So, now on to lunch proper – and this is where we got the menus. Well, to be honest the menu consisted of a request from the maître-d as to our particular allergies (none) and food dislikes (nothing that I wouldn’t try at Noma anyway!) and then a choice of the standard seven course lunch or the more advanced “as many dishes as we can fit in before service ends” option… After that endless supply of delicious snacks there was only really one choice – and that was the standard menu!
We decided against having a wine flight – and instead asked for a selection of three glasses; two white and one red to accompany our lunch. At the moment Noma is focused on German wines and so we were recommended (and accepted – naturally) two whites and a red. The first white was a dry pinot blanc – delicious – and that was to match the first three courses.
#1 Grilled lettuce puree with shaved hazelnuts and goats cheese panna cotta – those vivid greens and enormous slices of hazelnut complementing the creaminess of the subtle goats cheese. And who would have thought that the puree really would taste of chargrilled lettuce!
#2 De-hydrated scallops with Danish grains, pine kernels and squid ink split with seaweed oil – now I’ve said that Noma focuses on lightness of touch and by and large they do. However, this dish is about as heavy as they do, because those slivers of dried scallop pack a real flavour punch and with the protein chewiness and crunch provided by the grains and pine kernel , this really does satisfy more than one might expect.
#3 Steamed oyster with horseradish and herbs – this dish was beautifully presented in an enclosed Le Creuset casserole dish (ours were blue, but other tables had different colours) with each diner presented with their own dish at the same time. Now as there were only two of us at our table this probably didn’t look too much like an event but when the table of eight (noisy Swedes) got to this point of their meal the entire kitchen emptied of sous chefs as they all trooped out in precession and it really did look quite exciting! Even when the lid was removed the contents were a joy to behold: a single (huge) oyster lying on a bed of stones foraged from the seashore mixed with mussel and cockle shells – the fragrant steam rising from the casserole and enticing one to lift the top half of the oyster shell to reveal the artwork beneath! Trust me – it tastes even better than the picture it looks!
#5 Chargrilled onions, solera grape and thyme oil dressing with tapioca – now this is probably the prettiest dish of all and what you can’t appreciate here is the amazing aroma that was rising from the plate: the sweet pungent onion mixed with the fresh sweetness of the grape and thyme oil was a heady and utterly alluring mix. And the taste didn’t disappoint – definitely one of my favourites. For the previous dish and this one we had moved onto to beautiful, almost cider like, sparling white wine from the the Mosel region of Germany – and the tingle of the bubbles made the tapioca, coated in that sumptuous solera and thyme drizzle, dance in the mouth!
#6 Duck and thyme with apple three ways – poached duck breast cooked at low temperature in a water bath encrusted with fresh thyme served with apple wedges cooked in butter, apple pressed and marinated in its own juice and then curled into tubes dusted with powdered, dehydrated apple skin. Finally a traditional duck jus drizzled over the top… and if that wasn’t enough the chefs had played around and made fake apple pips from malt flour just for fun! Accompanied by a very tasty but almost Beaujolais light red this was perhaps the most classic of all the dishes but we weren’t complaining and the last of the bread came in handy to mop up that rich and silky jus! Oh and the meat knife? Well that was a reindeer horn handled “sami” knife – a work of art and a fine tool in one.
#7 Aerated pine parfait with poached pear and herbs – now this chunk of pale green sponge looks very weird and eaten in small pieces it was. However demolished in large bites it came into its own with the bubbles compacting to give a creamy mouthful of very subtle pine forest. The pair was poached beautiful leaving just a little bite to it and had a thin slice of raw fruit covered in fresh herbs on top to give it another layer of texture and flavour.
#8 Gammel Dansk ice-cream with milk crisp and wild sorrel – along with the first dish this was the smallest dish in terms of volume; but not in terms of flavour. Mixing the bitterness of gammel dansk with the freshness of milk (albeit in meringue crisp form) and the citrus tang of wild sorrel is nothing short of genius. There was a bit of “crumble” propping up the ice-cream to add some crispy texture but I sadly can’t remember what it was… sorry!
#9 Bitter chocolate covered potato crisps with fennel and aniseed – to accompany the coffee, so this doesn’t really count as a dish in itself but the taste was phenomenal with the crispyness of the potato matched with the bitter sweet chocolate and the fragrance of the herbs and spices.
#10 Chocolate covered marshmallows – the simplest of the dishes; citrus marshmallow with an extremely light wafer base dipped in milk chocolate. Traditional maybe; delicious yes!
Now properly satiated it was time to venture back out into the snowy Copenhagen evening… not too fat but so very, very happy! But some of you beady eyed readers might have noticed that my numbering of dishes went somewhat ary – jumping over a dish? Well you would be right –dish #4, the fried egg is in fact worthy of a post all by itself!