How far is too far to go for dinner? An ocean is nothing if you're Josh Abramson.
COPENHAGEN – After my wife and I flew to Spain for dinner at El Bulli two years ago, very little appeals more to me than traveling absurd distances to eat at one of the world's greatest restaurants.
When I first read about the food René Redzepi was preparing at Noma, I immediately started scheming a way to get a reservation at what was considered by many to be the best restaurant in the world. When a Danish friend said he could help us get us a table, the planning began. Given the difficulty of securing the reservation and the unfortunate timing of the slot I was given, I ended up booking flights from New York City for what would be a 48-hour trip to Copenhagen.
We arrived in at 1 p.m. with six hours to spare before dinner. After a quick walk, a nap, and a shower, we made our way across the canal to what appeared to be a warehouse from season two of The Wire. As we turned the corner past ugly buildings, we saw the beautiful view of the old harbor which the restaurant overlooked and took a few pictures.
When we walked inside, we were greeted by name and shown to our table. We were presented with the two menu options, "large and larger," of which we obviously chose the latter along with the wine pairing. I'm frequently disappointed by wine pairings, but given where we were, it felt appropriate.
The waiter explained that he would bring us an assortment of snacks followed by twelve proper courses. He then told us to eat the contents of the flower pot that had been sitting inconspicuously on our table. Turns out it contained edible flowers stuffed with delicious snails. So this is what we were in for tonight.
The snacks continued to come out one by one. Rose petals that had been pickled for over a year. Deep-fried reindeer moss. Live, sweet shrimp still moving around on their bed of ice. Hay-smoked quail eggs and fried duck skin sandwiches. Just to mention a few.
By the time we were served the first of our twelve courses, l was already slightly full and working on my third glass of wine. Every course that came out amazed us, from dishes as simple as a plate of fresh grilled onions and foraged vegetables in buttermilk to dishes with more complex flavors like burnt cucumber with uni and caramelized sweetbreads with wild mushrooms.
The next morning, I was hung over and jet-lagged. We had 24 hours before our flight home, which was just enough time to tour the city and talk about our amazing, five-hour meal that was totally worth the journey.
1401 Copehagen, Denmark