AOC – Fine Dining On My Birthday (only 5 more posts to go)
Everything ages, even seemingly ageless beauties such as myself turn 29, 30 and last Tuesday – 31. Hurray for me. On that occasion we finally had the perfect excuse to go spend 1500 Danish kroner à pop (~200 Euro) on a gourmet meal and some fancy wine at the latest Danish star on the Guide Michelin map: AOC. Short for Aarø og Co., the name doesn’t exactly do much for the branding process. It’s too non-descript and really doesn’t stick or create images in one’s head. Luckily the real experience was a different story…
The overall impression was very nice, but the next morning when the booze had worn off I couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit silly about two things. One, the servings were in some cases ridiculously small to the point where a 4-course menu would not make one feel full and satisfied. Two, the second part of the menu (from the main course with shaved beet root and frozen white marrow shavings on top) was a tiny bit underwhelming. But let it be said, I’m often bored by main courses. Even the fanciest restaurants tend to go for a more rustic and simple look and palate on the main courses and my silly little princess-taste buds are not amused by that kind of brutish behaviour.
That, and the two desserts were a bit meh. I liked the first one, that looked like little white balls on some green stuff. It was wheat grass granité topped with drops of frozen crème anglaise (fine vanilla custard) and some rhubarb “foam” on the side. The watery granité and its ever so tiny flavour were very fresh and together with the hint of vanilla custard (when frozen it loses a lot of flavour) and slight rhubarb taste the dish served as a good intro to the sweet part of our dinner. But the second dessert didn’t fulfil the expectations set up by the granité. It was a carrot sorbet placed on some crumbled, frozen liquorice cream. Or: Pale orange on dark grey. The look didn’t do much for the eye or the taste buds, no siree. It may seem like a bold serving, but both components were much too bland to make it into my history books (though the boys in our company were very pleased with it). I personally missed both some acidity and/or sweetness to enhance the carrot and instead of using what seemed to be English liquorice in the “crumbled cream”, I would have preferred the deep earthiness and brownish-beige colour of liquorice root. All in all the desserts lacked some oomph or even backbone. Luckily we ordered some petits fours with our coffee and out came these balls of soft sea salt caramel in a thin shell of dark chocolate rolled in bits of peanuts and what seemed to be crunchy and not-oily croutons. Very delish and a great way to use what are essentially just stale bread crumbs.
Anyhoot, I’m deliberately messing up the serving order, so I can end up telling you about the best part: The entree. This night’s wild card was the very discreet dish consisting mainly of two crunchy white asparagus with a charcoaly surface, one deliciously and perfectly poached egg yolk topped with ashes and a fluffy-light sauce with Vesterhavsost (a Danish cheese that gets its flavour and crystallized flakiness from the salty air on the west coast of Jutland and is in very high demand these days. It tastes a bit like the blue Prima Donna.). When it was put in front of me I thought “Come on guys! Two asparagus and an egg yolk – are you serious?” but when I tasted it, I literally had to close my eyes and press my ears shut in order to keep every little bit of the flavour in, squeezing every tiny little detail out of the sensation for as long as possible. It was just that good. So if you don’t try anything else (you will, the minimum is 4 courses) – make sure you try this. And enjoy the slideshow. Parce que tu le vaux bien.