Last night world famous Noma chef and owner René Redzepi began his lecture on "The Exploration of Deliciousness" by apologizing to the crowd for rescheduling the discussion which was originally supposed to take place last month. With a smile, he explained that he had come down with a violent case of diarrhea. On stage Redzepi was joined by Lars Williams, head of the Nordic Food Lab, a laboratory (based on a boat) that researches the science behind food.
And on that diarrhea note Redzepi dove into "the beginning of everything." Noma, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen, began as a restaurant with nine employees and now employs 45. The concept of Noma started innocently enough. Redzepi wanted to use more local produce and thus began to search the nearby lands for new edibles. On a cold spring morning, in April 2005, Redzepi stumbled upon what he describes as a "gastronomical New Years." He was walking around a local beach and in the distance saw a patch of bright green something among tufts of rotting seaweed. Upon closer inspection the plant looked like chives but was sturdy like asparagus. Without consulting a forging book, Redzepi instinctively broke off a piece of the plant and ate it. It was crunchy like celery but tasted like cilantro. Redzepi was blown away. Cilantro was a green he associated with exotic foods, not an herb that ever grew in Copenhagen. With this discovery, Redzepi decided that he and his team had to "unlearn everything." Conventional flavors, sweet versus savory, all of this had to be unlearned. Why cant seaweed flavor a delicious ice cream? At this point containers of seaweed ice cream were passed around and the audience was instructed to taste. Many asked for more. The idea here is to take a food not necessarily though of as good, and make it delicious.
After the "cilantro" plant discovery Redzepi knew it was time to tap into new knowledge and step outside the boundaries of Noma, which is how the Nordic Food Lab was born. The NFL, however, was conceived to explore deliciousness. Not work on plates of food, rather study and experiment with the pillars that create those plates. Williams talked about revisiting old techniques, pickling, salting, preserving. He explained that he has recently experimented with a lot of micro-organizms and fermentation, and he and Redzepi have created a new product like miso but called pea-so. Instead of soybeans, green peas are fermented in the same way soybeans are fermented to make miso. End result, pea-so, and aparently the product is so tasty that someone in Copenhagen has approached Redzepi and Williams about distributing it for mass consumption.
Another new idea was fruit and vegetables as spices. The audience was provided with samples of roasted cucumber powered and instructed to taste. The powder tasted like flavor-packed roasted cucumbers. Quite delicious. Fruits and vegetables as spices? Why not.
One of the final tastes of the night was a black liquid in a pipette. On first taste the substance resembled a deep, rich soy sauce. Then Redzepi grinned and informed the crowed that the liquid was made from fermented crickets. Frankly, really quite tasty. If it tastes so good, does it really matter what you're eating? And that was Redzepi's whole point. [EaterWire]