Freshly Foraged: What Is New Nordic Cuisine?

restaurant noma

A New Nordic dish at Noma Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Cyclonebill.

On a recent trip to Copenhagen I discovered a current trend in dining that is sweeping over the city: New Nordic Cuisine. The father of the food philosophy is legendary local chef and gastronomic entrepreneur Claus Meyer. Meyer is a co-founder (along with Rene Redzepi) for the famous Restaurant Noma, which was voted the Best Restaurant in the World in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the Second Best Restaurant in the World in 2013 by Restaurant. Restaurant Noma’s entire menu is based on New Nordic Cuisine, which goes beyond farm-to-table and focuses on locally foraged ingredients, seasonal dishes, nutrition and foods sourced from Nordic purveyors to create traditional Nordic dishes.

Claus Meyer has even created a “Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen,” which talks about the goals of New Nordic cuisine. It reads:

1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.

2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.

3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.

4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.

5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.

6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.

7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.

8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.

9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.

10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food , retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.

So what are some dishes you might find on a New Nordic menu? Typically, meals play with texture, ingredient combinations and presentation for creations that are delicious, fresh and even entertaining and surprising. On the rotating menu at Restaurant Noma, you can find everything from live local shrimp (this is the freshest possible way to eat them) to blueberry and ants to moss topped with crispy deer lichen and cep mushrooms. Not all the dishes are quite so avant-garde, as you can also enjoy meals like onion and fermented pears; berries and grilled vegetables; potato and bleak fish roe; and roasted turbot fish with greens.

It’s important to keep in mind that New Nordic Cuisine isn’t just about eating, it’s an experience. Moreover, while it strives to create a culture of healthy, local and flavorful cuisine, many restaurants incorporate some principles of the movement without being 100% New Nordic. Copenhagen in general is a very sustainable city (they aim to be the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025), so there are many restaurants that incorporate the New Nordic Cuisine philosophy into their menu, for example, Restaurant Radio, Manfreds og Vin and Kadeau. No matter where you decide to dine, make sure to sample some New Nordic Cuisine-inspired dishes for a healthy taste of local flavor.

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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