Saw It On The Radio

Foraging For Food: Recipes From 'The World's Best Restaurant'

This year, a tiny, 12-table restaurant in Copenhagen was voted the world's best restaurant. The next day, Noma got 100,000 online requests for reservations. What makes it so great? Chef Rene Redzepi, 32, will only use food that is native to the Nordic region. That means no tomatoes, no olive oil — instead, he employs a wide array of local and wild food he often forages himself.

  • Tartare Of Beef And Wood Sorrel, Tarragon And Juniper
    Hide caption
    Tartare Of Beef And Wood Sorrel, Tarragon And Juniper
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Vegetable Field: The "soil" in this dish is made of malt, hazelnut and regular flour, sugar, lager, salt and butter — and takes two days to create.
    Hide caption
    Vegetable Field: The "soil" in this dish is made of malt, hazelnut and regular flour, sugar, lager, salt and butter — and takes two days to create.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Blueberries Surrounded By Their Natural Environment: What appears to be green grain is actually a "spruce granita," made with spruce, sorrel and xanthan gum.
    Hide caption
    Blueberries Surrounded By Their Natural Environment: What appears to be green grain is actually a "spruce granita," made with spruce, sorrel and xanthan gum.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Birch Wood Dessert: In addition to actual birch wood, this dish also requires the creation of a birch stock and a birch sorbet.
    Hide caption
    Birch Wood Dessert: In addition to actual birch wood, this dish also requires the creation of a birch stock and a birch sorbet.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Snowman: The furthest thing from an actual snowman, this dish includes more than 30 ingredients, including sea buckthorn juice, brunoised carrot and sheep's yogurt.
    Hide caption
    Snowman: The furthest thing from an actual snowman, this dish includes more than 30 ingredients, including sea buckthorn juice, brunoised carrot and sheep's yogurt.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Sea Buckthorn And Beetroot Flodeboller: Flodeboller are a traditional Danish treat, but Redzepi's twist is adding beet root and sea buckthorn juices.
    Hide caption
    Sea Buckthorn And Beetroot Flodeboller: Flodeboller are a traditional Danish treat, but Redzepi's twist is adding beet root and sea buckthorn juices.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • Scallops And Sea Urchins, Sea Buckthorn And Muikko: One of the simpler dishes, this one includes muikko (small smoked and pickled fish from Finland) and a puree of sea urchins.
    Hide caption
    Scallops And Sea Urchins, Sea Buckthorn And Muikko: One of the simpler dishes, this one includes muikko (small smoked and pickled fish from Finland) and a puree of sea urchins.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press
  • In addition to plates and foliage, Noma also shows the landscapes and environment that inspire Redzepi, like this Norwegian fjord.
    Hide caption
    In addition to plates and foliage, Noma also shows the landscapes and environment that inspire Redzepi, like this Norwegian fjord.
    Photos by Ditte Isager/Courtesy of Phaidon Press

1 of 8

View slideshow i

The chef has just published a cookbook whose value, above all, is not necessarily instructive, but visual. "Use it as an inspiration," Redzepi tells NPR's Melissa Block. "Look at the beautiful pictures; see how food comes together." Although the recipes are nearly impossible to re-create, the imagery alone will transport you to the salty shores of Scandinavia.

Chef Rene Redzepi, 2010

hide captionChef Rene Redzepi, 2010

Courtesy of Phaidon Press

"We have a region that's very big — 25 million people in that region. Which means we have a nature and a product diversity ... that needs to be used again."

The recipe "Blueberries Surrounded by their Natural Environment" is one way to use that product diversity. Blueberries are abundant in Scandanavia. "My last meal on Earth," says Redzepi, "I would love it to be a bowl of blueberries with cold cream."  He thought about what could grow with blueberries on a forest floor and spruced it up — literally — with meringues and spruce. The simple-looking dish has more than 30 ingredients and more than a dozen steps.

Block, who considers herself an adventurous home chef, was daunted by some of the recipes. They include such instructions as "submerge in liquid nitrogen" and "load a spray paint gun" in the "Snowman" recipe — undoubtedly some of the more esoteric directions this food season. But Redzepi wants the book to be an inspiration more than a how-to manual.

Noma: Time and Place In Nordic Cuisine

hide captionNoma: Time And Place In Nordic Cuisine by Chef Rene Redzepi

Phaidon Press, 2010

"Look in the book and see the amount of vegetables," he says. "Use that as an inspiration: Eat more vegetables." As a forager, he also wants readers to use their own environments for inspiration. "Take your family out. Take a trip to the forest and experience the greatness of getting on your knees and picking your own food and going home ... and eating it."

What would your last meal on Earth be? What is the best meal you've ever had? Submit your photos to our Flickr group pool.

Read the incredibly complex "Snowman" recipe:

Recipe from 'Noma'
Recipe courtesy of Phaidon Press

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: