So...after all the anticipation and excitement, the day finally arrived - time to eat at the illustrious, world number one restaurant, Noma. Unfortunately, my beloved had come down with quite the nasty case of gastroenteritis while we were in Germany and, although on the mend, decided not to accompany me to Noma. Fortunately, one of our travel buddies (who resides in the south of Sweden, not far from Copenhagen) came to the rescue and was more than happy to be my "date" for lunch.
We arrived at the restaurant about 10 minutes prior to its opening and had the opportunity to enjoy the water views of Christianshavn surrounding the eatery.
We were ushered into the restaurant - originally an old warehouse - and I was instantly pleased by the decor - minimalist-chic and yet cozy simultaneously - not always an easy feat to achieve. Like the decor, the service proved to be warm and professional. At times, I felt I was in Australia or New Zealand (many of the chefs greeted us with a warm "G'day" when bringing our food), but there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Indeed, this is, in my opinion, very exciting for the future of food in our country.
The table at which we were seated was all but bare, adorned only with a small vase of grasses and twigs, a lit candle, a dish of sauce and glasses of water. "Enjoy", the waiter stated, backing away from our table. Noticing our quizzical looks, he pointed to the vase. "The twigs", he explained, "they're edible". So they were! Crunchy and reminiscent of a bread stick. What an innovative start to what was to be a truly wonderful meal.
I should point out here that while I expected to be uncomfortable taking photos in such a highly regarded establishment, my nerves soon dissipated when I realised that everyone in the eatery was snapping up the incredible creations placed before them. This was excellent news both for this blog and for all of my curious friends.
Our next amuse-bouche? Moss.
A particularly brilliant starter arrived next. The exact combination of ingredients now eludes me, but I believe it involved pickled rose petals and some sort of Nordic berry. The tangy sweetness of this outwardly plain dish was truly outstanding.
An entirely edible muscle ("shell" included) was next on the agenda.
Bite size patty pans of goodness adorned with the tip of a pine leaf (unexpectedly delicious!) followed. The presentation of this dish in a retro biscuit tin was echoed throughout the meal.
The next dish was a contender for my favourite of the day - blanched then deep fried leeks. Clearly a simple idea, but truly sensational stuff!
Hay smoked quail eggs, served in a dinosaur-sized egg were brought to our table next. The burst of flavour that flooded the palate after biting into these babies was just incredible.
Who hasn't wanted to eat a pot plant at some stage of their life?! Okay, so perhaps not...but the classic Noma potted radish, complete with edible dirt, was served next.
A couple of "sandwiches" also featured as appetisers, one with crispy chicken skin masquerading as bread/biscuit. Numerous Scandinavian flowers and roe were also highlights of these dishes.
Our final amuse-bouche (yes, amuse-bouche - we hadn't even started our seven courses at this point!) was a hot ball of dough (I believe this type of dough is traditionally a Scandinavian dessert that is filled with fruit) surrounding fish. Please excuse my poor description of this and many other dishes - I should really have taken notes to remember details of each menu item. Ah, hindsight....
Then came time for the larger dishes. A delicious, freshly baked bread was brought to the table, clad in a felt warmer and accompanied by two spreadable lards. A scrumptious local beer, with strong honey flavours was also ordered to accompany the subsequent dishes.
The first of our seven "main" courses was a refreshing salad, dominated by cucumber, dill and some intensely creamy cheese.
This was followed by a squid ink and dehydrated scallop number. To me, this dish was interesting in that, on first bite it was extremely delicious, but I have to admit that it got the better of me flavour-wise after a few pieces.
The next course was probably my least favourite of the day, but then, oysters have never been something that I appreciate. Before our meal, we were asked if there was anything we would prefer not to be served. I did mention that oysters weren't a favourite, but was urged by the waiter to try Noma's. I must say that I'm glad I did, but I could only manage a small bite before passing the remnants to my dining companion - a more seasoned oyster eater. According to her, the dish was delicious.
Things took a rapid turn for the better with the next course - an amusingly phallic white asparagus and pine concoction.
Another egg dish followed. This time we were to "cook" a gorgeously fresh egg at our table. Firstly, some hay-infused oil, a timer and a plate of leafy vegetables, flowers, herbs and herb butter were set down in front of us. Our waiter then explained the precise timing that the dish necessitated. Next, a piping hot pan was placed atop the table. We added the oil and egg and cooked for 90 seconds, before sautéing the various vegetation in herb butter. What a simple and downright fun idea. While the cynic may argue that such a dish is a lazy option that is employed to merely streamline operations in the kitchen, I found it to be a novel and exciting way of eating.
Our final savoury meal of the evening was absolutely stellar! Beef cheek and shaved pear featured heavily - two of my favourite flavours. The hand made knife sourced locally was a lovely touch.
While I was feeling incredibly full from the meal, my "dessert stomach" was well and truly open for business and Noma didn't disappoint. Our first dessert incorporated milk biscuit and the refreshing flavours of sorrel and the second combined jerusalem artichoke, apple and malt to great success.
Our coffees were accompanied with two wonderful petits fours. Denmark's famed flødeboller - a delightful chocolate covered marshmallow atop a biscuit base - was the highlight for us. However, the chocolate-coated potato chip was a pleasingly quirky conclusion to an exemplary meal.
As a parting gift, we were provided with a curious package wrapped in brown paper and held together with string. Inside, we discovered some meaty marrow bone fudge - that is, fudge within marrow bones with a distinct meaty flavour. This was a real confrontation to the taste buds, to say the least!
Well what can I say? For a foodie, Noma was pretty darn close to a spiritual experience! I commend René Redzepi and his team for their passion for authentic, delicious food.
What an absurdly wonderful experience!