Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry for the prolonged absence. A funny thing has happened to me over the fifth and sixth months of my pregnancy, my head and heart have been hijacked. It suddenly occurred to me how little I knew about babies and that there was this huge lexicon, really a new language that experienced mothers were now throwing my way - attachment parenting, parent directed parenting, co sleeping, bisphenol A, fetal alcohol syndrome, perineal massage, hypnobirthing, bradley method, strep B, mastitis, nuchal translucency screening, etc. And all the new choices to make - which baby monitor, where to give birth, what to do about work, childcare and on and on.
I could go on for pages about all the issues and new things there are for a new mom to think through but I'll just leave you with this last one, apparently, its very important for a woman to have a strategy as to how she's going to use the toilet after giving birth.
I don't mean to make pregnancy sound daunting and stress inducing (although sometimes it is). Its actually much more exciting and fun than any of the minor troubles and frustrations that come along. Feeling this little thing inside of you kick, grabbing your partner's hand so he can put it on your bump and feel it too - that experience alone more than makes up for any negatives.
So baby has hijacked my time in the last two months leaving very little time to blog... and oh, there has been a lot to blog. I still haven't told you about cruising through the backwaters of Kerala on a private houseboat, and we've been to Dubai and Chicago in the meantime. Not to mention a few really good meals in London. And at some point I need to put up a list of some of the best baby clothes shopping I've found on the internet (really hard to stop myself, baby clothes are hard to resist).
However, the thing that forced my hand here is something that I can't bring myself to not blog. We were in Copenhagen last weekend and had a stunning meal at a restaurant called Noma.
Noma has been showing up in the press quite a bit in the past year. Its still relatively not well known on an international level but I don't think its going to remain that way for very long. They received their 2nd star from Michelin and they truly deserve it.
The restaurant is extremely well thought out. Passionate about the provenance and culture of Denmark, the manifesto sings clearly through everything from the food to the decor all the way through to the excellent but not overbearing or overly formal service.
Our party of 9 ordered Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV to kick off the evening and with it came:
Crisps - chicken skin, potato, fish skin, porridge, smelt and fried shrimp sticks. Very moreish and an exciting beginning to our meal. Do you remember my post from earlier this year at the Sportsman? They begin their meal in a similar but totally different way. Each of these restaurants has a very good sense of their identities and the same dish comes out completely differently. Each is in tune with their individual esthetic and the fact that one is in Denmark and a fine dining restaurant and the other a gastropub in England.
Next they served us two types of bread - manitoba and spelt, in a heavy felt "envelope" tied closed with leather strings. I covet these bread holders, in fact, I'd like several of them (I might have to talk my mother in law into making some on her sewing machine). Perfect for keeping bread/muffins warm in. My picture of this is really atrocious so I won't torture you with it but the fresh baked warm bread was delicious along with the butter and pork fat spreads that came with it. The butter was whipped to airiness with Icelandic Skyr cheese and the pork fat was unctuous with a distinct nuttiness.
The second amuse was a milk skin dish with celery, radish, cucumber, and bread sticks.
Milk skin is very remniscent of yuba skin (tofu skin) dishes but with a completely different flavour. Super milky, refreshing and light. The veg was also very light, no flavours to overwhelm the milkiness which might have easily happened if the leek or radish had been too sharp. And very good texture balance on all their dishes. They've juxtaposed that silky milk skin with the crunchy stick made from white beer to give complexity.
And then onto the "proper" menu.
Raw scallops and frozen buttermilk, Green strawberies and toasted rye
Paired with 2005 Steinmassl Riesling from Fred Loimer
Notice something different from the description and my dish?
My scallop is cooked. Another one of the fun things to think through when you are pregnant is that just about anything fun to eat is banned. Raw fish is a no no despite the fact that my Japanese mother insists that she ate sashimi and sushi all through her pregnancy and we came out fine. There is a small risk of listeria and I haven't wanted to chance it. My scallop was perfect, I can't imagine it was any better raw.
That subtle hit of tartness that the green strawberries gives the dish is a great complement. Copenhagen is the first place I've seen this used and it goes really well with seafood.
The next course was a musk ox dish that is one of Noma's signature dishes.
Musk Ox Tartar and wood sorrel, Creamed tarragon and juniper
Unfortunately, this dish was also a no no for me (no raw meat when pregnant) and my picture of Mr M's dish is horrible. I should have dragged it over in front of me to take the shot but I barely got the chance to snap the picture before he picked up his fork and went at it. By all reports around the table this dish is delicious. Delicate and soft in texture great pairing of herbs. I don't know if he'll get around to blogging Noma but Howard over on londonfood has an absolutely stunning picture of this dish.
Instead of this dish, I got
Pretty isn't it? Under those shards of vegetables are hiding delicious duck tongues.
Asparagus and hops Fiddlehead ferns and smoked egg
paired with 2005 Sylvaner 'Zellberg-l'hermitage', Julien Meyer, Alsace
Wonderfully smokey egg with perfectly oozing yolk. I snapped the shot just before the server poured the light and lovely cheese "jus" that came with the dish.
The langoustines are from the Faroe islands and I'd be hard pressed to say that I've ever had better. Perfectly cooked. The maltodextrose powder gave the dish a savoury rich quality without the heaviness that butter or cream would have done. All in line with everything at the restaurant being clean tasting with very little fat or oil used.
Salad roots and stem of cauliflower, Snails and Jacobsens dried ham
And this... look at their plating. I've been battling the snails in my flower garden for the last month and this... this was almost too realistic for me. But I got over it. The veg emulsion was delicious (one of the diners at the table declared this his favourite dish just for the emulsion) but the snails themselves didn't taste much of anything.
Grilled shoulder of Lamb, Wild herbs and fjord vegetables
wine pairing - 2003 Saumur Cabernet Franc, Clos Rougeard
Nice sous vide lamb finished on the grill. At this point, the three gentlemen at the end of the table (Mr. M included) were looking around vulture like at the rest of the table to see if anyone was leaving anything on their plate for them to swipe.
Garden sorrel and glazed sheeps milk yougurt, Anise and rapeseed oil
paired with 2006 Grüner Veltliner Eiswein, Nigl, Kremstal (Pregnant women are only allowed a glass of wine or so a week. Instead of having a glass of wine, I took a teeny tiny taste of each of Mr. M's wine pairing. This wine is delicious.)
The evening we ate at Noma was the night after the summer solstice. When we got this dessert it must have been close to 11:00 and the light was just beginning to fail me. This is the last shot I was able to get without the pictures being too dark.
The sorrel granite didn't have that citrusy hit I thought it would. This was just powerfully and grassy green in flavour but I liked the dessert. Light, clean, and refreshing.
Sweet peas and mint, Honey from Frederiksberg and woodsorrel
This dish was the highlight of the dinner for me. All the dishes at Noma are of a high standard but this one managed to climb one octave higher. Those peas were poppingly fresh and the "pea globule" bursts open in your mouth distilling what tasted like the essence of peas. Wonderful texture, honey gave it just the right sweetness. I thought this dish was absolutely delightful.
Rhubarb and beet, Meringue and rose hips
2006 Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti 'Molignano',Bricco Mondalino, Piemonte (A sparkling red. Really lovely. This is the perfect wine for a picnic.)
It was just too dark to get a good shot of the pink dessert that came next. Delicious creamy rhubarb sorbet... but I thought the beet ice was a mistake. Beetroot is just too overpowering for a dish like this. If you took some of the ice with the meringue and the sorbet... all I tasted was beet. I ended up eating each component as separately as I could.
Coffees, house blended camomile tea, and after dinner drinks for some. Along with
Terrible picture but I loved these. These are Noma's take on a traditional Danish sweet - flødebolle. Thin chocolate shell that began melting the second you picked it up filled with the lightest of beetroot creams. I barely tasted that beetroot its added almost for the beautiful pink colour alone.
Noma is a destination restaurant, I can't wait to see what they do in a different season. The staff were wonderful, the food delcious, interesting, and clean. If you are anywhere near Copenhagen, I'd highly recommend it.
We're off to the Cote d'azur tomorrow and two more restaurants that I have high expectations for. Not to mention the Shiseido Spa and the stunning beauty of the French Riviera. I'll be back with reports and photos of that soon!