Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Feast For All Your Senses: noma



This is a post that has been crazy long time underways. I think the pictures have been hiding here in my drafted posts for about two months, and I just haven't been able to get them posted. Why, I don't know. It's not like more well-mannered people didn't get their post up faster than I did, it's just. I think maybe I'm lost for words. So again, I give you photos+just a couple words. People, this place is nothing short of amazing.


Æbleskiver filled with pulled pork, dusted with vinegar powder. A nice start to the afternoon.

Yes, I'm talking about noma. The restaurant that is the 15th. best in the world and which is located in our tiny town. The restaurant that has a dogmatic approach to the food it makes, and that has a well-educated and completely lovable staff and kitchen. This is a restaurant that is just a thrill to be in. Which is probably why we stayed for six hours, even though it was just lunch!


Beet raisins, horseradish snow and vinegary "sago". A play with textures - the sago (which I think may be like tapioca?) go POP! in your mouth, the beets are slightly chewy and sweet, and then there's cold, strongly hot flavored snow. Had us intrigued - how on earth do you make raisins out of beets?? Luckily our waiter, Frederik, explained - and I promptly forgot... It had something to do with boiling, then baking and then... Hm.

We, was Trine and I. Who's Trine? you may ask. I think I may have slipped her link in here and there, and I've followed her blog, Very Good Food, for quite a while, because face it, if you can't dine out yourself, you can always let someone else do the hard work (and the bill-paying) for you. Trine did mine. Blogging about the Copenhagen (and the world's) restaurant scene, I lived vicariously through each of her renditions of yet another visit to yet another gourmet restaurant. (It even seems that in between our visit and now, she's sneaked in one more visit to Noma. No, I'm not envious- Like, at all :P)


Tartar of beef, wood sorrel, aromatic juniper, tarragon emulsion. This gets messy quickly, as you're supposed to eat it with your fingers, but boy, is it good. You'll want to lick your fingers (and your plate, ahem) after eating this and for once, it's perfectly okay!

Back on her 1005th. review of a visit to Noma, I wrote a comment essentially saying "So when are WE going????" And she took the bait, luckily! Promptly, an e-mail arrived in my inbox, asking when, indeed, we were going? So we set up a date after my exams, I put on real peoples clothes and off we went.


Burnt salsify with milk skin, truffles from Gotland and rape seed oil. This was such a treat - the textures - a gentle bite to the salsify, sticky-gooey milk skin and a little crispy bread to give contrast. The truffles, holy cow - when do you get to eat pureed truffle?? These had been frozen, which was why it was in a puree, earlier in the season they'd served it shaved over the dish, but I like the indulgence of the puree. And yes, I think it's perfectly fine to use frozen truffle - as long as they're honest about it, and can come up with something this good using it.

For a minute there, while waiting for Trine to arrive at the restaurant, I was getting the "That's right, that's how a blind date feels!"-heebee jeebies, but it never got to last more than a few seconds. Trine carried along with her a small bag with her camera (we have identical cameras, heh!) so as soon as she'd sat herself down, I wrestled my camera out from the darkness of my bag. This is what it's like when foodbloggers lunch together, yes it is, I thought.


Halibut with celery and oyster foam, watercress and stalks. Now, I have to be honest - I'm not quite sure this is what is on the plate. Frederik, our waiter, graciously e-mailed us the menu, but there's a dish missing, and I didn't want to bother him again. Trine has something like this in her description, but I'm pretty sure I remember those stalks being watercress, 'cause I remember finding it so cool that they'd use the ungrateful herb stalk (c'mon! It's trash in my mind, most of the time!) and gave it a role in this dish. Lovely dish, but probably the most boring we had, if I have to make that kind of list.

And lunch, we did. You can probably tell from the pictures here that we got a LOT of food, but as I may already have revealed, this was so far from just being a matter of getting the calories you need to sustain you. This was a constant bombardement of your senses. As if it wasn't enough that what was put in front of you was amazingly pretty - look at that beef tartar? Isn't that picture perfect? And the perfect, round, sun-yellow egg yolk further down? Puh-lease! - there were scents constantly begging your attention and tastes so well-distinguished and balanced against each other it was hard to not succumb, lean back and enjoy.



Turbot, apple and celeriac, sweet cicely. Sweet cicely, how do I love thee? It has a slight anis-y taste and there's just something about it I really dig (mental note - grow some on terasse this summer) And would you look at that crust on the fish? PERFECTION, if you ask me. Really well-played dish, and so pretty!

We surely did.



Clear mushroom broth and birch wine, egg white and yolk, chickweed and pickled onions. My absolute favorite (not that every plate didn't look like that going out, but still.) I think I have a thing for the humble egg, and when paired with that mushroom broth? Heaven! When you pierced the yolk it drifted slowly into the soup, making it creamy and oooooh... I asked if they could fill a tub with the broth so I could take a dip in it, but somehow they didn't take me seriously... I bet it would have been great, though ;)

It's in everything they do out here, that the perfection of this place shines through. It's in the way there's a gentle curl of smoke coming from the porcelain egg they serve you to start, with two small smoked quails eggs, for you to pop in your mouth, letting the still-runny yolk cover your tongue. It's how they finish your dish off at the table, letting a gentle storm of horse radish snow cover your plate. It's wanting to know what you think of the dishes, and genuinely caring. It's in keeping a track of what dishes Trine already tried, so as to not serve her the exact same things over and over again. It's in pouring two different wines to hear what you think goes best with the dessert. It's in playing around with scents, textures, presentation, tastes and looks.


Reindeer, beets, smoked marrow and apple (green stuff may be the new ramp onions? See, again, my memory is not what it's supposed to be. René (the head chef) was so proud of already having new ramp onions and asked if we'd noticed them in the menu, and I was all - yahaa! and now I've forgotten where it was. Sheesh!) The deer was so soft you could chew it with your eye lashes, should you wish to do so - I opted to use the lovely daggert-style knife. The marrow - a thing I love, but unfortunately can't eat so much of, it gets too fatty - was perfect, and the earthiness of the beets played well with the slightly sweet meat. Awesome dish.

It's the gentle pleasent-ness of it all, the calm with which they walk the room, the way the people are proud of what they're doing.


Pears and hazelnuts, yoghurt and 'mjød'. Moving onto desserts. It was like a little tart, with the hazelnuts taking on a slight marzipan-y texture (I actually thought they were almonds - fooled by the texture, I think) We had to different Rieslings with this, and while the dish was lovely, it wasn't really memorable to me. The wines where, though ;)

Noma is a two-star Michelin restaurant, so naturally, you should expect excellence. And you get it, but there's somehow more to it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's not just that the food is flawless and the servers attentive. This just seems like well-thought through handicraft, combined with a a lot of knowledge and will to experiment and be playful. But most of all, I think it's because every dish somehow exudes the proudness and joy of doing what it is they're doing out here. It's actually very anti-Jantelov. There's an enthusiasm to what they do, and that's really contagious.


Caramelized 'egg yolk potatoes', carawayseed ice cream, dried berries and akvavit. Wow, this was - special? I absolutely loved the caraway ice cream and thought it a funny idea to use potatoes in a dessert (especially seeing that caramelized potatoes is a thing we usually serve with the traditional Christmas dinner) At this point, it was just too much, though. Nice and playful, nevertheless!

So why should you go? Because there's no where like it anywhere else. The use of (exclusively) Nordic ingredients is pretty unique, and very speciel. The use of herbs is amazing. The kitchen is not feminine and fragile, like I thought Geranium to be. It's more woodsy and gutsy, but with a gentleness, a delicateness to it, that I like. You have to go because you will be having a great time. And you have to go because you will walk out of there, not just full, but satieted, with a smile on your lips and a glimpse in your eye. You will walk out of there pleased, all of your senses stimulated, and the world seeming like a better place. That's why you should go.

noma
Strandgade 93
1401 Copenhagen K
Tel: +45 3296 3297

If you'd like to know more about the wines, head over to Trines rendition of our visit. Trine took thorough notes, which, unfortunately, I didn't. I've got so much to learn!;) If you're interested in reading other reviews, Bea and her significant other also went when they visited Copenhagen - you can find her words and photos here.