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


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