Culinary Canvas

Cleanse Your Palette with Wassim Hallal’s Edible Cavi-art

Michelin-Starred chef Wassim Hallal serves up a small dishful of citrusy decadence.

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.

You should always expect the unexpected when dining at Wassim Hallal’s esteemed Restaurant Frederikshøj in Aarhus. After all, Hallal & co. didn’t earn their reputation as purveyors of sensory experiences for no good reason. Taste and aesthetic reign in the lauded Danish restaurant, each gustatory delight also a little work of art.

This marriage of senses is no better illustrated than by Frederikshøj’s uniquely creative take on the palette cleanser. At first glance, it looks to be an unadorned wedge of lemon on a white plate; however, the simplicity of this dish masks a complexity of taste and technique.

“It’s actually a piece of lemon. The shell is crispy, but instead of the lemon pulp you have caviar. We take the salt from the caviar and put it together with the lemon juice. Then you have this feeling in your mouth of the crispy lemon with a lot of salt from the caviar,” describes Wassim.

The restaurant is renowned for its commitment to using only the highest quality ingredients and then finding playful, unexpected ways to prepare and present them. And so, naturally, it’s not just any caviar neatly packed into a perfect wedge of lemon. Ossetra caviar is the crème de la crème of caviars, highly prized and eclipsed only by the slightly-firmer Beluga caviar. It has a rich and nutty flavour, which mingled with the citrus gives a tart burst of taste.

“We serve this dish after the main course. You might think ‘How can we serve caviar after the main courses?’ But we figured out that when you do it after the main, you can add a little bit of sugar in the lemon. And then you actually are cleansing your mouth after all the salty dishes.”

Even in the land of haute cuisine, this miniature piece of gastro art is an attention grabber. As with all the dishes served at Frederikshøj, it’s the result of creative collaboration - the top team works closely together to devise dishes that delight and surprise diners. And, says Wassim, this seemingly simple yet masterfully composite dish always does just that.

“It impresses people very much. And that, for me, is a very important part of serving a dish. When you first look at this dish, it looks very simple. When people are first presented with it, they think you can’t eat the lemon. But then we surprise them!”

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.