Time for a new noma post! Today 2nd of August is my birthday so why not celebrate with a few words and photos from my latest visit to noma?
Long before noma was rewarded the best restaurant in the world, I ensured a table for four people on Saturday evening June 19th at 1900 hours. A couple of my friends hadn’t been to noma before, and I therefore asked the restaurant in advance to prepare a menu for us comprising a mixture of some of the wonderful classic dishes combined with new dishes from the evening menu. Month of June seems to be a wonderful time to visit noma because, just like last year, Champagne is the theme of the entire wine menu – and who can imagine anything better than lots of lovely champagne with noma’s sparkling dishes?
The nibbles offered something old and something new. You know, there is something really playful and joyful about all these appetizers. A part from being tasty, surprising and challenging they are also a bit childish. Well some of them are, at least.
The very first snack was like a shock to my taste buds. The highly acidic sea-buckthorn “leather” really awakened my appetite and there was a nice and intense perfumed aroma to it from the rose hips. I liked it.
Savoury cookies with speck and blackcurrants
I’ve had these cookies a few times now and they always have a smiling affect on me because of the perfect way they are being brought to the table. Note all the empty shells insinuating that someone came before you.
Imagine all the fun René and the guys in the kitchen must have had when they got the idea of serving LIVE Fjord shrimp? As these shrimp were served on the rocks, they didn’t kick and wriggle as much as the first time I tried this at the Cook it Raw! event. They came alive between your fingers, though – just to suddenly stop kicking when you chewed them, of course.
Then followed the radishes with the tarragon soil and…
Toasted rye bread sandwich with chicken skin, smoked cheese and fava bean cream
Champagne ‘Les Clos’ Laherte Chavot, Coteaux Sud d’Epernay
My friends seemed really taken by surprise by all these snacks. I was worried, though, if this culinary prologue maybe was a bit too much?
NV Champagne Brut Blanc de Blanc Pascal Doquet Vertus, Côte de blanc
Raw shrimp with sea urchin snow
First real course was the raw shrimp with sea urchin snow, and the dish resembled a walk on the beach. The stones had literally been frozen onto the plate. I was amazed at the true and pure taste of the sea urchin which was completely intact comparing with how I remember the taste of the fresh sea urchin.
Dried scallops and watercress biodynamic cereals
The dish of dried scallops and watercress biodynamic cereals was an interesting thing. In fact I very much enjoyed the rich flavours. I also found that the dried scallops were an exciting way to serve them and the flavours appeared clean and harmonious to me.
Next up were the dishes of the classic tartar and the Faroe Island langoustine. After that followed yet another new invention.
NV Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc Jaques Lassaigne Montgueux
Tartar and wood sorrel , aromatic juniper and tarragon
NV Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Inflorescence (Cédric Bouchard) Celels-sour-Ource, Aube
Oyster and the ocean
On Facebook I had seen photos of this course and I wondered how I would enjoy it. It appeared to be completely different to what I had expected – I wouldn’t need to dig into the pot at all. The pot’s function was simply to prominently present the fabulous oyster and to create an image of the ocean to mind-set me before my tongue would experience the saltiness, meatiness, popping tapioca seeds, pickled elderberry capers, herbs and flowers.
White and green asparagus , pine
From the ocean we moved back to the beach again – very often you find pine trees along the beach in Denmark and this is exactly what this next dish reminded me of. The asparagus was full of taste and juicy and the pine not too dominating in taste. Very nice scent.
André Beaufort Abonnay Blanc, Champagne
Milk skin and potatoes
When sous-chef Victor presented the following course he stressed the word “milk skin”. This was a hint to me as I specifically had requested something comprising milk skin. I guess I’m a bit childish too. A few years ago there was a lot of fuzz around the fact of noma serving milk skin which is something most people combine with something unpleasant. I wanted my friends to try the milk skin for themselves.
The combination of the baby root potatoes, the potato crisps and the milk skin was very delighting, mild and delicately presented the best characteristics of milk and potatoes.
Carrot from Lammefjorden with garden of beach and stems of sorrel, truffle (Gotland) sauce, rapseed oil
Then next up was a slowly baked (or cooked?) carrot from Lammefjorden. It was quite remarkable how intense and rich the carrot flavour was. If I were a vegetarian I could probably consider this dish a main course. The garnish of the stems and the truffle had a balancing affect on the rich taste of the carrot.
I really don’t fancy toy food or food presented in a way as it’s an entertainment just to amuse rather than give gastronomical pleasure. I’m pretty conservative in this respect and prefer that the food is perfection when it’s placed before me. I don’t want to take part in the preparation of it.
So, when the server introduced the Hen and the Egg I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it.
2006 Champagne Extra Brut ‘Les vignes d’Autrefois’ Laherte Chavot, Coteaux Sud d’Epernay
The recipe was to break the egg over the 250 degrees Celsius hot pan and to fry it in rapeseed oil. Then we were told to add herbs butter and sautéed the spinach, the ramson and the lovage leaves in the melted butter.
The hen and the egg
Finally we sprinkled with potato crisps and sorrel sauce. An there you go – the most delicious fried egg I’ve ever had. noma had won me over and I had to let all of my skepticism go away. The egg was so deliciously full of taste and I was surprised (and proud?) that I myself had (almost) created such a perfect dish. Great thing.
The egg course must have really kicked me sideways, because I completely forgot to photograph the excellent main course of
Ox cheek and endive , pickled pear and verbena, sorry to say, and with which we drank:
David Léclapart, Trépail Rouge, Coteaux Champenois Rouge
NV Champagne Demi-Sec Vincent Couche Bulles de Miel, Aube
We were blessed with three desserts of which I had particularly requested the first one for my friends.
Glazed sheep’s milk mousse and sorrel granité
I love this dessert as much as the first time I got it. It’s the perfect sweet and fresh thing.
NV Champagne Demi-Sec André Beaufort Ambonnay, Valle de la Marne
“Gammel dansk” milk and wood sorrel
Both new desserts were really smashing. Although there was a bit of a savoury thing about them there was still enough sweetness to please my palate and at the same time they were fresh.
Champagning it all the way through the menu was just lovely and really my kind of thing. The bottles were all quite different and it was nice to compare each of them. The parring with the food was also clever.
After a good cup of coffee and the new invention of the smoked bone marrow fudge with bone and everything it was the end of my 21th visit to noma. What an excellent one!
Thank you dearly René, Victor, James and all of you!