Copenhagen- Noma

Thursday in Copenhagen was a big day.  All of my NYC friends had finally arrived, the city was bustling with amazing brewers to kick off the Copenhagen Beer Celebration and we had a fabulous birthday lunch booked at Noma for our friend Steve.

Noma is run by René Redzepi, a 36 year old Danish chef who currently has two Michelen stars and has kept Noma ranked as The Best Restaurant in the World four out of the last five years. Rene is all about New Nordic cooking and the tasting menu he unleashed upon us that afternoon was a prime example of foraging at it's finest.  The meal begins with an array of "Snacks"...

Red Currant and lavender verbena

Nordic Coconut with quince and cabbage soup

Moss and Cep- Reindeer Moss seasoned with mushrooms and served with juniper creme fraiche

Elm leaves and yeast

Surf and Turf Tarts- flowers from the land, seaweed crust from the sea

Caramelized Milk and Cod Fish Liver

White Cabbage and samphire

Æbleskiver, lovage and parsely- danish doughnut fried in beef fat with grasshopper and flower

Lumpfish Toast- grilled toast with lumpfish roe and sperm coated with duck fat

Pickled Hay Smoked Quail Egg (Vegetarian menu only)

Burnt Leek and Cod Roe

Inside the leek...cod roe, lemon paste and blueberry

That concluded the snack portion of our meal and I have to say we were all pretty blown away.  There were eight of us and when asked to decide on our favorite dish not a single person said the same thing.  I loved everything...the Caramelized Cod Liver, Lumpfish Toast and Burnt Leek being the top three.   I was insanely jealous of the Quail Egg which was only for the vegetarians in our group.  It produced a cloud of smoke upon opening and smelled simply divine.

We had been enjoying a Noma brewed beer made with birch sap and finished with nettles (it was incredibly refreshing) during the snack courses, but switched over to wine pairings for the remainder of the meal.  Above is a picture of some of the wines that were poured.  I wish I had been taking better notes because it was the most unique, and quite possibly the best food and wine pairing meal I've had to date. 

 The meal started up again with an apple so beautiful I almost felt like I was in Snow White.

Apple and kelp poached in sloe berry

Scandanavian Grain Bread served with virgin butter (butter made before the buttermilk has been extracted) and whipped lardo topped with pork scratchings and onion. 

I need to interject here and say that this butter is the best butter in the world.  I'm not kidding.  I took one bite and it was almost like Noma's possible someone was talking to me, perhaps I even missed out on a wine pairing description, all I know is that for one full minute I couldn't focus on anything except that insanely rich, buttery flavor.  That's my little bowl of heaven right there.

Shrimp and ramson- little ramson raviolis filled with shrimp

Milk Curd and blueberries

Beef Tartare and wood ants

Beetroot and flowers

Egg and fresh greens

Turbot and nasturium

The Danish Turbot was the end of the savory courses.  As you can see the meal was much more focused on plants and vegetables than the usual procession of meat and fish on many tasting menus.  I'll admit the wood ants on the beef tartare completely turned me off.  I forced down one bite but the thought of another made me feel sick.  I'm the only one in the whole group who had such an aversion to them...too bad since beef tartare is usually my favorite.

 Let's move onto desserts...

Aronia berries and söl

Söl innards

Potato and Plum 

Both of the desserts were interesting.  I wasn't a huge fan of the Aronia berries and söl.  The thick frozen texture of the cheese stunted any sort of flavor besides "cold" to me.  However the Potatoes and Plum was a delight.  I was surprised how intense the sour plum was and happily bemused by the comforting sweetness of the mashed potato.

We finished off the last "true" dessert course with a coffee before moving on to some extra sweets.

Yeast and Sea Buckthron- aerated caramel made with sourdough

Classic Danish

Puffed Pork Crackling with chocolate and berries

Potato Chip with chocolate and seeds (vegetarians menu only)

That concluded our amazing 3 1/2 hour lunch.  It was like something I've never experienced before and likely never will again.  The creativity at this restaurant is not only exciting but inspiring.  We took a tour of the bottom kitchen after our meal and up the stairs to see where all those crazy dishes get created.

It was incredible to see how many people were involved in the process from the grill guy in the back, to the foragers in the front...and what about the guys dreaming up the new menus items?  Apparently Crow may be next :)

It was simply an amazing afternoon that I'm so thankful to have experienced.  From the friendly staff, to the inventive food and fabulous company...everything was just about perfect that day.