Excuse me Sir, is that a beef shank you’re holding?

November 9, 2010 · Posted in Restaurants · 1 Comment 

On Wednesday, October 20th, several Green City Market “cheerleaders” as we were called were invited to Mado by Rob Levitt to eat an entire beef shank.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, it would be one of the last feasts held at this location by these chefs.  Rob and Allie have since left Mado to open their own butcher shop, and we eagerly await their new project.  What follows is, to the best of the author’s memory, a retelling of what was served at this banquet that would have made a Roman aristocrat blush.

Every year, the Green City Market hosts a Harvest Celebration to promote the market, showcase top chefs, and raise money.  Rob was one of the featured chefs, and was talking about ribeyes that he had gotten in and subsequently sold out of it almost immediately.  Some of the aforementioned GCM (Green City Market) “cheerleaders” were upset that these ribeyes were no longer available, so Rob proposed an entire beef shank.  From what I could tell though, these pieces were actually cut from two different animals.  During our feast, one of the ribeyes was brought out to another table, and I would not be surprised to learn Rob had located an ancient herd of mastodons, and was actually sourcing his steaks from there.  It was easily 60, maybe 70 pounds.

But that’s neither here nor there.  After inviting myself along to round out the group, Lauren Golanty, Kyle Schott, Dave & Sarah Rand, Abby Csanda, Brad Boman and Sara Gasbarra seated ourselves right in the middle of the restaurant and waited for Rob & Allie to wow us with their culinary prowess and maybe clog our arteries a bit too.

It started as expected, with their homemade charcuterie plate, which consists of chicken liver pate, smoked sausage, and pork rillettes.  The pictures are a bit dark, because it’s rude to use your flash in a restaurant, in case that hasn’t been brought up before.

Charcuterie Plate

Next came an assortment of antipasti, which includes one of my Mado favorites, the grilled cornbread with smoked paprika butter and fried farm egg.  Paprika butter!  So simple, yet they thought of it and I didn’t.  That’s why they cook and I eat.

There's paprika butter under there somewhere!

They rounded out our antipasti with:

– Roasted carrots with ras el hanout goat cheese, pistachios, and cumin honey

– Citrus cured lake perch with fingerling potatoes and pepperonata

– Sunchokes with preserved lemon and parsley

The carrots and sunchokes were amazing, both in separate ways.  The carrots, while sourced fresh and local, were an incredible melange of flavors, the spicy and nutty pairing nicely with the sweet in the honey and goat cheese.  The sunchokes, on the other hand, relied almost strictly on their freshness for the pop of flavor as you crunched down.  For those paying attention, you’ll ask how something can rely on freshness for its flavor when it uses preserved lemon.  Quite right, I’d respond, and say “well except for that part.”  The preserved lemon helped add a light airiness to the bite, and the dish contrasted quite nicely with the richer, deeper flavors in the carrots.

I'll take one of everything, please!

Next up was a three course shot that included a challenge for Rob and Allie.  You see, Sara and my’s friendship relies primarily on the fact that we are crazy Italians who spend the majority of our time at the Green City market discussing Rome and spaghetti carbonara.  And they were going to bring out penne with ragu bianco.  A bold move, I might say!

I should have known better than to doubt.  It was incredible.  The ragu was so flavorful, I almost forgot there was pasta.  I’m pretty sure I tried to drink the remains of the broth.

They also brought out a salad, mainly because I think their lawyer advised them to for liability sake, should anyone need resuscitation, they could say they offered greens at the least!

They finished off the…I guess this was the primi, if we’re going with the Italian theme…with pan-fried morcilla with braised greens and migas.  Blood sausage, in other words.  Topped with bread crumbs that had been…wait for it…deep fried.  Yes please.

Mado was BYOB, and we had definitely brought.  However we also drank, and right around this time figured out we were going to run out very quickly.  What happened next was both awesome and frightening, depending on how you look at it.  Brad makes one phone call, and ten minutes later four bottles of wine get delivered to the front door of the restaurant.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a wine delivery service willing to bring wine to whatever BYOB I happen to be at.  I’m not sure who this Brad character is, but in my opinion best not to cross his path!  He’s obviously got people.

After our thirst was satiated it was time for the main course.  The beef shank, in all its glory.  The restaurant literally stopped and watched in awe as Rob carried this massive steaming hunk of meat out to our table.  After David Hasselhoff was seated…

When pressed, Rob said that he had just done a “normal braise” to the beef, which means a mire poix and a red-wine based sauce more or less.  However, he must have braised it for more than 8 hours at a really low temperature (200-225?). I’ve made legs of lamb that are about 7 or 8 pounds, and they braise for at least 8 hours.  This was much much bigger.  Alongside he served it with toasted bread, and a marrow reduction.  I’m pretty sure I saw Lauren try and put the leftover reduction in her purse, until she realized there were no leftovers, and the little drops were liquid.  If you stared at the meat too long, it slipped off the bone without even the assistance of a fork.  The outside was perfectly crispy and browned, while the inside was incredibly tender.  There are almost no words to describe – so here’s the one picture we took with flash that night.

Yes, that IS a beef shank you're holding!

Not a bad way to go out, Rob and Allie.  Not a bad way at all.  I’ll be in line when The Butcher and Larder opens.

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In My World…

November 6, 2010 · Posted in In My World · 1 Comment 

In my world, things would run a bit differently.  For instance:

– If you’re not sleeping, your seat stays up for the duration of the flight.  No exceptions.  Punishable by buying a round-trip ticket for the person sitting behind you.

– Raw onions are strictly outlawed in plane cabins at any point, for any reason.  Again no exceptions.  Punishable by spending the remainder of the flight in a self-contained bubble where you must smell yourself and your bad choice in carry-on meal.  Eat your cheap Chili’s To Go salad outside please.

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Bears Tailgate Part 2

October 25, 2010 · Posted in Recipes · Comments Off on Bears Tailgate Part 2 

What do you get when you piece together a fried duck egg, applewood smoked bacon, Dietzler Farms ground beef, home-grown arugula and River Valley Kitchens five cheese garlic spread?

One of the most amazing tailgate burgers in existence.

Eat your heart out Sarah Spain.

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Bears Tailgate Part 1

October 22, 2010 · Posted in Recipes · 1 Comment 

A few weeks back, ESPN Radio was walking around with a video camera (unclear as to why radio needs video cameras) and these shenanigans ensued.  Wait till the end.

Whenever anyone asks me why I wanted to learn how to cook, this is why.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/video/clip?id=5650224&categoryid=3775716

Go Bears!

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Why I Run.

October 9, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Why I Run. 

5:45 a.m.  It’s rainy, and cold.  The alarm goes off.  On a Sunday.

Why? Why do I do this?

The short answer is, if you have to ask me why, I won’t be able to explain it to you.  I could tell you why, I’m physically able to articulate an answer.  But it won’t really explain why anyone does this.

I think the obvious answer is health, right?  We want to be fit, we want to be in shape, we don’t want to end up on The Biggest Loser clocking in at 400 lbs?  But that’s almost too simple, too easy of an out.  You can stay in shape running 5 miles, doing a few 10k’s every now and then.  Collect your Turkey Trot t-shirt and go home.

Running is much more than that, and health really doesn’t factor into it a whole lot.  At least not the physical kind anyway.

Over the years running has proved to be one of my most unforgiving teachers.  I used to think that I liked to run because it was something only I could control.  No matter what, I could go out and run.  Everything else could collapse around me but I could always just run, as far as I wanted.  Bad day?  Go run.  Fight with the girlfriend?  Go run.  Run because I could control it, because no one could tell me I couldn’t.

Until you begin to realize you had no control over it, ever.  Your legs give out.  You feel nauseous for no reason whatsoever.  Your feet kill.  And these things happen all the time.  You’re forced to re-evaluate, re-think, cut training, and regroup.  And slowly but surely, you learn patience.  It seeps out into other parts of your life, and I think that’s where the benefits really come through.  Let’s say hypothetically you lose your job in the worst financial crisis in 80 years.  You can either wallow in sorrow, curse your injury, and watch from the sidelines.  Or you can lace your shoes up again and run.  You may not run as fast right away, but you’ll keep running and eventually you’ll hit your stride.

By now I find running has become a source of patience for me.  There are several instances I have considered taking one course of action, gone on a long run, and by the time that run was over, reason had taken over my thinking.  If you can’t calm down and act more rationally after three or four hours on a run, you’re just not going to.  This helps with that whole Sicilian temper thing.

The road helps bring release too.  There’s no Twitter, no Facebook, no “Digg”-ing anything, no text messages, emails, or phone calls.  (If you’re someone who does actually bring their phone, and update Facebook, from the road, you have issues.  Stop it.)  I truly believe we all need some time to unplug from the hyper-connectivity we all experience day in and day out.

I run because I get to see things others don’t.  If you haven’t been out around the bend of the Shedd Aquarium at sunrise, and watched the city light up in a beautiful orange burst of color at least once, you have no idea what you’re missing.  Seeing what others don’t, catching a new, different glimpse of what you thought you knew is one of the best benefits to this kind of lifestyle.

Haruki Murakami writes – “In long distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.

Not how fast you used to run, not how quick you made it to the finish, not how strong you were.  The entire way you used to be.  Running impacts every single aspect of your life.

This quote, more than anything I’ve read or heard about running, sums up why I run.  It also sums up the way I feel about life in general.  In running, as in life, it doesn’t really matter what we do relative to those around us.  What matters is that we try, every day, to make sure we’re better than we were yesterday.  This is my personal philosophy, the way I view the challenge, nothing more.  I will never win the Chicago marathon.  I’ve accepted that, along with the fact that I may not win any race I ever enter.  I did come close with the Warrior Dash though.  (See the part about patience.)  But if my training gets better, if my time gets better, if my time stays the same but I don’t hurt so much, these are all victories to be proud of.  I’m not nor will I ever be the perfect runner, friend, brother, son, and hopefully some day husband and father.  But that doesn’t matter, because no one is.  What matters is that you don’t stop trying to be a better runner.  Not faster, quicker, stronger – just better.  I think this is a struggle a lot of distance runners come up against – through injury and bad performance it may seem like you’re not making any progress.  But on some level, as long as you take it one step at a time, you look back and realize you’ve come farther than you ever thought possible.

There are obviously a lot of reasons why I run, and why I won’t stop running.  But in the end, I run because I’m a runner, and I don’t know any better.  See you on the lakefront.

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Copenhagen

August 10, 2010 · Posted in Travel · Comments Off on Copenhagen 

If Stockholm is your rich, cool, fun to hang out with, worldly aunt, Copenhagen is her slightly rowdier slightly hipper husband. The one who sometimes needs to be told that, no honey, another shot of tequila is NOT a good idea in fact.

Where the rest of Scandinavia sleeps, Copenhagen stays out drinking. The rest is pristine. Denmark has some graffiti, some roughness to its edges. Stockholm warms you with its beauty and its easy sense of living. Copenhagen makes you pay attention to the live music bursting out of its walls until late into the night. Not everyone here goes to bed at midnight, it shouts at you.

Oh and in the meantime we’ll just feed you meals like you’ve never had, give you drinks prepared by European mixology champions, and satiate whatever type of appetite you had when you got here.

It’s currently home to the worlds best restaurant, Noma. I didn’t expect reservations as they are booked for a year out at this point. But…I have at least seen the best restaurant in the world. And here’s what the front looks like.

No foodie’s quest is ever really done, and so I shall have to return when I have the clout of say, Paul Allen. You see his yacht, the Octopus, was parked in the harbor and I can only imagine the man with the largest private yacht in the world had reservations at this most exclusive of restaurants. Once again, this is his personal yacht, not a cruise ship. So, two “bests” sightings in the flesh in one weekend. Not bad.

I drive a freakin’ scooter.  Whatever.

Where does one go in Copenhagen to really imbibe? I’m not talking McFadden’s style drinking.  Real drinking.  You should join Grommit at his Bar 1105, and if you’re lucky he will tell you the story behind those skull-shaped glasses called the “Unlucky Tourist.” Around 10:30 it turns into a scene, so we got there at 9:00 and secured a front row seat to the action. He regaled us with stories of the tiki culture, praised certain American drinks and bars, walked through his entire menu and his philosophy behind it, and described his recent competition win that now shows up on his menu as a “Copenhagen”.

The bar itself is simple, austere. A few low black chairs in front greet you as walk into the slate grey room, and a simple bar adorns one wall. The whole room can’t hold more than 100 people and even that is pushing it. The DJ spins upbeat electronic and lounge, but that’s not why you’re there either.

You’re there to drink, plain and simple. And if you can make it be sure to try the drink with this description. “A confused Mexican walks into a bar looking for passion. She leaves in the arms of a German. It was a match made in heaven”. Drink you will, with expertly crafted drinks by true champions of their art.

Now let’s suppose you stayed up a little too late at Bar 1105, and in the morning you feel somewhat like an unlucky tourist yourself.  Head over to the Coffee Collective and grab a cappuccino.  After telling him I was from Chicago and knew Intelligentsia coffee the barista pulls my coffees back from me and says “Let me make you another one.  A better one.”  I told him he needed to look up Crop to Cup, ’cause they’re better.

This about says it all...

So you’ve got your caffeine fix, and have done some sightseeing in Copenhagen.  Maybe you saw Nyhavn?

Anyway you’re HUNGRY at this point and you don’t have reservations at Noma because you’re not a big shot, nor particularly wealthy.  Head to Aamann’s for some open-faced sandwiches.  These still embody the “New Scandinavian” cuisine making waves in the foodie world, and making Noma the best restaurant of the year.

Braised pork belly in there somewhere

Fresh salmon salad

After lunch you want to ride your bike around aimlessly until you find this amazing statue :

Gotta love those Danes.  Now if you need a little r & r after all this work, head on over to Christiania, on the eastern edge of the city.  “Founded” in the 1970’s, it’s basically like the people at Woodstock never left, with slightly less mud.  A smallish area of the city, pot is legal here and I think  some other stuff as well, but I didn’t ask.  The rules include : no needles, no guns, no fighting, no pills.  Also no showers and no soap, but that’s not written anywhere.  They don’t think they are part of the EU, and are generally pretty chill.  That’s probably because everyone is stoned, but still.  You enter down aptly named Pusher Street, and the first bar you see has a sign offering free pot to any women who show them their… Yeah.  There’s really not a whole lot else going on.  A few bars, a bike shop, a couple other businesses.  Mostly people just kind of…hanging out.  So we had a beer in the main bar, in so far as anything there is “main” anything.  While it’s cool to live and let live, and I’m all for these people being allowed to stay there and do their thing…I could never choose to live there.  They need some serious Febreeze and a shower, asap.  But hey, it works for them.  Back to Europe now, shall we?

A few more shots around Copenhagen :

Hans!

Stockholm was amazing.  I was just happy my entire time there.  Copenhagen – Copenhagen is where I’d want to party.  This party would start on a boat around 11:00 a.m., relax around dinnertime for an amazing meal, and pick back up again with some incredible cocktails.  We’d finish as the sun’s coming up, singing Mr. Jones in a karaoke bar just off the main square near City Hall.  That’s how we’d do it.

Also, we saw this guy fit his entire body through a tennis racket. I love Copenhagen.

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Candyland

August 9, 2010 · Posted in Travel · Comments Off on Candyland 

You can’t help but hear things about Stockholm before you go. Urban legends, myths of titanic proportion, fellow travelers who almost foam at the mouth talking about how much they love it.

All of them are true. Every last one.

Sitting right outside Stockholm is an archipelago of about 3,000 islands that comprise a breathtaking national treasure and one’s view as the ferry from Helsinki pulls into port. The weather as I woke was 70 and sunny, and stayed that way for the rest of my time in town.

My hostel was actually on a boat, and so for a few days after I left Sweden even the entire world was rocking ever so slightly. After walking almost two miles to get there I was a sweaty mess, and decided it was the perfect time for a run. Everywhere i went there were jogging paths (silent J) and they all converged on the water at some point. My hostel host, not acquainted with the idea of running long distances, was adamant that the 7 mile loop around Södermalm was too much, and directed me to a smaller island nearby. Hundreds of people out running and biking, and an almost hidden beach where locals were sprawled out enjoying the almost never-ending sun this time of year. Trails, hills, water, forest, and sunbathing Swedes. Probably the best running locale I’ve ever found. Two hours later the rest of my adventures in Sweden could begin.

The next two days are somewhat of a blur, but I remember a lot of museums. Good to see but you’re not really interested in that, except for one maybe, the Vasa museum. Vasa in Swedish means “old old wooden ship”. Well not exactly but that’s what the museum is. Several hundred years ago the Swedes, at war with Poland, built the Vasa as one of its grandest ships. So grand, in fact that it sank less than a mile out to sea, where it sat until the 1950’s. Then they literally lifted the entire ship out of the channel and put it in a museum, where you can find it today in its entirety. It looks like this:

My favorite part was of course the description of punishments merited out on board. Some of the worst crimes were punishable by tying the offender up with rope, and throwing him over the bow and dragging him underneath the entire ship.  So…maybe a “time out” isn’t quite bad after all.

Other highlights of the museum marathon included :

The Royal Armory

The Royal Carriage House

The Museum of Economics and Currency (leave it alone, I went to Univ of Chicago.  I’m a dork)

The largest currency in the world.

And Drottningholm Palace, where the royal family currently lives.

After two days of back breaking..hard work? I needed a rest.  So I hopped on board a sailboat and decided to see some of these islands everyone was talking about.  Six hours on a sailboat, can’t be too tough can it?  You’re assuming there’s wind.  Any wind.  At all.  Like someone on shore sneezing.  Not for the first hour and a half there wasn’t!  So we sat in the harbor for an hour and a half, even though the ship had a motor.  I don’t know.  Slowly the wind picked up and we did get a nice tour of the islands that look like this:

At some point during the cruise I started talking with the only two girls close to my age, two native Swedes it turns out.  As the usual conversational topics progress, they tell me that they both work for the tourism agency in the city and are out here exploring the cruise around the islands.  Oh okay, nice.  As this thought floats around, I suddenly realize what’s going on here.

“You work for the tourism agency?”

“Yeah, that’s what we said.”

“So you’re getting paid right now?”

“Yeah”

“You just took a six hour sailboat cruise in perfect weather and got paid for it?”

“Pretty much.”

I need to look for a different kind of job.

The rest of my time in Sweden was pretty chill, which was great for me but makes less than perfect reading.  So instead, a few pictures :

And yes, the women are as beautiful as everyone says they are.

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You can see Russia from Finland.

July 10, 2010 · Posted in Travel · Comments Off on You can see Russia from Finland. 

Wow. A lot has happened since we last talked. We’ve actually got Russian spies (hot redheads at that!) in our country. And for some reason they lived in Jersey. Explain that one to me. Maybe they were looking for strategic smells or something. Greece actually outperformed what it was targeted to by the IMF, but really 50 as a retirement age? Come on now. Narcissism hit an all time high. Transocean looks set to become the next Enron perhaps. A princess was dumped and Ellen now lives happily and richly in a beautiful apartment in Stockholm.

The Russians are obviously my favorite. Spies! Real spies! This is fantastic.

Ok sorry. I got carried away.

Let me set the record straight. I don’t have kids, nor do I still actually need a babysitter. There seems to be some misperception when I say “I went to Finland to visit my au pair.” See an au pair is a 19-22 year old European girl who comes to live at your house and watch your kids for a year while she learns English or something.

Hmm. As I repeat this to myself, I realize that I should probably get one of these like, now. What an amazing arrangement. Kyle, Christine, I am borrowing Allison for the next year.

Anyway Tiina was my family’s au pair manyyyyyyyyyy years ago, and I say that because my sisters persist in telling me I am old. They’ll get over it eventually. She has come to visit us several times and so I wanted to return the favor, see her, see her family, and see Finland.

I also tried to visit Russia but couldn’t get a visa. Current events being what they are, it makes more sense now. Maybe I am a spy and just don’t know it yet.

So again. I do not have kids, nor do I still need a babysitter. Well…..on that last point…debatable. But whatever.

We had an excellent visit, a good mixture of sightseeing and also seeing how actual locals live. Apparently they love Guitar Hero just as much as we do, and so I got beat soundly several times by her 13 year old son Joona. At least the 5 year old didn’t want to beat me. Although she did make me wave to her friends in something that sort of resembled show and tell, I’m not sure.

You may have heard rumblings of this thing called Midsummer Fest, when everyone in Scandinavia celebrates essentially 24 hours of sunlight by throwing parties, eating lots of food, burning things (not like they do in Columbus, OH but controlled burning), and generally making merry. This, I suspect, is followed shortly thereafter by 24 hours of crying as they realize the days are from here on out getting shorter, and sunlight is becoming yet again a rare commodity. But I can’t be certain.

We drove about 70 km outside Helsinki to Tiina’s parents house where her husband Janni had prepared no less than 45 courses for us to eat. Grilled salmon, lamb, salads, potatoes, and on. But if there’s one thing you should about me, it’s how predictable I am when choosing a favorite. He made this chanterelle mushroom sauce, which he then ladled into a mushroom that looked like a huge cremini, but not quite a portabella. Then. Then, he wrapped them in bacon and grilled them. Anything wrapped in bacon is good, but a fire grilled mushroom wrapped in bacon?

After dinner it was time for the sauna. Most Finnish houses have saunas in them, and I think we should start doing this. Basically you grab a beer, sweat half to death, take a cold shower, run outside to chill out, drink some beer, and do it all over again. It’s amazing. Great way to spend three hours. Yeah. Sometimes these sauna going sessions last three hours. But the best part is the self-flagellation. You grab this birch whip, and use it to beat yourself, more or less. Apparently the birch stimulates the skin and has healing properties? Get your “Thats what she said” comments out now… It was cool, regardless of any healing properties. Well, no, actually it was easily 110 degrees inside and I almost melted. A perfect way to induce an incredible sleep…

One of the best things about all of Scandinavia is the vast amounts of water everywhere, which means you have to take boats and ferries everywhere. So my trip from Helsinki to Stockholm occurred on an overnight ferry. It was nice, except for all the pro-Ghana jerks watching the USA-Ghana world cup game. One thing was interesting though. The buffet is touted as one of the best deals around. It was €32 which I thought was kind of steep. I continued to think it was steep until I walked by the drink station and saw a few spouts for wine and several taps for beer. Unsure at first if this was free or not, my questions were soon answered by a guy who walked up, slammed his wine, refilled to the brim, slammed THE ENTIRE GLASS, and did this three more times.

I wasn’t sure, but I began to think this might be why there was a two hour time limit on the buffet.

Catch up with you next in Stockholm, where I woke up the following morning…

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Auschwitz

July 8, 2010 · Posted in Travel · Comments Off on Auschwitz 

“You are now standing on the spot where over 1,000,000 people were sentenced to death.”

How do you even begin to contemplate that?

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Djuret / Animal

July 2, 2010 · Posted in Travel · Comments Off on Djuret / Animal 

Djuret : (n) 1 – the Swedish word for animal. 2 – Restaurant in Stockholm that serves up ecologically friendly sustainable fair wrapped in a crispy bacon crust.

Elevation, you’ve got competition.

On the recommendation of my friend and classmate Michaela, I decided to try out a restaurant that sounded pretty interesting. It didn’t hurt that it fit in nicely with my world view and how I think food should be appreciated. Djuret only serves one animal on its menu at a time. One. They take in the entire animal, butcher it, and spend the next several nights serving it.

I like this for two reasons. First, I hate wasting food and think killing an animal to use only a small part is such a waste. If the animal is going to make a sacrifice, at least do it the justice of using it in its entirety. And second, this style restaurant challenges the chef. It makes her use all her creativity and ingenuity to come up with dishes that won’t get boring, and will progress through a meal without seeming redundant.

This month’s animal? “Happy pig from Rocklunda”. Bring on the bacon.

Any questions? Just ask your placemat.

Long before you taste the food, you are made keenly aware that you are in a carnivore’s den. No vegetarian options here, thank you very much. This is a meat lover’s mecca, a refined cave that offers no apologies for its love of flesh. The lampshades are small grills, turned upside down and converted into light fixtures. Hanging meathooks adorn the walls and watch over you as you eat. Meat grinders double as candle holders. And your table covering? Over the nice white tablecloth, butcher’s paper with anatomical diagrams of the meal you are about to enjoy.

One thing this restaurant doesn’t do is discriminate. (Well, perhaps against vegetarians and PETA members) Steakhouses tend to be male oriented hangouts, designed by and for men. I’m thinking here of The Strip House in NYC that’s actually designed to look like an old school bordello. Djuret was clearly designed to appeal to both sexes, without regard for anything other than an appreciation of crispy animal dishes. (Come on, you and I can both name a number of man-eaters we’ve met over the years. Women love flesh too!) This was apparent not only in the decor but in the dishes as well, which I’ll get to shortly. No 32-oz porterhouses on this menu. This was actually refreshing – its purpose was singular, and clearly executed. And all this before I’d seen a menu.

Two appetizers, four entrees. And some olives. TGIFridays, you can keep your 48 page menu. There’s no excess fat here.

As I sipped my Sweden-brewed liter stein of Sleepy Bulldog IPA, I decided on my appetizer and entree.

I'll have a litre of ale...

I started with a sausage “pot au feu”. The sausages were made in-house, and tasted fresher than any I’ve had. They were sprinkled throughout with herbs, and cooked in a beer broth. A complete bite consisted of sausage, some grilled onion, blanched carrot, boiled potato, and a bit of the beer broth that the chef had foamed over the top of the dish. They had me at “home made sausages” but it gets better.

It is truly a shame I can’t upload pictures, (HA You’re reading the edited version because now I can!) because the next dish really impressed me. Bone-in Pork rib, singular, grilled. Served with braised cabbage, sautéed shallots and creamy potatoes. When it came to the table, I was unsure where the bone actually was. I’d never had a rib cut like this. It looked more like a slab of bacon before it’s been sliced. The skin was incredibly crispy and contained hints of honey. The next layer was fat unlike I’d experienced in ribs before. A far cry from chewy, nasty fat, this was a perfect coating for the rest of the bite. It easily gave way as you chewed, melting over every piece of meat and giving it a much more luxurious feel. The meat itself was moist and smokey. I’m not entirely sure how they pulled off so many different flavors and textures in one piece of meat to be honest. You progress from a crispy skin to a melted layer of fat to a piece of meat that’s obviously been smoked for some time…I’d be hard pressed to replicate that at home.

The entire plating

Layer upon glorious layer...

I hated it.

I think I tasted the cabbage and potatoes, but can’t really remember, and if you’re reading this far about such a meat-focused restaurant, you don’t care either.

The service was impeccable, and the waitstaff was all dressed in sharp black shirts and dark jeans. It’s kinda like, they’re formal, but they like to party. This is, after all, a butcher shop. They can’t be too uptight.

As I finished the last of my Sleepy Bulldog, I wondered if finally I had found a restaurant I wanted to emulate more than Elevation in Aspen. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the wasabi caesar and perfectly crafted pasta dishes waiting for you out West. The local, creative, sustainable cuisine being served at Djuret is at the very least a worthy competitor. I’ll just have to return to see if every single visit is as good. One of many reasons I found to return to this amazing city.

In today’s foodie world, terms like organic, sustainable, local, locavore, and on and on are being touted as what you should do, how you’re supposed to eat. Essentially you should know your food, know the choices you are making, and be aware of the consequences of what you put in your body. Mr. Pollan calls this “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”.

At Djuret in Stockholm, there is no dilemma.

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