Παρασκευή, 12 Ιουνίου 2015

3 days in Stockholm, memories of a lifetime

Hi there fellow welfare lovers, its been a long time since my last blog post and thought it was time to make a new one given the chance of my recent visit to Stockholm.

Every time I started making plans for a new trip Stockholm was always on my “places to visit” list but I always postponed it since it happens to be a really expensive trip. The fact that Aegean airlines started direct flights this summer made things easier financially ( thank god for the BONUS program with alpha bank credit cards that allows you to travel on airport taxes only).
At first I would like to make a general comment about Stockholm. Stockholm is a criminally underrated city, at least at the Greek travel market.  For some reason we have a myth that Prague is the ultimate destination when it comes to medieval cities of Europe. A visit in Stockholm will delete from your memory the highly overrated city of Prague. The difference with Prague is that Stockholm is insanely expensive but on the other hand the fact that the city is so expensive saves you from all the groups of tourists who follow the flag guy like sheep’s.
So In case you are trying to travel on budget like us here is a useful tip that has to do with public transportations. You can buy a 24 or 72 hour travel card and that can include your trip from Arlanda airport to the city center. All you have to do is take a bus from the airport to Marsta station and then the commuter train to Stockholm center. That will save a couple around 40 euros both ways and believe me it’s better to spend this money on a bottle of wine.

Back to our trip we arrived around noon at our beautiful NOFOhotel unpacked and headed of to “a taste of Stockholm food festival”. The place was packed with thousands of people buying food from food trucks and listening to live music.

We were really tired from the trip to wait in the line for food so we headed to a nearby “Fridays” restaurant and grabbed some burgers and a local beer which was comfort food at its best. June 6th is the national day in Stockholm and according to my internet search there was free entrance to the Royal palace so we decided to take the chance. The palace contains many interesting things to see. In addition to the Royal Apartments there are three museums steeped in regal history: the Treasury with the regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that portrays the palaces medieval history and Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities. 

After that we headed back to hotel for a quick nap and off to explore the amazing Gamla Stan!
Gamla stan (The Old Town), until 1980 officially Staden mellan broarna (The Town between the Bridges), is the old town of Stockholm, Sweden. Gamla stan consists primarily of the island Stadsholmen. The town dates back to the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. North German architecture has had a strong influence in the Old Town's construction.  The city travels you back in medieval times and is like the time hasn’t touched anything.

We had a dinner at kallare movitz using the discount that “the fork” app provides. You should definitely check this website if you want to save some money in Stockholm without eating at mcdonalds all the time. I tried the reindeer fillet which was simply divine and glass of house wine which was priced at 13 euro! Alcohol is insanely expensive in Sweden and not easy to find as it’s not available on supermarkets.
Our second day in Stockholm started in The open air museum of skansen which  is the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden. It is located on the island Djurgården and we used the ferry from slussen to reach it which was a really nice ride included in our travelcard. It was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius (1833–1901) to show the way of life in the different parts of Scandinavia before the industrial era.

Skansen attracts more than 1.3 million visitors each year. The many exhibits over the site include a full replica of an average 19th-century town, in which craftsmen in traditional dress such as tanners, shoemakers, silversmiths, bakers and glass-blowers demonstrate their skills in period surroundings. There is even a small patch growing tobacco used for the making of cigarettes. There is also an open-air zoo containing a wide range of Scandinavian animals including the bison, brown bear, moose, grey seal, lynx, otter, red fox, reindeer, wolf, and wolverine (as well as some non-Scandinavian animals because of their popularity). There are also farmsteads where rare breeds of farm animals can be seen.
The museum is hosted on a Green miracle of our planet full of beautiful Trees and grass with mind-blowing views. It’s certainly one of the most interesting museums throughout Europe.
The rest of the day I had the chance to make one of my wildest music dreams come true. I met the two members of the legendary heavy metal band Heavy load from Sweden which they took me on a tour around the city visiting several places that had heavy load history like studio Decibel in which they recorded their albums.

Later on we payed visit to the Stockholm city hall which has an amazing view on its backyard to the canals of Stockholm and ended up having lunch discussing many details about the band history. My dish was the classic Swedish meatballs in which i added ketchup on the berries as Eddy sugested, man that ruled!  

It was certainly a day to rememberand  for me and I believe I made two new friends that day.
Dead tired from 6-7 hours of walking we returned to our hotel and slept for few hours before we return t Gamla stan main square for another piece of meat.

Our last full day in Stockholm we started from Vasa museum which is is a maritime museum , located again on the island of Djurgården. The museum displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. Its really hard to describe the majesty of this ship my eyes have seen, all you have to do is pay a visit yourself.

Once we were done with the museum we did a quick tour at the main shopping street of Stockholm and we ended back in Gamla stan for an amazing early dinner  at Tadition Gamla stan. I tried the beef rydberg  which is a Swedish classic and its name is said to originate from the now defunct, but once opulent, Hotel Rydberg in Stockholm, where it was probably first served. In this dish, beef, potatoes and onions are cooked simply to remarkable effect, this was one of the best meals i ever had throuout europe as my wives roulanden also was.

I found Recipe online for this amazing meal and wanted to share it with you.
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 600g beef fillet, cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 800g potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 egg yolks served in the shell (you can trim the edges of the shell with scissors to make it neater)
  • 50g butter (and some oil) for frying
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Parboil the potatoes for 5 mins
  2. Melt 25g of butter in a frying pan and fry the potatoes over a low/medium heat for 15-20 mins. Season with salt. Don't move the potatoes around too much, you want a nice crisp crust to form. You may want to add a touch of oil too to stop the butter burning.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, gently fry the onions with the remaining butter in another pan over a low/medium heat for 15 mins and season with a touch of salt. The onions should be soft and golden and just starting to caramelise.
  4. After the onions have been cooking for 7 mins, drizzle the beef with a touch of oil, season with salt and pepper and sear in (yet another) hot pan for 3-4 mins until cooked medium-rare. Let the beef rest for 5 mins on a warm plate.
  5. To serve, place separate mounds of beef, onions and potatoes on a warmed plate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley (don't leave this out, it adds a crisp freshness to the dish), and place an egg yolk in the middle. I also like to add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce over the beef. Serve with an ice cold beer or a glass of Pinot Noir.
Our last hours in Stockholm included our first cinnamon roll and a bottle of wine at local wine bar. 

Will we be back in Stockholm? I really don’t know, all I know is, trips is the best thing money can buy. Untill the next one…

Δευτέρα, 5 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Kozi's, temple of meat eating!

Kozi's was on my "restaurants to visit" list for a long time now. The distance, i need to drive 50km both ways, and the fact that they dont take reservations was always keeping me back. The place is packed all evenings and arriving late might make you wait for 60-90 minutes to get a table. Things get worse, and dangerous for other customers, when you see those delicious plates arriving and you are hungry.
The party started with a salad named Shambalala which was simply amazing. The mixed greens with beef fillet strips,pamagranate,parmesan and a perfectly balanced sweet orange chilli dressing was mouthwatering, add to that the huge portion that was more then enough for 4 people and the ball was allready on the field ready for kick off.
When the main dishes arrived the table started smelling like heaven. At this point i must tell you that the owner of the restaurant came back to Greece after he worked many years  in South africa and he is using some amazing spices that is the big bonus in all kinds of meat he cooks.
We tried four different main dishes and the winner of the night among equals was kokobongo, 500kg of chicken perfection in a skewer. Juicy meat, perfectly grilled with intensive spices in a huge portion that luckilly for me my wife couldn't eat all. 
My main was chakalaka, a beef rib eye cooked medium in perfection, with herb butter to melt slowly on the delicious crust. I feel the need to thank the south african culture and their spices for this amazing food experience i had. Once we finished the dinner i felt i need to do this review asap and try to spread it to the world. My dear reader you need to visit this grill temple before you die.
Wait a minute was everything that perfect? unfortunately not.
This is not a place you can relax and enjoy the food as it deserves, its more like a fast food experience. First of all the biggest problem is our legs were cold. Its unacceptable a restaurant that warms your heart with such delicious food not to be able to warm your legs. The tables are really close to eachother and small while the decoration was so boring that reminded me of base grill. Maybe thats the explantion why the prices are so good for this quality. People dont spend too much time on the table and he can serve lots of customers per day.
Wine list was really small without any interesting choices so i decided to get a beer for change.
With our stomach making happy noises and our heart full of happy emotions we payed and tried to find a place warm our legs.

Cuisine: 8,5/10
Wine List: 2/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 3/10

Παρασκευή, 2 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Best of wines 2014

Actually this is not a best of but the wines i enjoyed the most in 2014. The joy a bottle of wine can bring is a matter of many factors like the occasion of a dinner or the group of friends you can share it with. So for now this is the list of the wines that impressed me the most in 2014...

1) 2006 Castelgiocondo (Marchesi de' Frescobaldi) Brunello di Montalcino
This was one of the wines we choose for the new years eve dinner and it was actually the last one i tried for 2014. Silky texture with soft tannins and lots of fruit. Sagniovese at its best! 93/100

2) 2003 Dougos Methistanes red
The wine was part of a dinner i had in Paradiso restaurant and it was sugested to me by the good friend and owner of the restaurant Grigoris Michailos. It was love at first smell, certainly on the top 5 of Greek wines i ever tried. 93/100

3) 2009 Markus Molitor Wehlener Klosterberg Riesling Spätlese
If you hear people talking about minerality in wine and you have no clue what they talk about, you need to try this wine or any other riesling from the mosel river. 92/100

4) 2013 Karipidis Sauvignon blanc fume
I love Sauvignon blanc and this was the wine in enjoyed the most from the variety in 2014 91/100

5) 2006 Lykos Syrah
A nicely made Syrah from this family winery from evoia. Spicy, with back pepper and blackberry conquering nose and mouth.  91/100

6) 2013 grevenon ghi kalyvia 
This rose was a huge surprise for me. It comes from an unknown winery from Grevena and delivers a really nice rose from xinomavro-syrah blend. Food pairing wise, it has this crispy acidity that would be ideal for all the olive oil based Greek dishes or pizza. 87/100

7) 2013 Avantis Estate Charisma Ghis Evia
With our country in the middle of the crisis producers need to find a way to make more value for money wines like this one.  A really nicely made malagousia- trebbiano blend with polished texture and perfectly balanced acidity. 86/100