The starters and the service
As may already appear obvious, Noma is a paradigm apart from any other eatery I have ever entered. Like other Michelin star establishments, you will get a new napkin when you drop yours, have your chair pushed in under you after you return from the bathroom, and be offered a wine list which, let’s be honest, you have no clue about and the only thing you can say after tasting is, ‘Yes, that’s alcoholic’. But, to even begin to understand the world where Redzepi’s technicalities of Nordic cuisine reside, you have to throw away the conventions of dining and be prepared to eat things live, inedible, and outright ridiculous. You will meet over twenty restaurant employees, talk to them about their own experiences (the vast majority of staff members are from overseas, notably Australia) and understand that they are professionally informal as well as damned brilliant at creating masterpiece meals.
Needless to say, the service was phenomenal. I am embarrassed to say I can’t remember the names of some of the waiters, who politely introduced themselves every time they graced our table, so I am going to refrain from using any personal information.
On being seated at the table, we were given some bread. Now, I love a good bread and oil at an eating establishment, but the presence of this bread was like no other. Swedish bread, freshly baked, was bestowed to us with some delightful goat’s milk butter and pork fat with apple schnapps topped with little crusty potatoes and onion. It came in its own warming casket for goodness sake, and for the price tag, I was willing to devour a loaf if it was on offer.
As I previously mentioned, my boyfriend and I were quite enjoying our champagne (which I later found out cost about £30 a glass, no biggie…) The wine specialist came over to us, and explained the structure of our lunchtime feast. We would be fed with several amuse–bouches and appetisers, followed by a selection of main courses, and a series of desserts. This added up to near twenty courses. The waiter clarified that the appetisers would come at a fairly quick pace, and we were required to choose our own drinks, or select the ‘wine pairing’ or ‘juice pairing’ menu. Taking a look at my boyfriend’s face, and reminiscing on our two years of Freshers fortnights, I think it was an easy to decision to make: ‘WINE PAIRING PLEASE.’ (This is where my journey to drunkenness began).
It was then announced that the first dish was already on the table. Amidst the vegetation in the flower pot that acted as a centre piece to the table, was a pair of what looked like…well…sticks. We were told these were ‘malt flowers’ with essence of juniper and pine leaves, and we gobbled these after dipping them in a tasty crème fraiche.
Soon after a fluffy plate of reindeer moss followed, then pork skin with compressed blackcurrant berries. Whilst we were gawping in awe at the beauty of each plate, the waiters were introducing themselves, explaining with exceptional detail the ingredients to the dishes, how they were made, where the ingredients were on, and so forth. They quite clearly adored their job, the staff, the restaurant, and the customers who were genuinely interested in it all, rather than just trying to impress a future investor at a business lunch. Our day was made even more special when Rene Redzepi himself came over and delivered a course, whilst wishing my boyfriend a ‘Happy 21st Birthday’, and proceeded to chat to him about other restaurants in Copenhagen. In my slightly euphoric state after a glass of champagne, I nearly felt my eyes prick with pathetic tear droplets at how lovely that was.
One of the most impressive and delicious things on the entire menu, were the potato and chicken liver mini sandwiches, if you like. Barely visible as a spud, intricate weavings of twig-like tatty’s enclosed an awesomely sumptuous meaty filling.
Another memorable dish came in the form of shrimp. ‘The next dish is fjord shrimp and will be served with brown butter emulsion’ (obviously, what else would you possibly have shrimp with?). It came in a beautiful glass jar with the top secure, on a bed of ice. We joyfully opened it, giggling at the madness of it all, before the shrimp started moving. At that point, I burst ‘I’m not on I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!’ and graciously refused. Admittedly, the euphoria and champagne had gone to my head, and I was in no state to kill a poor sea animal with my gnashers.
But, I was prepared to eat one, when a teeny smoked, pickled Finnish fish named muikko was placed through a dough ball and under my nose. We were told that these dough balls are usually eaten as a sweet treat in Denmark around Christmas; however these were turned unconventionally savoury for the dish.
I became even more ecstatic when I was told the next course would be egg. I LOVE EGGS. Over was brought a delightful stone egg, and inside this was two miniature quails eggs, steaming from the heat. The yoke was as slippery and appetising and soft yet strong, and I could have had another one (or two, or three, on special Dansk toast, with the cream of a cow’s udder or something). Coming soon: Main Courses, Dessert, SURPRISE BIRTHDAY CAKE and Kitchen Tour!