Thursday, March 31, 2011


We were fortunate enough to have friends in Copenhagen who worked to get a reservation at Noma. Noma serves reinterpreted Nordic/Scandinavian cuisine and has been rated as the world's best restaurant (now that El Bulli is closing). We had very high expectations. The restaurant is located in a former warehouse in the Christianshavn neighborhood across from the tourist center of Copenhagen. We were greeted by chef Rene Redzepi who has worked at El Bulli in Spain and French Laundry in California. The first course was preceded by a series of snacks. The first was a malt flatbread in the form of a twig and juniper creme. We were instructed to pick the flatbread out of the table's centerpiece. Clearly this was not going to be your typical fine dining experience. The flatbread was followed by fried moss as you see above.

The next snack was a seabuckthron leather (fruit rollup-esque) with pickled hip roses.

Then a cookie with lardo and currant. Ok, so it was weird and interesting, but was it going to be good?

The answer came in the form of this: rye bread, chicken skin, lump fish roe and smoked cheese. Remarkable.

Next came pickled and smoked quails egg and radish with edible soil and herbs. The eggs were gorgeous and silky and wonderful. The radish and "soil" seemed a bit gimmicky to me.

Then it was time to get Nordic. Aebleskier, a traditional Danish Christmas treat, this time with a little fish I forget the name of.

We ate 'em whole and they were great.

After the snacks, which were served with a delicious Danish white wine (yes, Danish wine) came the first course. Leek with sea weed jelly and bits of kelp reduction. Really unique.

Then razor clam and dill oil with buttermilk and horseradish powder. These were served with a 2009 'Corps de Garde' Goisot Cotes d'Auxerre.

Next was my personal favorite of the evening: thinly sliced and jerkyed scallops with beech nut, watercress, barley and squid ink. Absolutely otherworldly. Served with a 2009 Bourgogne Aligote Alice et Olivier de Moor from Chitry

A close second was the shaved chestnut and lojrom (Swedish caviar) with cress and walnut. Rich! Served with a 2008 Riesling Federspiel "Steinriegel" from Wachau.

Then things got challenging. The "Oyster and the Ocean." Oyster from north Jutland steamed with seaweed and rocks and topped with herbs picked from the beach the oysters were foraged from.

This dish was like being transported to the beach in summer time. The smell was incredible. The taste was good. The texture, a challenge. But it was beautiful.

Then a little respite. Onion and unripe grape juice with thyme and tapioca served with a 2009 Klaus Zimmerling Weissburgunder from Saxony.

Celeriac with truffle with a 2008 Riesling Auslese trocken

You will notice an extended focus on vegetables and white wine. It was light, Nordic, and very un-French. I loved it. The most beautiful dish was the pickled vegetables and bone marrow.

The single meat focused dish of the evening was the Reindeer tongue and apple with malt and browned butter and blackened apple seeds, which was totally spectacular and served with a 2003 Barolo 'Giachina' from Piedmonte. The sole red wine served.

Then dessert started subtlely, with the pear tree. Grilled pear with raw pear on top, seasoned with juniper and verbena. The green mass was a pine infused angel food cake-like accompaniment. Served with a 2009 Riesling Spatlese 'Von Horn' from Mosel.

Next was the little snowman of sheeps milk and elderflower ice cream.

Murder the little guy and you got an explosion of berry.

Finally a little walnut ice cream dust and berries with frozen cream, served with a 2009 'Le Cormier' from Coteaux du Layon. Pretty and sweet.

I have never had a meal like this in my life. Thanks to Nan Na Hvass for her beautiful pictures (my camera died halfway through plus I am beginning to think I need to take a class in indoor night food photography if this blog is going to ever look decent!) I will go back to Copenhagen and Noma, without a doubt. What a special experience.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Besides seeing friends and biking around town (and Noma, of course) I wanted to take in some decorative arts and history in Copenhagen. Rosenborg Castle, in Kings Park, was the perfect place to do so; it's a small, well preserved repository of some of the finest objects from the 17th-19th centuries in all of Denmark. It also houses the Danish Royal Collections-- the crown jewels. Denmark has one of Europe's oldest continuous monarchies and the castle has many rooms that contain their original furnishings, tapestries, finishes and art.

The original structure was a smallish two story summer house built in 1606-7. Subsequent additions, mostly from the mid 17th century, gave the exterior of the building its current appearance. The earliest remaining interior spaces date from 1619 while other rooms were updated and furnished right up to the end of absolutist rule and the adoption of the constitutional monarchy in 1849. Above, green silk and printed gold wall covering in the king's private study, dating from 1700 behind a painting of Christian IV as a boy painted by Hans Knieper in 1585.

The desk in the king's private study, a scriptor made of ebony and gilt wood dating from 1580 and fabricated in Nuremburg. This desk was moved to Rosenborg in 1751 from Gottorp Castle in Germany (which was also a Danish Royal possession at the time and was essentially raided over the years for it's decorative goods).

Chinoiserie panels with faux tortoise shell and silver painted frames in the king's private bedroom. The panels were originally lighter floral scenes, but were painted over in the 1660's by the fashion conscious king Frederick III.

Chinese porcelain figures (likely made for export to Europe) were installed in the room at the end of the 17th century. Aristocrats and royalty couldn't get enough of the exotic far east. Rosenborg was not immune to these trends and would have looked to the ultimate source of all things fashionable, Versailles, for inspiration.

A detail from the new king's chamber. That is Fredrick III on the left and the ebony with sycamore and bone inlay cabinet made by Lorenz Corbianus dates to 1679.

A Japaned wooden cabinet in the kings chamber.

A detail of the lacquering and bronze hardware.

This embossed leather wall covering is originally from Freidricksberg Palace, one of the king's monarchy's country palaces.

The lacquered panels of a small "princesses chamber" on the second floor. The room was used by the king for private conversations with diplomats and advisers off the Frederik IV room, a main reception hall nearby.

Tortoise and mother of pearl bits imbeded in the lacquer.

Frederik IV's room. Originally a reception hall, it was made smaller in 1700 and converted to an antichamber for the king's sister.

Dutch tapestries, a semi-precious stone inlaid cabinet, and a Viennese rock crystal chandelier. After a while, it became a blur of room after room of priceless objects.

And then a little glimpse into the dirtier side of things... this little mirrored room. No doubt inspired by the hall of mirrors at Versailles, but with a distinctly less formal function, the cabinet of mirrors features a mirror in the floor, making it easy to see up the skirts of visiting ladies. There was also an adjacent room that held the king's collection of erotica and a daybed for "resting." A glimpse into the very private part of royalty, which I think must be rare in tours of grand palaces and castles in Europe.

A carved amber chandelier from 1746-53.

In a room decorated by Christian VIII in the empire style dating from 1820. Once again, France (at this point Napoleonic France) serving as the axis of style.

On the third floor, the throne room. These huge silver lions are still used in official royal/state ceremonies today. This was an interesting reminder that the royal family is still very connected to all of the items in the castle.

Just before leaving I came across the Porcelain and Glass Cabinets. Spaces devoted to the display of the royal collection of rare china and glassware.

The Glass Cabinet may have been the highlight of the entire castle. It was built by Frederik IV when he purchased a collection of Venetian glass in 1709. The room, with its pyramid form displays covered in marbled paper and gilt lead. It was just spectacular.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The winter of 2010-11 has been pretty brutal. Multiple record breaking snowstorms, days and days with highs in the 20's, and while it's now spring... it's still cold. I have spent almost all my waking hours these past four months working long days on several interiors projects, both for myself (pictures coming this summer, I hope!) and Laura Kirar. Also, I got to take a few short breaks from the soul-numbing cold to warmer climates, and one frozen trip to Cape Cod to work on logistics for the upcomming summer wedding. It has been a productive, satisfying, stressful and impossibly long winter, and I am glad it's almost over. Below are some highlights. Welcome, spring!