I took the day off from work to do something for myself. Eating out at an exclusive restaurant is my refuge, my hideaway, especially when my busy life is sucking out my energy. Fine dining is for me like stepping into another world for a short time. Even more so when I’m out on my own and not with someone I know. Well, I’ve visited noma quite a lot lately, so I don’t feel like a complete stranger there anymore. I don’t need to ask where the loos are.
However, the intention of this lunch was not to let myself be lulled into yet another epicurean ego trip. The purpose was to meet up with Zarah – and to enjoy a very good meal. noma seemed the obvious choice. Wouldn’t you say so?
When I arrived at precisely 12:15 on 31.01.2008, Zarah was already sitting at our table and waved to me from the other end of the restaurant. This was the first time Zarah and I met each other and hello-hugged. We laughed at the whole set-up and then put our big cameras on the table. This verygoodfoodthoughts sitting was definitely to be documented.
Frederik, our host of the day, poured champagne into high slim glasses and after a spilt second of consideration we agreed to go for the set of courses cooked especially for the two of us and with accompanying wines selected by him.
Crisps of root crops, egg cream
Jacques Lassaigne, NV Champagne
Brut Blanc de Blanc de Montgueux
Batter balls stuffed with pork
and rolled in vinegar dust
The Jacques Lassaigne champagne was new to me, and I remember thinking that I liked better the Agrapart one, which I’ve got a few times. I didn’t note down why though.
A refreshing change of the snacks soon arrived comprising very nice and very paper thin root crisps of what I could identify as parsnip, scorzonera and Jerusalem artichokes. The yellow yolk cream for dipping the crisps was somehow anonymous to me and not as good as the various dips I’ve had before like for example the smoked cream cheese, the green boiled pig fat or the cep mayonnaise. We were also blessed with the pickled and smoked quails egg, and when Zarah took the lid off, smoke fizzled up, tickled my nose and revealed the two yellow delicacies.
For the first time I got batter balls, a traditional sweet and often eaten at Christmas in Denmark. Zarah actually has a very nice recipe on her blog and a hands-on description for how to make them. Anyway, noma’s were a salty interpretation with pork breast inside and white dust of vinegar on the outside. I liked them and the idea, but must admit that I prefer the traditional sweet ones. Too much pasty for the amount of pork.
Beetroot raisins, pearl sago
This was interesting. The small pieces of beet root were soft like when you cook them in the oven for a long time but moist at the same time. At noma horseradish is one of the basic spices that’s often combining the food products like the extensive and lovely use of herbs, and in this picture the horseradish’s job was to provide grit and to stabilise the sweet taste of the vegetable. Good.
Tartar and wood sorrel
Creamed tarragon and juniper
2006 Becker-Landgraf, Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen
Although, there is already a photo of this dish on by blog, I have only had a tiny taster of it, when I celebrated my birthday at noma. Although the dish wasn’t mine, it was so lovely that I had to show it here. It’s amongst my favourite dishes.
I never imagined, though, my finger nails would be this green after eating this wonderful dish having it all to myself this time. You don’t get fork and knife but clutch the meat by holding the wood sorrel leaves and then lick up the green cream with the tartar. We were instructed to do it this way and got nice wet and warm cloths to clean our fingers when we were done. The quality of this ox tartar, the wood sorrel and the delectable creamed tarragon and juniper is just beyond the highest level, I tell you, this is more than candy to me and as good as …
The colour of the Becker-Landgraf Riesling was very bright and almost transparent. The nose offered crispiness, flowers and sweet fruit. The bitterness and acidity was elegantly balancing the after-taste and the smell from the creamed tarragon and juniper melted with the Riesling scent in a stunning way. Fantastic.
Burnt Scorzonera and milkskin
Rape seed oil and truffle from Gotland
2006 Denis Jeandeau, Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy
I had a dish very like this one, when I lunched with my grandmother last autumn, but this time the leek was replaced by a piece of scorzonera, which added more bite and character to it. The fresh truffles had also been swapped with a lavish truffle paste. We had passed the Swedish truffle season. The scent of these truffles were striking and just as powerful as fresh truffles. Wow. If my eyes had been closed, when the plate was placed in front of me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. I admire and venerate Rene and his team for their outstanding technique and notion. Excellent.
The Pouilly-Fuissé was dark golden in colour and smelled of pure Chardonnay and the taste was nice. It missed, however, the sophistication I love so much about white Burgundies and sometimes am lucky to find in them.
Wild herbs’ gele and ramson onion capers
I do like halibut very much and this was a fine piece, mild in taste with a delicate garniture of green herbs tops and celery with a slight bite to it. I was told the white foam was oysters, but the flavour was weak. I don’t think I would have guessed, if I didn’t know. Good. (Maybe even very good. I have only a fuzzy image of this in my memory).
Celery, apples and ramson oinion
2002 Château de Puligny Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet, Burgundy
Zarah has a lot of experience from the restaurant business and I learned from her that the crust turbot was extraordinary. Again, this was the finest fish quality and served with the season’s first fresh ramson onion, mind you.
How do they do this? I mean, to take note what white Burgundies I chose from last time I went to noma, what I selected and then what I had missed out on? This Château de Puligny Montrachet was one of them and now it was accompanying my turbot. Yes, I was in heaven. The scent was dark and powerful with a touch of sour. I found wood too and the nose was a bit closed at the beginning. After a while, it opened and was more recognisable. It evolved smell of turpentine and medicine cupboard, which may sound strange but nevertheless was a hit for me. The taste was dominated by citrous and oak. Very nice indeed.
Bouillion of birch wine and mushrooms
Chickweed and egg yolk
2000 Pierre-Bourré, Justice, Gevrey-Chambertin, Bourgogne
Another repetitive course but one of my favourites, so I didn’t complain. I still the remember the rich flavour of the soup and how well the poached yolk is matched also with the mushrooms. This time Læsø onions (I believe) were sprinkled and made the whole dish more pronounced and more sharp. Stunning.
Yum-yum-yum. These guys really knew how to please me. The colour of the wine had an edge of orange and brown tones and what gorgeous scents of cowshed, smoke, lots of fruit and character. I love it so much, when the wine has a powerful and expressive nose. The taste was great too, balanced and lasting.
Woodruff and ramson onion capers
2001 Mauro Veglio, Aborina, Barolo Piemonte
I must say that it’s incredible how tender Rene and chefs are able to cook the meat so it’s full of flavour and moist at the same time. The reindeer was very intense in taste with a light game taste to it. The accompanying round and decorative vegetables were a fine match. Very good.
Frederik teased me because I focused on the G-C rather than the Barolo, which was absolutely nice as well, erect and with this characteristic after-taste heavy on tannins. The Gevrey-Chambertin was only more seductive.
Yoghurt and meed
2006 Georg Breuer Riesling Auslese Rheingau
The first dessert was, another theme of a traditional Danish dish with variations. It reminded me of an apple charlotte but with pear instead. I love, love apple charlotte. There were hazelnuts at the bottom of the plate, then a layer of yoghurt and on the top thin white slices of pear surrounded and by the meed sauce which had a bit of pear taste to it too. This was a lovely dish, gentle and creamy in taste, not so sweet but with a slight subacidity to balance it. Very good.
We were offered two different Rieslings with the first of two desserts, and there was no doubt that the Georg Breuer was the one I liked most, because it offered a more nuanced palate than just the sweetness of the Knebel one.
‘Yolk’ potato and cumin ice cream
Dried berries and akvavit
2000 Chateau Derezla, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos
Okay, I think is one of the noma desserts I least like. No matter how sweet and caramel-ish you prepared them, potatoes will always be potatoes and not particularly dessert-like. I very much enjoyed the cumin (which I’m very keen on) ice cream, the caramel and the crisp and sweet string on the top. The Tokaji was excellent with the caramel and the cumin flavours which both had a bitter-sweet feeling to it.
I was really stuffed. I think we both were at this point. We therefore (almost) rolled back to the lounge area for a cup of tea and a coffee a flødebolle and one more glass of the lovely Gevrey-Chambertin for spending the rest of the afternoon chatting girl-ishly about… you know. Girls’ talk.
When it was dark and rainy outside, after almost six hours in the wonderful noma cave we frivolous moved the curtain aside and stepped into the staff’s briefing on tasks and tables for the evenings guests who would soon arrive.
Saying goodbye and thank you for a marvellous experience, it was great to see Rene’s enthusiasm, when he asked if we had taken note of one of the dishes comprising the fresh ramson onions already a month earlier than last year. Of course we had. We had also taken note of the recurring round theme that also characterised this lunch.
A great, great afternoon. Thanks to you, Zarah! And to everyone at noma!