First stop was Nibble Shop, a space created by Bo Lindegaard and Lasse Askov of I’M A KOMBO. The shop is filled with publications and magazines on the subject of food and drink, but also a space where you can really take the time to taste some things and flip through a book or two. This evening we were also greeted by the friendly face of Anne Maurseth from Oslo cocktail bar No. 19, with a bowl of licorice aquavit punch to get the conversation started.
Our special guests this evening, Stéphane Meyer and Lise Kvan, came all the way out of Jura and Paris, France to speak of a very special project close to their heart. Stéphane Meyer is the pretty much the closest thing you get to a modern day druid, which goes hand in hand with the title of his project Druid of Paris. His roots are in the Jura, in the eastern part of France, bordering Switzerland and the Alps, and he knows these grounds better than most.
The flora in Jura is extremely rich and diverse. You’ll find an immense diversity, as well as impressive range of wild varieties of domesticated plants like carrots, oregano and mint. The intensity of these varieties are obviously hard to compare with the stuff we find in the supermarkets. Stéphane’s extensive knowledge of the terroir of Jura has made his skills in demand, especially in Paris, where he supplies over 30 chefs with wild plants and here, amongst them the likes of Pascal Barbot (L’Àstrance), Alain Passard (L’Arpège) and Bertrand Grébaut (Septime).
These people have also been crucial parts of Stéphane’s newest project, involving, to put it mildly, a revolutionary perspective on the French tradition of absinthe distillation. The production of absinthe in France was banned in 1914, the ban only being lifted in 2011. Having been banned for almost a hundred years, there was very little information available on the traditions behind the distillation of absinthe. Due to the lack of information, Stéphane dove into two years of research on absinthe.
The result of endless experimenting, tastings and feedback has resulted in a very different absinthe than most of us know today. The overpowering anise taste, reminding one of Pastis, is nowhere to be found. Instead, there is a significant focus on the original main ingredients of absinthe – wormwood and juniper – all of it foraged by Stéphane himself.
Today, there are three unique absinthes being produced under the «Druid of Paris» label; Séquenes, Ucenni and Ceutrons. Ucenni is made with wild flowers and leaves, giving it a sublime and feminine quality. Séquenes consists of leaves, seeds and stems, making it citrusy and musky. And Ceutrons is made using the seeds, leaves and roots, the result being truly earthy, celeriac-like quality. It is an honest and truly humble presentation of the terroir and flora of Jura, bottled.
Having all tasted our way through these extraordinary potions, we drifted over to the dining hall situated only a short wintery walk away, above a local slaughterhouse. Here we we’re met by Thomas Randsøe, our chef for the evening, and the wonderful Gitte Holmboe of Bøgedal Bryghus. She had brought some of their most characteristic brews to pair with Thomas’ menu, a superb representation of what the harsh end of the winter season had to offer:
Porter grog and breadsticks – Bøgedal 409
Mussels with almonds, pork cracklings and pale ale – Bøgedal Hvede
Monkfish poached in golden ale with sea buckthorn – Bøgedal Gylden #1
Pig cheeks braised in beer with pig’s blood and herbs – Bøgedal No 434
Pears stored in beer syrup with chocolate pie cooked in chocolate syrup – Bøgedal Beniono
Lovely Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand of Helsingborg based roastery Koppi rounded off our evening with a cup of drip coffee. The conversations were still buzzing when we were sent away with a little something to remember the night by – a bag of coffee from Koppi, the latest edition of Fool Magazine, a seasonal calendar and a bottle of apple juice from Epleslang – and plenty of new acquaintances to boot.
Read more about our visit to Bøgedal Brewery in March 2014.
Words by Alisa Larssen
Photographs by Svein G. Kjøde