Everyone collects something. My friend L: purses; my friend T: religious artifacts; my slutty friend R: lovers. I collect restaurants. Lunch at Noma restaurant in Copenhagen is in my Top Five.
ABOUT NOMA RESTAURANT
Noma restaurant, Denmark’s sole Michelin two-star establishment, has claimed the title of BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the past three years. It is known for its innovative and inventive approach to Nordic cuisine.
Not too stuffy. Which is good: I despise attitude in a restaurant. The decor is what I expect from the Danes: understated, natural, classy, slightly Beowulf: light pouring in from the waterfront, wood floor, exposed brick and beams, simple chairs draped in wooly animal skins (?).
The menu consists of three prix-fixe options ranging from “Noma’s lunch menu for the busy” ($75) to the 12-course, four-hour, $240 (sans wine-pairing) option. I’ve traveled too far for the small menu and there’s no way in hell I can digest the large menu: I opt for the $105 meal (Denmark is not inexpensive.)
The servers present me with a series of amuse-bouches, each more clever than the one preceding it: smoked, pickeled, and soft quail eggs served in their shells, resting upon nests of hay; chicken skin, gjetost cheese and vegetables served on wafer-thin toast; just-plucked radishes nestled in an herb emulsion that looks a lot like dirt. My bouche is truly amused.
I pull-out my pad and pen, take notes, and the staff descends upon me like clockwork. Mistaken as a restaurant critic/food-writer (an assumption I never bother to correct), I am now An Important Person. Works every time (Elena Arzak once gave me a personal tour of her kitchen, but that’s another post).
The dishes that follow are more brilliant, more delicious than the appetizers:
- Mackerel and grilled cucumber, dill and nasturium leaves
- Lamb and cauliflower stems with sorrel and watercress
- Mushroom and birchwine bouillon with egg yolk and chickweed
I devour each dish.
And I’m SO miserable. Just one big, gluttonous mess.
“Are you ready for dessert?” asks the server.
“No.” Seriously, I’m full.
“But it will remind you of a walk in the woods,” he cajoles.
Sounds like a douche commercial. But…How can I resist a walk in the woods? Exercise is exactly what I need at this moment.
Best. Dessert. Ever. Best-looking. Best-tasting. Just Best. Plump blueberries, homemade vanilla ice cream, vibrant fruit sorbet, a pine and thyme-laced granita and sugar cookie croutons. I all but lift the bowl to my face and lick it clean.
“How did you enjoy your dessert?” asks my server as he scrapes non-existent crumbs from the tabletop.
“I feel as though I’ve just taken a walk in the woods!”