I wrote the highlights of the dinner I enjoyed at Noma Restaurant, that appeared very recently in the National post. Please click on this link to read the article: http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/05/01/no-place-like-noma/
For a food lover, you have reached the top of the mountain when the chef of the number one restaurant in the world walks out the front door of his establishment, at prime dinner time, to personally greet you with a generous hug and hello. Chef Rene Redzepi and I recently bonded in Toronto during a speaking engagement and dinner organized by his publishers and The Cookbook Store.
Left to right, Lynda and Steven Latner, Noma Chef/owner Rene Redzepi, Dr. Josh Josephson, Chef David Lee
The experience of eating at Noma was quite profound. It was one of the best meal experiences of my life. It took me in a new direction of thinking about food elements and how one might experience cuisine.
Below, you will see the photos of all of the dishes that we enjoyed at Noma Restaurant. The name of each dish and a description is provided. Unfortunately, the photos can't really reproduce the experience that made me feel like the chef and his apprentice and sous chefs were leading me on a nature trip, introducing me to foods and flavours found in the environment.
Malt flat bread. Flat bread flavoured with pine and juniper was presented as budding twigs mixed amongst living wild herbs, budding wild flowers and blooming branches all beautifully arranged in an alabaster coloured vase.
Moss and cep. Fried, crispy silver moss from Finland presented with cep mushrooms, on a living, green moss base on which there was also a twig, covered in bits of green moss. A small, contained ecosystem.
Mussels on the half shell, presented on a half “shell”, a thin, cookie crisp that was coloured and flavoured with squid ink. Each piece was mixed in with real mussel shells.
Seabuckthorn berry leather and pickled rose hips
Cookie with lardo and currant. Savoury cookies made with smoked speck, lardo and freeze dried black currents, topped with a spruce shoot.
Leek and Garlic. Only the fried bottoms are eaten.
Rye bread, chicken skin, lumpfish roe and smoked cheese. Danish dark rye bread , topped with fried chicken skin, lumpfish roe, smoked cheese and a bit of dill. The sandwich was presented with the rye bread facing up and the chicken skin on the bottom
Pickled and smoked quail egg. A ceramic egg was presented. We were instructed to remove the top half, releasing a small amount of smoke from the still smouldering straw, on which rested an apple vinegar pickled and smoked quail egg. The rich yolk was still soft and warm.
Radish, soil and herbs. Newly arrived seasonal radish, with stems and leaves sprouted over the top, arrived buried in a flower pot. We were asked to use our fingers to push the radish through the “soil” in which each was buried, and to scoop up the “soil”, below which was a tarragon, chive and parsley flavoured sheep’s milk yogurt. The “soil” was a mix of ground hazelnuts, malt and beer that had been heated and dried for about six hours
Toast, herbs, smoked cod roe and vinegar. Toasted bread topped with a salad of fresh herbs flavoured with an emulsion of smoked cod roe and vinegar and topped with a piece of fried duck stock.
AEbleskiver and muiiko. Lightly fried dough ( Aebleskiver) filled with fried muiiko, a small fish from Finland, which we ate, head and tail.
Goat cheese cream with fried bread, pork skin and onions. White goat cheese cream with a bit of butter made into very dense foam that was topped with bread crumbs fried in pork fat, finely diced onions and fine bits of pork skin.
Leek and seaweed. Sliced leek with seaweed and horseradish gel.
Razor clam and dill, buttermilk and horseradish snow. A single, cold, raw razor clam, removed from its shell, presented in a white bowl, was tenderized by fast freezing for 24 hours, then rolled in a cool gel made with blended, finely sieved parsley and spinach. The clam was abutted by a line of "snow", frozen horseradish and buttermilk lightly sprinkled with flakes of sea salt. A small quantity of cold, clear mussel stock flavoured with white wine, shallot, thyme was combined with dill flavoured oil, was added to the bowl. The texture of the clam was like eating very soft somewhat overcooked asparagus. The intense sea flavours that were well complemented by the horseradish buttermilk “snow”.
Scallop "leathers" with beech nut, watercress and grains. Dehydrated scallops were presented as “leathers” and were plated with beechnut, grains and watercress leaves and accompanied by a sauce of mussel juice and squid ink.
Chestnut, lojram cress and walnut with bleek roe sauce. Sliced raw chestnuts with bits of chopped walnuts, topped with local lojrom cress topped with a butter sauce of seasonal bleak roe that had been combined with birch wine and mustard seed.
Oyster and the ocean. A large perfect oyster, resting on oyster shells, topped with little jewels of different colours consisting of elderberries, three different kinds of seaweed and cream.
Vintage potato and milk skin. Potatoes that were in the ground for two seasons and then harvested, were covered with milk skin and accompanied by potato chips, wild chervil, wild ramps, lovage and watercress. The sauce was a combination of yogurt and whey.
Purple carrot and truffle. One year old (in the ground) purple carrot, slow cooked for about an hour in goat butter and served with sliced black truffle (from Gotland ,Sweden), truffle butter and fresh sorrel. The carrot had a beet-like texture
Pickled vegetables and bone marrow. Thin peels and sliced sections of pickled carrot, parsnip, beet and turnip, were accompanied with bits of poached bone marrow and paired with a sauce made from roasted pork ribs and brown butter. All of this was topped with foraged herbs and leaves.
Reindeer tongue and apple malt with browned butter. A personal knife with a bone handle, made in Lapland, was presented on a plate to be used for the course that followed. A one cm thick slice of reindeer tongue, cooked sous vide for 16 hours, was accompanied by thin peels of apple and a scoop of raw apple, referred to as an apple “boat”. All of the apple pieces were dressed with apple juice. Fried malt dough “apple seeds” were scattered around the plate along with wild coriander and cress leaves. Powdered dried apple skin was dusted over the whole dish. A sauce made from reduced reindeer juices and brown butter bound all of the flavours.
Pear tree. Fresh pear, grilled and covered with fresh herbs and chive flowers surrounded by pear sauce flavoured with schnapps was accompanied by a sponge “parfait” seasoned with pine needle extract. The dish cast off an aroma of fresh pine needles.
Snowman. Two balls of “snow”, the lower ball larger than the top ball, all rested on a mound of “snow”. The very thin filament end of a carrot was placed in the top ball to simulate the nose. Elderberry flowers were used for the arms. One snowball was a meringue made from seabuckthorn berry mousse, caramelized sugar and egg whites. The other snowball was a combination of frozen buttermilk and yogurt. The yogurt and meringue snow was placed over a base of sweetened carrot puree and carrot brunoise, followed by the yogurt meringue ball and finally the sea buckthorn mousse meringue ball on top.
Old bread crumble with milk foam and sour milk sorbet. Old rye bread crumbs, baked in malt beer served with milk foam made from sour Icelandic milk and accompanied by a scoop of sour milk sorbet.
Milk chocolate covered balls of yogurt cream. Slightly salty milk chocolate covered balls of yogurt, egg white and sugar “cream”.
Dark chocolate covered potato chips. Crunchy potato chips bathed in dark chocolate, flavoured with fennel and topped with a few fennel seeds.
Smoked bone marrow caramels. One cm thick marrow bones filled with a solid combination of smoked marrow, caramel and butter.
At the conclusion of our meal we were given an extensive tour of the kitchen.
Chef Rene Redzepi at work