Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Nordic Rules

If you're the kind of person who follows such things, you probably already know that San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants™ list was announced recently, and that the #1 spot went to Copenhagen's Noma, which moved up two slots from #3, leapfrogging both El Bulli and The Fat Duck.*

noma fig. a: time & space & Nordic cuisine

Now, if you're a regular reader of " endless banquet," you may remember that we ran a couple of posts about Noma and our experiments with chef René Redzepi's Nordic Cuisine back in 2008 (pt. 1 and pt. 2).

You're not the only one.

You wouldn't believe the number of times we've been contacted over the past two years by people who were desperate to get their hands on a copy of Noma: Nordic Cuisine and willing to pay top dollar to purchase ours. Thing is, we don't actually own a copy--never have. We had one on long-term loan from a good friend (the kind of friend who lets you borrow an extremely rare, extremely expensive cookbook for 6-12 months at a time [sometimes more than once!]). And even if we did, we certainly wouldn't sell it. No, not even to you.

Anyway, we've gotten a lot of requests. And, not surprisingly, with Noma's recent coronation having driven its prestige to dizzying new heights, over the last couple of weeks we've gotten a whole lot more.

We've also had people who, unable to get their hands on Noma: Nordic Cuisine, but eager to give Redzepi's cuisine a whirl, have fallen back on some of our featured recipes. Few have been as public about it as Christopher Hirst, however. Hirst wrote a snarky little piece in The Independent on the weekend called "The Day I Cooked Like the Best Restaurant in the World" that relied heavily on AEB and another online source.

I think this is the very first time AEB has ever been referred to as a "transformative strainer."** Hopefully, it's also the last. Then again, "the blog The Independent called a 'transformative strainer'!," has a pretty nice ring to it.

Luckily for all you Nomavores out there, it looks as though a new Noma book is on the horizon. Hirst reports that a book called Noma: Time & Space in Nordic Cuisine will be published in the UK in September. Sure enough, & are showing the same book (published by Phaidon) slated to be released on September 29, 2010.

Will Noma: Time & Space in Nordic Cuisine help inspire a nouvelle cuisine nordique on this side of the Atlantic? One can only hope.


* If you're Canadian and you follow such things, you probably already know that Canada didn't exactly "own the podium" this time around--not a single Canadian restaurant made the top 50, although two Canuck restaurants made the top 100.

** In addition to having gotten frustrated with some of the intricacies (and absurdities) of Redzepi's recipes, Hirst was evidently skeptical about some of our adaptations.

The one major liberty we took in our "Noma 2: Manic Cuisine" post was fully documented at the time: not having any "balsamic plum vinegar" on hand when we made a variation on Redzepi's Cured Brisket of Pork recipe, we improvised a concoction of balsamic vinegar and ume plum vinegar that we thought might simulate the flavors of the original. Of course, we've never had the pleasure of trying balsamic plum vinegar, so we're not sure if we succeeded, but we can tell you that the end result was certifiably delicious. The other offending ingredient--toasted peanut oil--did appear in the original Noma recipe, oddly enough. We tried the same preparation with toasted sesame oil and it tasted great too, so we offered that as a possible substitute.

Oh, yeah: Hirst wasn't crazy about our marriage of Redzepi's spice bread and his truffled poached egg, a combo that doesn't appear in Noma: Nordic Cuisine, but is based on elements that do. Hilariously, the photograph that accompanied Hirst's article was one of him fussing with this "complete bugger" of a preparation.

No comments: