The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009
The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

Search This Blog

Friday, 29 May 2015

TGOC 2015: Diary notes #1 pre-amble

Sunday 3rd May

To Euston for the sleeper to Inverness. Two bargain berths at around £90 seems good value and we have dinner on board.

Monday 4th May

The train arrives an hour late at Inverness so we miss our bus to Shiel Bridge. The rail company pay for a taxi to take us there.

From the car we noted the snow along the face of the South Shiel ridge - on my route for the following Sunday. We had tried to book at Ratagan Youth Hostel and some other places but because it was bank holiday there were not many rooms available. Happily we ended up at Kintail Lodge Hotel which we reach in less than two hours.

Kintail Lodge at Shiel Bridge
On arrival we rearrange our packs, get a couple of sandwiches from the bar and head out to find the path onto the Five Sisters ridge. Get a view over to the other side before returning for tea.
The route up to the Five Sisters Ridge with Loch Duich
Either follow the skyline or the stream

Sgurr nan Saighead from the Five Sisters ridge
Sgurr nan Saighead on the right with Gleann Lichd below

Tuesday 5th May

We want to walk to Glenelg on Wednesday unless the forecast is bad. If we arrive on Tuesday we will have to sleep in our landlady's bed as she has a full house. The weather is rather uncertain, but we opt to stay another day at Shiel Bridge. We take our packed lunch on the path to the Falls of Glomach. It rains all day. This path is unusual in that it reaches the waterfall from the top. We get above it, but it is late and the prospect of spending 40 or more minutes walking down the muddy slope and then up again was not attractive and we turned back.
A house near Morvich en route to Falls of Glomach

Wednesday 6th May

We pack everything ready for our walk over to Glenelg. As we leave the hotel the rain stops. There's a mile or so on the road back to Shiel Bridge campsite where the path leads up the glen to the south.
Bye bye Shiel Bridge
I can feel the presence of the Saddle ridge ahead hidden by cloud as we turn west up on the shoulder, the low point that leads us over towards the coast. I'm due to come back this way in a couple of days to head up on the high ridge.
The Saddle is up there in the clouds

 Once on the downward trajectory the views open out with the hills of Skye on the horizon, but no sight of the sea or Glenelg which are hidden by the sloping land before them. We head for the North road to bring us to our destination. The Southern route holds more interest and variety but I'm saving that for Friday's itinerary.

Amazing but true!
Glenelg on sea

We find our BandB and, unfortunately, the other guests have extended their stay so we have to sleep in the landlady's bedroom anyway. The local Inn provides adequate food for the evening and a nice bottle of wine to accompany it.
BandB and TGO sign-out point  on the left

Thursday 7th May

The hills of Skye across the sound from Glenelg
 Glenelg is a pretty spot, with good views in every direction, although the dark hills of Skye just a short distance across the water to the west tend to dominate.
Is this the best view from a loo in Britain?

We explore the South road with its three brochs and the tea waggon where we were treated to delicious home made cake.
The first and best preserved of 3 brochs on the road south of Glenelg
The Tea Wagon is opposite the second broch
Super Cakes: Pear Cake and Apple and Marmalade Cake ...delicious!

And later the shoreline with the ruined Bernera Barracks constructed by British troops between 1715 and 1723 in order to suppress the locals. In use until about 1800.
On the beach looking east: Bernera Barracks with the Saddle in the distant background
On the beach looking west: the Isle of Skye

We had booked a table at the Inn for dinner and warned them to expect several later arrivals as TGOers assemble for the start the next morning. 10 were scheduled to start from Glenelg, and by 9.30 o'clock we were 7 at the table puzzling over the local quiz in aid of Nepal. Despite this large assembly of brains and a team more than double the size of others we only came third.
5 of the 7 brains working for the Challenge 2015 team

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Copenhagen: The Noma legacy - Radio vs Bror?

I visited Copenhagen irregularly since the 1960s and never associated it especially with good food until Noma. Noma was founded by chef René Redzepi  from El Bulli and Claus Meyer - their new restaurant replacing El Bulli's crown as the best restaurant. Noma cuisine is supposedly 'Scandinavian'; the restaurant's founders have apparently attempted to redefine this Nordic cuisine.
Some years later the progeny are now making their mark in the Copenhagen restaurant scene. Radio was our first recommendation. Radio is a project from the co-founder of Noma and, I expect, follows the lead with seasonal organically grown and wild food. Bror was another recommendation. The owners Victor Wågman and Sam Nutter were both employed as Sous Chef at Noma during the period which it maintained two Michelin stars and was named as ‘The World’s Best Restaurant’ three years running.

We had two evenings in Copenhagen, so it was natural to book one evening in each restaurant. We booked a table for our arrival day at Radio and two weeks ahead the only times available was 20:45 or 21;00. For Bror on the next evening the only time was 17:30 or 18:00. Both times met our needs, but beware there may be limited choice.

Radio was smart and new in a street devoid of other restaurants and bars although not far from the centre, while Bror was a little more central and seemed well worn and tired especially in the basement where we were ushered.

Both restaurants offer a set menu of three to five dishes with a few optional additions. A menu of matching wines is also available. While the Radio menu describes the dishes by listing the four main ingredients in each, Bror gives nothing away - leaving it to the waiter to reveal as much or as little as takes his mood.

The amuses gueules at Radio are tiny tastes of mushroom cream on a crisp wafer, at Bror you must pay for the extras selecting from a small list - place skirt / cucumber / seaweed was one mouthful,  egg yolk / leek / sourdough / pigs blood provided a second.
Amuses gueules at Bror @ 40kr each
Bror's bread with pork fat & butter mix

Bread at Radio with thyme butter

Bread at Bror comes from their own bakery - a moist chewy sour dough, served with butter with added salt smoked port fat and thyme. Radio bread was lighter with a more appetising flavoured butter.

At Radio we chose 3 courses from the set menu and added an optional 4th course.
Squid under foaming mead

Roasted squid was served with celeriac, seaweed, a foam made with mead, and topped with a crunch of rye bread crumbs. A nice balance of flavours and textures. The matching wine was a cloudy 'biodynamic' Chardonnay from France.
An alternative to the squid was lettuce with roasted seeds and rapeseed sauce


Scallops from Greenland were prepared with apple, lumpfish roe, and a mussel sauce. Exquisitely tasty. This dish was matched with a Riesling.
Veal in chicken broth

Slow cooked veal in a chicken stock was served on leeks with a wild garlic garnish. Matched with a Barbera d'Asti 2009 from a small estate.

The dessert was presented on the menu as 'Apple, Malt, Licorice, Salsify' - a delicious dish nicely served with a 2011 Sauternes.

At Bror we took the chef's 4 course option after the amuse gueules described above.
Cold cod from Bror

This started with salt smoked cod served with roast celeriac, parsley oil, and tapioca crisps, garnished with nasturtium leaves. The dish served too cold - at fridge temperature, and the taste was dominated by the celeriac. Like Bror the wine started with an unfiltered white - this time from a small vineyard in NE Italy with Ribolla / Fruilli grapes.
Chicken hearts with cabbage

The next dish incorporated chicken hearts with braised cabbage and horseradish topped with chicken skin croutons. Unfortunately the taste and aroma was dominated by burned cabbage. The married wine was a Cheverney from Loire in France made from a blend of Sauvignon and Chardonnay grape.
Pork with salsify crisp

A rich 2013 red from Languedoc called Payel (?) accompanied the third course - loin of pork. This was soft and tender and combined with a walnut pesto and salsify and apple.
Bror's dessert (note the chipped crockery!)

As dessert we were served sea buckthorn with a sour milk ice cream topped with a crumb carrot cake. To accompany this there was a Pomano from Somerset - a blend of apple brandy and juice.

And the winner is ... Radio!
 Of the two it is easy to prefer Radio. Every dish at Radio was well conceived and perfectly prepared; Bror concoctions may have had the same ambitions but they failed to deliver in design or execution or sometimes both. The ambiance at Bror was tired, and the un-matching and chipped crockery made it seem past it best.