Wine review: Matsu El Recio

16 07 2017

 

First time I saw this kind of a “hilarious” series of Spanish red wines, was couple of years ago at some wine fair in Helsinki. Already then I took the cards of the wines to study them more closely later.

Several times have ordered basic Matsu El Picaro in restaurants and it has always been enoyable. Medium-bodied, almost full bodied and pairs nicely with meny dishes. Therefore expectations for Matsu El Recio were maybe to high.

Matsu wines come from an area called Toro with very favourable conditions for obtaining a good quality grape. The climate in this area is a continental climate with an Atlantic influence. It is an area that experiences extreme temperature changes, reaching 11 degrees below zero in winter and 37 degrees in summer. There is also a considerable temperature contrast between night and day, which favours an optimum maturation of the grape. In addition, the annual rainfall is very low, so the risk of diseases appearing is also very low and therefore grapes grow in a perfectly healthy state.

Vineyards produce the Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) variety; between 80 and 100 years of age and have a very low yield per vine.

THE LOOK

What was attracted my interest, was the label. Or actually series of labels. In this wine there is a middle aged man.

Color of the wine is quite deep red but not as brownish as I expected-

THE NOSE

Ripe plum, cranberry and sour cherry. Quite mild, actually difficult to find anything, but somhow acidity came through.

THE TASTE

Regarding to notes, wine should be full-bodied, but this one was not. Would say it medium-bodied. And acidity and tannins dominated also in taste as well noticed in bouquet. Also spiciness was obvious. Not my favourite.

 


 

Must say that this Matsu El Recio was dissappointment. I tried to find some wine error, acidity maybe was, but could not actually identify. Cork was ok also. Maybe it is just so, that this wine is too light and blend for my taste.

However, suggest to try El Picaro which is also affordable. I am now wondering if I shall try El Viejo at all. Any experience?

Facts:

Alcohol: 14,5% by volume
Acidity: 4,4 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal/100 ml
Closure: Natural cork

 

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 2/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK + / +++

http://bodegamatsu.com/en/





Restaurant review: Kappeli

9 07 2017

Restaurant Kappeli was opened to the public 1867 as summer restaurant but since 1970′s it has been open all year round. Latest renowation was in autumn 2011 still keeping same traditions in building structure.

In the summer you can also dine at the outside terrace, which is at the end of the building behind main terrace. If you want to sit in the middle of the main terrace but inside, ask for oriel window table for two. It is small but charming and one can even watch bands and singers at the stage opposite to the restaurant. We dined in that small glass walled space on Mid-Summer Eve.

Kappeli - reijosfood.com

Menu today looks tempting and first time it included vegan dish. But as it was Mid-Summer, it was nice to start the dinner with Vodka Martini. Unfortunately, as drink order was taken at the same time as food orders, starter came earlier than aperitif.

For starters ordered Kappeli’s Green salad and Prawn salad and smoky chilli dressing Citrus and tarragon marinated prawns, fried potatoes, samphire, cherry tomatoes seasoned with sorrel and egg.

Prawns were fresh and tasty. Potatoes were extremely delicious, they were cooked somehow differently than ever seen before. I do no recommend to try to spoon the tomatoes with fork, they might surprise you…

As green salad was so basic, no picture or story.

As main courses had Chargrilled whitefish, fried scallops and a fish roe and crème fraîche sauce Almond potato purée seasoned with dill, grilled spring cucumber and carrots and Broad bean and tomato ragù Deep-fried kale, fried mushrooms, macerated mini plum tomatoes and vegan cheese.

Long names for portions and all ingredients well listed.

Whitefish is favorite Finnish fish, light and not greasy at all like salmon. Side dishes were delicious and paired well with the main dish.

Ragu was made of Finnish invention called “Härkis“. It is made from broad beans and also available in the supermarkets. Vegan dishes are not basically meant to look or taste like meat, but this one was made so well that could have thought it was minced meat like ragu usually consists of. With spaghetti would be perfect, made like that.

 

For wine had organic Savia Viva from Pares Balta. Paired well with all dishes enjoyed. Take a look at the label! You can see some historic pictures from Finland, including Kappeli.

Kappeli is a perfect place to try Finnish kitchen in the center of events. Most of the diners are tourists especially now when it was Mid-Summer Eve.

Food was the best one so far compared to previous visits. Especially ragu surprised.

Service was polite and professional, but as mentioned earlier, aperitif was brought too late.

 

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://www.kappeli.fi/index.php?id=etusivu

 

 





Restaurant review: Taverna Vaelsa

18 06 2017


Ristorante e Taverna Vaelsa opened spring 2015 at the Market Square, at Pohjoisesplanadi 9 in the historic Govinius building. At the 2nd floor there is restaurant serving with wider menu and downstairs is taverna, which serves pizzas and some salads. Vaelsan’s kitchen combines local food and classic Italian cuisine with a modern touch.

Visited taverna at late lunch time on Saturday and tried pizzas. Ordered them from the menu under Pizze Speciali headline.

Chose Bresaola Mozzarella, Rucola, Bresaola, Parmigiano, Lemon Vinaigrette and Vegana Zucchini, Paprika, Eggplant, Parsley, Vegan Cheese.

Pizza Bresaola was delicious, but quite dry as there was not tomato sauce. Pizza base was quite thick and had to cut quite hard pieces. There was enough fresh rucola, which is not always the case when pizza includes rocket salad.


Pizza Vegana was also tasty and it was pleaseant surprise to see that taverna served also vegan version including cheese. That definately increases points.


Wines were a little bit problematic, only 3 red wines available and 2 out of them had run out and replaced with other brands. Of course pizzas do not necessarily require full-bodied wines but for instance the one we enoyed was quite light.

Location is excellent, just opposite to Market Square. And if you get window table like us, it is nice to watch the crowds outside.

Service was a little bit limping, maybe due to busy lunch hour, which was ending. If you want to visit ristorante, better make table reservation, to taverna you can just walk in and check if there are free tables.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 3,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5

http://vaelsa.fi/taverna/





Restaurant review: Bistro Telakka in Lauttasaari

20 05 2017

Summer restaurant Bistro Telakka opened it’s doors just before MayDay. First warm weekend in Helsinki and had to have late lunch there. Telakka operates in the premises of Yacht Club Sinbad like Blue Peter in HSK. By the way, Telakka means shipyard in English.

Restaurant renews its menu every summer and this year it seemed to be very promising. More ambitious and more vegan versions.

For starters ordered Vietnamese summer rolls, ginger-sweet chili dressing. Extremely healthy version of so called spring rolls but as it is summer (almost), rolls were cold, not stir-fried as spring rolls usually are. Carrot dominated as filling and coriander as a taste. Promising start as said before about the menu.

Main courses enjoyed this time were Salmon and tiger prawn smoked at Telakka, asparagus, summer potatoes and lime hollandaise and Roasted Cauliflower Ras el Hanout, warm soy bean-millet salad, lemon yoghurt.

Fish dish looked luxorius as prawn was placed on top of salmon. Salmon was perfectly smoked, not too dry and very soft. Summer potatoes will hopefully be new ones when they are available because of the name. Fried potatoes are not that summery.

Ras el hanout or Rass el hanout is a spice mix from North Africa. It plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine.  Light and tasty dish perfect for a summer day, but it was more like a salad or a started dish when talking of the serving size.

Avarage price of wine bottle on short list is about 35€, which is really affordable concerning wine prices in Helsinki restaurants in general.

Telakka bistro - reijosfood.com

 

Telakka bistro is excellent supplementary dining place in Lauttasaari. Food is excellent when it comes to outlook and taste. With existing prices bistro is quite expensive compared to size of portions and the interior of restaurant.

Terrace outside tempts to dine outside but as May has been one of the coldest in Finland so far, one should have dine inside. We were lucky to have sunny afternoon and could eat at the terrace.

It is a little bit difficult to review service as you have to order from the bar inside. Portions are brought to the tables, no need to pick them by yourself.

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE – 4-/5

http://www.bistrotelakka.fi/

 

 





Restaurant review: Venn Helsinki

1 05 2017

Restaurant VENN Helsinki was established in late April 2017. It replaced Michel, which more restaurant than bar, which VENN aims to be. VENN positiones itself as wine bar and obviously there is going to be new nationwide chain as city is added after the name of the restaurant.

Menu is short including modern pizzas, burgers and salads. Wines are reasonable priced, which of course increases attractivess of VENN.

Decided to try burgers for late lunch.

Avocado burger consisted of avocado, grilled vegetables, salad and piri-piri mayo. Tasty burger with big slices of avocado, zucchini and red peppers.  A nice choice as a vegan version, and different from other burgers served in other restaurants.

VENN burger included 200g minced meat steak, comte cheese, grilled zucchini, tomato and horseradish mayo. Steak was ordered as medium but it was medium – due to redness of meat. And could not find zucchini this time. Otherwise burger was very tasty and fresh.

For both burgers ordered potato blocks which paired well main dish. Other options would have been potato chips (big ones) or salad.

For wine had Californian Barefoot Merlot, which was classified as Velvety red on wine list. Wine has good combo of cherry, plum, and even chocolate. A mocha finish is complemented by hints of smoky vanilla oak.

Decoration is cozy, same big bar in the middle of room dominates the space. Windows open on two sides, both pedestrian streets, but one of them is in the summer time famous outdoor night club with live music.

Venn is part of S-Group restaurant complex in old buidings in one of the best location in Helsinki. New concept will be more popular than Michel was due to more relaxed athmosphere and easy food. Drinks and wines are now main part of operation.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5





Restaurant review: Noa – Tallinn, Estonia

22 04 2017


NOA is a seaside restaurant on the border of Tallinn and Viimsi, Estonia, seating 80 people. The NOA dining room has been built on three different levels allowing guests to see the view of the Old Town silhouette across the bay. When putting together the menu, restaurant has not committed to any specific ingredients, countries or locations, but rather focused on creating an equal experience to all vege, seafood and meat eaters.

For aperitives decided to order NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne AOC, France and Gin tonic made from worlds best gin, Napue, Finland. With sea view, perfect drinks to start the dinner.


Before starters restaurant offers fresh bread and spreading, which both tasted excellent. Big box instead of plate, at least kept the pieces of bread warm.

For starters ordered Crispy seafood and chips with cuttlefish sauce, coriander, lime and potatoes and Grill “Caesar” with romaine lettuce, asparagus (& cheese).

Seafood included pieces of mussel, octopus and some white meated fish, which I can not remember any more. Anyhow all pieces (finger food) were perfectly prepared. Chips were one of the best ever tasted; there was some spice on them, which made them scrumptious. And sauce paired well both with crispy fish and potatoes.

It was not your ordinary Caesar salad.  Warm, but fresh served with seasonal veggie, in this case asparagus.  A simple, but tasty starter.

For main courses had Octopus pasta Homemade pasta, wine and butter sauce, tomato garlic, pepper, grispy panko and Eggplant “burnt end” (Goat’s cheese curd), crispy vegetables, smoked tomato

Pasta was cooked as it should be, al dente, and it was still hot. That is difficult combination! Octopus was crispy and fresh, very tasty on top of all. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb, but as the amount was small, it just completed the dish.

The eggplant dish was served with cranberry sauce which gave the dish a bit of a sour taste.  The crispy vegetables made for a nice addition.

For wine ordered 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Chateau Mont Redon, Rhone, France. Full-bodied and round. It paired perfectly with the dishes eaten.

Restaurant Noa (a la carte) serves excellent food, dining room is cozy and athmosphere relaxed. One could also choose 11 course menu on separate dining room with white table clothes.

Service was professional and polite. Kitchen had just changed menu, which meant that had to wait for main courses quite a long time. Due to delay, restaurant offered Limoncello’s for digestive for free. Must say that they were better than ever had, even better than in Italy! But delay had a small impact on service rating.

For Finnish readers; if you want to taste Noa kitchen, you can find them at Taste of Helsinki in June. Must check their goodies again.

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE – 4+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://www.noaresto.ee/en

 





Restaurant review: Salutorget

1 04 2017

 

Set in a former bank building, Salutorget comprises a dining room known for its pared-down elegance, a stylish bar and a cosy outdoor terrace with views of Helsinki’s seafront market. Dining areas, main and old bar/lounge space look, look really impressive, if you like classic decoration. There are also private dining rooms located on the second floor.

Have not dined in Salutorget for couple of years, so it was time to try it again.

For starters ordered Smoked beetroot, crutons, buckwheat and tofu sauce and Escargots á la Peltola´s Blue, country style baguette

Beetroot was fresh, and the tofu sauce a very nice addition to the dish.

Escargots were really tasty. Blue cheese added nice flavor on soft snails; garlic is used too oftern. Structure of snails was also perfect, not chewy at all.

 

Main courses were Globe artichoke and “falafel” with nuts and lentil and Grilled trout, smoked potato and hollandaise with white fish roe

Fresh, and home made tasty falafels.  Nicely presented and garnished with fresh cherry tomatoes, and greens.  The mashed potatoe sauce was nice and creamy, and the artichoke was a nice addition to this dish.

Trout was perfectly grilled, but could have eaten two pieces. Side dishes were well planned as they were delicious and paired extremely well with the fish.


 

Wine ordered this time was a real bargain. At the price of 45€ (restaurant price in Finland) you seldom find that tasty Shiraz. Most of the wines are reasonably priced, which is not the case in most restaurants in Helsinki.

Tempus Two was founded in 1997 by one of Australia’s most iconic and revered wine families, the McGuigans. Wine enjoyed was Tempus Two Shiraz 2014. Although it is still quite young, would agree on winemakers notes, “Big, Bold and Beautiful”!

 

Salutorget is the restarant to visit, if you want to try tasty Finnish food with international twist.

Food was excellent, also vegan. Restaurant has vegan main course on web -pages, but not on on printed menu. Also vegan dessert was available, but not listed on menu

Service was professional as you can expect in restaurant like Salutorget.

Overall grade is 4,5 because of reasonable wine prices and decoration, which is unique. Also the summer time terrace is worth to visit as it is opposite to Market Square and statue of Havis Amanda.

 

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://www.salutorget.fi/en/front-page/








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