Tulum – 4/22/17 – Noma Mexico

I was originally very ambivalent about going to Noma Mexico.  While I loved my visit to Noma, I never had an interest in their other pop-ups and in general pop-ups tend to feel ‘off’ to me.  When we managed to get tickets I thought it was all a bit crazy, more so because of the heat and bugs than the cost and distance.  Yes it was expensive but after seeing how much work went into building this restaurant from scratch I immediately realized that the ticket price was nowhere near expensive enough.  I tried not to worry what would happen if it rained as the restaurant was open to the elements.  Sure enough a few courses into dinner the raindrops started and while some tables were sheltered, we were not.  Before I could even start to wallow in my bad luck, we were whisked into the kitchen.  It turns out that there was a rain contingency plan (I should have known better).  Throughout the kitchen counters folded up to create bar seating and in the end every guest was relocated if not already seated under a roof.  It should have been complete chaos with the FOH staff occupied with moving people and chairs and bringing fresh drinks to keep everyone happy.  Meanwhile as lovely as the ‘dining room’ was, we were just thrilled to suddenly have a first row kitchen table seat.  A similar event would probably throw any other restaurant into a tailspin that they could never recover from, but service seemed to restart in a matter of minutes.  The whole thing was so impressive I talked about it for weeks afterwards.  I can’t even imagine how many times it was rehersed.  Aside from the fantastic hospitality, Noma managed to create a menu that 100% felt like them but with entirely local ingredients.  I suppose this is what an ideal pop-up should be, but is generally impractical to execute without this sort of large scale commitment.  Despite the dozens of bug bites I didn’t want it to be over (and briefly considered how truly crazy it would be to try to go a second time).

pinuela and tamarind

queen clam from the Sea of Cortez

salbute with dried tomatoes and chapulines

cold masa broth with lime and all the flowers of the moment

young coconut and caviar

tropical fruit and chile de arbol

banana ceviche

tortilla ladies

chaya taco with fresh bahia salsa oyster

giant key and mussel michelada


whole grilled pumpkin



tostada with escamoles

just cooked octopus with ‘dzikilpak’



cerdo pelon and fresh milled corn from Yaxunah



dessert of grilled avocado and matey seeds

chocolate from native Jaguar cacao and Mixe chile


NYC – 3/22/17 – Kristian Baumann x Chef’s Club

In a different setting I think I would have enjoyed this dinner so much more.  Its completely personal preference but for some reason Chef’s Club just didn’t work for me even though I quite like the space.  I also think its difficult to have these dinners in the main dining room.  But still fantastic to have Kristian Baumann in NYC.

little neck claims, rosehip seed oil, salted gooseberries, seaweed

California spot prawn

brown beech mushrooms, fresh goats milk cheese


grilled & glazed squab, nashi pears, arugula, blackberries



rausu combo ice cream, toasted barley, blackcurrant wood oil

Copenhagen – 8/29/15 – Kodbyens Fiskebar and AOC

Kodbyens Fiskebar
I loved the location of the Fiskebar in what is the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. It was bustling yet felt off the beaten path and was an excellent spot for an outdoor lunch. Far far more refined food than you would ever expect from the location at first glance. And while the food was outstanding, in American terminology, a perfect Sunday funday spot.


Cod tartar – rye emulsion, capers, dill and burnt onion
 Plaice – peas, morels, bone marrow and tarragon
 3 Nordic cheeses

AOC
I definitely felt that I qualified as a local having biked to dinner in 6 inch heels. How I made it back to my hotel after wine pairings I have no idea. This was an absolutely perfect meal to end my trip. Once again it was amazing to see so many ingredients repeated yet done in such different ways. For example I had already had several courses of mackerel in the previous days, but I certainly didn’t have to cut any out of branches and eat as finger food. Nor did I have to break a potato out of a plaster cast with a stick. And while I had plenty of onions, none had merited a table side presentation. The baked onion course perhaps illustrated one of the many things I loved about Copenhagen. An onion is rarely the star of the show, often a forgotten but necessary ingredient in many recipes. But done right, it can be a star all by itself. Perhaps my most memorable dish of the meal, and one of the most memorable of the entire week was the extra aged steak course. Umami to the millionth degree.

Appetizers






    
Razor clam, Apple, kale & parsley

Mackerel, vendace roe, hazelnut & sea buckthorn

Baked onion, elderflower & caviar 
Turbot, lard & turbot roe 

Grilled greens, veal sweetbreads & stinging nettle pure 
Dry aged beef, caviar, mushrooms

Pigeon breast, cherries, sorrel & smoked marrow 

Gooseberries, woodruff & pine 
Blueberries, sheep yoghurt and thyme 
Burned Jerusalem artichoke, walnuts & sugar beet syrup 
Tea and mignardises

Copenhagen – 8/28/15 – Sollerod Kro and Relae

Sollerod Kro
Restaurants aside, the only thing I absolutely had to do on this trip was visit the Louisiana museum which is a short train ride north of Copenhagen.  It was well worth the excursion and made an absolutely perfect day trip when combined with lunch at Sollerod Kro which is on the way back into the city.  Its website says that the setting is idyllic but I’m not even sure that adjective does it justice.  The setting is straight out of a movie and reason enough to visit.  We enjoyed an absolutely lovely meal outdoors despite the rain.  I’m still not sure how the servers with umbrellas managed to keep all of our dishes dry.   Jan Restorff you are an amazing host and I could spend hours picking your brain about restaurants!  It is always such a joy to find people like you who are so passionate about food for your own enjoyment and not just professionally.

Cauliflower parmesan lemon
Crispy potato turnip asparagus
Apple marinated with lemon verbena

Sollerod caviar “en surprise”

Langoustine, almond, olives nicoise  Turbot, salad, mussel
 Lobster, walnuts, smoke

 Foie gras, parsley, garlic
 Guinea fowl, morels, asparagus

 Raspberries, peach, vanilla
 Mignardises


Relae
After a long day out of the city and a late lunch we somehow had made the perfect dinner choice with perhaps the most casual of the week.  There were so many things I loved about this experience from our fantastic view of the open kitchen, to the very entertaining bathroom art, to the cutlery drawers, to the people who work here.  The additional cheese course is probably my favorite ever and it just now occurred to me that I didn’t even offer to share with any of my dining companions who had not ordered it as well.

Celeriac, black olives and seaweed
 Mackerel, cauliflower and bergamot
 abcd
Sunflower seeds, nettles and truffle
 Carrots, sol and black currants
 Sodam chicken, cabbage and lovage
 Cheese
 Fermented milk, raspberry and rapeseeds



Copenhagen – 8/27/15 – Studio and Geranium

Studio
What an absolutely amazing lunch experience at Studio.  We somehow had the whole counter around the open kitchen to ourselves.  Thank you Chef Vildgaard for what was definitely the best chef’s counter experience I’ve had anywhere.  Absolutely beautiful and delicious food.  I am still thinking about the caviar and squid courses.  But the foie was truly outstanding and one of the most memorable dishes of my trip.  I will definitely be joining you for dinner on my next trip to Copenhagen!

Potato chips with smoked cod roe  Oysters with green strawberries and dill
 Quail egg and summer truffle
 Gougeres and lojrom with sour cream
 White sturgeon caviar with walnut milk
 Sauteed squid and creamy mussel sauce
 Pan fried foie gras with beetroot and rhubarb
 Whole roasted monkfish with Vadouvan and grilled silver onions, fermented garlic
 Green strawberries and sheep’s milk yoghurt, orange tagetes





Geranium
Yet another completely outstanding meal that more than exceeded my expectations. While perhaps the most formal of the dinners we enjoyed, it was still so comfortable and whimsical. I loved the soup course served in the kitchen and can’t believe everybody stopped what they were doing for a group photo. Quite a few unique serving pieces which I always love. Such a nice touch to have made a delicious birthday cake for one of our group. And so much fun to continue to see so many local ingredients used differently than anywhere else.


Crispy Grains from Kornly

Milk, Fermented Juice from Carrot, Crab & Sea Buckthorn Oil


Pear & Pear Vinegar & Lemon Verbena

Jerusalem Artichoke Leaf, Rye Vinegar & Walnut
 Dried Apple, Apple Juice & Dried Flowers
 “Charred Potato” & Lightly Smoked Sheep Milk Butter
“Cep Mushroom Soup”

“Seaweed & Razor Clam” Impressions of the Ocean
   Jellied Ham, Tomato Water & Wild Flowers

“Dillstone”, Mackerel, Horseradish & Granita from Pickled Cucumber
   Salted Hake, Buttermilk, Lojrom & Herb Stems
 Bread with Emmer & Spelt
 Biodynamic Onions with Chamomile & Melted Hay Cheese

Flavors of the Ocean, Beach Plants, Brown Butter & Dried Scallop Roe
 Egg Yolk in Melted Lard & Essence of Black Currant Leaves
 Chicken, Red Pointed Cabbage, Pine Sprouts & Meadow Hay Beer


 Flora of Grilled Raspberries, Hip Rose, Elderflower with Frozen Sheep Yoghurt

 Beeswax Ice Cream, Cloudberries & Salted Caramel
 “A Walk in the Forest” Woodruff & Wood Sorrel
 “Birthday Cake”

 “Lingonberry Bush” with Beetroot
Small Cake with Pumpkin Seed Oil
 Green Egg with Pine

Copenhagen – 8/26/15 – No. 2 and Noma

No. 2
At No. 2, the little brother of AOC, I had the most beautiful sauce of the week accompanying sorrel leaves filled with scallops.  I also had a revelation that monkfish can be perfectly cooked.  Perhaps just bad luck on my part but I have literally never ever enjoyed it before.  And my favorite ending to any meal, cheese (3/4 Dutch if I remember correctly).

Sorrel and sea scallop with crisp chicken skin and smoked mussel sauce

Pan fried monkfish with lard, bitter salad, elderflower and vendace roe

Cheeses

Noma
I will admit that I was afraid I was going to be entirely disappointed by this dinner.  I had built it up in my mind to be the ultimate dining experience and thus didn’t think it could possibly live up to my likely unrealistic expectations.  However my expectations were exceeded completely.  While I feared some challenging courses (visions of live ants in my head), the food was completely approachable yet spectacular.  But what I was not really expecting was such stellar hospitality.  The tone was set before we even stepped inside when a gentleman offered to hold our belongings while we took the typical ‘touristy’ photos outside.  Upon entering it was a surprise to be greeted by Chef Redzepi himself as well as several others.  When it is nearly impossible to get a reservation I was not expecting an attitude of true appreciation that we were spending our evening there.  Every single one of the front of house staff with whom we interacted, as well as the chefs who described our dishes, could not have been more enthusiastic, friendly and engaging.  It seemed that everybody truly loved to work here and that attitude really does rub off on the diners.  A big thank you to our lovely tour guide Chef Mello.  The minute this evening ended I just wanted to rewind and start over again.  I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘magical’ in my life, but this experience was just that.



Fresh berries and lemon thyme

Oland wheat and virgin butter

Cabbage leaves and white currants
 Green shoots of the season with scallop marinade
 Sweet peas,  milk curd and sliced kelp

Grilled onion

Grilled baby corn with egg yolk and beef marinade  
New Danish potato and nettle

 Flower tart
 Sweet shrimps wrapped in nasturtium leaves
  
Mahogany clam and grains

Monkfish liver
 Pumpkin, rose petals and caviar

 Lobster and nasturtium


Vegetable flower
Roasted bone marrow
 Berries and greens soaked in vinegar for one year
Ice cream sandwich
 Rhubarb and sheep milk yoghurt

Forest flavors, chocolate and egg liqueur
    

Copenhagen – 8/25/15 – Manfreds & Vin and Amass

Manfreds
What a great stop for my first meal in Copenhagen. There was no menu which was perfect for having just gotten off of a plane and having no interest in decision making. I would come to see that many of the ingredients I had here would be repeated in future menus, although always in different ways. And how could I not love a meal where several courses of vegetables were followed by a dessert of pork? Here I had what turned out to be my favorite wine of the trip and luckily I was able to find 2 bottles once I returned home.


          

Amass
I thought our entire evening would be ruined when we were forced to get off of the ferry in the middle of an insane pop up thunderstorm with no umbrellas. Yes we sat in wet clothes for several hours, but the food, company and amazing hospitality at Amass move than overcame it.  The most unique and delicious topping for bread.  And such beautiful flowers.  And even though several of us may have inhaled the vinegar powder, the wild blueberry dessert was a complete revelation and a collective favorite for the week.
 

 Soft Shell Clam, Swiss Chard, Rhubarb
 Tomatoes, Cherries, Juniper Oil
 Salted Mackerel, Peas, Burnt Lemon
 Beet Root Sour Curd, Pickled Yarrow Flowers
 Grilled Beef Heart, Hazelnuts, Currants, Chanterelles
 Organic Pork Neck, Grains, Walnut, Unripe Apple
 Caramelized Goats Milk, Carrots, Fennel Flowers
 Wild Blueberries, New Potato Ice Cream, Dried Vinegar