And just like that, 10 months of my expat wife stint passed by in a flash. I guess we are really grateful to have this experience of living in Geneva. It really was the perfect springboard to many of our adventures around Europe. And the icing on the cake to mark the end of ‘Swiss life’? A dining experience at noma!
noma has been ranked as ‘The World’s Best Restaurant” for 2 years in the running now since 2010. As you would imagine, reservations would be rather difficult to secure. So when E managed to secure reservations for a party of 15 and sent us an invite along for the dinner, the Man said yes without much hesitation.
I’ll be lying if I say we didn’t have any, after-all it’s supposed to be the BEST restaurant in the world! But, we met with Mr B earlier in London and he down-played our excitement quite a fair bit so we embraced our dining experience with expectations toned 2 notches down. I’m glad we concluded that it really was one of the BEST dining experience we had for now.
Conceived by chef/owner Rene Redzepi, Noma has been described as a reinterpretation of Nordic cuisine. The idea behind the dining experience is to combine the growing trend of avant-garde meals with a back-to-basics approach to food. The restaurant is actually an old-style warehouse filled with simple Nordic furniture of wooden tables and sheep pelts on the backs of chairs. The Man and I joined our party of 12 diners in the private room for a 10-course dinner tasting menu supplemented with 10 pre-meal snacks.
Are you ready for a visual feast of our pre-meal snacks?
Malt flatbread and juniper – Disguised artfully as a floral centerpiece, we were told to eat the branches of the plant.
Moss and Cep
Crispy pork skin and black currant
One look at this and you would think that you are eating crispy fish skin, but nope, it’s actually the pork skin covered with a thin layer of black currant jelly. An interesting twist to a dish that I probably won’t it given that it’s pork fat.
Cookies and cheese, rocket and stems
Blue mussel and celery
Dried carrot and ashes
We thought this was a very inventive dish. A carrot stick that reminded me like a veggie jerky. We were told to roll the stick around the edible ash before putting them into your mouth. The ash provided a smokey flavour to the dried carrot stick.
Pickled and smoked quails egg
This had been the one dish I had been looking forward to try – one of noma’s signature dishes! Our servers place the toy replica of the quail eggs on our table only to dramatically reveal tiny quail eggs hidden within. We were told to pop on of the quail eggs which had been blanched, smoked and pickled. You could really taste the smokiness trapped in the quail’s egg and the taste of the yolk was almost non-existent for the liquid was so smooth.
Radish, soil and grass
The concept behind this dish wasn’t new to me for I had something similar before at Jaan. Radishes were served in a flower pot complete with edible soil and grass. I was impressed with the texture of the ‘soil’ for it was crunchy but not too overpowering and the grass was actually a yogurt-based spread that went really well with the radish or even the bread.
After the little starters, our servers brought as homemade bread that was wrapped in a cloth, with a second layer of felt to keep it warm. It also comes with two small pots: one with freshly churned butter and the other with crisp pork and scratchings. The later was a favourite among many of us. Funky as it may sound, it actually tasted pretty darn yummy.
Next up? Our main courses – a total of 8 different items in all. I’m not going to list them all but will be selective in highlighting the ones that I especially enjoyed.
Razor clam and parsley, Dill and horseradish
This dish I thought was very inventive – Razor clam tucked inside a tubing made of parsley. The white icy powder you see on the side of the green stick is actually chilled horseradish. Server poured the dill sauce over the clam and when all these items are eaten together, it was simply an explosion of flavours coming together.
Dried scallops and beech nuts, Biodynamic grains and watercress
Pickled vegetables and bone marrow
A dish that the Man would normally not enjoy but given the twist that noma did, I say he became a convert over these pickled vegetables. First time I’ve seen him polish off the veggies off his dish. I’m also usually not a big fan of bone marrow, the slimy and fatty bits didn’t entice me at all, but this dish kinda won me over. You almost couldn’t tell which is the bone marrow for the crunchiness of the pickled veggies disguised the sight of the marrow very cleverly.
Pork and beetroot
This little piggy was smoked for a good eight hours before finally ending up on our plate. All I can say is that it was a really tasty piggy.
After the main courses were all served, we were invited to take a little tour into the kitchen of noma where preparation for the magical culinary experience all began. I was amazed at the sheer amount of work that goes into making each and every little dish.
Pulled pork that’s painstakingly shredded into thin little pieces by the prep-chefs. There were easily about 8 to 10 people just doing this task at one of the stations.
Last but not the least, 2 courses of desserts before we called it a night. I wasn’t completely wowed by the desserts, have tasted better but this walnuts and dried berries was passable by my standards.
Overall, the Man and I enjoyed the dining experience at noma. Most of the dishes were impressive and there were just a couple that were misses but definitely a memorable one for the books.