For my beloved Brother who introduced me to the art of cooking, who taught me how to taste and truly love food. Without him I'd never be able to be where I am today.

May 15, 2014

A Love Letter 

Love letters are private. Sometimes they are even better left unsent. Having said that, the endlessly curious romantic in me finds great pleasure in reading love letters that haven't been written to me at all. Both a personal favorite and an important Finnish literary classic is the collection of the Finnish national poet J. L. Runeberg's correnponce/love letters (Runbergs brev till Emilie Björkstén) to his young mistress Emilie between the years 1804-1877.

I've obviously written countess love letters ever since I thought I knew what love is at the age of seven. Yesterday however, I wrote my very first love letter to a restaurant and its incredible staff. The silly me wants to share this personal confession with you. It's not 19th century prose but it's written straight from the heart. 

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Dinner for one. Randomly. 

Dear Relæ,

This is an email to thank you all. The kitchen: Niklas, John, Jacob & Co. (Sorry, I’m horrible with names). The floor: Ale & Mathias. I just came home, stomach perfectly full, all senses satisfied. Happy as a puppy in spring. Before I tell you why I felt the urge to write this little love letter to you all, let me tell you a bit about my day today.

I had a fine day at work. Debriefing our Sunday’s Dinner No. 2. Sending thank yous to guests. Catching up on emails. But on my way back home from Malmö on the train, I felt awfully dreary. I sought a free seat in the silent section. Turns out, it wasn’t silent at all. Two very loud, very obnoxious Russian men in their late 50s sat there talking loudly. Great. I gave them my best “I’m gonna kill you if you don’t shut up” -eyes – totally in vain. At Copenhagen Airport, they left me in peace. Finally! Finns are never very fond of Russians, but those two seriously pissed me off. Just as I was ready for a silent 5-minute power nap, two Spanish ladies stumble in. Have you ever heard of silent Spanish women? No, I didn’t think so. Fucking great. No silence. My blood was boiling. Who invented silent sections any way???

I came home hungry and tired. Always a delightful combo. To the fridge: One soft boiled egg from this morning, two Romaine lettuces and hummus. Fine. I devoured it all in a split second. I had made a deal with myself earlier today about going to the gym in the evening. Burping hummus, I wondered why I couldn’t just slouch on the couch and take it easy like normal people would do. So much for that thought. To the gym! In the end, it wasn’t that bad. Sweating is nice. And you know what they say about physical exercise releasing endorphins, bla bla bla. I felt pretty good compared to my urge to kill Russians a few hours back.

I decided to make a little pit stop on my way home. Relæ. Mathias was working so I thought I’d blow him a kiss through the window and rush home to take a warm shower. It didn’t quite go as I planed though. In fact, it went in a way I definitely didn’t expect it to go. It went in such a way that now, almost two hours later, I find myself sitting on my bed, ecstatically happy and very well fed writing to you guys.

Alessandro lured me in with his Italian charm (I love my Viking like no other, but Italians just know how to get a woman to do things she otherwise wouldn’t do). He gestured something that meant, “come sit down, have a glass of wine”. I tried to resist. I pointed at my horrendous gym outfit, flexed my muscles and lip-synced “I smell, I need a shower”. Let’s just say he didn’t take no for an answer.

One of the many reasons I’ve been having a love affair with your restaurant ever since I first ate there is because it’s honest and unpretentious. Sitting there as a guest even before knowing many of you, I felt relaxed and comfortable, like being at a friend’s place just with some of the most talented chefs around working hard to serve me and other guest with delicious food. This time though, I felt that I was pushing the feeling of comfort too far: A salmon pink O’Neil sweatshirt from the 90’s, shiny black cycling tights, striped violet socks and a pair of ugly running shoes. My hair was glued to my head and I could feel the sweat running down my neck. Classy. Embarrassed, I formally presented my apologies and did as I was told. Sit. Drink. A glass of La Matta suddenly appeared in front of me.

What followed made my day and probably my whole week. Shit, it might even go down in history as one of my most memorable restaurant experiences. You guys welcomed me at the restaurant with food and wine, smiles and kindness (Even though I looked liked Prince of Bel Air gone bad). Not only did I get to taste a snack, which truly warmed my heart, but you guys also served me one, two, three of your beautiful dishes. I’m rarely speechless (I always talk too much like I’m doing right now) but there I was, speechless.

Of all the dishes the dessert, once again, touched me the deepest. Not only did it taste fucking good, you guys know that, but it brought me back memories. Memories I thought I had forgotten. The dehydrated rhubarb compote slices leaning against the velvety ice cream reminded me of this childhood favourite, red “candy tape” with sour sugar sprinkled on the surface. Oh what a joy! And what beautiful flavours! Early summer meets Christmas, glögg and grandma’s rhubarb pie. Subtle and clean yet very powerful and showing clear intention. In the fear of embarrassing Mathias in public like I very often do with my child-like reactions, I had to tone it down and instead rush home to write you this letter.

Thank you all so much! I truly appreciated this unexpected dinner for one. Kiitos!
With these words I will shut up for now. Mathias might dump me otherwise.
I hope this email doesn’t get anyone of you in trouble by the way.

Heaps of love,

1 comment:

  1. I am so utterly happy I found your blog, Edith. I am just back from my very first time in Copenhagen and saying that I was mesmerised with the food, the hospitality, the people is saying very little about my experience. Were I able to write such a beautiful love letter to a city, I would dedicate to my time there. I did not get to eat at Relæ, sadly, but I see it as one more good reason to come back very soon. If you ever, for whatever reason, make it to the terribly noisy London, I would love to share a meal!


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