MAAEMO, Oslo, 9/6/2017 (17-Course, 2600 Kroner incl. VAT), Nordic, Michelin 3-Star
MAA (earth), EMO (mother) are old Finn language words, meaning “Mother Earth”. The correct pronunciation requires two syllables, confimed by the guests at the next table. It is the most northerly restaurant with Michelin 3-Star in the world. Its chef and co-owner Esben Holmboe Bang focused on building cuisine by using local produces, reflecting changing seasons and the raw nature of Norway.
Its decoration is very Nordic style, mainly black, white, beige and grey colors of furnishings. Current dining room arrangements can accommodate up to 35 guests. Half of the premises has high ceiling and the other half is divided into two floors. Its open kitchen is on the 2nd floor, with spiral staircase leading from dining room to the 2nd floor. Staff are trained in military style, all team member had to be ready with plate being held by both hands and aligned, probably based on course/table, before they started marching downstairs to serve customers.
The Tasting menu comprised of 17 courses, no Amuse Bouche.
1st Course - Chicken Feet Cooked with Grains, Chicken Liver and Fermented Lingonberry Juice
This is the 1st time that I saw chicken feet on the menu of a Michelin 3-Star restaurant. Chicken feet have been a delicacy item in Dim Sum category of Chines cuisine for a long time. But, this chicken feet MAAEMO style is quite a creativity. Chicken feet was cooked, deboned, coated with flour and infused koji (fermented buck wheat) and then deep fried to crispy condition. Using koji enhanced the flavoring as well as the crispiness. On top of fried chicken feet was a layer of chicken liver parfait and wood sorrel which was topped by the cute oxalis leaves. Chef usually gathered the freshest wood sorrels from the forest across the bridge by MAAEMO. Above the oxalis leaves, there were drops of lingonberry juice. It was a true visual pleasure just to look at it. It had a sophisticated taste. No guest would be able to tell this is chicken feet without being informed of.
2nd Course - A Savoury Tart Made from Caramelized Onions with Aged Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme
Pie crust was made of caramelized onion juice which was dehydrated on silicon mat for 48 hours before mode into pie/tart shell. After pie shell was formed, it was filled with pickled lemon thyme jell and finely shredded 18-month goat cheese. At the very top, it was adorned with fresh thyme for decoration and taste. This was my favorite course in this dinner. Flavor and taste were all perfect.
3rd Course - Cornet with Smoked Vendance Row
A small brass instrument shaped roll was filled with cream of roasted yeast and smoked Vendance row (løyrom), from Kalix, Sweden. Cornet roll was the pastry shell with very delicate taste and Vendance row was not the heavy salty type. It was well balanced.
4th Course - Razor Clam with Green Strawberries and Blackcurrant Leaves
Razor clam looked smaller than the conventional ones because it was from Nordskot in the Arctic Circle region. Since water temperature is colder in Arctic, shell fish in general grow slower and require more fat content to shield from the coldness. Because of these environmental impact, shell fish from the Arctic are more tender and clean.
About 10 years ago, in the icy waters of Norway one intrepid Scot, Roderic Sloan, dived deep to satisfy the latest fjord-to-table craze at Europe’s fine-dining restaurants. He has been MAAEMO’s preferred supplier because his experience in catching only the finest quality of shell fish.
Razor clam in this course was served with green strawberry juice (dotted in green color) and blackcurrant leaves. Clam was juicy and very tender, the best quality I have ever had.
5th Course - “Lompe” with Fermented Trout and Horseradish
At the bottom, there was a piece of Norwegian pancake made of flour and potato and topped with a layer of rakfisk. Rakfisk are Norwegian fish dish made from trout or char salted and fermented for 2-3 months the n eaten without cooking. In addition to the layer of rakfisk there was a layer of sour cream, cured chicken egg yolks, pickled red onion, fresh horseradish and fresh dill. It did not taste fishy because red onion and horseradish provide the balance.
6th Course - Fresh Cheese Made 1 Hour Ago from Raw Milk from Our Very Own Cow Wood Sorrel and Summer Cucumber
Most of the dairy products are made from pool of many cow’s milk. But, this fresh cheese was made from only one cow’s milk 1 hour ago. It looked and tasted like custard. It was served with summer cucumber juice and fresh wood sorrel (green color) which contributed to the acidic taste. This course was almost like a palette cleanser.
7th Course - Emulsion of Raw Norwegian Oysters from Bømlo Warm Sauce Made from Mussels and Dill
Flat oysters are available from Bømlo, Norway in all seasons. Oysters and mussels were made into a layer of jell (in transparent color) sitting on top of mussel broth. In addition, cream sauce and dill oil were floating on the top. No solid piece of oyster or mussel was present in the dish, it was the flavor through different way of preparation made the taste stand out.
8th Course - Scallop from Above Arctic Circle Fermented White Asparagus and Seasonal Flowers
Scallop was from the Arctic Circle, caught by the best fisherman Roderic Sloan. It was served in fermented white asparagus juice by fermenting white asparagus in whey for a year. Scallop was seared in organic butter and brushed with another layer of butter while resting. Scallop has a slightly firmer texture (still tender) than the conventional ones, I am not sure it was due to its origin in Arctic or the cooking method. This is the 1st time that I have fermented white asparagus juice. Even though I don’t like whey’s taste, whey-fermented asparagus juice was delicious.
9th Course - Skate Cooked in Salted Butter and Aromatics Chanterelles and Unripe White Currants
Skate was cooked in salted butter and deboned. Chanterelle cream was served at the bottom of the plate. In addition, unripe white currant, fresh Chanterelle mushrooms and butter sauce were served on the top. Butter sauce was used to smooth taste of fish flecks because skate doesn’t have much fish fat.
10th Course - Our Bread and Butter – Freshly Milled Norwegian Heritage Wheat and Our Very Own Butter
Bread was made from spelt wheat from Oland, Sweden. Spelt wheat provides higher protein content and more nutrients. Bread dough was rested overnight to provide more acidity. Butter was house made with slightly different processes. Ordinarily, during the process of whipping butter, butter milk was whipped out. But, MAAEMO added part of secreted butter milk back to make the butter more flavorful and a bit softer.
11th Course - “Rommegrot” – A Porridge of Very Sour Cream Smoked Reindeer Heart and Salted Butter with Plum Vinegar
This course involved a lot of molecular gastronomy. It started with reducing sour cream until it cleared away, separated the fat. Then, added flour and house-made Balsamic vinegar to thicken it. This layer was at the bottom of the dish.
Separately, to cure and smoke the reindeer heart. Dried it and grated it finely.
Lastly, pour the fermented plum juice in brown butter over the dried reindeer heart before serving.
With all the state of the art molecular gastronomy, no clue indicated this was reindeer heart.
12th Course - Quail Egg Gently Cooked in Roasted Bone Marrow, Cured Mutton and Charred Onions
Quail eggs were half-cooked, prepared in roasted bone marrow, hidden at the bottom. Then, there was a layer of transparent jell made of pickled charred onions. At the top, there were Fenalaar (lamb leg part) and tapioca soup.
Fenalaar is one of the Norwegian’s favorite dish, also a traditional X’mas dish in the western part of Norway. Fenalaar means lamb leg, you will become a fan if you are a dry cured meat lover.
13th Course - Grilled Beef Aged 40 Days, Cep Mushroons, Feermented Garlic and Greens from Bergsmyrene Farm
Beef, aged 40 days, was acquired from a special butcher Daniel Bergsmyrene. After grilling, beef was brushed with miso butter and served with reduced bone marrow soup. Since this is the season of cep mushrooms, sautéed cep, was added into the condensed bone soup. Lastly, purée made of Chanterelle and garlic were also incorporated into the bone soup.
Although aged 40 days seemed to be a long time, beef did not have a strong aged flavor. There could be a few reasons such as the breed, climate and method used. I was expecting a thick piece of steak, but what served in the plate was just a piece of filet.
14th Course - Frozen Blue Cheese with Pickled Black Trumpet Mushroom
This is the palette cleanse. Blue cheese was frozen in liquid nitrogen before blended into powder. Then, trumpet mushroom was frozen and grounded into powder which was sprinkled on top of blue cheese powder. It had a very pleasant taste even though blue cheese is usually considered a strong-taste cheese.
15th Course - Raw Milk from a Single Cow, Rhubarb, Flowers and Fragrant Rhubard Hazelnuts
Raw milk sorbet (without egg) made from milk produced by a single cow, was served with honey crumb, rhubarb juice, rhubarb root oil and lovely violet and barrage flowers.
16th Course - Brown Butter Ice Cream with Molasses and Roasted Hazelnuts
Caramelized butter was cooled down and mixed with raw milk to make ice cream which was served with brown butter sauce on top. There was hidden treasure “molasses” in the middle of ice cream. In addition, a piece of crumbled toasted hazelnut cook was at the bottom.
17th Course - Warm Norwegian Waffles made with Beef Fat and Koji Grains Brown Cheese, Preserved Berries and Whipped Romme
This is considered an authentic Norwegian desert, mainly based on Norwegian waffles. They were made of flour and Koji grain for the flavoring and taste. There were 4 varieties of accompaniments – cloudberry jam (from 1 year ago), blueberry jam, brown butter and whipped sour cream. At present, it was the season of cloudberry (in yellow color). I have never had cloudberry before. It had a very mild taste, not too sweet, not too sour. It is definitely not the tastiest berry type.
This was the 1st time that I started understanding the meaning of “using local products”. I was not too interested in having Norwegian waffles as the main desert and inquired of the possibility of have an alternative such as chocolate based desert. I was informed the restaurant doesn’t provide any chocolate based desert because Norway does not produce cocoa beans locally.
Although portion of serving was moderate, MAAEMO procured only high quality local products, accomplished by sophisticated preparation and creative cooking. It was a pleasant fine dining experience. Since MAAEMO only used the local products, don’t forget to wish the preferred fisherman luck on catching quality shell fish from the Arctic around the time of your scheduled visit.