Monday, October 18, 2010

Edible Dirt and other Delicacies

I love to eat. Absolutely, love it. I am, hands down, the pig in our family. For that reason, I am also the cook. So, I am always impressed when someone can not only concoct a delicious meal, but make it a visual feast as well (I usually am too concerned about getting the food into my belly to take the time to make it look good). René Redzepi, chef of Noma in Copenhagen, excels at both. Noma was just named the best restaurant in the world in San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010. But, what I found the most intriguing amongst his unrelenting gastronomic creativity, was his edible dirt. 

 The dirt is actually a mixture of malt and hazelnut flours. Not a Noma exclusive, edible dirt has also been dug up at Manhattan's Gilt, made of both  mushroom soil and charred-onion ash. But, unlike Gilt's over-the-top opulence, Noma  is a quiet study in texture. Warmed  only by wooden beams and the occasional fur pelt tossed over a chair back, the Nordic minimalism has an almost primal feel to it. Like René's belief that food should be "more raw than cooked," the dining room is just that; finished, but a touch raw, and not overdone Located seaside in a 250 year old industrial complex, converted from a derelict eighteenth-century warehouse into lofts and large open spaces in 2003, the focus is on the food. No fancy flatware, no designer linens, nor expensive floral arrangements to distract you. In the end, the pretense of Gilt is not nearly as appetizing as the understated Noma.

Noma's unpretentious entrance. Photography by Ditte Isager
Three years in the making, René's latest cookbook, Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, has just been released this month. Photographer Ditte Isager, whose inspiration comes from the light in the Dutch masters, justly reflects the unassuming simplicity of the food and the space in which it's served. I haven't bought a cookbook in years, opting to peruse the pages of the internet for my recipes rather than an actual book. But, the combination of alluring photographs and the secret to making my own dirt, may just make its way to my shelf.

"Amuse Bouche" Via
I love using Nasturtium leaves in floral arrangements. Their addition to the wild mushroom and elderberry caper would give the appetizer a peppery bite. Via

Steamed spinach and Tea Rose Hips Via


  1. I would try eating dirt -- the right dirt.

  2. Me, too!
    Did you as a child?
    I have the recipe - I'll send it to you. Too bad they don't have a way to attach a file. Oh, wait, they do; I just have to blog it.


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