Scandinavian food when it’s best
I’m in love. In love with noma. It’s as simple as that. noma is the best place to eat in Copenhagen at the moment, in my opinion. I’ll try to explain why. But first, I’d like to introduce what I ate there.
noma’s good food:
Crispy paper-thin and generously salted skin flakes of pork, chicken and fish being the best crisps I’ve ever had. The crispy-ness of them was remarkable. Fried tempura scrimps and mackerel and a cream comprising cepe mushrooms (boletus edulis).
What an amuse. Watch the photo. Doesn’t it look like a painting? I think the waiter called it milk soup with fresh cheese and with lump fish roe, seaweed, radish, snow made of semi-frozen horseradish and underneath it some brown/black crackling stuff I never found out what was.
The horseradish contained a hidden surprise. In my mouth the cold root and the stuff under it melted a little, and the next second it fire worked, unexpectedly. It was like a small blow and an explosion, completely new and innovative, to me, the cool-ness and tingle-ness of it, all at the same time. Moving the spoon round at the bottom of the plate, the algae were revealed, which weren’t at all what is often served with maki rolls and sushi, sometime a bit leathery, maybe. No, this was very different and so much better. If you can talk about tenderness, I think this the right word to describe its texture. The taste was fresh and mild, not really bitter, perhaps a bit like the taste of artichoke. A really delicious course.
Exquisite smoked eel of the finest quality melting on my tongue, and cider vinegar gelly with eel soup and dill. Although the power, the fat-ness of the fish, and the taste of smoke, this dish remained light and with finesse. The apple and the herbs must be the reason behind this. The various ingredients, and the perfect balance of fat, salt, sweet and sour gave an impression of the high complexity in this good food.
Roasted chicken with an intense, powerful and delicate sauce, not thick. The green parsley foam and the nicely well-done cooked parsnip were both very tasty. Flowers of spring on the top emphasising the pureness and wish for presenting the season as well as the idea of the Scandinavian origin.
I got two slices of nice, moist and tender chicken. The one part was a tiny bit rose in the middle of the thickest part of the meat. However, and I would like to stress this, it didn’t change the taste nor the eating experiencing comparing with the other fully cooked part.
Brilliant dessert. Buttermilk jelly at the bottom and ice-cream with liquorish raisins kicking the mild taste, and on top, the decorative sweet malt flakes. But most importantly the sprinkled mint leaves, this is where the brilliance come in, the fine characteristical and fresh taste sort of took the flavour of this dish to another dimension. The mint matched the strong and intense taste of the raisins and gave lightness to it. Again each ingredient was tasty in itself, but mixing them and that’s what I did with the last 2-3 spoonfuls, to circle my spoon round the plate and to melt the rest altogether – even nicer.
What I love so much about this food is the lightness and elegance of it, the fact that all superfluous fat had been removed. I was stunned by millions of flavours. That’s how I sensed it, and afterwards when I left the place, feeling light and tremendously happy. This food is so high-level and complex that I can hardly find ways of describing it. The large number of ingredients in each plate makes it impossible to remember every one of them. Each single little element was wonderful and mixing them made the course even better.
I would like to emphasize that the service which the waiters provided was excellent. First of all they made me feel welcome and easy. I liked the way they explained us about the food, and one waiter helped me with the chair, when I was going to the loo. All in all to the point, not too much and not too less.
We had one glass of white wine to accompany the food. The sommelier suggested a Grüner Veltliner, Spätlese from Fred Loimer (forgot which year, again sorry). It had a wonderful smell, lots of it and taste, full-bodied and well-balanced dryness and sweetness. Nicely cool at first, hiding a bit of the fruit and this went well with the amuse, and then a bit warmer and more soft for the eel but still with a good body, also for the chicken. To my surprise it didn’t hurt the dessert either.
To be honest, I had very high expectations. I’ve had dinner at quite a few one Michelin Star places here, which were all very lovely, but I’ve never tried a two stars restaurant before. I had also heard very good things about noma lately and I was thus very intrigued, high prospects. However, every expectation was fulfilled. I had a splendid time and actually the impression stayed with me longer than just for the rest of the day.
Senses and surprises – that’s what I look for in dining. And noma truly understands how to provide it. noma really has knocked me sideways!
Oh, one fantastic thing, though that noma didn’t provide directly, was to share this experience and to watch how my friend enjoyed it and was surprised by it as much as I was. That was really something.
By the way, what to eat for breakfast at such a noma day? Rolled oats, of course, with cane sugar and milk. But just a small portion, though.
I wonder why the name of this great restaurant is ‘noma’? Short for ‘Nordisk mad’ (Nordic food) in Danish?
Two stars – what makes three of them? Perhaps a ‘Toilet’ sign on the door?
noma Thursday 29 March 2007