It’s taken me an age to write this post, mainly because there is just so much to write about. In its entirety I’ve written just under 2000 words on Noma so I’ve decided to split this up into two posts. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it!
Just before Christmas Dan and I were dining at one of the best restaurants in the world, the mad world of Rene Redzepi and his team at Noma, and realising a dining ambition we’ve had for years.
We started planning our trip to Copenhagen just under a year ago, not knowing whether or not we would actually be able to book those elusive spaces… Months later, October came around and we eagerly sat at our computers waiting for the bookings to open up. We realised that we had only one day during our stay due to Christmas, which really narrowed down our chances. Would we get a reservation?!… Yes we would! Hooray! Only, we realised that our flight landed after reservation, Nooooo! After much deliberation we decided to change our flights! Dan and I were going to the ball and something like flights wouldn’t stop us!
We’ll have a few Copenhagen write ups coming soon, but for now just sit back and take in the poor quality photos and my ramblings of this delicious affair.
So, Noma. The Nordic powerhouse that put Scandinavian fine dining on the radar. Two Michelin stars and crowned the worlds best restaurant for three years (now rated 2nd). We’d seen glimpses of Noma on programmes, such as Masterchef, and read everything there is to know about Rene Redzepi, but what would it actually be like to experience Noma, would it be everything we expected and more? What would we eat? Insects? Moss? Badgers?!
Set in the Christhavn part of the city, in a harbour side setting, Noma is housed in what was an old warehouse. Due to much construction work nearby we struggled to find the restaurant at first, causing much stress as we thought we weren’t going to get there on time, desperately looking for somewhere we “recognised” (ha!). Eventually we took what we thought was a wrong turn low and behold we arrived!
We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes, not only from front of house, but the entire kitchen brigade stepped out to say hi! Feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all we took to our seats in the dining room. White washed brick walls, exposed wooden beams and chairs cloaked with animal furs from the region, the vibe was surprisingly unpretentious and amazingly cosy (or hygge as the Danes would say).
Our waitress explained that the menu came in two parts, the first was an onslaught (yes, seriously) ! of canapés that would arrive quite quickly, before the second part of the meal began, which we opted to pair with wines. All in all we ended up eating twenty four courses.
To start us off, rather than champagne we opted to have our canapés with the Noma beer. Specially brewed from an array of ingredients that I can’t quite remember (should have taken notes!) this was a beautiful pale beer, not too hoppy which slipped down a treat and complimented the canapés well.
I should have paid more attention as each course was described in as much detail as the beer. Not only that but the chefs themselves came out to describe each of the dishes that arrived. Now that’s service.
I’ve already written an essay and I’ve not even got onto the food! Hold on, you’re in for a gastronomic ride!
Gooseberry and elderflower
A quick palate cleanser to start, sour and sharp.
This was a really playful title, given it was a hollowed out turnip filled with a lovely warm rich broth that we had to suck out of a bamboo straw. Two thoughts. 1, how did they hollow them out? 2. Why so I look so demented in this picture?
Moss and cep
Something of a signature at Noma, this was crispy reindeer moss (not sure if it’s freeze dried or fried) which we dipped in creme fraiche. Crispy, creamy and earthy.
Blackcurrant berry and roses
A thin and crisp blackberry shell surrounding a creamy custard. This played with sour, sweet and savoury flavours.
Cheese cookies and stems
Cheesy shortbread topped with curd and an array of herb stems (obviously nothing goes to waste in the kitchen!) Perhaps a cheeky spin on a cheese straw?
Pickled and smoked quails egg
One word, AMAZING. Soft, with a beautifully subtle smoked flavours – I want to try these for the Manor!
Monkfish liver and caramelised milk
Shaved monkfish liver on a milk crackers. The monkfish was almost frozen and melted in the mouth like pate.
Æbelskiver and greens
Æbelskiver are a traditional Danish dessert – a round doughnut usually filled with jam. These were Noma’s savoury take, filled with greens, then dusted with fermented grasshopper. Yum!
Chestnuts and trout roe
Raw chestnuts, sliced thinly with the roe. I’d never eaten them raw before but they were fresh and crisp. The wooden spoon we were given to eat this dish with added another textural element in the mouth!
Yep, we ate a fish face! Roasted and charred, we picked away at the pike to discover a delicious piece of cheek! Flavour wise, this was one of my standout eats.
Our final canapé was a whole charred leek, that had been cleverly cut for us to open and discover soft, creamy leeks within.
This was the end of the first part of the meal, so after a bit of respite, things took more of a leisurely pace, kicking off with our favourite course, the bread! The Danes love sourdough, in fact they don’t actually use anything but fresh yeast over there and this bread was a beauty. Crusty and warm, this arrived with buttermilk butter which was so light yet creamy and a ramekin of pork fat sprinkled with powdered scratchings. Lard sandwich? Get in me!
One thousand words in and I’ve only just got halfway through – phew! In part II you’ll be able to read about the second half of the meal, including biodyanamic wines, ice bowls, hunting knives and a beautiful viking! More tomorrow!