Book review: Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean

02 January 2023 by
Book review: Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean

It's a decade since Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine was published, the book that helped put Copenhagen-based chef René Redzepi, his love for foraging and his fiercely locavore culinary philosophy on the map

Now, the appropriately titled sequel Noma 2.0 tells the story of the restaurant's reinvention in 2018, when it relocated to an urban farm on the outskirts of the city.

Essays by Redzepi, Noma's gardener Piet Oudolf and Mette Soberg, head of research and development, are beautifully illustrated by Ditte Isager's stunning photography. Three chapters mirror the menus served each year in the restaurant: ‘Vegetable', when Noma becomes a vegetarian restaurant in the spring and summer; ‘Forest' in the autumn, when the menu is based around wild plants, mushrooms and game; and ‘Ocean' in the winter, when Redzepi says "the soil is frozen and nothing grows", but "fish are fat and pristine, their bellies full of roe".

Whatever the season, the food is so intricate there's only enough space in the large-format, 356-page book for descriptions of the dishes. The ‘Noma Gastronomique' appendix includes details of the ferments, garums and misos, but you need to scan a QR code to access the recipes for the likes of reindeer brain jelly (or maybe you'd prefer reindeer penis salad?) online.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, with dishes such as duck brain tempura and duck heart tartare served in the cleaned and beeswax-lined skull and beak of the bird. His stag beetle dessert, fashioned from a leather made with blackened pears, blackberries and Japanese black garlic, is all too scarily reminiscent of a bush tucker trial.

Not everyone will have the time, resources or inclination to attempt to replicate Redzepi's extraordinary cuisine in their own kitchens, but it is nevertheless an essential purchase for any ambitious and creative chef who can't fail to be inspired by the book's bounty of surprising and unusual ideas.

Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean by René Redzepi, Mette Søberg and Junichi Takahashi (Artisan Publishers, £60)

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