Prior to entering the New Nordic dinner, my expectations were very low. I fully intended the dinner to be somewhat of a pleasantry, because I do not believe in a system designed to tell us the hierarchy of restaurants and I did not think this meal would make me full. Additionally, I came in with my own single story which is reflective of dinners I had seen popularized in media. In Always Be My Maybe, for example, there is a dinner between the two main characters (Sasha and Marcus) and their partners at a restaurant that resembles New Nordic in American Gastronomy. The parody shows, Marcus who is not from the high brow culinary world being baffled by each course which is seemingly more bizarre than the next. The theme is playing with time, and the main course involves a sound track which allows the diner the option to listen to the cow prior to slaughter. It was with these preconceived notions, that created my very low bar for the New Nordic dinner at Høst.
Fortunately, I was wrong, and this meal was executed very well! For our first taster, we had a radish, pickled strawberry and shrimp cup. Our first actual course was sustainable salmon from Hirtshals with green tomatoes and horseradish. Then we had our second taster which was a crabcake inside of a crepe taco. Our main course was baked hake with green asparagus and fish fumé. The first dessert was a nitrogen meringue with a pinecone on top. The final course was Danish strawberries with yoghurt sorbet and rhubarb. Each dish had a uniquely earthy taste, but all dishes had their own distinct tastes as Jared Demick would say in his poem, Tasting a Landscape: On the New Nordic Cuisine, “tattooed on your tongue.” (Demick) For example, each dish did have their own sets of greens on the plates. On the shrimp cup dish, there was a dill sprig, whereas on the final course there were fennels. These different greens gave each dish a little kick of spice, and set each apart from one another, making each dish have a unique set of earthy tastes that I would say danced on your tongue at different times.
The atmosphere was very rustic and minimalistic. For example, there were pizza cutting boards on the wall, whereas other walls were barren. The floors were concrete and the table and chairs looked to be reused (old door for the table, mismatched chairs). At the table, there were only two candles, both held information about the food being served that night. The mood of the event was very inviting, everyone was talking and having a family style type of conversation at the table, it was very warm and “hyggeligt.”
The food was not what I expected of the New Nordic Movement at all. Since we have learned that the New Nordic Movement promotes “the manifesto promotes a cuisine based on purity, simplicity and freshness, one that reflects the changing seasons […] menus were to be inspired by traditional dishes and the use of ingredients that benefit from the nordic region’s climate, water and soil,” I did not expect to have very many options. (New Nordic Food Program, 6). I expected this limitation because of the different seasons the movement adheres to that helps with the reproduction of animal and plant life. Although all of our dishes were pescentarian, I still was wholeheartedly impressed by the uniqueness of each dish. I thought the salmon dish reminded me of poke, and the main course reminded me of sea bass. I am glad it exceeded my expectations and that it left me feeling satisfied in the end. I would not say I was full, I would say each dish left me very satisfied. Although I am sad I originally had such a single story about New Nordic Cuisine, I am happy to have given this meal a chance by trying every dish and holding an open mind throughout the night. Overall, this was a lovely way to conclude the program because we were all able to be together one last time and share an experience.