I’m writing this as I nibble on some Sea Purslane, foraged (in a way) by the wonderful Rene Redzepi. Nothing could make me happier than saying that, other than maybe eating it in his recently named ‘World’s Best Restaurant’, Noma http://www.noma.dk/main.php?lang=en But that’s in Denmark and I’m in my London kitchen attempting to begin blogging about my wonderment with food and right now I can find nothing more mesmerising than Rene, not least because I had the very good fortune to hear him speak last Friday (having spent the day as one would before a first date – nervous, excited, almost unable to believe it would happen until I got there). He didn’t disappoint.
Noma’s philosophy is simple, not scientific or unobtainable like The Fat Duck or El Bulli. If we thought Heston was clever giving out conch shells to listen too as you eat, Rene has stumbled upon something bigger, with much wider appeal – childhood wonderment. He serves dinner on stones from the beach, there are dishes with names like ‘the hen & the egg’. He uses moss because he tasted it after seeing Reindeer nibble on it under the snow and he makes dishes from old carrots because he feels bad for them.
Rene spoke with a fairytale like Nordic images as a backdrop, aptly referencing Hans Christian Anderson as a crowd of entranced Peter Pan like foodies munched on carrots and eargerly hung on his every word. He told of how they invent the Noma dishes while out gathering sea vegetables or nibbling on branches of spruce. It all reminded me of being a child and seeing the possible in everything around you. Looking at a field or the beach and seeing hours of endless fun. Except I made mud pies and decorated sand castles. At Noma they make Michelin starred meals.
I left the talk inspired, with a bag of foraged treats and determined to head to the London parks the next day and find my lunch. I didn’t. I’ve misplaced my copy of Food for Free (a foragers essential tool http://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Gem-Food-Richard-Mabey/dp/0007183038) and when I got home I found a bottle of red wine.
I did procure this recipe from the evening – it’s not exactly a mid-week supper but worth a read to get a feel for what Noma is all about or to try if you feel like playing with mud again.
Radishes in a pot
create a terracotta pot of crisp radishes with herb cream and malt ‘soil’.
16 long radishes
8g chives5g tarragon
125g sheep’s milk yogurt
5g instant food thickener
85g malt flour
50g hazelnut flour25g sugar
20g malt flour
50g hazelnut flour
60g butter, melted
Wash the radishes and cut off the bottoms. Remove the leaves and stems, leaving only a few pretty ones.
Roughly chop the herbs and shallots. Add the yogurt and capers and process in a Thermomix*. Blend in the mayonnaise and pass through a fine sieve (strainer). Blend the mixture wit
h the instant food thickener.
Day 1: Preheat the oven to 90c. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour into a food processor. Process 3 times in short bursts while adding the beer. Spread on a tray and dry in the oven for 3-6 hours. Push through a coarse sieve to remove the thickest lumps.
Day 2: Repeat the mixing procedure from Day 1 with the remaining malt soil ingredients, then mix the 2 batches together by hand, ensuring that no moist lumps are left in the mixture.
For Serving:Use a piping (pastry) bag to half-fill a small pot with the herb cream. Season the radishes with sea salt and insert them in the cream. Sprinkle enough malt soil on top of the radishes to cover the cream completely and the radishes partially.
*A Thermomix is a food processor that can blend food at different temperatures.
Watch some Rene here