After reading Yes, Chef I had an idea of what Nordic cuisine might taste like. Never having tried it, I gathered there were a lot of eggs, bread, fish, and pickling. Vegetables…not so much. Outside of Ikea, there aren’t many opportunities to try Nordic food, even in a place like NYC, so I was excited to check out the Great Northern Food Hall when if recently opened. Comprised of several stalls, the Great Northern Food Hall aims to bring the food of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Scandinavia to the well trafficked area of Grand Central.
Though a pastry may have been the obvious choice (a real Danish, hello!), it seemed too safe so I went to Open Rye, the stand specializing in smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is basically an open face sandwich on rye with any combo of toppings. I think it began as a simple peasant dish, but it has since been elevated with fancier toppings like chicken liver mousse with rhubarb compote and chervil or beef tartar. I went with the egg and shrimp smørrebrød with rapeseed mayo, cress, and rye crisps. I don’t even know what rapeseed is, but it made for a yummy mayonnaise, despite the off-putting name. I never want to think about rape when I’m eating. Sorry. Though it looked like an adorable little snack, it was far more filling since it was topped with three very large soft boiled egg halves. Those rye crisp flakes were nice and salty and gave a much needed crunch.
Nordic food tasted much like I imagined. It was salty and white…not that white is a flavor, but that’s what I picture when I eat this food. Do not confuse white with bland. Think: crisp, clean…like Ikea. I’ll definitely try more of the region’s food, though I’ll probably steer clear of the abundant pickled herring. This bread based stuff, on the other hand, is right up my alley. What can I say, I’m a carb gal.