Noma – life is a long and calm river

Translated from Hebrew by David Califa

Before I start there something I must say; I did not eat ants at Noma. If they served them I'd probably eat them, but the ants did not show, perhaps because I was expecting them and ants as I know them come only as unexpected guests

I actually think that they havn't shown up just to prove to me that Noma is  much better then ants. It's my opinion that this ants association with  the . Noma dis-serve the restaurant. The proof to that is that even my mom, for whom eating falafel at Mazal in Gedera is a culinary climax , asked me if ants are tasty

I didn't want to go to Noma. For days I tried convincing my rain maker that all this Denmark thing doesn't fit our mentality, that we won't find ourselves there, let alone enjoy it. The one who really convinced me that this all advanture isn't for me was chef eyal Shani who came back from Denmark totally enchanted. "It's one big crazy social experiment" he told us "An experimenet in happy people. You walk in the streets, shop in a supermarket, stop in a red light and you always see happy people all around you, this is weired and fantastic at the same time"… Happy people, I thought to myself – that's really not for me. It must be tiring being happy all the time, if not boring. Because what's life without a little heartbreak or some good drama? and do you think that happy life can produce a line like: "Sadness is like glass filled with bitter wine, made of grages of the soul" and what will I do now with this beautiful line "Tristeza nao tem fim, felicidade, sim…





But the rainmaker was adamant. The more I pressed and came up with the most logical and beautiful reasons how Italy is so gorgeous at this time of the year, or how long it's been since we ate in London, he became more stubborn. And when I pulled my sour face, an almost good for anything manipulation, he pulled an Ace from his sleeve – Lior Mashiach

Lior, with all her grace, melting smile and talent, is the pastry chef of Pronto Restaurant.  Three months ago Lior left her helm and went for a internship at Noma. She's also the one who convinced my rainmaker that a meal at Noma is a life experience. I even suspect that she used her smile on him, the cheeky one

I didn't give up even on the way from the hotel to the restaurant and complained about everything, about all the people riding their bikes, about them not bothering to lock them properly, about no-one stealing their bike, about not seeing children in the street, or homeless people, and no gypsies? and no cars? and that everyone is blond and tall and handsome. But actually, I couldn't convince even myself, and with every word that I uttered I realized that I myself live in a very crazy place, and that the Danish experiment isn't and experiment in happy people, but a desperate attempt of the world to show that so different is possible

 Noma sits on the bank of Kobenhavn Havenbade (harbor baths canal) and through its windows you can see people rowing in the long boats, just like that, tanned and blond, like they swallowed a huge portion of sun, and this shines through every pore in their skin. You can also spot tourists from all over the world snapping a selfie with Noma's sign, and go on their way to eat a good sausage or an open sandwich. For one second I wanted to be like them. But this was the last second

When we enter we are faced with more than 20 young people in gray aprons, a smile on their faces and fire in their eyes. The existential smile is of Lior who stands shoulder to shoulder to the right (left in the photo) of Rene Redzepi, the chef who created Noma, the man who is Noma. For a split second the whole scene reminds me of the volunteers dorm in the Kibutz, young people, from all over the world, Australia, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Japan, England and even Israel, standing in front of us with honest and proud smiles, indeed not barefoot and without long hair as I remembered our volunteers, but with the same ecstasy that only passionate  people have

Some of them young cooks from prominent restaurants in their countries and came for 3 months internship, and some of them  the talented chefs who who came for internship, but got captured in the magic and charisma of rene and his kitchen, and stayed on, for many years, to cook in the best, most creative, learning kitchen in the world


Noma - you had me at hello

In front of all these smiles, Rene's very personal and honest welcome, every bit of resistance in me melts away. My sarcasm packs itself up and makes place for listening and learning. In Noma the people sees the voice that came out from a culinary desert, and now listens. Rene Redzepi learns together with his chefs the Nordic surrounding, together they walk the forests, collecting grasses, picking flowers, digging ancient clams, breaking water from old wood barks and breath life to cooking technics and ways of flavors creation that almost forgotten from this world. If there is such thing as 'food for thought' here it is in front of you

 Here you won't eat stuff that as you bite it will raise a sign that says "I am tasty". No no no! At Noma they ask you to come curios, to think what is tasty for you and what is not, they ask you to look for your personal taste and research it together with them. When the ask you " Is it not to your taste?" they don't take offence when you say that you didn't like the dish. Together they try to understand your direction

Rene Redzepi takes you on a trip in his world and his thoughts. In his apple juice and pine needles drink the forest and when you bite a sweet mahogany clam you gently bite the memories of the bottom of the ocean. I know that I sound excited, not to say ecstatic, but Rene and his crew really take you and your taste buds to a safari of flavors

Noma - Rene Redzepi, David Califa, Naama Peled

It's difficult to remember all what was explained to us about what we ate, but I am going to try. I added my thoughts and associations to the photos I took, but when you come to Noma some of them will change and you'll most probably have a different thoughts. your own. Because this is the most seasonal and changing kitchen there is, and go figure, they might discover a new grain or berry in the forests

Plum and rose hips

Plum and rose hips
My grandma Rosa used to name rose hip pigs. She wasted no time in plucking them before they drain the plant from energy and used them for jam. How wonderful to meet them after so many years


Fresh berries and lemon thyme

Fresh berries and lemon thyme
This dish is about calm and peace of mind. Berries that were picked at dawn. If they sent me to pick them I'd probably eat them all in the forest


Oland wheat and virgin butter

Oland wheat and virgin butter
This butter, made by the 'butter viking' from Sweden, Is the only foreign ingredient in Noma, and for a reason. You can spoon it and eat, no need for the bread. But I could not resist, and I want to see any of you giving up this fantastic bread


Cabbage leaves and white currants

Cabbage leaves and white currants
I am chewing and Lea Goldberg's poem Tomorrow 'This green today is very green…' sung by Yehudith Ravitz is playing in my head. This is the thing in Noma, everyone can cast his association and experiences into the dishes, like they were sauce


Noma - Green shoots of the seasons with scallop marinade

Green shoots of the seasons with scallop marinade
The rainmaker liked it, I less so, maybe because I didn't find a song to go with, or maybe because I don't like leaves so much


Noma - Sweet peas, milk curd and sliced kelp

Sweet peas, milk curd and sliced kelp
I know for sure that this is food of happy people. The kelp are marinaded with mushrooms, the peas were just born in the garden and the confetti is from oregano flowers. This is happiness, this is how it tastes


Noma - Grilled onionGrilled onion1

Grilled onion
Treasures of  capers found inside the sweetest of onions


Noma- Grilled baby corn with egg yolk and beef marinade

Grilled baby corn with egg yolk and beef marinade
This corn's taste, sweet, milky and soft reminded me my little beloved nephew Itamar who is also tasting sweet, milky and soft


Noma - New Danish potato and nettleNoma - New Danish potato and nettle 1

New Danish potato and nettle
A little bonfire in my plate. Little potatoes and wooden skewers. magic


Noma - Mulberries and roses

Mulberries and roses
And stairway to heaven. What is there in this bowl that turns me at once to  a little girl with stains on her shirt again


Noma - Flower tart

Flower tart
The real McCoy! The original! The one they unsuccessfully try to imitate. Flowers of the land with weeds of the sea. Funny at the begining and reasoned at the end. Only here you can eat it, from rene's hands. everywhere else in the world it's just tart


Noma - Sea urchin and hazelnuts

Sea urchin and hazelnuts
So strange to put together a creature from the deeps and a nut that lives so  high. It's a bit like a nonsense song but it works and it works wonderful, like urchins and nuts are made for each other


Noma - Mahogany clam and grain

Mahogany clam and grain
I know that it might sound pretentious and iritating, but I respect an  that ancient survivor clam all the way here to tell me how things were 200 years ago


Noma - Pumpkin, rose petals and caviar

Pumpkin, rose petals and caviar
 A pumpkin from a fairy-tale  that takes Cinderellas to the ball and serves the champagne and caviar


Noma - Lobster and milk skin

Lobster and milk skin
Ingenious Nordic shawarma. Only someone really wise who is familiar with the behavior of ingridients can think a world like this. Connection between milk, cabbage and lobster. Pasture and sea. A whole world


Noma's Black garlicNoma's Black garlic 1

Noma's Black garlic
The famous garlic leaf. A sweet. only god know how the take out the blackest of blacks from garlic. It's funny, it's sexy and it's tasty like a lady in latex


Noma - Roasted bone marrowNoma - Roasted bone marrow 1

Roasted bone marrow
The best I've ever had. Spoon it on warm bread and you're in heaven


Noma Berries and greens soaked in vinegar for one yearBerries and greens soaked in vinegar for one year Noma

Berries and greens soaked in vinegar for one year
What a wake-up call for your taste buds. It's almost time for desert


Noma - Black currant leave and sorrel

Black currant leave and sorrel
It's been almost 4 hours and the end is near. One more round at Rene's happy and magical forest a bit more candy and flower from nature


Noma - A dessert of Gammet Dansk and hazelnut oil

A dessert of Gammet Dansk and hazelnut oil
Nature serves cassatta Green and milky like there are not a worry in the world


Noma - Forrest flavored, chocolate and egg liqueur

Forrest flavored, chocolate and egg liqueur
This is the moment that you can't find words. You just wat to close your eyes and relive every moment in the last hours, engrave them good and hard in your memory, smell the flowers and realize that I was blessed


 For encore, if you ask for one, they'll take you for a tour backstage where 70 people with fire in their eyes work 18 hours every day to make 50 guests each service happy. They'll take you to the front kitchen, the preparation kitchen, the labs and the testing kitchen, and if you are lucky like we were you'll be there during cleaning time, when everyone, chefs and interns enlists himself to making the place shine. this is a magical hour that explains best this special place. I for one really had the urge to grab a broom and be part of this happy bunch


Noma - David Zilber

Outside the restaurant the canal waited for us, in it boats with happy people, like life is really one long and calm river, and the world looked, even for a second, better. It's good, very good
Lior Mashiach, David's ace, describes in her blog her own Noma experience. If you can read Hebrew I really recommend reading her tale about a Noma's intern, and the philosophy and deep thinking of Rene Redzepi

Noma - Lior Mashiach

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