I’m by no means a food critic – or connoisseur of wine – but I relish the opportunity to be a pretender, so I was happy to attend the Supper Club at Adam & Albin Matstudio for an evening of New Zealand wine, Swedish cuisine and hit-or-miss bluffing.
The first thing I realized about an event like Supper Club, however, is that I couldn’t really be a fly-under-the-radar pretender. The lovely little space was too intimate and the caliber of guests too high… not even the good old fattar ingenting on account of the language gap trick was going to work, so I just had to be bold about my charlatan status: admit it, own it and hope that I could find something relatively clever to say to the clearly clever people around me.
Luckily, an amiable journalist from Swedish Radio helped me out when the real deal got underway. He seemed a smidge horrified that I live in Täby, but we worked through it, and he humored me and gave me pointers, principal among them being how to properly shake wine and assess its scent, flavor and texture.
All in all, then, I had an educational experience, and I found, mostly because I tjuvlyssnade, that the experts around me generally concurred with my gut, amateur instincts… so I feel I can review the wine and cuisine with an asterisked sense of authority.
Here we go, then.
Course 1: Razor mussels with grated tomatoes, horseradish and cilantro
Wines: 2013 Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc (Hawkes Bay), 2013 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay (East Coast)
Initially, I couldn’t imagine horseradish and cilantro working together. But they did, although the horseradish was a touch too strong. The Sauvignon Blanc was fresh and fruity, and though it didn’t really do much for the mussels, it was pleasant to drink. I was not impressed with the unoaked Chardonnay, however; it was fruity, but almost sour and a bit too dominant – it overpowered all other flavors.
Verdict: Nice, but I’m not thinking about it the day after.
Course 2: Thinly sliced Swedish squid with “tiger’s milk” spring onions, avocado and roe
Wines: 2013 Spy Valley Pinot Gris (Marlborough), 2013 Giesen Riesling (Marlborough)
This dish was my absolute favorite. Everything worked, flavor-wise, (the tiger’s milk provided a nice little citrus punch) and the squid was delicious: tough, tender and melty all at once. The Pinot Gris was a good wine choice; it strengthened the spices and made the flavors more fun and palate-pleasing. The Riesling, however, resulted in overdone citrus… I didn’t drink more than one or two sips.
Verdict: Finger-kissing good cuisine, decent wine.
Course 3: Roast duck with caramelized endive, roasted almonds and watercress.
Wines: 2011 Brancott Estate Pinot Noir (Marlborough), 2012 Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir (Marlborough), 2010 Yealands Crossroads Cabernet Franc (Hawkes Bay)
I don’t fancy duck, but I still enjoyed this dish. The duck was tender and pink and combined nicely with the caramelized endive. I wouldn’t call the flavors exciting, but rather smoky and agreeable. The Brancott Estate Pinot Noir was not a good fit, but I found the Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir to be full-bodied and exceptionally tasty, the Yealands Crossroads Cabernet Franc trailing close behind.
Verdict: Conventionally satisfying wine and cuisine.
Course 4: Caramel bread with autumn apples, milk sorbet, fennel seeds and burned butter.
Wine: Seifried, Sweet Agnes Riesling (Nelson)
Disclaimer: I’m picky about fennel. So if I was a fennel lover, then this dessert would have been a home run, but I’m not, so I found the fennel seeds just a tad assertive, detracting from my ability to fully enjoy the rest of the flavors. But I still liked it. Now I’m just being picky and trying to show off a little of what I heard from the mouths of other guests. I thought the Sweet Agnes Riesling was a very good compliment to the dish, though, perhaps the best of the evening.
Verdict: Evening’s best wine-cuisine combo, but fennel fearers beware.
To sum up the experience: The cuisine was very good to delightful, but it would have been nice if the wines had matched it a little better. So the victor of the evening was Sweden, even if it is shallow and totally missing the point to say so. But that final assessment will at least make chefs Adam & Albin happy campers, I think.