Two weeks in London finished with a bang when we were taken to the pop-up Noma at Claridges. Noma is the Copenhagen eatery consistently named by Restaurant magazine as the best in the world. I had heard of it, but never imagined I would get to go there because 100,000 people try to every single month in Copenhagen but only 450 tables are actually served in that time.
And for it to be at Claridges - one of my favourite places in the world – was simply the icing on the cake. The furthest I’ve stretched there before is afternoon tea. And it’s a BRILLIANT afternoon tea!
For the Noma pop-up the ballroom had been transformed into a restaurant and not too stuck up and fussy either. The first course was dirt. In a flower pot. With flowers. Beneath the dirt (which tasted like toasted chocolate) was a creamy green mulch from which radishes grew. I can’t tell you how delicious it was. Now I know why Scarlett O’Hara was so fond of it.
Next course was ants. Yes. Ants.
They came in a jar crawling around some savoy cabbage and when you ate them they tasted like a thousand lemons. Although obviously you had to be quick or they could run away up your nose or in your ear.
There were just three or four – if you were dextrous – each so as not to ruin your appetite for what came next which was afternoon tea, Noma style. A scone with crème fraiche and caviar and a cup of rosehip and raspberry tea anyone? Why thank you, don’t mind if I do.
After that, a herb smear with, for the carnivores, beef carpaccio, and for me beet carpaccio.
Next we went to the beach (pictured), or it came to us: one fat happy oyster sitting on a bed of pebbles with seaweed.
The roasted celeriac with squid ink and truffle reduction was possibly my favourite, although the roast halibut I had after that with a vegetable casserole was mere tenths of a point away.
The rest of the table then had lamb neck marinated in fermented peas and miso and served on a bed of hay. I thought the Ginger’s eyes were going to fall out of his head. I’ve been trying to get him to eat hay for years but would he listen to me, no he would not.
Turns out the hay was just for looks and for my beloved meat-eater, the lamb was the stand out stunner taste-wise – although overall it’s obviously pretty hard to beat ants.
Dessert was a winter wonderland of walnut ice cream with frozen berries and a powder of frozen cream. As the summer of London 2012 has been truly wonderful in every way except the temperature, I thought this was an excellent choice.
The whole thing sounds over the top but it wasn’t. Noma’s chef, Rene Redzepi, is king of sourcing local ingredients and most the food came from within coo-ee of London.
We saw him at the end and he only looks about 12 but he certainly knows what he’s doing and the wait staff working at Claridges were completely and utterly into it. They might have been thinking THESE PEOPLE PAID HOW MUCH TO EAT ANTS????? but they were delightful in their enthusiasm.
And then there were the chocolate covered potato crisps.
I’ve often wondered how a potato crisp could be improved.
And now I know.