Winter is alive
Cooking with local ingredients during a long and cold winter in Scandinavia can be depressing for most cooks. We, however, salute it as our favourite season, and enjoy reaping the rewards of all the hard work we did months earlier. In gastronomy, most people consider it a cold and dead time of year, but for us, winter is ‘the preserved season’ and we love it.
An arsenal of captured flavors
When the first greens start popping out of the ground, a war begins – the war against time. A new amazing asparagus dish has to be tested and perfected when the season starts. Then there’s new potatoes, strawberries, salads, fresh honey, chanterelles, beans and everything seems to come at once. As the temperature rises on our little island of Bornholm, as does the pressure. I would lie if I told you that I don’t enjoy it. Every single ingredient from our garden is like a little blessing. But I know that as soon as it comes through the kitchen door, it´s gone in the glimpse of an eye. We need to be prepared for the coming seasonal works of nature, so that we’re ready to work them into dishes that make it onto the menu, before it’s out of season again. Fantastic and stressful. The summer on Bornholm is amazing, but holds a minor downside.
Stretching the season
Our preserves are the backbone of our kitchen, and a great way to enjoy the deliciousness of warmer seasons in the middle of winter; months or even years after picking. Some things are picked unripe to keep that crunchy texture and sharp acidity. Others are overripened and fermented for the sake of depth and power. The goal is to build an edible library, containing a wide range of flavors, that each contribute to the dishes of the ‘preserved season’, with texture, aroma and complexity. It enables us to showcase the terroir of our home island Bornholm, and when considering last year’s 6 tons of preserves, you will find that we are pretty serious about it.
Winter is alive
In winter, the garden is just a big bare field, with leeks and garlic plants sticking out of the frozen ground. A few withered leaves are still clinging to the raspberry bushes, and a few rows of cabbage and kale are waiting to pay the kitchen a visit. In only a few months the whole garden will be bursting with life, but it doesn´t matter right now. Preserves are on my mind. I just opened a jar of fermented hip roses. The perfume hits my nose immediately, with the scents of the summer beach just outside Kadeau Bornholm in July, but seemingly more intense and powerful. The flavor has become stronger, but still with a lot of sweetness left to enjoy. This is just one of many flavors, that reminds me how much I enjoy cooking in winter. Six tons of preserves, and probably over a hundred different things to play with.
When I focus on what´s left for us to use, is when I’m most relaxed and confident as a chef. The preserves are so incredibly versatile and rewarding to work with. All the hard work that we’ve put into it is now paying off, and God, do I love it!
As long as I keep cooking this way, I will never get the winter blues from the lack of produce or inspiration.