NOMA Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
by Rene Redzepi
Photographs by Ditte Isager
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Rene Redzepi has done to Nordic Cuisine what Christopher Columbus did for the Americas. Put it on the map. It had always been there, just not that many people had experienced it and now thanks to culinary explorer Redzepi ~ everyone is going Nordic.
Redzepi’s style can only be described as refreshing. Like opening the window of a stuffy room and allowing a cool delicate breeze to waft through and break up the stale air. Rene is doing for food what the wheel did for transportation. He is stating the obvious in unconventional ways and challenging the diner to taste the food without the pretension.
Rene describes Noma as “the project” and his dishes come with names like ” Newly Ploughed Potato Field” or “Milk skin on grass” The food is described as responsible, sustainable, geographical and cultural. Rene has taken traditional Nordic food and turned it on its head along with a lot of Scandinavian opposition who said it couldn’t be done.
Open in front of me is Rene’s book NOMA, Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. The highly anticipated and breathlessly awaited manual on how to cook like the best chef in the world.The book starts like many others with accounts from different people associated with restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, the vehicle that has given Rene the title of Number One restaurant in the world. You learn early on in the piece that Rene is highly experimental, but not in the Molecular gastronomy way despite having worked with Ferran Adria at El Bulli.
The photography is stunning. Simple, striking and refined. It doesn’t look like its had a food stylist hands all over it, and its lack of food styling props give way for the food to be the centre of attention. Photographer Ditte Isager has done justice to Rene’s style as I felt the Scandinavian simplicity and colour palette of muted greys, slate and stone was captured beautifully in these timeless snapshots.
With so many stunning photographs and not all of food, but of breathtaking local scenery and growers in there fields this makes for a photographic exhibition of Nordic design. Green leafy vegetables, freshly dug from the garden are wrapped in brown paper and photographed next to a close up of shiny gleaming fish scales, iridescent under the light. Isager has done a remarkable job in capturing the essence of Noma.
Page after page of inspirational photographer had me hungry for recipes which come towards the end of the book. The recipes are for the somewhat advanced cooks, with instructions being in chef ‘lingo’ in some cases, and the ingredient lists being fairly extensive. I would suggest starting off with something like Potato crisps with anise and chocolate before moving on the more advanced Carrots and Buttermilk which involves a carrot puree, carrot sorbet, buttermilk foam and liquorice sponge.
This book will leave you speechless in many ways, and some may be left wondering what happened to liquid nitrogen and bunsen burners in the kitchen. Liquid nitrogen and bunsen burners are still alive and well I can assure you, but what sweet relief that Rene has given to many gastronomes at large, by simplifying the process with a high level of respect and understanding for locally sourced, sustainably harvested and lovingly designed plates of food.
Noma Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
By Rene Redzepi
Photography by Ditte Isager
Published by Phaidon Press Limited
RRP $69.99 AUS