Oh dear. Four hours before my dinner reservation at Mistral on 26th September, my trusty Canon 350D started acting up. It got hot and fainted a few times, woke up again, but only to twitch and finally pass away between my hands. It drew its last breath in the sun coming through the window of Ulla Winbladh’s cosy inn in the beautiful Djurgården in Stockholm. All attempts at revival were futile. The camera housing grew so hot that any digital activity inside the camera’s brain must have seized as the electronics fused together. It was, presumably, a quick death.
So, I have no photographs from this delightful evening at Mistral in the southern part of Stockholm. But the staff has been kind enough to send me these photos of the interior and the dishes we got. The photos in this post are all taken by Erik Olsson (www.eof.se), and it is therefore the first post on this blog featuring someone else’s photos.
If you choose to go to Mistral, don’t be fooled by the huge red neon lights spelling Barnevognsfabrikken (‘The Pram Factory’) on the building in the middle of the residential neighborhood. This is where restaurant Mistral is housed. We came with probably the kindest (elderly) taxi driver who insisted on ringing the restaurant to double check the address – while we were sitting in the car just outside and across the street.
Inside we got a warm greeting by the Daniel and Helena and were shown to our table at the opposite end of the main dining room close to the bar and the stairs down to the kitchen. We were the only guests in that end of the restaurant and had the area all to ourselves the whole evening. It made for a quite special and a very private experience.
The restaurant’s interior is light and plain with white walls, white table cloths and simple, personal decorations.
Mistral has an excellent wine list. It only offers French wines but the selection is full of tempting whites and reds from most regions in France. I had almost made up my mind from home when I droolingly browsed it and considered what to choose this evening. I therefore quickly ordered the N.V. Jacques Selosse Initial which I have heard a lot about from Thomas at Mad About Wine and longed to taste for the first time.
It won’t be the last time I drink Selosse, or at least I hope not, because it was such a lovely experience. Just the taste of it and following how it evolved during the entire evening was quite something. The bottle was degorged in 2007. The nose was very expressive with many nuances of light fruit, slight Sherry tones or oxidization and some oak (can this be true?) in a delicate way. When I first zipped it, I was surprised how fine the mousse was, and yet at the same time it effervescently grew bigger and entirely filled my mouth. The acidity in the after-taste sort of manipulated the taste and even more sophisticated flavours evolved.
We got no snacks, appetizers or regards from the kitchen but started out with the first course listed on the evening menu.
It offered raw and creamy carrots with grilled squid, saffron, coffee and meadow sweet. It was a very pure and fragile dish but also very tasty. The flavour of the grilled squid was copious, and the carrots were spiced with saffron in a subtle and delicate way. What an excellent match not only in colour but also in taste.
Next course was composed by dried potatoes with lavender and brown butter, creamy farmhouse egg and bleak roe in yogurt. The bleak roes were placed under the potatoes and added salt in a nice way. This dish was pure as well but did have a bit more character than the first one. The egg was perfection, soft but not runny and balancing the dish.
Then followed baked and marinated beetroot with redcurrant, hibiscus and cocoa on raw crayfish. The beet had a really intense teaste, the cocoa was restrained. The yellow powder (hardly visible in the photo) was inspired by bottarga and gave salt and bitterness to the dish and thereby balanced it with the sweetish beetroot. Very good.
At this point we got some bread on the table. Bringing the bread to the table so late insured that we hadn’t eaten too much bread from the start of the evening. I liked that.
I ordered a 2006 Leroy Bourgogne Aligoté to accompany the following courses. The scent was dominated by earthiness, cow shed, minerals and burnt hair. I loved it. There was a remarkable balance between the nose and the palate. Even though it’s just appellation Bourgogne it is a seducing wine. After hours of air it was still as consistent as after the first hour.
This dish was inspired by Michel Bras, and dedicated to each ingredient in respect of its qualities. Raw, lightly marinated and fried autumn vegetables with fruit and leaf and milk skin and grated Brazil nut. It worked so well and presented the products in a way that made it possible to enjoy them for what they were but also to appreciate them in combination with the rest and a more complex taste. There were so many different flavours to perceive and appreciate. At Arpege earlier this year I had a similar course where the vegetables had different textures. At Mistral all the vegetables had the same softness to it and this was delighting. One of the highlights of this evening.
And the magic continued as this next dish totally blew me away. Lightly cooked, glaced leeks with almonds, sugar and balsamico traditionale and melted lardo presented in such a simple but beautiful way. Sweetness came from the balsamico and acidity from the wood sorrel and combined with the subtle lardo and the way that they worked together was absolutely phenomenal. A little cup with almond milk was served on the side. It had a pure taste of almonds but also comprised a good amount of acidity so the milk wasn’t too sweet.
I do love scallops in all forms and here they were accompanied by raw shrimps put underneith the green covers of parsley root. Raw shrimps can have a rather bland taste to it but in combination with parsley root it didn’t.
Then followed the main course of lamb with lightly cooked and crispy cabbage, green bread and a green powder which was a bit too dominating. The lamb meat was of excellent quality.
There were two desserts and also the desserts’ focus was on vegetables. First lightly sweetened cucumber, almonds and mint with yogurt-olive oil sorbet and cocoa bread. It was sweet as well as refreshing and really nice.
So were the summer tomatoes preserved with hibiscus. They were accompained by a reduction of something called ‘lagen’ in Swedish, raw honey and milk ice cream and tomatoes marmalade. I was quite sceptical when I read about tomatoes for dessert but this was very delicious.
Mistral is an exciting place. It’s unique and very special. The food is unique and the personality of the staff makes it a very special place. The staff master what I find is important and essential for high-end restaurants: The gift of understanding the guest’s preferences and how to communicate on the level of the guest. I cannot wait to get back and this time with my new Canon 500D.