Week 35: Nordic – Gravlax & Hovmästarsås on a Rye Crust Pizza

This week’s Nordic cuisine challenge involves flavors of gravlax, mustard and dill to hark back to Middle Age tradition. A rye crust seemed to offer a natural accompaniment, but while gathering the ingredients and confidence in plotting out my pizza submission, I failed to realize just what a pain the grain would be to work with.

IMG_8665

Having flailed about the kitchen with dramatic huffs and puffs of frustration, I finally turned to my savvy boo of a husband for his opinion on rye and why it sucks as an ingredient. He offered condolences and immediately pulled up a video to show that I was not alone in my exasperation. Rye is apparently an asshole across all fields of cooking. Surprisingly, the dough turned out okay and involved only minor troubleshooting to roll out for action.

IMG_8666

Traditionally, gravlax is with a mustard sauce known as Hovmästarsås, which was used as the base of the pizza. Hovmästarsås is a combination of mustard, dill, vinegar, salt and sugar.

IMG_8669

Red onions and capers were tossed into the mix for a bit of exploratory flavors.

IMG_8671

A light dusting of mozzarella helped round out the base while crème fraîche offered some silkier textures to seduce the palate.

IMG_8673

Delicate as it is, gravlax entered onto the pizza during the cooling stages of the oven-crisped pie.

IMG_8675

The gravlax itself was rather grassy and expressive on its own, but a garnish of dill helped to fortify the herbaceous quality.

IMG_8674

Together with the rest of the ingredients, this style of pizza has immediate charm, especially when the wine is involved.

IMG_8676

To tame this beast, another sparkling rosé joined this year’s rosé parade. This one, Jean Bourdy’s Cremant du Jura, was abundantly fruity with steely undertones.

IMG_8677

The rosé danced quite nicely alongside the tangy caper and mustard tones, bringing red berries and soft tannins to the mix.

IMG_8678

This pizza is a definite summertime hit with sparkling rosé by its side.

IMG_8679

Also a big win as a foil-wrapped lunchbox treat for those who pack lunches and want t o include a little midday thrill.

Advertisements

favorites of lately: april 2015

bacon donut

5. bacon donuts: a classic cruller will make me coo, but a fresh morning pastry taken to the hedonistic extremes as offered by Great Maple will turn me into a growling, ravenous brunch monster.

ottolenghi

4. roasted rainbow carrots: Ottolenghi, a London-based Israeli chef, details beautifully photographed vegetarian dishes in his Plenty and Plenty More cookbooks. carrots have never tasted so boss.

carbonara

3. carbonara: the Italian rendition of breakfast for dinner.

a delicious attempt at anchovy butter salmon.

a delicious attempt at anchovy butter salmon.

2. Melissa Clark video channel: every video is made to look like a simple three minute endeavor, inspiring back-to-back midnight snacks after a long night at work. The messy range of results never surpass the threshold of beauty worth sharing on instagram, but will do just fine tucked away here.

hammonds

1. Hammond’s ice cream shop: helping san diegans achieve instant happiness with self-tailored ice cream flights. many classics exist amongst the Hawaiian-themed flavors, but all of them are worth a gamble when perched atop a mini cone. if the extreme cuteness of these waffle cones doesn’t inspire exclamations and high pitch noises, you’re probably dead inside.

BONUS

wine favorite: Saint Cosme – Condrieu 2012 a stunning showcasing of Viognier in its classic form with rich aromatics of peach blossoms and honeyed apricots to contrast the bright mineral core. so pretty it makes me want to die.

Great Maple breakfast pizza

pizza favorite: Great Maple made a champion out of their bacon donuts, but their breakfast pizza is just as decadent with prosciutto, runny eggs, and truffle oil. 

favorites of lately: Boston edition

boston wasabi lox

photo credit: Au Bon Pain website

5. Au Bon Pain wasabi & lox bagel: nostalgia trump card in play here. this four dollar luxury was the lunch break bagel of my early 20s that forever turned the smoked salmon switch on.

@whitneycummings: “The way you pronounce Au Bon Pain tells me everything I need to know about you”

boston clam chowder

4. Legal Sea Foods clam chowder: a regional chain is still a chain but we go weak in the knees over this chowder, even when served at 6am at the airport.

boston kimpton

3. Kimpton Hotels: after letting us check in obnoxiously early when it was -30 degrees outside, we pledged allegiance by signing up for their rewards program. (yaaay points). each hotel has personality without being diligently overdone with hipster sensibility. looking at you, Ace Hotels.

boston neptune oyster

2. Neptune Oyster lobster roll: been chasing this dream for years. we practically built our trip around this sandwich and it would have made it to number one had there not been an incident immediately afterwards.

boston dat ring

1. that ring: seriously, just look at it. eeeeeeeee.

Pizza Nova & Sancerre

Perched overlooking the sleepy harbor of Point Loma, San Diego’s Pizza Nova is a spacious bayside joint cooking up wood-fired pizza amongst other restaurant standards. Aside from the expected basics of pepperoni and margherita, a range of non-traditional pies tempt the more adventurous with toppings not often found on pizza, such as pears, zucchini or thai flavors. Proximity to the sea seems to have had some minor influences on their chosen style as their eponymous signature pie features smoked salmon. Fluffed up with flavors of red onions, caper and goat cheese, the Pizza Nova pie is a tasty departure from loveable classics most swear allegiance to.

pizza nova whole pie

When ordered to-go, the freshly baked pizza kisses salmon with boxed-in heat, cooking in a bit more flaky texture and pink opaqueness. While the salmon brings a sweet smokiness to the overall profile, the capers are bright with ocean-like salinity and the goat cheese peps up each bite with a hit of grassy tang. The oily presence of fontina and mozzarella cheeses wants for a super palate cleanser of acidity while the most prominent flavor of salty brininess calls for something light and mineral-driven.

We return to the Loire Valley where Sancerre grows Sauvignon Blanc from a limestone-rich soil littered with fossilized seashells and capable of fostering a chalky minerality in these vibrant wines. Quintessential Sancerre is unoaked and bone dry with aromatics encompassing a broad spectrum, from green bell pepper to wet rocks to gooseberries. The 2013 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre is a clean, straightforward style with flavors of citrus blossom, tart lemon and grapefruit as well as contrasting tropical fruit aromas that are especially loud and lush when juxtaposed with the savory pizza elements. Enhanced with aromas of garlic and red onion, the sharp flavors on the pizza soften the edges on this piercing style of Sauvignon Blanc, balancing each other in turn.

pizza nova sancerre and salmon

One ingredient here truly secures this pairing: goat cheese. Sancerre and chèvre are a classic “grows together, goes together” combination, adhering to a culinary philosophy that resonates throughout cultures worldwide. While terroir may be an influential factor, the main driving force behind so many of these “perfect” pairings is more likely a matter of time and space. When food and wine find themselves at the dinner table again and again, regional preferences drive the two beyond mere coexistence into a balanced dynamic reinforced by generations of tradition. Since this culinary symbiosis requires ample time for coevolution, most examples of the phenomenon unsurprisingly emerge from the Old World, encompassing classics such as Muscadet and oysters or Nebbiolo and truffles. The many traditions are worth exploration and thoughtful engagement, but they should be considered handy tools rather than governing guidelines. Otherwise this whole business of pairing food and wine would prove way less fun.