In 2004, chefs across Scandinavian countries created the Nordic Kitchen Manifesto. In signing it, chefs committed to prepare menus around local ingredients with a pure, simple approach. Possibly inspired by Chef René Redzepi’s groundbreaking success at Noma, these chefs knew what the rest of the world didn’t: that the world was hungry for Nordic food and its elegant simplicity. Yes, smorgasbords, Swedish meatballs, glögg, gravlax and skyr will always be a rich part of Nordic cuisine as much as hot dogs, burgers and meatloaf are part of ours, but just like here, things are changing faster than you can pickle some cherries. The “New Nordic” cuisine continues to influence, foraging its way to America. Here’s a quick look at the tastes and philosophies of the new Scandinavian cuisine.
The World’s Best: Noma – When Noma burst on to the scene in 2003, Chef René Redzepi set out to create a restaurant built solely on local ingredients. A difficult task given the seasonal changes, his menus eventually were crafted around foraging, fermentation and umami. Seven years later, Noma was named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2010 squarely placing the chef and his restaurant in the same caliber as Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. Redzepi made the decision to shutter Noma so that he could create Noma 2.0, due to open in 2017. Plans for Noma 2.0 center around an urban farm where the produce is used to create menus around the three distinct Nordic seasons: Winter, Spring (all vegetarian an homage to the farmers and forages in their community), and then Fall (through December- possibly game focused and whole animal).
Hygge Cures All – If you haven’t read a paper, magazine or thumbed through social media lately, you don’t know hygge. The Scandinavian state of mind, hygge (pronounced “hue-guh”) is all things cozy. Think soft wool blankets and a warm cup of coffee. A calm approach to the day. A deep breath to clear the head. Connecting with family and friends through nurturing comfort foods. These are the principles of hygge deeply imbedded into the Scandinavian culture. And hygge is having a profound effect on changing the New Nordic. The plates of lichen moss and sea buckthorn are still there but so is a modern take on plokkfiskur at recently opened Messinn. The classic Icelandic fish stew in béchamel is happily brightened with white wine, celery and lime, giving it a sweetness and a whole lot of hygge.
Spotted and Seen / The New Nordic Stateside
N’eat / Manhattan: Looking for a bite of Nordic? N’eat is the place to be. Its a la carte menu gives diners the chance to experience classic Scandinavian flavors with a twist. The Spicy Duck Heart Tartare with the fermented mushrooms and puffed wild rice intrigues us as does the chamomile ice cream with cucumber sorbet and burnt lime meringue. Pretty neat.
The Bachelor Farmer / Minneapolis – With the first rooftop farm in Minneapolis, Bachelor Farmer is locally sourced and accidentally rooted in the local Scandinavian heritage. The owners set out to pay homage to the Twin Cities Scandinavian history and found themselves unwittingly adopting the same localvore principles as Noma, halfway across the world. The smoked rainbow trout with broccolini, hazelnuts, pickled baby scarlet turnips, and a ginger-mustard vinaigrette has our mouths watering. And we wouldn’t pass up the vanilla bean panna cotta, rhubarb-raspberry jam topped with a coconut-buckwheat crumble.
Great Northern Food Hall/ NYC – Inside the Grand Central Station terminal, this food hall pays tribute to Scandinavia in NYC with nine different dining options from formal to coffee shop. Meyers Bageri sounds especially amazing due to their claim “where great Nordic bread is born.” And the Grain Bar would be a guaranteed breakfast spot because we wouldn’t be able to pass up trying the grød, or Danish porridge. The øllebrød with rye bread and beer sounds intriguing as does the grainotto showcasing barley and spelt along with beets, peas, conehead cabbage and mushrooms.
North Wild Kitchen / Best Blog 2016/Saveur Magazine – A real testament to the trend that is Norwegian is in the blogosphere. Saveur’s best blog this year, North Wild Kitchen, is written by American Nevada Berg who resides in a 17th century mountain farmhouse in Norway. A recent post featuring a Norwegian sukksessterte (translated “success tart”) has us knowing that Norwegian cuisine is a success to be celebrated. Not to mention the macaron crust. Swoon.
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