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Lunch at Noma
Kaaren Palmer
a must for anybody interested in food.
Strandgade 93, Copenhagen, Denmark

Kaaren Palmer is Galaxy Guides’ Champagne editor, please CLICK HERE to go to her Champagne section

finally the book we have all been waiting for
NOMA : Time & Place in Nordic Cuisine click here

cost — 7 course set menu DKK 995 (AUD $270); matching wine DKK 895 (AUD $195); matching juice fresh daily from herbs and vegetables, all organic and bio–dynamic DKK 395 (AUD $86) Short lunch set menu 4 courses DKK 595 (AUD $1); 3 courses DKK 395 (AUD $86) A la carte 3 selections DKK 950 (AUD $207) Noma Masaaq: 12 courses DKK 1295 (AUD $283)

Being greeted at the door, then by name at the front desk, are the signs of a serious restaurant where you will be utterly seduced by the production. We feel totally at home in the converted warehouse, where canal views vie with those old Christiania, cosy after the wind outside. It’s a deceptively fine day with an ear piercing arctic chill in the air, pale blue skies, and interesting clouds forms scurrying over the face of the sun. Huge exposed beams and broad smooth floor timbers lend warmth.

Coats removed, the performance begins generously with champagne, a Jacques Lassaigne blanc de blanc from Montgueux. Meanwhile we study the menu and listen to suggestions. 7 courses plus a cheese, we think.

René Redzepi, chef at noma and now number one, photographer Anders Birch, image courtesy noma

The playful tastes — essence of homeliness appears in the shape of a battered old biscuit tin, and under the lid two perfect discs of lardy short biscuit, smoked salmon and a pepper of dried and pulverised blackcurrant.
Following is a perfect rectangle of delectably crisp chicken skin, topped with a contrasting green slightly textured puree of fava bean, topped with an impossibly ethereal rye bread. Rich, yet balanced — fat and carbs to die for.
Time to pay homage to the garden where all this stuff comes from, be it fowl or fava. So we’re given a small terracotta pot which holds yoghurt greened with small herbs, and a soil of roasted hazelnuts and malt. Planted in this fertile soil are perfect small raw turnips and radishes, specially grown for the restaurant. The leaves are tender and sweet with herbaceous overtones. Is it well washed? Just allow a finger to explore the remains after the vegetables are plucked so that you can truly contrast the grainy soil with the herby yoghurt. Mmmmm!
Next arrives an artistic crisp wavelet which holds pretty herbs dusted with a vinegar powder.
A large speckled egg comes next. Amazing theatre again! Inside, on a bed of warm straw, sit two, very fresh, peeled, softly cooked quails’ eggs with a sprinkle of salt. It slides down the red lane with unctuous delight and murmurs of satisfaction, a totally natural flavour and sensation in contrast to the earlier more creatively demanding delights.

Bow down and adore at the temple of gastronomy, I think, and this is only the beginning of the service.
Each item is presented without fuss, and with a straightforward description. And the champagne is a long and respectful glass.

It’s time now to inspect the formidable wine list, which leans, as does the food, to the organic and bio–dynamic. Not to be deterred or waylaid by tasting matches, Kevin orders a 2005 Cornas from August Clape (DKK 1650 [AUD $360]). I have fallen in love with and noted the items on an extensive Champagne list, and will enjoy the suggestions. There’s a Rose des Riceys which I have never had!
Have you seen your bread arrive in its little pilgrim’s cap lined with linen, and warm from the oven? How about with butter made from the cream from sheep’s milk? It’s somehow light and tasty, whether you eat it on the bread or from your knife (hope Mum’s not looking...). Plus a Danish specialty of crunchy porky bits in a potato, aquavit and pork fat puree. It’s better than Vegemite, as tasty as the best dripping with the crunchy pieces. The bread is crunchy of crust with a moist, soft, large pored yeast driven sour dough character. The flour is derived from an old wheat strain held in a bio–lab, perhaps older than spelt, but in any case from Scandinavian stock as opposed to that of the Fertile Crescent’s spelt wheat. Kevin eats almost the full round of it, and I fervently wish I could make it at home.
And now the seven courses, when some chefs’ endeavours tire. Not so here.
Apple with fresh walnut and hazelnut milk
Apple means crisp little discs erect around their jelly, strewn with freshly peeled walnuts, and a hazelnut milk sea surrounding the constructed island. Sprinkled with a hazelnut powder.
Contrasting textures of crisp, al dente, acidic and emollient — the soothing milk, the fresh apple jelly, tart and sweet.
Brown crab and beach mustard, clams and portulak
A ball of slivered Norwegian sweet fleshed female crab, a clear tasty mussel juice gelee, and an opaque wild herby beach mustard gelee. They pick the beach mustard herb themselves, and in fact have expeditions to the sparklingly clean coastal areas to gather interesting herbs for the restaurant. And gorge themselves on fresh oysters and mussels. The intention of the dish is to remind us of the sea. It does so with flavour and taste and aroma, but the saltiness is in excellent balance.
A Gift from the Kitchen
On a hot shore rock we have a delectable tail of langoustine, which we are to drag through an emulsion of oysters and parsley. Dusted with dehydrated seaweed, a most superior salt. Once again, the fingers are useful digits, eminently suck-able, and hot towels are provided post orgy.
Steamed spinach and tea; cooked onions and celery
Wild organic spinach is poached in an infusion of herbs and vegetables. Presented in a tidy and uniform disc, its silkiness contrasts with crunchiest fresh celery, crisp fried bread just made, and rich and juicy little elderberries. Almost makes me want to eat only veg forever.
Onions from Laeso, chickweed and onion bouillon
Take some warm caramelised onions, cover them with a thin sliver of cheese, add pearl onion segments cooked in beer and honey, and a decoration of purply long shallots or are they young red onions, artistically place some outer layers of larger white onions which will act partially as receptacles for the tapioca rich onion broth which is poured over the entire assembled onion, decorate with purple ransom flowers and chickweed. No complaints about a lack of vegetal vitamin, here is a dish presented with love and intelligence, where texture is a superlative feature — from liquid to crisp, from tiny to large, and all sizes and textures in between.
Pickled vegetables and bone marrow; herbs and bouillon
All the vegetables are pickled overnight in different vinegars, and presented as fresh as a garden the next day for lunch or dinner. We have kohl rabi, beetroot, carrot, swede, ll paper thin plus tiny roasted tomatoes. With thin well structured slices of poached bone marrow. Poured over the garden is an aromatic bouillon concocted from roasted pork ribs, herbs and butter. The bouillon acts as the oil in a salad dressing. After the salad is consumed, the resulting emulsion is a herby emollient which gives a soft closure to the acid of the vinegars. The Rose de Riceys is a great wine selection to match the dish because it enhances the freshness of the vegetables, at the same time allowing a balance of acidity.
My partner Kevin was fearing the onslaught of a large amount of indigestible protein, especially as he hopes he has stopped growing. For an Australian, or New Zealander to say that the tastiest lamb could in fact be Danish, we just have to say that we ate the quintessentially lambiest lamb with the perfect balance of flesh and fat. And, to be healthy, we ate an accompaniment of greens of many and varied textures from leafy through to tender stalk. Presented in two little rectangles of saddle, on a long smudge of herb puree, with Romaine, mustard cress, cauliflower stem, tiny rocket ferns, and the requisite hot bouillon pouring. Many times were little pieces of the bread called for.
All cows’ milk. No. 1 a mild, cheddary, salt deposited, holey one. No. 2 a washed rind barnyard delight — pungent, earthy, creamily dissolving in the mouth. No. 3 Sonder Jysk Bla with little circles over the vowel a, and the o sliced through the middle horizontally. A delicious soft blue. All with thin sliced rye bread, grainy with seeds, fried in butter, but without a touch of oiliness on the fingers.
Carrots, buttermilk and anis
Quite a heavy carrot sorbet is topped with a buttermilk foam, encircled by outgoing ramparts of fresh slivered carrot, dehydrated carrot, carrot confit, and a pretty herbarium of the most delicate and feathery parts of carrot tops. Crunchy licorice/ anis sweet agglomerates, too. Even as a carrot cake eater, Kevin does not rate this dish, but I think it’s great fun. Not too sweet. The accompanying wine is a lolly water 8%–er from Austria.
Walnut powder and ice cream; dried cream and dried berries
It’s a milk ice surrounding a delicious walnut ice cream with a powder of dried summer berries. Yummy, with a light nutty wine match from the Loire, the 2007 Montlouis Moelleux Les Rocher des Violettes. Very successful match, delicious dessert, together a trophy winner.
With coffee comes a raspberry vinegar and egg white mousse encased in a light chocolate.
The accompanying wines — perhaps concentrate too much on the principles which drive the menu. The wines are almost too honest, too unfiltered, too cloudy and too lacking in the subtleties to which we’re accustomed.
In conclusion, the Noma menu is sensational in the best sense, being of the senses. Healthy, with great — and tantalising – respect to the vitamins we need. Noma is a dietician foodie’s paradise. Texturally, too, this is masterful food, with exquisite and true flavours showing through dish after dish.

Kaaren Palmer, October 2009

images courtesy noma

author’s note — we were delighted, but not surprised to be greeted by name, but astonished that it was South Australian James Spreadbury, former restaurant manager of The Kitchen Door at Mclaren Vale. A fabulous working one’s way up the ladder, we thought!

Since Kaaren Palmer reviewed Noma the restaurant has consistenyl been number one on the world’s most desireable award list
The World’s 50 best Restaurantssponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna
CLICK HERE to go to the list.

When Kaaren Palmer reviewed Denmark’s noma in October 2009 it was the world’s number three in the prestigious S Pellegrino top 100 restaurants in the world. Kaaren has eaten at an enviable number of Michelin three stars and when she declared it her favourite……so far we took notice and of course now it seems she was absolutely right!
“I have eaten in many 3 star Michelin restaurants, and I can say that never has the whole meal held my interest in such a way, nor have I/we ever felt so healthy on leaving. This food is (almost) perfect, and I feel privileged to have eaten it, to have taken notes, and in fact to have been indentured in such a short space of time to a whole new way of looking at what the human body needs, and just how good it can be.
This has been one of the best eating days of my life.”

to read Kaaren Palmer’s 09 review for Mathias Dahlgren CLICK HERE

top lounge at noma
table settings at noma
photographer Mads Damgaard, courtesy noma

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.