One of the most beautiful books to cross my desk recently is NOMA, TIME AND PLACE IN NORDIC CUISINE. It is a much appreciated gift from Fred Wilson and Elissa Morgante of Morgante Wilson Architects in Evanston, IL–tendered in appreciation for their participation in the Design Leadership Summit.
NOMA is widely considered the BEST restaurant in the world. Their cuisine is defined by Nordic, especially North Atlantic, cuisine and a regional heritage. It is clear that the chefs are passionate about food, its preparation, the ingredients and the experiential aspects of dining.
The food at NOMA exploits the seasons and a particular dish is available only here and now. The whole point of the restaurant is to give guests the best possible impression of a regional season so the menu experiences sharp changes from spring to summer, summer to fall and on to winter. The staff has explored the extremes of nature, seeking out thousands of species of fungi, many wild plants and roots. They wanted the guests dining at NOMA to feel a sensation of time and place; a connection between the way food is arranged on the plate and how it is presented to the guests without fanfare. Often the chef who created the dish brings it to the table, simply delivering his handiwork.
Even the dining rooms are furnished in classic Danish design with new pieces commissioned to match vintage ones. Everything is made of natural materials; iron, clay, wood or stone. Simple Scandinavian lights are hung so that shadows are not cast upon the food. Clearly, the food is the star, not the decoration.
A quick description of the book itself; It has a natural linen cover, three types of paper all in warm shades of yellow, blue, soft gray, light taupe, a fabulous hand drawn map with fold out flaps, and pages and pages of incredible photography. There are some unusual ingredients on the pages, but they are so artfully presented it seems like a museum presentation.
The food at NOMA is subject to the vagaries of the seasons. As the menu changes seasonally, the tempo of the changes are dictated by the availability of the raw materials. Be prepared for anywhere between 4 and 16 courses and an incredible experience.
It appears that I am a currant with this post. The Wall Street Journal travel issue has just published an article about NOMA as well. The pictures in this article are wonderful and the article is enlightening. Please read it on line and enjoy. Also, Jay Felden, the new editor of Town & Country, has written about Noma in the August issue of the magazine. He was a participant in the Design Leadership Summit and chose to go to Noma with a group on Saturday afternoon. Please read his impression.