My birthday, 2012.
That was the last time I'd been at Kuurna, and it was almost 6 months to the day that I was returning. I couldn't have been more thrilled.
Unfortunately this visit had the unfortunate side note of me having a very odd throat issue (known by my team as "The Silence" since I could only croak out words every few minutes and with much effort), but luckily when eating good food, well, it's not much of a problem. Silence is considered unnaturally golden in this country anyway.
Seated in the warmth and glow of one of my favorite restaurants, I relaxed. It'd been an unnaturally taxing week - with work, with personal problems, with a life spent in a country that values silence and stillness, and it had begun to wear me down. I could not think of anything I'd like to do more than sit in a glorious restaurant, surrounded by beloved girlfriends, other than to be doing the exact same thing, in an entirely different location...hopefully somewhere warm, exotic, and completely far away.
But I digress. Kuurna would do just fine for now and it was where I was, so I sat happily.
The menu, of course, had changed since I was last there. Unfortunately this season (the season of near-winter) saw with it a lack of unusual ingredients (guess killing baby reindeer in the middle of the winter is an atrocity), but that's okay:
It still had a list of things that were appealing and selecting items from each category was a decision that was difficult to make. The additional add-ons for each category were as follows:
Filet mignon tartare
I actually went against what I would normally get (blame the sickness, the hard week, or just feeling out of my element) and went with the waitress' suggestions. Well, with most things anyway.
First off, the steak tartare. I had forgotten that I'd already ordered this before at this particular restaurant, but after trying the perch tartare off of Hong Kong P's plate we all agreed that I'd made the right decision anyhow:
Gloriously raw, flecked with onion and other crunchy bits (my guess is pickles or some other pickled veggie), and with a raw egg yolk. Can't get enough of those raw egg yolks. People may be disgusted by the consumption of raw meat (in this case German K was more than disgusted as she ate her perch tartare), but I was in heaven. There is just something about consuming raw flesh that is so...well, natural. Yes, call me vulgar but there really is nothing like it.
Finnish Irish T went with the borsch soup and probably outdid us all. It was creamy (with its dollop of sour cream), homey, and fabulous. In all practicality I probably should have gone with that...but well...raw beef. You're never going to get me away from raw beef. And raw egg yolks. Just try.
For the entree I went with the waitress' recommendation and surprisingly got the non-meat entree: the risotto with caramelized Jerusalem artichokes. Sounded like something I wouldn't get, so, alright:
Creamy, smooth, and covered in greens that had been drizzled in very fine extra virgin olive oil and a light vinegar (little sour, not sweet). The artichokes themselves were to die for (yellow, thin, small, sweet, with a little bit of earth to them, like a rutabaga), but the risotto itself was just okay. Maybe I'm just not made for grains. I did finish it, but mostly because I felt like it was what I was supposed to do. Delicious, but not what should have happened.
We all tried each others' dishes. Hong Kong P went with the pepper steak, and it was clearly where it was at. I'd ordered pepper steak at other places before but this was top notch. Rare on the inside, covered in a creamy pepper sauce that was more cream and butter than bite, and the entire thing surrounded by fries and potatoes (that, I thought, was a bit overkill, but whatever). Fabulous.
The other two ladies ordered the braised perch (yes, perch again). Strangely soup-like, it was in a white sauce that was devoid of cream. It actually reminded me of an Asian dish I've had before...kind of like tom kha. A bit of spring onion, carrot, and very mild. Sort of like stew but not hot (temperature-wise). Finnish Irish T commented to the waitress about the temperature of the food - delicious, but oddly not right.
Btw all of this was being washed down by one of the best red wines I've had since coming here. It was an expensive bottle (at 66euros a pop), but it was worth it after the week we'd all been having. We actually tasted two bottles before deciding to go with the more expensive one. Being sometimes a bit of a wine snob (yes, it's true), I tried the less expensive bottle (44euros) and even though it was from the Rioja region of Spain (a place near where I studied abroad...studied food science and technology, no less), I just couldn't do it. It just didn't taste right; it was too young. I turned it down. I apologized to everyone at the table and said, it just wouldn't do. We all joked that we would need to eat bread for the rest of the week since it was breaking the bank, but well, when split amongst three other people, it really isn't so bad. Live a little.
Despite what you might think, I didn't go with the cheese plate. My heart just wasn't in it this time. I asked the waitress what she'd recommend and immediately she recommended the warm chocolate cake. Ah, my love, sorry, that's on my no-list. She then scrambled to suggest something else, and alas, I alighted on the cranberry soup with caramel. Interestingly festive choice.
It was gorgeous. Holidays in a bowl. Tart cranberry soup (thin, not thickened), and a dollop of the creamiest caramel fluff I'd ever had in my life. Clearly the things of pure butter. Heaven. It was divine.
Our table actually made the rounds and ordered everything off the dessert menu - Hong Kong P got the warm chocolate cake (very much like a chocolate lava cake, which was fabulous, even I will admit), German K got the cheese plate (all of them were fantastic, my favorite being the stinkiest foot-smelling cheese of them all...really, quite exceptional), and Finnish Irish T got the chanele cake with apple terrine (cute little donut of a cake with an apple gel next to it...also quite good).
We ended up laughing and joking so long that we knocked ourselves into the second dinner round (Kuurna has two sets of dinner reservations - the early and late shifts...we were in the early shift). We were politely shooed out soon after the clock struck 8pm.
Having another wonderful experience at Kuurna, we put on our coats to leave.
Thanks Kuurna...even though your ingredients weren't of the exotic kind this time, you still have yet to let me down.