Back in 2009 I was lucky enough to be in Denmark for a couple of birthday celebrations, one for me and one for my Mum (Mother Smith).
We were there to explore and to see new things and thought it was a good way for birthdays to be celebrated. My present was part of the trip being paid for and the present for my Mother Smith was to be taken to Noma for lunch. I had also arranged for us to meet up with an old family friend in Copenhagen as well, who my Mother Smith had not seen for a very long time.
I was luck enough to be able to book us a table for lunch a Noma as this was just before the time they were known world wide. From memory they were rated 3rd best in the world at the time, but in the year of the visit that rating changed to number 1 and it became very difficult to find a table, which is no surprise really.
The whole scene was set in advance of the meal. Knowing that we would be out and about in the morning beforehand I emailed the restaurant to find out if there was a dress code or not, so we knew whether we would need to go back to the hotel first or not. The lovely response was, no, come in what you are comfy wearing. There is no way I would turn up scruffy to any restaurant, but it did mean that we would be comfy and able to go straight from the morning out.
After wondering round wonderful Copenhagen we headed off for a much anticipated lunch. When we entered we were not at all disappointed. As soon as we sat down we were offered chilled birch water, which was explained to us as water from birch trees that they tap, which has a slight sweetness to it. The taste was lovely and the scene was set
After ordering a couple of drinks the food started to arrive. At this point we had not seen a menu so had no idea what to expect, but the food came starting with gorgeous smoked quails eggs. The great touch of them smoking in a big shell was amazing, as was the taste and texture
These were then followed by lumpfish roe which was in-between a cracker and some crispy chicken. This hit the mark as both us have a weakness for crispy skin
The whole meal was full of surprises and delights, but this was probably the biggest surprise of them all. When a flower pot with carrots ‘growing’ in it is delivered to the table you start to wonder what is going on. It was explained to us that we could eat everything, apart from the pot of course. At that point we looked at each other and queried that and asked if he meant the soil as well? The answer was a yes. In the spirit of adventure we both pulled a carrot out and discovered that under the layer of ‘soil’ there was a lovely herb mouse that worked so well with the carrot and the soil. When we asked about the soil afterwards we found out that it was a malt soil that takes 2 days to make!
After the delights of the carrots along came some cod roe on a wafer and some herbs. Still no menu at this time, but we did not care as we were just enjoying the food that was coming to us
At this point we did get the menu and some amazing bread. The little bags kept the bread nicely warm and warm bread is just so good I can not stop eating it.
We made our decision on which of the tasting menus to have and sat back and nibbled on the bread. While the waiter was taking the order for the food, he took some wine orders from us. Although there was not a wine pairing menu I asked if they could match wines for each course, and as with everything this was not a problem at all for them
The first of the dishes from the menu was this lovely squid with cucumber. At this point I was wondering what Mother Smith would think as she does not like squid as it is always chewy (her view). I had nothing to worry about as it all disappeared with no problems at all.
Next up were razor clams which were served in a parsley jelly served with frozen horseradish and a dill and mussel juice. Not sure how I can describe this as it was such a unique combination of flavours and textures, the likes of which we had never seen or heard of before, but it was amazing and you start to wonder how a chef can come up with such clever ideas
The amazing food kept on coming with this cauliflower and elderberry capers with cheese and butter sauce. Quite possibly the best cauliflower cheese the world has seen (or at least that I have seen)
You may noted that at this stage we had not had any meat, but that was changed with some pork belly served with beetroot, beetroot jelly, puffed malt, rosehip leaves and ceps. Now how to describe it, words can not do it justice, but OMG it was bloody gorgeous and the most flavoursome and tender pork belly I have had (and I have had lots!)
Finally things were coming to an end and it was time for pudding. This was walnut powder with ice cream, dried cream and dried berries. A stunning way to end the meal
At this point about 3 hours had past and we moved through to the bar for a cuppa and were treated a lovely little chocolate and beetroot mousse
As with all good things it had to come to an end, but what an amazing lunch. Was Noma really one of the worlds best restaurants? That is a very subjective thing, but it was voted the worlds best several years in a row and although I have not been to every restaurant I have been lucky enough to go to some amazing ones and I believe that Noma gave me an experience worthy of being the best in the world. I would happily go back any day for another experience.
The great thing was that both myself and my Mum enjoyed it and had a great time. To top things off, several months later, Rene Redzeppi launched his book about Noma. I managed to get myself in to the UK launch and got Rene to sign a book to my Mum with a little personal note to her. This was then her xmas present that year and I know she loved it and showed it off to her friends. After all, it is not everyone that has a note from the worlds best chef.