Saturday, September 22, 2012

Noma – fair is foul and foul is fair….

Hmmmm we had been looking forward to this magical night when we were to dine at the best restaurant in the world for a long time, and how could you not?

After fighting for a table in a way only matched by tickets to see the hottest of stars in the music world we finally got a table for the day before my birthday …. Trust me I’d rather try to get tickets for Justin Bieber!

The stage was set for a fine evening as we drank a glass of cava before leaving home.
I had asked several people who had been there before and got every kind of opinion, from “a circus where the guest is the clown, as the chefs delight themselves and their colleges with smoke and amazing effects more to their own delight when to that of the guest” to “the most sublime experience of my life – cant wait to go back” ... both statements from people who are used to go out to nice places and who’s opinions I trust… 
The most precise description turned out to be by my chiropractor of all people: “Do not look upon this as going out to a dinner, you might very well be hungry afterwards, look at it more as going to a spectacular show”. - I will say this much, we were not hungry afterwards, no way near, but on the other hand, we did not come all starved either.

We had come by some money that we did not expect and so we decided to go with an open mind and spend the 5000 kr. that an evening @ Noma runs you, including wine and herb tee.
When we got there -10 minutes before the set time (7 pm) we walked in and were immediately greeted by the host who while escorted us to our table. Here we where served by a host of friendly waiters who guided us through the evening in the most amazingly professional, though friendly way.  There is indeed one staff pr. guest our main waiter told us. This is an importing point as everything is done by hand, in house and to perfection, demanding and army of devoted people working for hours to create the spectacle we were to witness.

First we got a long line of appetizers / finger foods all of them beautiful works of art and none of them were what they appeared to be …. From the classics which we had hear about before – the vase of flowers where two of the twigs making up the bouquet were eatable…. and the pot of carrots planted in eatable “dirt” to pickled ants crushed and used in a sort of sauce… I always though that if I was to taste ant or grasshopper it would be in Thailand, not in Copenhagen and several times during the dinner were we reminded of the 3 witches from Macbeth:

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, a gulf-like stomach,
Of the rough sea salt glisten,
Root of poison hemlock dug up in the dark,
Liver of Christians not baptized,
Gall bladder of goat, and slips of pine trees
Cut off the tree when the moon eclipsed,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of a baby born dead
Delivered in a ditch by a prostitute,
Make the gruel thick and gooey.
Also add a tiger's guts,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble…

All things wired and wonderful seamed to have found its way into the kitchen. This is not to say that we did not enjoy the spectacle put on for us, but more that it was much more of a feast for the eyes when for the taste buds.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts, the chef from Beringer vineyards once said during a class on wine and food pairing:

If you do not like a wine, someone actually wanted it to taste that way (assuming nothing is actually wrong with the wine), you may not like it but it reflects a conscious choice from their side.

Same thing with Noma, you can not blame someone for setting out to do something and doing it sublimely, it is absolutely fair to believe that they are indeed the worlds best at what they do, it is just not my thing.

After the appetizers a long line of mains and desserts followed in a perfect pace.
Everything was as well choreographed as a ballet, but still in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Just as my friend jokingly had commented to me "Is this one of those places where you should have ordered potatoes on the side?"- they arrived.

But thanks, in no small part to my chiropractor, I knew what to expect and so I had a great evening. At the end of the evening we were given a real treat, one of the newest chefs showed us around the kitchen and introduced us to the staff, while explaining about the whole process. Considering the stories about Rene’s (the head chefs) bad temper and his hysteric fits of rage, that has been all over the press, the young man seamed almost to set on telling us what an amazing atmosphere the place had and how they were all one big happy family. One the other hand I must say the kitchen was filled with smiles and upbeat music.

My conclusion is this – if you have the money and you wanna see what the best of the best LOOKS like, by all means go, but if you are looking for value for money and a great meal, I’d go somewhere else. This was hammered home, by the fact that we had a meal today at a small Moroccan place, which cost us 59 kr. and had us smile in a way Noma was no way near….. to quote my friend “how clever of you to braise a neck of veal to perfection, shred it to atoms and put it back together again in a way that made it look like a fur ball and taste of nothing whatsoever,…. But why do it?” call me ignorant and uncultured, so be it! Foodieboy knows what he likes, and Noma just ain’t it!  

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