Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Noma



Two days after the announcement that NOMA was awarded the title of 'World's Best Restaurant' for a second consecutive year, J and I were lucky enough to go there for dinner. Ever since we found out we were coming to Copenhagen J and I have been trying to get at table at NOMA. Reservations are only released three months at a time and are filled within minutes. But there are some perks to J's job and being invited to dinner at NOMA is most certainly one of them.

You don't see a menu at NOMA, you have two choices - seven courses or 12. I went on an 8km run that day because I knew we were having the latter. As it turned out, I really should have gone on a 28km run because the 12 main courses was just the middle part of our food extravaganza.

When we sat down we were informed that our meal would begin with some 'snacks'. These were small, bite-sized morsels designed to whet our appetite. After about the sixth snack I asked if we had started the main courses yet and was told, "no, you still have a few more snacks to go". We ate 11 snacks in total of which the first was the most surprising: On each table there was a small bouquet of greenery in a vase. Little did we know that the first snack was actually hidden in the bouquet - the 'twigs' were actually edible flat breads. The wonderment and excitement about what can be done with food continued throughout the night. 

    

    

     
From top to bottom, L to R:shallow fried reindeer moss with creme fraiche; toasted rye bread sandwich with chicken skins; herbs, flower and duck fat crisps; pickled, smoked quail egg; savoury cookies with speck and blackcurrants and sea-buckthorn leather with pickled rose hip petals.

I had two favorite snacks - both were visually very interesting, defying what one would normally consider edible food and 'yummy' combinations. The first was the radish potplant - it was amazing, the 'soil' looked and felt so real but it was made out of hazelnuts and crushed malt and then if you dug down further you came across a layer of yoghurt and tarragon which complemented the radishes beautifully. 


My other favorite snack, (in fact, possibly my favorite meal of the entire night) was fried white bait in √¶bleskiver (Danish donut ball) filled with pickled cucumber and dusted with powdered vinegar. This was my favorite for two reasons: first, I have an addiction to donuts; and second, fried white bait is something my greek grandma (Yai Yai) use to make me - it is comforting to me. So, it's hardly surprising that I'd enjoy both in combination! 


Let the main courses begin - here are a few of the courses we had with matching wines:

    
        

From top to bottom, L to R: dried scallop slivers with watercress puree, baby onions with a burnt butter sauce and roe, grains and squid ink; shaved chestnuts with buttered roe; reindeer tongue with apple and langoustine rock with oyster seaweed emulsion.

I have to admit I have really forgotten the three desserts we had. I think I was too full and overwhelmed. Yet, I somehow managed to fit in the three petite fours and coffee. That's a grand total of 26 courses!!!

I came away from eating at NOMA with mixed emotions. If I am being totally honest, not all dishes could be considered really truly delicious but I don't think that was the point of the experience. How many people can say that they have eaten live shrimp, fish in donuts and reindeer tongue (that one I did actually find delicious)? The gastronomic experience at NOMA is amazing for two reasons: each course was presented and introduced by the chef who cooked it; and each course had food combinations and technique that can only be found at  the best restaurant in the world. If you ever get the chance to go to NOMA do it, do it, do it - it will be an experience you will never forget. 

P.S. I would like to acknowledge the Food Fight blog at www.buzzarfood.wordpress.com  for the majority of the images seen here in this blog post. As we were at NOMA for a 'work' dinner I was forbidden by J to take my camera inside.