service was the perfect blend of professionalism and personality. The food, although challenging in some aspects was creative, unique and delicious. In terms of the search for the perfect dining experience, we have a serious contender. Check out the full review here.

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With a five hour lunch done and dusted we head to the hotel to relax. Struggling to move based on the enormous lunch just eaten, a quiet night in watching movies seems perfect.

Day 62

Copenhagen is filled with sights to see, although the main reason we are here is to eat. As I’ve said before, palaces, museums and churches are getting a bit mundane so I check google for some other things to do. This is how we ended up at Carlsberg Brewery. Although this old brewery is no longer operating, the foundation remains here and there is plenty to see with the tour.

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First stop is the bottling collecting. Guinness world records awards this collection as the largest in the world with just over 22,000 unopened beer bottles. Although I’m not a lover of beer, I am impressed with this. Sorted into country of origin, rusted and dusty beers line the shelves filling out the room they are preserved in. It’s quite impressive that one man could resist just opening a bottle or twenty. From here its on to the history of Carlsberg where JC Jacobsen founded the company in 1847, transforming from a local brewery to a global sensation. Touring continues through the old brew house, stopping to explore the machinery and stories of past workers. Finishing in the Jacobsen Brewhouse and Bar, Josh kicks back and enjoys his complimentary beer while I get a whooping in foosball. This brewery is a perfect day out and a change from the classic holiday experiences. Well worth a look.

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Walking around all day reminds us of one thing, food. The Danish hot dogs we ate for breakfast just aren’t cutting it and we are eager to dine at our next destination. Former chef of Noma, Per Se and many other top restaurants, Matt Orlando is the new kid in town and his restaurant Amass is making some serious noise. After getting recommended by Josh Evans from the Nordic Food Lab we booked our table and now we are here. From the moment we sat at the chefs table (best seat in the house) I knew I loved it. From here we could watch the chefs work which added a whole new element to standard dining. We had great food, great service and great entertainment. The food itself was complex with flavours that complimented each other and techniques so rarely used in food today. Josh will have the full review up any day now, so stay tuned!

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These two days have definitely been food highlights. For any foodie out there, I would recommend Noma and Amass to anyone travelling in or near Scandinavia. Copenhagen is putting food on the map and I can’t wait to return to see what else it delivers.

Velbekomme!

Jess and Josh