I’m so sorry that I’ve been MIA for a week. I’ve been having exams, and every moment I’ve not been spent rehersing for my presentations means a greater chance I’ll sound like a dick during the exam. But it’s all been worth it, so that’s good. Another thing is that I knew I’d have to hit it home with a killer blog post to make it up with you. And here it is. The blog posts to end all blog posts. Oh, it’s just the best restaurant in the world. No biggie.
I’d been trying to get a reservation ever since I knew I was moving to Copenhagen. There’s a certain day and time that reservations for 3 months ahead open up, so in August, they were releasing the November dates. I was in London, and half an hour late because I forgot the time difference. This meant I was number 3000 something in their online queue, I waited hours, and of course all the tables were taken.
In September, they were releasing December dates. I leave Copenhagen the end of December, so this was my last chance. I was in Copenhagen at the time, I’d forgotten to set my alarm and I woke up 3 minutes before the reservations were released. Once I stopped crapping my pants and telling Boy to get his shit together (we were both going to try get reservations, number 3000 my ass). I clicked the link a minute early and there was a countdown. Holy crap. I was third in line. THIRD. WHAT. Then the schedule came up. Everything was green but it wouldn’t let me click on anything, maybe because I had clicked too early. Boy was somehow 2000 in line, so that was bloody useless.
I didn’t want to refresh the page because I would be at the back on the queue, and suddenly I had a thought. I clicked ‘change or cancel booking’, which let me stay on the same screen but just shifted the page text. I clicked to go back, and it let me click. I think I was sweating. Most days were still free. I booked a Saturday so I knew Boy could make it, booked it before my exams would start, booked for lunch time so we could make a day of it, and booked 5 seats for those unlucky sods who didn’t manage to get a seat. And here I am now.
That was the longest blog intro I’ve ever written. You better make yourself a cup of tea, because you’re in this for a while.
Boy and I arrived in style (well, Uber, anything not on a rented bike here is fancy to me) to find I-Mae and Bridget already waiting. Bridget’s friend, Amy, was also joining us, but had some bus troubles.
We were asked if we wanted to wait at the table, and it’d be ridiculous if the answer was anything other than a big, fat yes.
I walked past the kitchen in awe. This was happening. I was about to eat in the number one restaurant in the world. The online queue could finally kiss my ass.
It was super rustic looking. I don’t know how I expected it to be, but it wasn’t this. This was hugely refreshing, especially for the world’s best restaurant. Not pretentious one bit.
Not pretentious is something to highlight. The staff were the friendliest people. They didn’t look down on me or make me feel like I didn’t belong at a fancy restaurant. They were chatty, down to earth and super chilled. When we didn’t know if we should eat something with cutlery or our hands, they said we should eat it however we want.
Oh, this was going to be good.
We got fully equipped with some water and hot towels.
You can get wine pairings or juice pairings with your meal, or order drinks individually. Boy and I had discussed this already, and we knew a wine pairing would get us utterly pissed half way through the meal. I went for a juice pairing, but kicked things off with some champagne. You know, because I deserved it. And because Noma.
Boy had a glass of white wine.
Say hello to the whitest couple in the world.
Things kicked off with Fermented Plums and Pickled Wild Beach Rose Petals and Seasonings.
I took my first bite, and the rest of the 20-course meal clicked in my mind. This wasn’t about the best tasting food I’d ever had. It wasn’t going to be something I wanted to eat every day. It was about a once-in-a-life time experience where my taste buds would experience sensations like never before. That sounds cheesy as hell, but the rest of the group agreed. If I thought I had developed taste buds, boy was I wrong.
Next was Fresh Apple Marinated in Aquavit, so basically compressed in alcohol. It was topped with different condiments, such as their own miso paste in elderflower. At least that’s what I think they said. With four different toppings, each bite was designed to be different.
Next, Beet Tartar. It was beetroot baked for 2 hours at 220 degrees. This meant there was a layer of crispy at the top and a layer of juicy, and it was topped with pickled elderflower and sliced cherries.
I’m not a huge beetroot fan, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t eating it at Noma. I sucked it up and ate my way through it.
The next thing we knew, this package turns up.
Only to reveal some deliciously warm bread.
Not just any bread. It was made with Øland wheat, and what I can remember the chef saying from when they told us was that it was a rye sourdough with ancient grain (I was typing furiously on my phone and would yell at Boy when I forgot what they said and he didn’t pick it up, so I’m trying to be as accurate as possible). They make this bread twice a day.
On the side was some Virign Butter. I’m pretty certain they said something about how it was churned just to the point before buttermilk. Anyway, it spreaded like a dream and melted beautifully onto the warm bread. Isn’t that all that matters?
Following this (have I been writing too many essays or what), Cabbage leaves and white currants. When explained, it was cabbage with the bottom grilled on a barbecue and marinated with herbs, with parlsey on the outside of the bowl, and juice made with white and black current wood oil. I think.
Now came the first of my juices. Turnip and Green Strawberries.
Our next dish was Green Shoots of the Season with Scallop Marinade. The plate of different greens were from forrests, beaches and different farms. A team of 5 people (more in the summer) literally got out and foraage for them.
Each green had a different preperation process – some were grilled, some fresh, and some quickly tossed in a pan with horseradish. We scraped each green onto the plate to get as muc of the caramelised scallop marinade in every bite. It was really good.
Next up, Grilled Onion.
It’s overcharred to cook the inside. You’re supposed to scoop out the centre, which is cooked in walnut oil and salted with unripe elderberries from last year.
Who knew eating a whole onion would be so much fun?
More bread appeared on the table. We tried so hard to resist it so we wouldn’t get filled up, but it was just so good.
The next juce was an Apple Juice infused with Pine. This was seriously good. Maybe I can make this at home…
The next dish is something Ming would have been jealous about (I can see her face reading it now). It was Sea Urchin and Walnuts. The sea urchin is from the Faroe Islands and served raw, squashed in solution and covered in chopped walnuts.
Ming has taught me to appreciate sea urchin, so I very much did. I thought of her the whole time (see Ming, it was like you were there).
After that was the Sliced Raw Squid and Kelp. The squid was marinated in fermented sauce of leftover squid and small pieces of seawood cooked in a mushroom broth. The seaweed salt sauce was made of buttered roasted grains.
Again, I’m typing this out of the notes I made on my phone. Fingers crossed their accurate. I tried my best for you, okay, I could’ve just sat back and enjoyed the meal!
The juices were so good, I knew the next one would blow me away. I was mistaken. It turns out Cabbage, Parsley and Lovage Juice is just not for me.
The next dish was, though. It wasn’t just a Mahogany Clam. It was from the Northen part of Norway, and it was, oh, just 100 years old. It was put with four different types of gain and with a green powder made from dried samphire.
You can count the lines on the back to count how old it is. I took a picture instead.
After this, Monkfish Liver. It was actually brown butter smoked monkfish liver on top of sourdough bread toasted on the coals outside.
The liver was seriously cold, which I wasn’t expecting. The bread was extremely thin, and we were instructed to eat it quickly. It was one of their most time-sensitive dishes.
The next juice was Carrot with Unriped Gooseberries. It was better, but I was missing the sweeter juices. I’m just that kind of girl. You’d think all my green juice training would have geared me up for this.
I forgot to mention, each juice is to go with the following three courses. So the first course for this one was the Pumpkin, Caviar and Barley.
This was the time Boy had finished off his white and decided to move on to a red.
I’d moved on to the next dish – Egg Yolk, Potatoes and Nasturtium. The egg yolk was slightly steamed, and they made a beef sauce the same way you’d use soy to make a soy sauce, but used beef instead of soy beans obiously. The Danish potatoes were cooked in rose with plum kernels on top, with bee lava and rose water sauce.
My stomach was reaching its limits. What was wrong with me? I should have worn stretchy trousers. Or eaten less bread.
Boy was still munching away on this bread, which got refilled another time.
The Vegetable Flower was an insanely cool dish. It was black fermented garlic brought back from Japan, fermented for 6 weeks and shaped as leaves. They were dressed with strawberries and blackcurrents apparently. The texture was like roll-up candy, it was insane.
My juice hit a new high with the next one, Rose. I was asked if I’d heard of kombucha and liked it. The answer was yes. This was kombucha made with rose tea, topped with blackcurrent wood oil.
The next dish was the big one. It was the only big meat dish of the whole meal. Roasted Wild Duck. More specifically, it was a Danish wild duck shot the day before, cooked on a barbeque by being hung above flames. They served the whole bird, cutting the breast meat nicely for us to help ourselves. Once we were done, they’d take the rest of the bird back on the grill, cut off the neck, head, legs, everything, to chew on. We were told to watch out for pellets.
Through my slow process of transitioning to pescatarian/veggie/vegan, I’ve eaten less meat than I’ve ever done in my life. So it was kind of sad for me to see the whole duck like this. It was my one meat meal for a while, and it was Noma after all, so I made the best of the situation.
The meat was cooked beautifully. Holy crap. That was the most tender duck I’ve tasted in my life.
It was served with cabbage leaves on the side.
While they took the rest of the duck out to prepare, they brought us a snack – Truffle Æbleskiver. This is a Danish pastry, tropped with truffles and filled with lovage and something else that I didn’t catch.
I was so ridiculously full, but it was seriously good. I sadly had only enough room in my tummy to eat my own, but I would have finished everyones if I could’ve (they were all feeling full too).
Check out that beauty.
Soon enough (the dishes had come quickly throughout the whole meal), the duck was back. Every last bit of it. Head, neck, brain. We were told that the brain was delicious, and the neck was chewy. We kept looking for the brain but we’re still not sure what it was. Boy may have eaten the eye accidentally. Who knows.
It was served with a sauce made from plum skins, but I don’t even think it needed it.
This was me making the most of out the situation. The tenderest duck I will ever have in my life. Half because no one will make it as good ever again, but also because this will probably be the last time I have it. Out with a bang.
I don’t know how this dish could be followed up. But whilst we were eating, out came the Barries and Greens soaked in vinegar for one year. Fermented goosberries, fermented elderflower and salted cherries.
This wasn’t for me at all. It was far too sour. I was sad that I’d gotten rid of the delicious duck taste in my mouth, so I went back for more before they took it away.
The next juice was a Sorrel and Apple juice. I thought it’d be like the apple and pine, but you couldn’t really taste the apple in this one. Turns out I don’t like sorrel.
Dessert had clearly begun. The second of the desserts was Roasted Kelp Ice Cream and Lemon Thyme. There was fresh lovaged and charred lemon thyme from the barbecue, and a broth made from lemon thyme.
As you might have seen from Kitchen Table, I’m not exactly best friends with savoury ice-cream. I did my best, but headed out and focused on eating the lemon goodness instead.
Before our last course, I nipped off to the toilet, only to pass this on my way back. Hello, beautiful coffee (Yes I took my camera to the bathroom just in case I saw anything cool that’s not weird okay bye).
The sun was setting, as it does at 3 something in the afternoon. It was extremely hygge.
The first part was an egg liqueur.
The second was what was known as Forest Flavours & Chocolate. It was 3 different types of chocolates. Firstly, chocolate coated cep mushrooms. Then bon bons with fermented barley liquid inside (be prepared for this one, it literally squirts out in your mouth like a broken dam) and third was reindeer moss from the Northen part of Sweden, fried then sprayed in chocolate. Doesn’t that sound like the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard?
This was paired with creme faiche with burnt seaweed syrup.
We got stuck in.
As much as we wanted to make a dent in what we ate, we had been stuffed full to the brim. 20 courses will do that to you.
I needed some tea to clense, and got a Mint and Lemongrass Tea. They use the Rare Tea Company based in London.
Boy had a filtered coffee to end things.
Once the courses had stopped coming, we were asked if we wanted to see the kitchen. Um, duh.
A chef called Luke took us around, told us about everything and answered all our questions.
They had packed up since they were finished with lunch service, but there were still bits and bobs going on. Like sea urchin shinanigans.
He also took us outside and upstairs to where chefs were prepping. They have a lot of chefs interning there, and this was what they were doing. It was different to the kitchen inside the restaurant, there was music blaring and Boy was instantly in love. I think Noma are going to get a new applicant.
We also went into their staff room where they have their meals, where their lockers are, where they do some R&D. It was actually a beauty. The ingredients, the cookbooks. It was like a chef dream.
Then, back outside we went. We saw their hut they made to barbecue things on. Mostly just the onions right now.
We also explored the rooms where they fermented things.
It seriously topped off the whole experience. I got to ask him about their trip to Sydney in January (all paid staff pack their bags and set up shop there for 3 months). I also got to ask about Noma closing at the end of 2016, and the new restaurant that the head chef, Rene Redzepi, will be opening up. It sounds insanely cool, with their menu changing completely seasonly. In the summer, they’ll have a vegetarian-only menu. In fall, meat only. And winter, fish. Fall and winter could be the other way round. I can’t remember.
Once the tour was finished, we got a menu to take home about what we ate. Mine was special because it also included my juice pairings.
In fact, I know mine is special because I have the menu right in front of me now to help me write this post, and it doesn’t have the juice pairings. Boy must have taken mine. Bastard.
Another tick off the Copenhagen checklist. Actually, another tick off the life bucket list.