Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Wanderlust: Sampling the New Nordic cuisine at Höst


Once merely a dot on the world's culinary map, Denmark is giving rise to a new style of cooking which is being heralded the world over for its use of unusual, locally-sourced and often foraged ingredients.

The New Nordic style of cooking blends complex flavours such as reindeer moss, soil and ants, usually sourced from restaurants' local areas. 

Denmark's new found status is, in part, thanks to the success of René Redzepi's two-Michelin star restaurant, Noma - awarded "best restaurant in the world" status four times between 2010 and 2014 by Restaurant Magazine -  which has helped to propel the Danish capital to the centre of the culinary world.

Thankfully, thanks to a new wave of New Nordic eateries, sampling this cuisine doesn't have to mean forking out for Michelin-star price tags - Noma's success has inspired a number of its former chefs and other established culinary masters from across Copenhagen to go it alone, launching a wonderful variety of eateries across the city to suit a wealth of budgets.

One such restaurant is Höst, founded in 2012 by Copenhagen Food Consulting (Cofoco), which has to date brought nine restaurants to the city and places emphasis on affordable, quality dining (indeed, the group first made a name for itself by launching the most affordable New Year menu in Copenhagen).

Assemblage visited Höst on a recent research trip to Copenhagen, and was bowled over by the value it offered, compared with its immediate New Nordic competitors.

Unusually for a New Nordic restaurant, prices are accessible - a three course evening menu is available for 295 Danish Krone (approximately £30 / $45 / 39), and also comes with complimentary appetizers and pre-desserts.

Making the New Nordic accessible to everyone is central to the restaurant's values, as manager Adam Bruun Christensen explains: "the idea is to create gastronomic experiences, for the average person with the Nordic flavours in mind."

This emphasis on accessibility is also reflected in the service, which is attentive, but refreshingly down to earth for a restaurant at the forefront of such a defined, fashionable cuisine. 

Service is attentive, but refreshingly down to earth for a restaurant at the forefront of such a defined, fashionable cuisine. 

Staff are friendly - even jovial, chatting and joking easily with diners - and, once the meals begin, bursting with pride for dishes they serve, painstakingly running through lists of ingredients, and - as Assemblage found when we revealed our distaste for mayonnaise - desperate to ensure dietary requirements do not spoil the intended flavours of dishes.

Dishes are masterminded by head chef Jonas Christensen, who, by the restaurant's own admission, cites "the forest floor" as his most recent inspiration. "Being that there is no recipe for New Nordic cooking, we strive to create the most natural and organic design on our plates," Bruun adds.

Signature dishes include seared lobster with juniper-pickled carrots, sea buckthorn, juniper cream, hazelnuts and browned butter - which, while Assemblage was there, arrived rather impressively on a bed of fired and smoking dried juniper.

"Besides [the lobster dish], we are quite proud of our birchbark iced cream [currently being served to diners with apple purée, herb chocolate, chervil and hazelnut sponge cake] which is made from shredded bark," Bruun explains. "Also, in the past, we have served a soup made from roasted and caramelized yeast."

The decor follows the same ethos - natural, local and sustainable. The walls are lined in whitewashed brick, tables are simple but sturdy, made of hardy wood, and not hard to imagine the chefs themselves having sawed and nailed together. The tough, utilitarian furniture is softened in the only way that is appropriate - with raw, natural touches. Furs line chairs, and lush green creepers climbing the walls. The only extravagance is the tableware, much of which is especially commissioned for the restaurant.

The overall impression is one of a restaurant without pretension, staffed by passionate people who are primarily driven by a love for the resources the natural environment can present, and a desire to bring the New Nordic dining experience to as many as possible. 

- Abigail

Images courtesy of Cofoco

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Listography: Magazine Love

Here at Assemblage, we both have quite unhealthy addictions to magazines. For me, it began with the discovery of Lula magazine (with issue 5, to be precise), and has now evolved into a fully fledged obsession with impeccably designed publications. Read on for my round-up of the best independent, alternative magazines around.

1. Kinfolk

The Grandaddy of the alternative magazine circuit, Kinfolk has matured into an extensive lifestyle brand (Ouur), that covers apparel, events, books and lifestyle products alongside the original cult magazine. I've heard tantalising rumours that an accompanying magazine is currently in the works. Each issue is based around a loose theme, with recent issues including the Imperfect issue, the Saltwater issue and the Home issue. With a clean and minimal layout and the perfect balance of content (50:50 well-written articles and awe-inspiring photographs), it's no wonder that it is at the top of its game.

2. Cereal

Akin to Kinfolk, Cereal has a simplistic aesthetic that translates from the pages of their print publications to their Guided by Cereal travel guides (hosted online and on Instagram). Each issue is split into three main chapters that focus on three places in the world. These destinations are then explored throughout a series of photo essays and unusual articles. Case in point: issue 7's focus on New York includes a celebration of the Lincoln Centre, a collection of photographs of the best places to brunch and a magnificant view into innovative concept store, The Apartment by the Line.

3. Ernest


I discovered the first issue of this little gem whilst searching for a pint sized magazine to pop in my suitcase that would keep both myself and my boyfriend entertained as we travelled from Hungary to Croatia. I'm now eagerly awaiting the arrival of issue two. The publication divides itself into neat little sub-sections that cover pretty much everything I am interested in: Inventory (self descibed as "a smorgasbord of well-spun yarns, curious artefacts, inventions and cool things to collect"), Curious Histories (as diverse as a profile on the prolific scientist Nikola Tesla and ancient myths detailing sea monsters), Spaces (both indoor and outdoor), Workmanship (think, forgotten skills), Adventures (issue one details an epic trek of Iceland), Timeless Style and Wild Food. If you love to explore and spend time outdoors and have a curious disposition; this one is for you.

4. Cherry Bombe

This biannual magazine primarily focuses on women and food. You might think that's quite niche and not really your thing - but, trust me! It's full to the brim with beautiful photographs and interesting features, celebrating the entire process of the food that we eat. Even if you're a nightmare in the kitchen, like me, you'll find it hard not to fall in love with the relatable articles and the interesting women that they interview. You might even be inspired to put on a pinny and get to grips with a bag of cookie mix.

5. In Clover

There's currently only one issue released of this new magazine, but it's already up there on my favourites list. Refreshingly, In Clover is print only, with a minimal online presence restricted to a blog and Instagram feed. Created by Bryony Hipken as a final year university project, for those who still love print, In Clover was carried out of the classroom and onto the carefully selected shelves of magazine retailers across the country with the help of two friends who now function as Art Director and Creative Director. Expect a love of the great outdoors, foraging, cooking, exploring, dining, photographing and travelling.

6. Oak The Nordic Journal

Again, just a fledgling publication (issue 2 has recently been released), Oak is possibly best described as the Scandinavian version of Kinfolk. Hailing from Copenhagen and focusing on all things scantilisingly Nordic, Oak covers topics as diverse as The Royal Danish Ballet, an informal interview with Rene Redzepi, an account of a journey to the very edges of Norway and an essay on the beautiful, alluring yet elusive Nordic light. All of the articles are extremely well informed and accompanied with typically beautiful photographs. It will also make you wish you were Scandinavian.

7. The Plant Journal

Gardening is seeing an upheaval at the moment. It is currently hip to fill your apartment with plants (cacti, succulents and yukkas if you're really trying hard) and to grow your own vegetables and herbs in your garden/window box. Enter, The Plant Journal: part gardeners-guide, part informative articles detailing how gardens grow and part beautifully shot photographs of the natural world.

8. Yen

Heralded as the thinking girl's lifestyle magazine, Yen takes all of the elements that you'd expect to find in standard women's monthly glossies and adds attitude. Expect profiles on celebrities who are actually interesting (Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinsson grace the covers of the two issues I own), articles on music, films and books that actually make you think and features on local Australian talent - alongside all of your fashion, beauty and travel needs.

9. Another Escape

It seems like all good things are coming out of Bristol these days. Another Escape is based in this creative hub, but takes it's content beyond the UK and sells us daydreams of far-flung places and creative individuals. Expect articles detailing the lives of bamboo bicycle builders and Korean papermakers.

10. Tiny Atlas Quarterly

 Another first issue to add to my collection, Tiny Atlas has been around for some time online and have recently published their first printed annual. Split into four sections named after the four seasons, a series of photo essays based around travel are accompanied  by tips on where to stay, where to eat and where to shop. It's easy to get swept away and start making a list of all the places that you'd love to visit. 

(Disclaimer: the following are magazines that I have not yet read, but that I would love to get my hands on)



Gather Journal


Nourished Journal


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wanderlust: Nana Hagel's Copenhagen

Copenhagen has always hovered near the top of both of our travel wish-lists, and a week today we will finally set foot on Danish soil. As we eagerly put together lists of everything we will try to cram into the four days we have there, we decided that a local's perspective is always the best way to see a new city. We've been reading Nana's blog and double-clicking all of her instagram photos since before Assemblage was even the spark of an idea, so naturally we got in touch and asked if she would recommend her top ten things for us to do whilst we were exploring her city. Read on to discover Nana Hagel's Top Ten things to do in Copenhagen - and stay tuned as we take time to visit her choices whilst we are there.

Nana Hagel's Copenhagen

Mother - Great place for pizza in the Meatpacking District of Copenhagen. Go here on a Friday night and visit one of the many bars of the area afterwards, or come here for the amazing brunch buffet during the weekend.

Atelier September - This cafe is definitely one of the prettiest in Copenhagen! It's a popular spot for coffee and breakfast and the food is simple and delicious.

Keramik og glasværkstedet - A beautiful ceramics shop in central Copenhagen. Four Danish designers sell their items here, and the ceramicists work in the studio in the back of the shop.

Botanical Garden - Botanical Gardens are always inspiring to visit and the Copenhagen one is no exception! It's wonderfully peaceful and quiet in here.

Round Tower - Great architecture in the heart of the city. Go round and round till you reach the top and enjoy an amazing view of the city!

Studio - Michelin awarded restaurant serving new Nordic food with pretty interiors and even more beautiful dishes.
Coffee Collective - All coffee affectionados who visit Copenhagen should go here! Great coffee in a cool setting (Coffee Collective are all over town, my favorite spot in the one on Godthåbsvej). 

Østerberg Ice Cream - Experimental ice cream in the prettiest shop! Most of the ingredients are sources from Asia and Latin America and they're all delicious.

Glyptoteket - Beautiful Ancient Mediterranean collection. Get a coffee and a cake in their winter garden filled with palm trees and the prettiest dome ceiling.

Louisiana - About an hour by train from Copenhagen you will find Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with always interesting exhibitions and the most amazing location right by the sea.

Text and photographs by Nana Hagel

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Great Outdoors: Autumn Daze

I prefer the American term for this time of year: Fall. Walking through the woods, rust and yellow leaves spirl down from the branches to the floor below. The clocks slipping back an hour to give us cosy, early nights. The countryside falling into winter. Fall, the direct opposite of Spring.

We set out on an easy Sunday walk last weekend, wandering along a canal, discovering secluded patches of golden ferns and tantalising thistles. We found a secret walled garden, conjuring up childhood memories. We picked the last of the blackberries, staining our fingers red from the juices. The afternoon light lingered at the perfecct haze of the golden hour until the sun started to slowly set. 

Here's to spending as much time outdoors as possible over the forthcoming weeks.

 Photos: Emma Lavelle (6 & 8, Abigail Outhwaite)