A Place & Time for Food

BY Lisa Lindblad

June 29, 2010

It was quite a moment when Copenhagen’s Noma snatched the pinnacle of the world’s best restaurants from El Bulli in 2010.  The 2-Michelin star, 40 seat restaurant belongs to Chef Rene Redzepi, a Dane who spent many formative years in Macedonia, and who has worked in host of temples to gastronomy throughout Europe.

Noma is located in North Atlantic House, a cultural center located in Copenhagen’s Greenlandic Trading Square .  For  over 200 years the square served as the center of trade  between Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland — in short, trade that plied the waters of the North Atlantic.  The word Noma is a conflation of the words Nordic and mad (food) and, according to Chef Redzepi, his ambition is to create dishes that have this sense of Place, the North Atlantic.

I listened to an interesting interview with Redzepi in which he elaborated on his vision of food.  The food on the plates he serves must, he says, have a direct link not only to the region in which it is being made but, more specifically, to the actual micro environment in which it is found.  He presented a plate of wild blueberries sprinkled atop greens that included spruce and thyme, two elements found in the same environment as the blueberries.  Food also  must conjure a particular moment, a season, and so his plate of oysters and cabbage, fresh and plump, are a fixture on his winter menu when they are at their best.

Noma’s food tells the story, therefore, of the far North in a particular season.  It reminded me of the stories we try to tell with the travels that we offer clients. Venice in the winter is a different story than Venice in the spring; Scotland at Christmas tells a different tale than the moors in summer.

The key is simplicity; the key is finding the voice — the voice of the city, the voice of landscape, or the voice of the food.

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The Mallmann Diaspora