noma 13

The Last time I dined at noma (May 08), René proposed a break of five to six months for me to see how much noma would develop over a half a year’s time. Okay I thought, and was looking forward to my plans for new grand experiences in Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Denmark – and so I figured that it shouldn’t be a problem to stay away from noma, and that time would pass fast. But my nomabstinence was not at all easy to handle.

Anyway, on 27th November –  exactly six months and six days after my last visit (the business lunch in September doesn’t really count) – I was finally back at the restaurant which has seduced me like no other place. It’s not only about the food. It’s the experience as a whole. Each time I visit I feel like I never want to leave again.

René wasn’t in that day. He had emailed me a couple of days in advance to tell me this and to temptingly  inform me that they had prepared a ten-course surprise lunch for me.

Inspired by JC, the photos from my meal are this time shot in RAW. I hope you like them. As a new feature you can now also zoom into each photo – just click it – and use the Previous and Next buttons to flick through all images in the post.

I arrived earlier than my companion and was overwhelmed by the kind greeting at the door when I entered – almost like they had just been standing there waiting the whole time. Lau welcomed me and decided that I should have a seat and wait in the lounge and so I opted for a very nice 2004 Olivier Horiot Rosé champagne ‘En Barmont’. A lovely glass of rosé bubbles with a wonderful nose and flavour making me think of summer and sweet strawberries and carried by a fine and acidic finish. Lau was kind enough to keep me company until Daniel, pastry chef, came out from the kitchen to say hi, and even Frederik, Zarah’s and my perfect host, dropped by to say hello.

The snacks of the well-known smoked and pickled quail’s egg, smoked cheese and vegetables sandwich between a super-thin rye bread slice and ditto chicken skin remarkably balanced and clearly indicating all three elements of it. They  were served at my table which was at the corner of the room and where I have been placed so often.

I was surprised to get the radishes at this late time of the year. They were of course accompanied by the lovely terragon “dirt”. But my all-time favourite pre-appetizer, though, has to be the curvy toast with wild herbs, vinegar and egg cream. The versatile flavour combination is a small journey of delicate savours of sweet and sour following each other while the crust crackles in my mouth.

We ordered complimenting wines to go with the meal and I asked to get them blind. I didn’t do it to make the lunch into a wine quiz but to force myself to notice the scents and tastes more consciously and for being more open to what I was experiencing. It extended my enjoyment of the wines.

A few of them were (welcomed) repeats, but all were lovely. I was especially carried away by the Muscadet ‘Expression de Granite’ with an unusually powerful nose of smoke and mineral which was reflected on the palate too. The Saint-Veran ‘Chevigne’ was another pleasant surprise with more than 48 hour’s air, power and much more aromatic touch compared to a typical white Burgundy. It was oxidized but without being sherry-like, it was still crispy. And the Châteauneuf-du-Pape ’Henri Bonneau was delighting too, of course, and a most balanced wine.

Greenland shrimps, cream, chlorophyll and white currant granita

2006 Domaine de l´ Ecu (Guy Bossard), Muscadet ‘Expression de Granite’, Loire

First course presented raw shrimps and white currants and was a fresh and delicate starter. If I say the quality of them was fabulous, I will come to repeat my self a lot in this review. So, I won’t.

Gotland truffles, walnuts and birch wine

2007 Battenfeldt-Spanier, Weissburgunder, Rheinhessen

The sous chef, James, served this following course that just made me pinch myself because I really thought my eyes were deceiving me. Brown, thin and perfectly round slices of truffles decorated the centre of my plate and with little glimpses of walnuts. James poured the liquid foam over the truffles, partly on top of the leaves and partly running down in between them so the juice covered the bottom plate.

You know (by now) that truffles have a very special place in my heart and despite the fact of my at times easy access to them, I had never imagined to get a dish basically just comprising truffles. I was stunned! The very fresh and succulent Gotland slices crisped in my mouth in trying to battle the walnuts’ crunching texture. I liked the flavour of the two together and the birch softened the earthy and bitter tones. In my view though, a bit more sweetness would have improved it. Anyway, it’s for sure one of the most decadent things I have been served to date.

Norwegian sea urchin, cucumber, milk and dill

2007 Weingut Groebe, Riesling Kabinett trocken, Rheinhessen

And now to the highlight of the meal. Five little orange sea urchins amongst grilled cucumber, scurvy grass, dill and frozen milk formed the most beautiful and delighting experience. The flavours were delicate and went extremely well together from the very cold and sweetish feeling at first (the milk), followed by the bitterness of the sea urchin and tweaked by the aromatic dill to the incredibly long and delicate finish dominated by the sea urchin. It was a clever combination and a completely innovative but very harmonious dish. I simply loved it.

Søren’s vegetables, sea buckthorn, cream and garden purslane

2006 Fred Loimer, Grüner Veltliner ’Spiegel’ (magnum), Kamptal

Next was a painting in oil of summer and a vegetables garden. Well, it was such a smiling dish and offered miniature crops and made it seem more like spring time than a month to Christmas. I loved the look of the translucent roots, perfectly cooking to a slight bity texture. The fresh-made cheese was mild and gave substance to the crunchy Søren Viuff vegetables, and the sauce combined all the ingredients and added salt.

Radishes from Lammefjorden, egg yolk and seaweed

2005 Domaine Julien Meyer, Riesling ‘Muenchberg’, Alsace

This is another reason why I adore noma: The variety. From highly complex and exquisite dishes like the one above to something as simple as this: radishes, egg yolk and seaweed beautifully presented on a grey and black-dotted plate and stressing the uncompromisingly rough simplicity. The radishes were bitter, but only a little bit, and the egg was softening the taste, which was again twisted by the seaweed.

Skate wing, watercress, celeri cooked in hay, vild herbs and stems

2006 Denis Jeandeau, Saint-Veran ‘Chevigne’, Bourgogne

Next was a wonderful skate wing. So easy to comprehend and appreciate; yet another aspect of simplicity. The creamy flavours really complemented each other. The quality of the fish, I tell you, my mouth was watering by the look of the knife cutting through the delicate white and slightly reddish fish meat close to the centre. It was so full of taste.

Lobster in “red nuances”

2006 Domaine Richard Leroy, Anjou ’Les Noëls de Montbenault’, Loire

I’ve got lobster a few times at noma, but this version surely beat them all. The quality of the lobster was pure perfection! As a whole, the dish was exciting with this beautiful and red theme naming beets, redcurrant, seaweed, elderflower capers, onions and more.

Veal tongue and celeriac, veal breast and garden sorrel

2001 Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ’Henri Bonneau’, Rhône

The only meat course this afternoon was veal tongue. The first memory that always strikes me when someone mentions veal tongue, is of the one that my mum used to cook. My memory is that of a giant veal tongue lying on the kitchen table, boiled grey and flavourless. Eating it was the weirdest thing; sensing the little blisters against my own tongue. Not especially nice.

But – this veal tongue was a completely different thing. The meat was thinly sliced and rolled, and carefully cooked, so tender and with a very delicious veal taste that wasn’t like offal at all. The veal breast was the hairy thing on top. Unfortunately, after seven courses I was too full to clean the plate. If I had eaten this with my eyes closed I would never have guessed it was veal tongue.

2005 Vigneau-Chevreau, Vouvray Moelleux, Loire

Overripe pear and whey, malt and woodruff

On to the first of two desserts, which was a refreshing cleanser. A white landscape that only missed the red woolly gnomes’ hats to resemble a miniature Christmas landscape. The slight soft, moist and sweet pears got substance from the iced whey (skyr) and sweetness from the melted brown malt sauce and the crunchy tops of anise-flavoured meringue. Excellent.

2001 Domaine Marcel Deiss, Huebuhl, Alsace

Truffle from Gotland and curd

I couldn’t believe this: Truffles for the second time this afternoon? Curd balls were rolled in truffle crumble and decorated with orange caramel branches resembling tongues of fire. The dominating taste here was the truffle, but the dish was still dessert-like because of the creamy curd and the sweet sugar combining and balancing the ingredients. Lovely.

Goodness, I was full. And little tipsy. I sashayed back to the bar for coffee, flødebolle and a fortifying Marc de Bourgogne from DRC. James even came by and kindly chatted with us.

The other guests had left, the restaurant was almost empty and the quiet winter darkness enveloped noma. My companion’s remark summed it up: It’s so wonderful here. I don’t feel like leaving at all. That is the whole point. There is something so special about the lunch at noma.

Many, many thanks James, Ulf, Jacob and Lau!

24 Responses to “noma 13”

  • Hi Rob,

    Don’t worry about where you put the comment – the fact that you do so is most important. 😉

    I think it would be a fantastic thing if I could publish your review like a guest post here!

    You can send it to verygoodfood at gmail dot com.

    Thanks to you!

  • Hi Trine, I realised that this wasn’t your post about meeting Heston, sorry I replied to the wrong thread! But yes, I have got a couple of good photos and it would give me some incentive to write it up if you’re happy to post it (I’ll give you the chance to edit it first though…) You can read my first attempt at reviewing here:

    Thanks! Rob

  • I understand how you feel, Neil. In a way it was too overwhelming and makes it a bit blury to remember each dish and wine and your feelings about them, no?

    A Nassaaq menu would be easier to manage at lunch, I think. On the other hand, you might not know if/when you are getting back to noma and therefore want to experience as much as possible while there.

    I think, I was lucky to slowly get introduced to noma’s world by having three courses the first time I visited, then four on the second and then seven. noma wooed me and I had to give in.

    What a sweet thing to say that you found it an amazing to experience the dishes you have seen in my photos. I’m so happy you had a wonderful evening and really enjoyed the food despite the amount. THANK YOU for writing it up here!! 😀

    I still have a new lunch to write about. I had specifically requested only 5-6 courses, because I had felt that 12-14 were too much for me (I do feel spoiled saying this;)). The composistion of these dishes was so sharp, each dish completely different from one another. I got blown away. Again.

    One of these dishes were the oysters with sago. I loved it.

  • WOW, Robus! What a lucky man you are! Working with Heston in the research kitchen, that’s beyond my imagination. You MUST write about that experience! I’d be HAPPY to post a guest post from you here at Very Good Food!? Have you got photos also?

  • Well, we finally made it last Saturday for our first Noma visit!

    Phew! Frankly, we’re still recovering – we took the Nassaaq menu with accompanying wines. That was probably a little too ambitious! It was a LOT of food and Pontus did not skimp on the wonderful wines – I never had an empty glass at any point. We left full and rather drunk after 5 hours of overindulgence!

    But, it was an amazing experience to receive classic dish after classic dish matching the wonderful photographs that I have been following here over the past few months.

    The pre-meal snacks were a delight. The wavy toast and rye/chicken skin ‘sandwich’ especially.

    I can’t vouch for the order that we ate these courses but for the record they were:

    Squid with pickled kolrabi – very light and fresh, sort of cleaned the palate ready for the main event.

    Oysters with sago – I really liked this. The creamy sweetness of the sago contrasted with the freshness of the oysters and Pontus’s matching with a wonderful Musdcadet was fabulous.

    Razor clams with the horseradish ‘snow’ was great fun!

    The tartar with sorrel and tarragon – I was so happy when this came to the table! I hadn’t dared believe I’d be lucky enough to get it and it was fantastic. One of the best things that I have ever eaten!

    Læsø langoustine served on those big rocks were high class (although I still have wonderful memories of Paul Cunningham’s!)

    Radishes with egg yoke and seaweed were wonderful – another of my favourites of the evening.

    Onions with the little melted cheese (if I remember correctly) were also excellent.

    Okse rib meat was the main course and very good it was too. But by this time we had already eaten a lot and a large piece of meat was perhaps not exactly what our stomachs needed!

    King crab, ashes, leeks and foamed mussel stock – wonderful!

    Salsify with milk skin was an interesting combination of textures and I was surprised how rich the milk skin was.

    Garden sorrel and glazed sheeps milk yoghurt was wonderfully fresh.

    And then it becomes a bit of a blur! But..

    Snowman from Lammeforden was a sweet concoction with carrots – not to my taste but I’m not a desert fan anyway.

    And finally, the dried berries with dried cream and walnut dust which I did enjoy (I think!).

    We barely managed a bite of our flødeboller, we were so full!

    What an experience! I really feel I ticked off a lot of classics in one evening and perhaps that is not the ideal way to enjoy them. The nassaaq menu is a monster and I would not do it again! Next time will for sure be a little more restrained.

    I should add a word on the impeccable service. Given how many different people served us throughout the evening, it was a wonderful piece of choreography – relaxed and charming.

    But through the haze of Pontus’s many fine wines, I will forever remember that marvellous tartar as the absolute highlight of a wonderful evening.

    I’m not sure I will ever eat again!


  • Arsenal for me – which gave us something to talk about (and made my wife’s evening I’m sure!) By the way, I have a Heston story as well – last year I won a competition to have lunch at the Fat Duck and we spent the morning with him in the research kitchen. As you can imagine, it was amazing! I will have to write it up somewhere, there are some good photos too…

  • Hey Rob

    Thank you so much for this lovely comment. I feel quite sure that it must have been Lau to tell you that you don’t need to leave. Charming and tall gentleman, yup, must be Lau.

    I not Tottenham, who are you supporting, then? 😉


  • Hey Trine, great review and beautiful photos!

    We visited Copenhagen in February and ate at Noma and Geranium. Both fantastic, but without a doubt Noma was one of the food experiences of my life. This really brought back the memories, although the only dishes we had the same were the snacks, egg yolk with radishes and truffle dessert.

    Like your friend, as we sat having coffee I said ‘I don’t want to leave’, and the Maitre d’ said ‘You don’t have to!’ – I don’t remember his name though, a charming, tall gentleman?

    It’s such a shame that Pontus is a Tottenham fan …
    Cheers, Rob

  • Hi Aaron 🙂

    You’re too kind. Thanks very much, I really appreciate it!

    Looking forward to seeing you this year.


  • Hey Trine, just wanted to tell you I think your new photo format is really good looking!

  • As promised….

    I cannot wait until I go Noma!
    Not that I know when that will be 😉

    I’ve been eating raw prawns and fruit for ages…I thought I was just weird, but now I think I may actually have the makings of an exciting chef! 😛

  • That’s a very good question, Josh. Well, to be honest I think that 6 months is really too less for being able to make such a comparison. I also believe that it would be more appropriate to compare idential seasons.

    The Radishes, egg yolk and seaweed dish impressed me a lot. I mean, it’s a daring dish in look, composition and in taste. I’m sure not everyone would enjoy it. But it worked, and was harmonious. noma has the confidence to serve a dish like that. And that’s the impressions I was kind of left with: more confident. They have gained much more experience and so when creating new dishes they set off from a higher level. Does that make any sense?

    As too Sergio Herman, do go for the Père Et Fils menu! Unfortunately I went when oysters were out of season, but if I’d gone this time of the year I would have opted for the “Zeeuwse oesters” and not chosen the cheeses. Hope you’ll enjoy it – and happy birthday! 🙂

  • Just out of interest how do you think noma has developed during your 6 month gap? I had a really stunning nassaqq lunch in August, one of the best meals I’ve had and up in the company of dinners in Pierre Gagnaire and Alinea.

    Just one other question Im heading to Oud SLuis for my birthday and Im just wondering if you any advice menu wise?

  • Cool! Thanks, Jakob and Yin!

  • Hurraaaa… Jakob, you are my hero! Thank you so much for solving the mystery. 😀

    – so JC, there you go! 😉

    Yin, you were right! 🙂

    Allan, great to hear that I can count on you. Fantastic! Acquamarina, still need to try that one.

  • Trine + YKL: Søl is icelandic seaweed, as in the noma dish: Langoustines from the faroe islands with oyster emulsion, seaweed and rye bread. In this dish the søl is ground with salt.

  • Hi Trine,

    I don’t believe I’ve been to some of the greater restaurants, but I’ve visited Acquamarina (Era Ora’s fish restaurant) and Famo51 and enjoyed both a great deal.
    I would put Acquamarina in the L’Altro category, but with fish naturally.

    If there’s another 5-a-side I’ll be there for the db-event of the year 😉

    PS: My eye’s ok, thanks 😉

  • Hi Trine – you flatter me as always, and I’m sorry to repay your faith with so little assistance! The best I can offer you in terms of possible explanation of søl is that when I had a similar dish of the langoustines, my notes refer to seaweed – perhaps as dust or soil? Is that possible or plausible …. hmmm … not sure, what did the nice chaps at the restaurant say?

  • JC, thanks very much for your kind words. I remember it gladly, too. It was a great day.

    Perhaps, Yin, can help us with what “søl” is, cause I didn’t really ever find out?
    Thank you for stopping by, Yin, as always with a such sweet greeting! A very lovely New Year to you, too.

  • such detailed and evocative notes – thank you Trine. An extended lunch of good food, wine and company is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon methinks!

    Will email very soon – perhaps we can meet up in Jan – but in the meantime, here’s wishing you and Klaus a very very Happy New Year!

  • So fondly I remember our lunch at noma, that reading this review and seeing your photos (which are awesome, BTW – lovely colors! – I especially like the two truffle dishes, and the vegetables) made me feel a little wistful. 16 more months…

    However, I must say: full after seven courses?! I’m ashamed of you! 😛 Next time, before you go, you must first meditate on this mantra:

    “I am a bear. I devour all.”

    Then you will be ready for another nassaaq. 😉

    BTW, did you ever find out from anyone at noma what “søl” is?

  • Hehe, Laurent, to be honest I don’t remember the Deiss anymore. I’m sure though that I liked it! 🙂

    Hey Allan! 😀
    So grrreeat to see you back here! I’m trilled that you&Camilla had a good time.
    Yep – I’ve been missing your reviews. Have you been anywhere interesting lately apart from noma? sure hope to see you too again, Allan. Perhaps for the annual Five-a-Side on 21th June? 😉
    (Hope your eye is OK again).

    Take care both of you and very HAPPY NY to you guys too and your loved ones!

  • Some of the dishes look like those Camilla and I got when we went there in September, and they’re absolutely great.
    Søren’s vegetables and the lobster in red were just yum. The vegetable dish are one of my favourites of all the different plates I’ve had. So much power, yet so delicate.

    I haven’t gotten around to writing a review, actually my blog is pretty dead, which you’ve probably noticed 🙂 but the treatment and the food we got at noma the last time was worthy of their reviews!

    Take care Trine – and Happy New Year! I hope I see you again in 2009 🙂

    – Allan

    NB: Oh christ I just scratched my eye with chili fingers… Christ!

  • Fantastic Trine !

    The truffles dish looks awesome ! As the urchin and lobster courses.

    Geez, i clearly understand your last statement : there is something so special about noma. Can’t wait for my next visit (i’ll need to be a little bit patient though !)

    Did you enjoyed your last wine (M. Deiss) ?

    Happy NY to both of you !

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