More than seven years ago, René Redzepi began foraging the countryside of Denmark trying to find things to eat, guided by his palate and Nordic food history. What he found sea coriander, beach mustard, bellflowers, sea buckthorn he tried to make taste good, good enough for people to pay for. He succeeded so well that in 2010, his restaurant, Noma which features dishes that look like they were scraped from the sides of rocks or found tumbling in the intertidal zone was named the best restaurant in the world by the gourmets, chefs, and critics at the annual San Pellegrino awards. The best-fed minds were blown: The guy messing around with cloudberries in Copenhagen beat out the culinary Olympus, El Bulli and every other restaurant in the entire world? It's not like the Nordic region, which Noma draws its food from, is any wonderland of flavor. You pickle, cure, and air-dry Nordic foods; you don't just drizzle them with olive oil and pair them with a local wine. For example, Danes traditionally used the ashes of hay as seasoning. Redzepi brought it back. Is that even good? He's also doing something with "vintage carrots," or carrots that have been left in the ground too long, and "satellite potatoes," or potatoes that spring up around other potatoes that have been left in the ground too long. Today, he appears with his book of magic, Noma: Place and Time in Nordic Cuisine.
Mon., Oct. 4, 3 p.m., 2010