Oct 22, 2011

Delving into the landscape:
New Nordic Food


- a taste of denmark

Union Square Greenmarket
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I didn't know what I was eating
and I didn't care. 
It was delicious. 

The "New Nordic Cookout" event at the Union Square Greenmarket gave me a chance to taste some of the food you might eat at Noma Restaurant in Copehagen for FREE.  As a special treat, Noma's chef, Rene Redzepi was interviewed by Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food and Wine Magazine.  I licked my fingers and listened.
Rene Redzepi

Noma in Copehagen

Dana Cowin is a seasoned interviewer, her first question was a good one:  At Noma every plate tells a story.  Where does the inspiration come from?

Rene Redzepi: I want to tell you a story about a shitty carrot.  (Yes, folks that is the word he used).  We wanted to experiment with a carrot that stayed in the ground for two years.  We had a very harsh winter in Denmark...lots of snow, the ocean was frozen, what food could we use to make a dish. 

We decided to treat this shitty carrot like it was a piece of Wagyu beef.  The carrot turns black when it is removed from the ground after two years.  It's mealy and starchy.  The challenge was to figure out a way to  treat this vegetable and make something.
  We added butter, spices, herbs, roasted it for 2 hours, turning it, adding more butter and herbs.  The outside became crunchy and the inside was firm.

And that is why you go to Noma.

RR:  We delve into the landscape.  We are interested in trees as ingredients.  Our Christmas tree in Denmark is the Spruce Tree.  We are experimenting with drying it, to extract the essence of the tree - it has tremendous citrus aromas.  We have used a traditional process to infuse the spruce flavor into oils, salts and sugars.
Vermonters have been using maple tress to make maple syrup, butter and sugar for over a century, but I am pretty sure we haven't explored the Spruce tree yet!
Rene Redzepi " In Scandinavia, we eat in silence; we eat to survive; 
we do not eat for pleasure."

Just to finish that thought.  Cowin asked Rene Redzepi what ingredients he was exploring at the moment. 
The answer:  TRASH
We are trying to understand how to make a dish
out of the food we normally throw in the bin, like fish eyes.

The word for food in Danish is MAD.  This all did seem a little MAD.  But if the proof was in the food I was tasting, I wish I could always be MAD.

In Addition:
The Danish chef Adam Aamann-Christensen, owner of the Copenhagen restaurant Aamann's was also  cooking at the New Nordic Cookout.
Adam Aamann-Christensen
He is opening a new restaurant at 13 Laight Street in New York (part of the Tribeca Film Center)  "The food philosophy at Aamanns-Copenhagen centers on modernizing smorrebrod, the traditional Danish dish of select ingredients atop a slice of fresh rye bread.
This was one of Chez Aamanns' contributions to the cookout.  I have no idea what was in the cream that accompanied the salmon, but I couldn't stop stuffing it into my mouth.  I heard Aamann say that they would be baking their rye bread at the restaurant in New York.
Book a December table reservation between now and November 30 and receive a complimentary piece of smorrebrod together with your choice of a glass of Aquavit or dessert with your smorrebrod purchase.  Telephone:  212-925-1313

I waited in line to get into this event.  The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark opened the cookout.  Not being a VIP, I cooled my jets until the general public was allowed into the North Pavilion at Union Square.  There may not have been a royal welcome, but the food was beyond princely.
The Nordic Food Lab is project of Rene Redzepi

The purpose of Nordic Food Lab is to:

- Explore old and adapted new techniques and raw materials with relevance to the New Nordic Cuisine. The work must be methodical and systematic when various themes are analyzed, however without a distinct research purpose.

-Communicate the achieved results to an advisory board, sponsors and stakeholders in relevant media for the benefit of the entire Nordic region.

- Develop recipes for use of Nordic raw materials and processing techniques with relevance for both restaurants as well as good industries.

In the Nordic Food Lab, Redzepi was been exploring uses for seaweed.  He said for centuries the Japanese have used seaweed for many purposes, "in Scandinavia, we are surrounded by water, but we have never used seaweed as a food source".  Through the Nordic Food Lab we produced a cheese with seaweed.  The seaweed tastes like coriander.  A Danish cheese company is now producing this cheese.


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