It was a chilly morning when we arrived in Copenhagen. A crisp breeze and green scenery welcomed us as we rode a cab to our hotel. We had 2 hours to kill until our 1pm reservation at the World’s No. 1 Restaurant in the World according to San Pellegrino’s 2012 List, and yet we couldn’t contain our excitement.
Half an hour before our reservation we hopped in another cab. The driver took us off the beaten track, stopping a few steps away from what looked like an old warehouse right by the docks opposite Nyhavn. The restaurant’s location and ambiance were different than Geranium’s, another Copenhagen restaurant in the San Pellegrino list which have been to as well. Although we truly enjoyed our experience at Geranium, we were ready for something different.
Staff ten deep in the reception area warmly greeted us as we made our way inside. When we got to our table, one of the chefs asked us if there’s anything we don’t eat and told us to be prepared for some “surprises.” Exactly what we wanted to hear.
Similar to the other tasting menus we’ve had, we were started off with the amuse bouche. The very first one came from an unassuming vase filled with leaves, tiny flowers, and twigs.
Malt flatbread and juniper – One of the chefs brought out crème fraiche and asked us to pick the “twigs” from the vase. It turned out that the twigs were made of flatbread baked to crisp and dashed with juniper.The crème fraiche was heavy cream that had a hint of sourness to it.
Moss and cep – A seasonal dish mainly because the main ingredient, fresh reindeer moss, only grows during winter. The moss was fried and made crispy dusted with powdered cep. For those with curious minds, cep is a type of mushroom better known as porcini. It is supposed to be highly valued by chefs and gourmets according to BBC Food. The whole dish was scrumptious and had an earthy taste to it.
Crispy pork skin and black currant – They were not your ordinary fried crispy pork rind as they were served with black currant leather on top of each piece. We were told that the chefs had to juice pieces of black currant and left them to dry into pieces of delicate strips with texture similar to leather. Each heavenly bite gives off a tangy taste from the black currant set off by the salty and fatty taste of the pork rind. The dish was not only creative but also delicious.
Blue mussel and celery – Two pieces of blue mussels stuck out from a beautiful plate full of blue mussel shells. As we each picked up a piece, the chef told us that we could eat the bottom shell. Dumbfounded, we ate as we were told. We later found out that the edible shells were made of squid ink crusts. The mussels were fresh and briny. The creamy celery sauce added to the mussel made it seem as if we were actually eating something fresh out of the sea.
Cheese cookie, rocket and stems – Placed inside a pretty tin can were tiny cheese cookies topped with chopped stems of some fresh herb. The sweet and salty play of this dish was simply amazing! P.S. Be careful not to eat the under wrapper as they are not edible.
Potato and duck liver – This savory dish featured potatoes shredded into strands lumped together to form two small crispy buns seasoned with powdered black trumpets mushroom. Between each bun was duck liver cream. The prominent taste was that of the duck liver, rich, buttery and delicate and subtler than the taste of foie gras, combined with the smoky flavor of the powdered black trumpets.
Shrimp and butter – The chef was not kidding when he said that the shrimps inside a kilner jar on top of the ice cubes were fresh. As we picked up each piece, the shrimp started moving making it hard for us to get a hold of it. We didn’t know what to expect in terms of taste, as I’m not sure if I would like it.Nonetheless, I grabbed the shrimp firmer this time around and dipped it in the brown butter sauce that came with it.Surprisingly, I thought the shrimp with the dipping sauce tasted sweet, pure and exquisite. For a moment there, I considered asking for a second serving!
Dried carrot and sorrel – Sticks of dehydrated carrots were served on top of hay ash. A plate of tangy sorrel paste also came together with the dish as a dipping sauce. After being dehydrated for several hours, the carrots were slow roasted making each stick extremely flavorful, with a trace of sweetness, while giving it a chewy texture.
Pickled and smoked quail eggs – A porcelain egg-shaped container was placed right in front of us.As we opened the lid, a fragrant aroma of burnt hay leaves started to drift away. The inside of the container revealed two pickled and smoked quail eggs. As we swallowed an egg, a burst of warm velvety liquid exploded in our mouths, which we assumed to be the yolk. These eggs were truly delectable.
Radish, soil, and grass – Creativity at its finest. Our next dish came to us in a form of a small terracotta pot in which it looked like some kind of vegetable was growing from the soil. We were told to “dig in;” a phrase that had to be taken both figuratively and literally. And so we got our hands dirty, by first pulling out the vegetable stem from the soil. We were surprised to see a tiny piece of radish from the other end of the stem. Each radish was slightly bitter when eaten by itself but it becomes a different story when eaten with “soil.” The “soil” inside the pot was made from malt, hazelnut crumble, asparagus and creamy yogurt. Everything about this dish was not only visually enticing but also mouthwatering.
Sorrel leaves and cricket paste – One of the chefs told us that our next dish would consist of fermented crickets and grasshoppers. With that, two sorrel leaves standing on a frozen block of ice within a bowl were placed in front of us. Curious to know how crickets and grasshoppers made their way into our dish, we each plucked a leaf and unfolded it to see if there were any visible traces of these insects. To our disappointment, there were none. Seemed like they were turned into a green paste instead. The green icy bits on top of the block of ice, beneath the sorrel leaves, were icy nasturtium. Each bite of the leaves presents a pungent, nutty and leafy taste. It was an enjoyable dish. The mere fact that we were somehow eating insects definitely added to the fun!
Leek and cod roe – Don’t be fooled by the exterior of these leeks into thinking that the next dish would taste like burnt stems. On the contrary, these were probably the best tasting leeks we’ve ever had to date. The inside of the leeks were soft and tasty intensified by the slightly salty cod roe slathered on them.
After 12 small portions of beautiful and absolutely tasty dishes, that summed up the chef’s amuse bouche. On my next post, I will take you through the mouthwatering appetizers and main courses of Noma’s seasonal tasting menu.