Monday, December 21, 2015

The Nordic Cook Book with Aquavit

Christmas is almost here, and as ever it seems to have come round very quickly and also be taking an age. Miraculously I think I'm organised - by which I mean if I haven't done it now it's not going to happen - but most people have got cards, presents are bought and wrapped, I've run out of flour and sugar so there will be no more baking and I'm even finding a few spare hours to relax in. This will mostly take the form of seeing the new Star Wars film. This is the bit that's come round fast and will go even faster. The slow bit is work. It's felt like a long slog that started some time back at the beginning of November and hasn't let up since. The next few days are going to be a challenge (there will be blood, sweat, and tears - all mine) but at 5 o'clock on Christmas Eve I'll be done. I can't wait.

What I'm most looking forward to when I get a bit of time off is catching up with some of the books I've been piling up over the last couple of months (and family etc obviously, but also books). I got some crackers for my birthday, have bought some gems, been sent a few by publishers, and know there are more coming for Christmas.

One I'm particularly excited about is Magnus Nilsson's 'Nordic Cook Book'. It was a great big present to myself (it's a monster in size) bought not so much to cook from but just to enjoy and because I fell in love with the pictures. Normally pictures of landscape and details of rope and such like are a huge turn off in a cookbook but not this one.

The first time I tried Aquavit I was 15 and in the Faroe Islands. We were staying with someone dad knew for Ólavsøka. It was an interesting experience, I don't know what the laws around alcohol are there now, but then it was strictly rationed - which meant lots of illicit and anonymous booze, I've still never seen drinking like it. Still, I remember that Aquavit as being amazing. It was also clear, so not oak aged (or coloured with caramel) and I need to track down something like it. I had some from Ikea once but it wasn't anything like as good - this too will be a pleasant post Christmas task.

Aquavit is just the thing for cutting through some of the fatty and salty foods that feature in traditional Scandinavian food (I'm thinking of pickled herring as I write this, or something pork based. I'm emphatically not thinking of whale meat, or puffin, or any of the extremely pungent aged mutton - which is a nice way of saying decaying meat that I met in the Faroe's). Given the number of Scandinavian cookbooks just out or coming out that Aquavit is going to be useful, but 'The Nordic Cook Book' will almost certainly be the biggest, and maybe the best, of the bunch.


  1. MY first taste of Aqvavit was at a dinner in Sweden, I was smitten at first sip.

  2. Any tips for a good one? I have a feeling it's going to be a feature of 2016