Friday, April 12, 2013

NOMA - A Great Performance

When the New York City Ballet told us that we were going back to Copenhagen, many dancers jumped on the phone to try to make reservations at Noma.  Noma is voted the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine.  It is one of the hardest restaurants to get a reservation to.  In fact, they only open their lines one day a month for reservations for three months in advance.  Unfortunately, I did not grand jete fast enough to get a reservation. I have to confess that I waited until casting for Copenhagen was revealed which was two weeks before we arrived in Denmark. By a miracle, I happen to have a friend with an inside contact and while I was there Noma called me that a table for two had opened up for that day. After hanging up the phone and screaming with happiness, I actually started to panic because I had to find a date at the last minute.  The issue here was that this date had to be interested in trying this experience and was free from performing.  I asked several people but they were dancing that night.  My pal Ashley Bouder (see her blog post) suggested for me to ask Amar Ramasar.  I had no idea Amar was a foodie and was eager to go!  So off to Noma we went....

From Right to left - Malt flatbread & Juniper, Moss & Cep, Cheese Cookie Presentation, Cheese Cookie, Rocket & Stems Berry

Our experience started off with a bang.  As we arrived, we found the entire staff (chefs included) waiting there to greet us.  I must say that they were a handsome bunch.  Oh La La or Oh Det as the Danes say!  We were seated by our lovely server Katherine and she asked us if we had any food allergies or sensitivities. Amar stated that he was allergic to crustaceans. She then explained to us how the courses would proceed.  There was no menu to choose so basically, we were to sit and get ready for the show.  Although, they offer a wine and a juice pairing (rumor has it they are divine), Amar and I decided to focus on the food and just stick with their own beer that they brew themselves!

Dried Carrot & Sorrel, Pickled & Smoked Quail Egg, Cod Liver & Milk, Ã†bleskiver &Muikku

Our first courses arrived very quickly.  One right after another. Some highlights were "moss and cep", "dried carrot and sorrel" and "pickled and smoked quail eggs."  As you can read these are not your ordinary dishes.  One of the most interesting of our "appetizers" was "sorrel and nasturtium" which contained grasshopper. Yes, GRASSHOPPER!  You read that right. Interestingly, grasshoppers are in the crustacean family, so Amar was served a grasshopper substitute.

Lumpish & Apple, Sorrel & Nasturtium, Leek & Cod Roe, Fresh Milk Curd & Blueberry Preserves

One of the most fascinating aspects at Noma was that each of the dishes was served by the chef that assembled the dish.  Each dish was served in a elegant and graciousness matter that one can only compare to the movements in a ballet.  The individual flavors were all so very strong.  I believe that it was caused by the preparations and techniques used in the kitchen.  They seemed to use curing, smoking, fermenting and pickling quite often.  These techniques boost the flavors of their already super fresh and clean products.

A Substitute for Amar, Brown Crab with Egg Yolk & Herbs, Onion & Fermented Pears, Beets & Plums

I found the combinations of ingredients incredibly fascinating.  Who would have ever thought of combining a dried carrot with ashes.  You know what?  It was very tasty.  A few highlights from our many courses about 20 plus was the Pike Perch and cabbages with verdena and dill.  The pike was soft and buttery and cooked to perfection.  It was also served with a fish bone stock foam that heighten the pike's flavor.  The dill sauce freshen the rest.  A completely luscious dish!
Potatoes & Bleak Fish Roe, Pike Perch & Cabbages with Verbena & Dill, Beef Rib & Lignin Berries, Gammel Dansk

Funny enough, my all time favorite thing that I ate here was one of the petit-fours.  It was a pork rind.  These were not your regular pork rinds that you buy in a bag.  These were chocolate and berry encrusted pork rinds.  They were like a little bite of heaven.  This was all enhanced by the fact that Amar and I grew up liking pork rinds more than potato chips.  We were so obsessed by these perfectly balanced crunchy, sweet, savory, creamy and spicy delights that we contemplated on asking them for a few bags to take home.
My Beloved Chocolate and Berry Pork Rind

We all can judge what we think is the best and worst, as it is a matter of opinion.  For me, Noma was everything that I expected it to be.  It was a very exciting time for me.  As you know, I am a food lover but their love and care of food is on another level.  You can feel the respect and thoughtfulness that they bestow on each dish.  This care inspired me.  I knew that food was beautiful however they made each plate a work of art.  I left Noma a changed man. 

My Handsome Date Amar Ramasar

On a side note, if you can not get a reservation at Noma try Bror.  It is a fairly new restaurant opened by a former Noma Chef.  It was also one of my culinary highlights in Copenhagen.  It is a more homestyle form of cooking but many "Noma Techniques" are used.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this place sounds amazing. But I guess one should get the reservation FIRST, then book the flights to Copenhagen! Thanks for posting!