Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Amass (07/05/2014)

I preferred our meals at Noma and Kadeau, but Amass was the perfect way to end our Copenhagen jaunt.  Low key even by Copenhagen standards, it's a big warehouse space with graffiti-decorated walls and huge outside fire pits.  (We noticed brown paper take-out containers going outside; apparently those in the know can come for just drinks and fried chicken eaten at the picnic tables or around the fires.)

We started well with these fantastic little pancakes, a lighter, more interesting play on blinis and caviar.  No one left more than a faint smeared trace behind.
cod roe, sour pancakes, broken creme fraiche

After the frozen monkfish liver at Noma, Nick, Adam, and I exchanged wary glances when this dish was explained and looked enviously at Harriet's replacement (potato, I think?).  But it was actually pretty good -- smooth fishiness and saltiness, enjoyable for only a bite.  (With 2012 Clairette – L'Anglore – Tavel.)
lumpfish liver, kelp

Moist, dense, served piping hot -- everyone lovedLovedLOVED this potato bread, which was great on its own or with the soured spread (pickled onions, grilled cabbage, and leek).  Before we realized that they'd bring us more, Adam's departure from the table for the bathroom was accompanied by strict instructions to "guard the bread."  We burned ourselves in our eagerness to eat it before it had properly cooled.  For Nick's own good, we had to impose a "no more bread unless it is being used to mop up sauces" rule.  Which he repeatedly violated.

The tart yogurt crisps on top of the asparagus, made by mixing yogurt with a stabilizer and dehydrating it into delicate sheets, really made this dish.  Much more interesting than I'd expected from the spare menu description, and visually beautiful to boot.  (With 2011 Cardinal – Valentin Valle – Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie.)
white asparagus, walnut, rose hip, yogurt

The carrot dish was probably my favorite of the night.  (This photo didn't come out quite as well as some of the subsequent ones, but I love a great dining action shot.)  Intensely sweet carrot flavor in both the sauce and roasted carrots, interesting acidity from the pickled pine, great with the dairy, and lightened by the nasturtium.  (With 2011 Virevolte – Gaëlle Berriau – Anjou.)
carrots, curd, pickled pine

Even Nick and Harriet opted out of the duck heart on this one.  I'm not sure if the yolk was always part of the dish or a replacement for the duck heart, but particularly well done if it was the latter; it added a great fatty richness.  Lovely sweet peas were hidden underneath.  (With 2012 St Laurent Dorflagen – Pittnauer – Burgenland.)
peas, red seaweed, St. John's wort

We're now hitting the point in the savory courses where my memories become a little fuzzier and more impressionistic.  I really liked this -- it was that sort of rich savory-homey deliciousness that really well done potatoes can be.  (I remember thinking that the little blossoms on top were cool and now can't for the life of me remember what we were told they are.)  (With 2011 Fêtembulles – Les vigne des l'Angevin – Jasnières.)
potatoes, green garlic, almond, lemon

This one was kind of cool: semi-dried cubes of root vegetables in a sauce made with red seaweed.  Nicely hearty textures/flavors for a veg dish.  Bits of cucumber added a raw contrast to the chewier cooked cubes.  (The chef who spooned the sauce at the table made some comment to the effect of that he was jealous that we were getting to eat it, because it was one of his favorites.)

Finally, the obligatory green strawberries, this time with turbot.  I have a hazy but positive memory of it.  (Harriet and Nick got "Pork Cheek, Greens, Grass, Virgin Butter," which I apparently didn't photograph, with 2012 Nas del Gegant – Escoda–Sanahuja – Conca De Barbera.)

The garden is gorgeous, and Amass makes great use of the outdoor space, encouraging guests to wander outside.  Fire pits were lit just as the sun started going down, so we were eager to go back outside once it was fully dark to enjoy them.

But first desserts.  Extremely creative and refreshing in the abstract -- the sour dairy played nicely against the anisey and herbaceous granita -- but I dislike anise flavors too much to have eaten more than a few bites of it.  (I think the absinthe was poured over the granita, not in it, but honestly I didn't eat enough to properly evaluate.)   Adam was a fan; I passed him my barely touched bowl.  The shades of deep greens were beautiful, however.
soured cream, sweet cicely, absinthe

So simple, and yet one of the most delicious desserts of the trip.  The rosemary oil made for a fascinating savory contrast to the delicious rhubarb sherbert.  I left nothing but a very shallow green puddle at the bottom of the bowl.  And I loved the lightly effervescent 2012 A Siassa – Franz Strohmeier – Steiermark so much that I ordered another glass to take fireside (pictured with the little cakes below). (Apparently the same dessert wine that we had at Noma, although it didn't make much of an impression there.)
rhubarb sherbert, rosemary, burnt chocolate

We took an additional round of drinks outside to enjoy the beautiful night and roaring fire (where we lingered until we were apologetically told that the restaurant closes at midnight).

Warm, tiny cakes flavored with fresh oregano were so good that I basically hoarded this entire napkinful while Adam, Nick, and Harriet shared a second batch on the other bench.  The oregano was an unexpected savory note -- unlike rosemary, I'm not sure that I've ever had it in a sweet before -- and when great with the jam (strawberry, if I recall correctly).

Service was a bit mixed.  Our initial waitress wasn't great.  We entirely understand that not getting advanced notice of dietary preferences can be hard on a restaurant -- and it would have been totally fine if she had nicely/apologetically told us that it wasn't possible -- but we were made to feel a bit chastised when Nick and Harriet asked whether they could omit the duck heart, which would already have to be done for our pre-notified pescatarianism. (A table of diners should never be joking that their server hates them when she's out of earshot five minutes after sitting!)  In the end, the kitchen accommodated them without a problem, but her obvious skepticism as to whether the chef would entertain the request just made us all feel awkward.  She also disappeared for so long while we were considering wine options that we ended up flagging down another server when our first course had arrived before we got an opportunity to place drink orders.  But everyone else, from chefs coming out of the kitchen to serve specific dishes to other servers to the Jason Segel-look-alike somm to Matt Orlando's absolutely delightful wife Julie, was exactly the kind of friendly that we'd come to expect from good Copenhagen restaurants.  The rest of the staff did such a great job that Adam later had to remind me when I was raving about the service of the initial weirdness.  Case in point: when I (only semi-jokingly) asked for more of their irresistible potato bread after the desserts had been cleared, Julie demurred by saying that we were going to be getting some little cakes still -- which more than sated any lingering appetite -- only to present me with a piping hot, white-paper-and-red-string-wrapped bundle of two more rounds as we were getting ready to leave.  And Kim asked whether I'd gotten the bread to make sure.  (So now I've successfully pulled a Corinne.)  I finished that bread on the plane home the next afternoon and was thrilled to have it.


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