As we walked through the icy canals of Copenhagen, shivers grew, and expectations rose to an untouched sky. Already flattered by a classic Sancerre, the streets felt empty and the ocean near. Boat houses, a modern opera and countless eateries bewildered the city and our thoughts considering what was awaiting us behind the doors of Noma.
Suddenly a street sign appeared on a wooden stake that looked as though a dock was near. NOMA was written in large letters pointing towards the enchanted house of the ocean. In the distance factories elegantly whistled their smoke into the northern sky. The façade was terribly enchanting and unexpected. Soon, the child in us awoke as the belief which time can so often steel, arose into the maddening sensation of expectation.
A slightly bearded man with a blissful look on his face welcomed us before the wooded carpet that led the way. All the senses started to wake, as the last walk led us through a garden of candles. An audience was standing behind a black door celebrating our arrival. And there, a table in front of the kitchen of warriors stood peacefully in the corner surrounded by a calming chaos. From that moment, a short journey began into the kingdom of the ocean.
Fear consumed us before the first step into the water. The smell of the sea water arose with our accompanied beverage only to touch the cool water before being slung into the deep blue sea with one fast and fearless motion. So pure and simple all the memories of the ocean that have and will be became clear through the concentrated taste that the livening Queen of the clams gifted.
Five further clams brought us into a Japanese garden. One quince tree standing right in the middle producing minute fruits with imperial flavour. Wind howling through the warm sunny sky shaking its leaves in a clockwise motion. The fruits dripping onto the roots by which they were formed. First the gardens carpet, softly entered the senses with elegance. By this time Venus blew the wind of wheat from a distance. As the sky turned to a mahogany colour cattle arose along the hilly horizon. Sitting below the alone standing tree the razor brought us back on our journey like a bridge over and back into the ocean.
Soon after the return to the waters, a gooseberry treat awaited us, only to find the artistically created armours bouncing and playing with the senses to experience the sweet taste of its actual appearance underneath a sheath of imitated crust. A genuine example of judging a book by its cover converted the essence into one with even greater validity. Lying, there in the pillow weeds, hovering through the waters playfully creating a touch of something completely different. Combined with a hint of an unfiltered Riesling made it both young and old at once. A truly unique journey that was similarly exciting.
On a soft serviette cushioned a green see ravioli, laying there swaying between the tides. Shifting from side to side as the water plays its soft flowing, rhythmic swells. An experience so calming that everything felt before is forgotten. A mixture of the sweet and savoury as the grey clouds above allusion a still mirroring surface. Madonna’s Trossen kept the waters in the smooth texture of what came before.
One person’s sweet is another one’s sour they say, once these two kebabs, like pure clouds of perch were presented with twigs of forest trees, memories start to arise of maybe the first sweet experience with construct. Imagine the sweetness of nature with the earthy hint of honey. Still the raw fish adjoined the flavours bringing something new into the algorithm which is “gastronomy”. A pot of clay storing the orange wine, so organic and pure combining with those sweet flavours that humour memory lane.
Stored in a stone treasure chest, life appeared and was awoken. Opening both the clam and the warm soothing smell of a seaweed soup. A mussel giving the portrait life, rhythm and movement. Smells drifted towards us like the first aromas when visiting the ocean, generating assurance of calm days to come. Warm, exotic humidity filled the air as the caviar and meaty mussel filtered its continuing illusion. Next picking the chest up with both hands, every moment the sensation intensifying as the weeds brushed against the skin and the warm waves flooded into our increasingly stimulated bodies. Warming both inside and out, at this moment it was clear that all can be forgotten when art becomes life.
Sticky, chewy, sweet… All that you can wish for as a child, yet ironically something you would not have dared to touch. Sea urchins, with their unappealing yet riveting look converted into playfulness. The texture sticking to both your fingers and teeth and leaving an impression. Just as you would expect them to act underwater, so their taste corresponds with a little flavour of joy.
What goes on inside the majestic commonly presented but craftily created cod, is all but a butter soft extravagance. Laying in an umami soup which helps the belly swim deviously through the rocky colourful sea mountains. The sour quince and fruits creating a crispy touch to the fast disappearing meat which slips quickly into the distance of the endless depths of the ocean.
Carnivorously delivered on the bone, the hands touched the bony texture going back to routes long forgotten by humanity. Chewing onto the tongue of the cod like a dog on a bone. Relentlessly gnawing through the crunch of the schnitzel. Full of emotion and courageously consuming, feeling a little as if it were natures necessity, and the deliciousness and beauty merely a precaution.
Once again bringing two such different landscapes into harmony. An oyster leaf first fuzzy then recognisable, with a herbal touch. So unique in its own field but undeniably stealing the oyster’s charm. An oyster can display all the aromas in the ocean, yet this leaf bending over itself like a freshly forming wave can mimic its inimitable existence. If you do not know how to enjoy the oceans gift begin by experiencing the leaf with the absence of its texture alone. Thereafter, the protected cod meat can slowly be enjoyed with the harmony of it all combined. The pastry so soft and sweet that the inside and out can be felt both together and alone. A pie of balance, boldness and benevolent beauty.
A beach with white sand which stretches imperfectly into the far distance with the tides brushing it smooth. The movement of these eight-legged creatures being shadowed by the slowly descending sun. After a second glance its hard shell becomes clear as the pine cone forest behind the strand is shaken by the afternoon breeze. Such fast movements make a soft inside unthinkable. Yet, peacefully the beach crab turns from a jittery creature into melted nothingness as it disappears into the white endless stretch. The pinecones, solitarily, left on the sand as its scent continued into the warm summer air.
A carefully crafted crab made of nothing more than flatbread, constructed by those that value not only taste but everything between the lines. The significance of recognising that something needs to be created in order for the real value to be explored. Thinking about what the thing is and not only that it is in itself just a thing. That all that is and was and will be took time to be modified by creative touch and innovation. The crunch of what the protective shell displays, explored with the first bite and then only does the sweet crab make its way into and through palate. A memoire of all fried pastry dished inspired into one artwork.
Dangerously hovering over the ocean’s depths, the deepest heats can break through its thickened shell. Still it stays strong as the insides start to sweeten over the ferociously burning fire. Handpicked presented so simply, the heat and fire smokes through the fields and creeps into the senses. Once again primitively cracking the shell and with a simple touch intensifying the structure. Outside so concealed and paradoxically sweetening, moving further into its creation. Danger with a touch of innocence.
When walking through the ocean’s gardens, one often forgets the wonder which lays below and sees only the beings which move with intent. So, the leaves and damp ground beneath is strengthened. A collection of light rays’ filter through the barrier above breaking its shield with caution. The wet, damp ground cushions and touch the peculiar flowers which cautiously appear with springs cool warmth. The creatures which walked upon the grounds still present in the false absence of life.
If it was intended to wake memories and experiences, eating dried berries in winter feels like a blurry image of the warm season past. Lightly salted and elegantly presented around a sweet cloud. A coat of joy covers the rich salted skin of the cod. A fisherman takes care when cutting through the layer which holds it together and helps it glide through the waters. The Nordic delicacy transformed into a sweet enjoyable history.
In the deepest most central part of the ocean only the stars above bring a light that covers the oceans surface. Looking upon the skies so regularly but clueless of what it means and where it ends. The stars the closest image of the ends of all which comes before.
A theatre through time and seasons as the dishes bring warmth into a benevolence of stinging cold. Time and objects placed together into a world where magnificence can be uncovered in the deepest and most shallow cracks of its flawed surface. And so, ended with a clear starry night fading away from a dream, we stepped back into the yellow vehicle which was at that point reality.
Check out NOMA’s website: https://noma.dk/