Here we go! Things are really starting to p p p pop off. The other night I got invited to an intimate unveiling of the new spring menu at FINDS. FINDS (which stands for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden) is a kind of Nouveau-Scandinavian fine dining restaurant here by renowned Chef Jaakko Sorsa. It’s been around a long time and people love it. I’ve wanted to go for a minute when I got the invitation and was especially juiced because they just relocated to a new spot just a few blocks away from my house. This was my first real restaurant-press event and if the people at other restaurants are anything like the fine folks at FINDS then I’m in for a very happy time here. Jaakko was great. I got to interview him a few weeks ago and he’s one of the most laid back, happy and personable Chefs I’ve ever met. I also finally met James Gannaban, their marketing and PR manager, of “Asia’s Most Hyperactive Gay Boy” blog fame who was just as wonderful as I’d been led to expect.
Anyway the restaurant is beautiful; it’s like eating in a psychedelic Scandinavian tree house. I got started with one of their cocktails, some new take on a Mojito I believe, but really tart and with Gin so right up my alley. Before I talk about the food I gotta talk about the bread. The bake all of their own breads in house and it is bangin! Their dark bread is great but I actually found myself pounding the crusty, warm, white bread. They serve the bread with olive oil, cottage cheese mousse and butter. The butter is their own house blend of Danish butters and it is some of the best butter I have ever had in my life. I had to stop myself from buttering all of my entrees.
Ok so lets see...
The meal started with smoked danish mackerel mousse with french bean, asparagus, potato and radish salad with crispy malt bread. Anyone who knows me knows this dish was bound to please. This kind of fish preparation was exactly what I was hoping for when I heard I'd be enjoying Scandinavian food. To be honest I would have loved an even stronger fishy flavor as the (delicious) bread kind of overwhelmed it. That said, the dish really showcased the mousse's unbelievable lightness. I think James said something along the lines of "it's like eating a fishy cloud" and that was exactly it. I could have eaten a whole bowl of the stuff. The surprise star of the plate for me was actually the simple potato salad, and the potato's themselves in particular. They were waxy, flavorful and savory, a perfect backdrop to the mousse.
Next up was "Jaakko's Spring Salad" with baby tomatoes, air-dried ham, feta cheese, white and green asparagus,
French beans and butter lettuce with an aged sherry vinaigrette. Yummy yummy. There was just so much to love about this salad. The baby tomatoes were individually pealed and marinated so they really packed a punch. I'm a little obsessed with bite construction and this salad really got it. The sharp feta with the salt of the ham and the fruity acidic burst of the little tomatoes all bound together with the vinaigrette and mellowed by the french beans made for a perfect little bite.
This was the real savory star of the night for me: slow-baked fillet of John Dory with green pea puree, potato gratin and red chard. I don't think I'd ever had John Dory before and its one of my favorite fish now. Which is a surprise because its mild meatiness is not usually what I look for in a fish (the oilier and fishier the better I say) but man oh man this guy was lovely. The fish was just so savory and had such a good filling quality to it. The gratin was also lovely. I should have written down the ingredients in it and to be honest I can't really remember (some sort of bangin cheese and...something) but it was sharp and very flavorful. What really blew me away was that pea puree. My god! I would have had a milkshake of that stuff. So sweet! It tasted like eating peas off the vine in the spring as a child (not sure if I ever really did that or not). It was a puree that just tasted of sunshine and joy, I can't really explain it. They were so good I actually asked the chef where they were sourced from and it turned out like me, they were from the U.S.A. Holla! I knew it. They're sweet because they're free.
Next up was this little lovely pile of meat. Spring Lamb Tenderloin with potatoes simmered in veal stock, edamame beans and lamb jus. They source their lamb from a small farm in Australia and it was great, cooked very well and tasty. It just didn't blow me away like the fish. I've always considered myself very much a meat over fish guy but not in this meal. The potatoes were lovely as well, and I do really love when the juice of two baby animals is mixed in one dish.
This was another wow moment. We were all chatting during the meal but we fell silent for this one. I actually said "holy shit" when I took my first bite but I think I covered it up pretty well by pretending to cough into my napkin. This banana-toffee pie was the best I have ever had. Hands down, without a doubt. It was made with licorice flakes and rum cream. A layer of cookie pie crust, then thick gooey toffee, then some rum cream, then some caramelized bananas, then some whipped cream with mint and licorice, then I'm pretty sure he just poured rum all over the whole thing. It crunched, it oozed, it was light, rich, sweet but tempered with the more complex burnt flavors of toffee and rum. The chef confessed that he used a lot of rum, "because I like alcohol" and it worked so well here. This desert was strong!
After desert we had some sort of molecular, nitrogen, vanilla, vodka, neo-ice cream thing but to be honest I barely remember it. I did enjoy blowing the nitrogen vapor out of my nostrils like a dragon but my mind was completely preoccupied with images of banana-toffee pie.
All in all a wonderful meal with great people. I'm excited to bring my girlfriend to FINDS on a date when she gets to town. I already know what im gonna eat: Spring salad, John Dory, Banana-toffee pie and about fifty slices of heavily buttered bread. Oh man.