47 S 5th St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Williamsburg - South Side
July 24, 2017
BLADDERWRACK – blue mussel emulsion
At last-year released Aska 2.0, we got to experience the Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius’s numerous courses that span sea, field, and forest. The dinner reminded me of couple meals I had in Copenhagen. I think the many claimed “novel and original flavor” is, to be more accurate, something exotic for its not so common Scandinavian characteristic.
BREAD & BUTTER – roll made with malt and spices, manitoba with oats and beer, flat bread with rye and brown butter
Good bread + butter + lard were a direct route to happiness. Thanks especially to the Manitoba, a yeasty mini-loaf made with an infusion of I.P.A, and the pickled flower, which brought a unique tartness to the cultured butter.
OYSTER – Glidden Point, ME – Green gooseberries, and Juniper
Here all the ingredients shimmered on the plate. The mineral tang of the oyster lashed the nostrils. The presentation was never not photogenic.
CAVIAR – Grilled onion, sustainable Finnish caviar from Carelian, lemon verbena
For a tasting menu like this, there has to be one caviar course. But beware, for this was not your average caviar. This Finnish one was much less salty, however, its light briny sweetness kept bobbing in its depths per spoonful.
BLOOD PANCAKE – Rose and Rosehip
The appearance of blood cake made possibilities feel endless. It had the texture similar to a good Mexican masa and tasted almost chocolatey and date-like. The thick petals added a floral aroma that was distinct but never overpowering.
SKATE – Cured skate wing, celery root puree with its leaves, roasted celery root, unfiltered rapeseed oil and flowering dill
Then the flavors were shifted back to the bright and assertive side. The fish was very finessed cooking.
LICHEN – Reduced and caramelized cream, preserved pine shoots, broth from chanterelle mushroom, spruce vinegar
This was probably the only dish I did not finish. The texture of Lichen was crunchy but too dry and grassy for my liking. Though in clear mushroom broth, it carried an intense flavor from a hidden layer of cream beneath. But it was interesting to see how acidity has been added to keep thing sharp in this case.
BEEF – 120-day dry-aged rib eye, preserved red and black currants from last year cured beef fat
The beef was seared very fast so they don’t get leathery. The pink inside was as soft as tuna sashimi. The meat had a clean and concentrated muskiness. And cured fat on top, bliss. The only tiny disappointment, which has nothing to do with this dish, was that I was expecting the infamous charred lamb heart for my main course before the arrival of this.
LILAC – Milk sorbet, cordial made from lilac and tree flowers
BIRCHWOOD – Ice cream made from birch wood with black trumpet mushrooms and Woodruff
Desserts were two scoops of ice cream. Lilac was clean and uncloying. Birchwood was hearty and resilient. Actually, the latter one remains the cornerstone of any ice cream I eat in 2017.
MIGNARDISE – Blood and rosehip – caramelized white chocolate, kronan swedish punsch, sourdough malt powder
The mignardise felt alien and familiar all at once. It turned out that the brown bites were made of blood cake again. It was punk and unforgettable.
At the end of the meal, I kind of think I have untangled Aska’s success. The chef figured out how to seize hold of the current dominant strains in world cooking- localism, seasonality, and science, and presented to the audiences in a titillating way. Even though it seems like a duplicatable formula. That’s no small feat in doing it right.