STREAT Helsinki is a celebration of street food that has been taking over the city now for the third time. The whole street food movement changed Helsinkis food scene remarkably, but only deconstructed the classic fine dining idea into something more easily graspable and intimate. I was invited to attend a dinner focused entirely on…cauliflower. Bear with me guys, I promise.
So, STREAT invited the guys from Hörte Brygga to attend the weekend and host an evening that ended up being something in between a dinner and a workshop. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but listening to chefs talk about food and eat? Yeah, can do that.
Chef Martin and Sommelier Tomas prepared a dinner for a mere handful of guests in the Mothership of Work – a relatively recently opened co-working space for creative and independent minds. Their baby is Hörte Brygga – a “restaurant” they run in the summer, in their backyard and grilling/smokery shed – serving their guests locally sourced, high quality food from a flexible menu they come up with as their ingredients get it. They want to make fine dining fun, tasty and accessible for anyone who doesn’t want to worry about what they look like, or if they want to bring their family along. From seating dinners in the winter, to interactive outdoor grilling events in the summer, they have developed their concept to be absolutely unique and enjoyable for everyone.
Usually working closely with local farmers and entirely building their dishes according to availability of the produce available to them by season; they came up with a menu for us that was new to me in that regard – as it was almost entirely created from one simple ingredient: the mighty cauliflower.
Starting from (what ended up being my favourite of the evening) a thinly sliced and pickled in salt for a couple of hours, cauliflower stem (!) filled with a purée of cauliflower and pumpkin seeds. The taste is really difficult to describe, especially because “thinly sliced cauliflower stem” sounds anything far from exciting. The nutty taste of the filling and the salty, crisp outer layer of the stem created a culinary little treat that I was happy to nibble on throughout the whole night.
This was followed by comparably simple deepfried cauliflower with a dip of sesame, soy sauce and vinegar. Simple, but yet again so tasty and full of flavour!
The next dish was pretty much the prime example of how many different flavours can be taken out from a single ingredient. Puréed cauliflower, with grated cauliflower in lemon, topped with thinly sliced cauliflower topped off with cauliflower in burnt butter. Yeah, it doesn’t sound very diverse in taste, but they made it work. The different consistencies and temperatures along with the different seasonings and preparations of the cauliflower made this course definitely very memorable. (I can see all of us trying to re-create it and fail)
Dessert, you might say, is definitely not made from cauliflower, come on, right? Nope, cauliflower right here! We were served an ice-cream of cream cheese and cauliflower, with grated chocolate and hazelnuts. Despite the taste of the cauliflower being quite prominent, it was nothing like what you’d expect when you think of vegetable ice-cream. It was their first time to prepare this, and I hereby confirm you succeeded.
I love the concept of taking high quality food and fine dishes into a casual atmosphere like this minimalist kitchen. Being able to interact, ask questions and talk about food over some beers is just my thing. Good food shouldn’t be something that’s reserved for people with whatever status but it should be something everyone should be comfortable to discover and try.