[The Owl] A Culinary Passport


To borrow from James Beard, the quintessential new-world gourmand: “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” In the same spirit, the range and quality of our gustatory experiences in Berlin and Helsinki inspired me to recreate various dishes upon return. Here are samplings from two of my most memorable meals…


Inspired by the impressive Käfer Dachgarten-Restaurant, the rooftop garden restaurant at the German parliament,
this is a lovely and easy side dish (don’t let the long ingredient list intimidate!). Serve with schnitzel and lightly dressed micro-greens.

Serves 6 | Prep time 30 minutes | Cook time 20 minutes

2 pounds small red potatoes, whole and skins on
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound (12-16 thick strips) bacon, diced
1 white onion, quartered
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, whole, peeled
1 bunch scallions, diced
⅓ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons coarse ground spicy mustard
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place potatoes in a large pot with white onion and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain potatoes and discard onion. Cut the potatoes in half when cool enough to handle. Place them in a covered serving bowl to keep warm.

2. Heat a frying pan and cook diced bacon until crisp. Re-move bacon with a slotted spoon and add to potatoes.

3. To the frying pan with rendered bacon fat, add the red onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard and bring to a simmer. Whisk in oil. Remove and discard cloves of garlic. Add the hot dressing to the potatoes and toss to coat.

4. Fold in green onions and half of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Use the remaining parsley to garnish, and serve.


This dish was prepared for us by Pekka Väänänen, a hearty woodsman who first took us on a trek in the Nuuksio National Park, ending with a smoke sauna (of course). Then dinner was served by open fires in the Kattila Lapp Hut. The salmon was merely the appetizer, followed by reindeer (along with other Finnish delicacies), but the lohi is filling enough to stand alone as an entrée. Serve with a dill-onion yogurt sauce, and grilled vegetables. Fireplace or outdoor fire required!

Serves  6-8 | Prep time 10 minutes| Cook time 20 minutes

1.5 kg side salmon, scaled but with skin on
¼ cup large, coarse sea salt
1 cedar plank, with notches for pegs
6 cedar pegs

1. Build fire.

2. Wash salmon with cold water, and pat dry.

3. Place salmon on cedar plank, skin down.

4. Insert cedar pegs along the edges of the salmon, securing it to the board.

5. Cover fish with sea salt.

6. Cook , propped up, adjacent to fire for 20 minutes, rotating plank 90 degrees at the ten minute mark.

7. Remove from fire, carefully pull out pegs, and brush off all salt with a knife.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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