Unique New Nordic Experience

When I heard that we were going to a fancy three course meal restaurant, I was intrigued because it is something I would never choose to do on my own, since it is so expensive. I was expecting that I would be served tiny portions of food that I probably would not like, but I still wanted to try everything because why not. I also expected it to be a lot like a scene in the movie Always Be My Maybe where they go to a fancy restaurant and eat crystallized lavender sugar bubbles. I thought it would be eating a lot of strange things that you would never even imagine being edible. However, based on what we read about this type of food in the New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto, the chefs who created this cuisine made a 10-point manifesto so that everyone has the same idea of what types of food are prepared and what foods can be used in certain seasons. I enjoyed that this was an aspect of new Nordic cuisine because, in America, people all have different opinions about what kinds of food are considered American. I was excited about this last meal, and I kept an open mind for the food that I was about to try.

When we arrived at Höst, we were told to go downstairs to the staff table in the cellar. It was sort of strange that we were not walked to our table because that is something that would have happened in the U.S. I was also disappointed about eating in the cellar because it was quite plain in comparison to the rest of the restaurant, but I knew that our group was too large to fit upstairs. The part of the cellar we were in had a country rustic feel to it, had a plant in one of the windows, and about five pizza peels were hung on the wall. The lights above us were dimmed, and there was an open archway that led to the other tables. Our table had lit candles, bottles of still and sparkling water, a bowl of two types of bread on hay, and butter on a ceramic dish. The atmosphere was a lot calmer than I expected it to be, and more casual because some people were wearing shorts, while others were wearing suits and dresses. Throughout the meal, there was an excited mood since everyone was unsure of what was being served and no one from our group had been to such a fancy dining experience before.

Once we were all settled, our waitress came to ask if anyone wanted to order any wine as we waited for our first appetizer. Before eating, we were informed that the chefs at Höst change their menu every week, which I found interesting because they want to get the freshest, locally sourced, and in-season produce every week. This is something I also expected because Matt Goulding explained in his article that new Nordic chefs stopped importing produce from different countries. Instead, chefs get it from local farms, since farmers like Søren Wiuff expanded the types of foods that they grew, and they can get better foods from Scandinavia than other countries. Once the wines were served, our first surprise appetizer of shrimp salad cups, radishes, and pickled strawberries, on top of charcoal. The next expected dish was raw salmon with cucumbers, red tomatoes, and a dill spiced horseradish sauce. Our third surprise appetizer was a malt pancake with crab salad and onions, which also had intense flavors from the onion and leafy greens that were inside, so I only liked the crab salad that was inside of it. The fourth dish was our main course, and it was baked hake with green asparagus and fish fume. The fifth surprise dish was a liquid nitrogen cream that had a coffee flavor and a tiny pine cone placed on top, and it sat on a plate of pine needles. The final dessert was Danish strawberries with yogurt sorbet and rhubarb. There was quite a bit of time in between each course being served, but it felt like you had to be done when everyone else was because the waitress took all the plates away at the same time before the next course came. When each new dish arrived, everyone at our table became hushed as we anxiously awaited to be told what we would be eating.

I was not too wowed by many of the dishes that we were served. The only part of our main course that I loved was the piece of asparagus, it was probably the best asparagus I have ever had, and I wish I had a whole plate of it. However, I still ate all the appetizers, even though they were not my ideal choices. The raw salmon was probably my least favorite dish because I do not like raw fish, it had interesting flavors, but it tasted too fishy to me. The one extra dish that I was unable to eat was the pine cone dish because I am allergic to pine trees, and I just never thought that I would need to worry about eating a pine cone. My favorite part of the meal was the sorbet dessert because it was sweet, creamy, and had hints of fennel, so it was delicious and looked beautiful. I enjoyed that for certain dishes, the waitress would come back after setting out plates down, to add a sauce to the fish. The food at Höst was what I had expected it to be because it was quite fresh and they told you where certain fish or vegetables came from, which is an aspect that new Nordic chefs add to their eating experience.

It was something fun to experience with all my friends on the last night because everyone was trying something new. I probably would never go to a restaurant like this ever again because it is just not the types of food that I enjoy. I would not say that I felt full from all of these courses, but I was pleased with what I tried because it was all new to me. I am glad that I had this experience because I most likely would never have chosen to do it on my own since it was so expensive. Overall, it was a truly unique experience.

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My Last Meal in Denmark

To be honest, I was a little skeptical of New Nordic cuisine. From what I heard and the pictures I saw, I thought it was too fancy and the portions too small. The food presentation seemed unnecessarily lavish, coming from the viewpoint of an American who carelessly loads a plate with food. After learning about the New Nordic Movement in class, I started to understand the cuisine and why it is executed in such a particular way. The New Nordic Manifesto “promotes a cuisine based on purity, simplicity and freshness, one that reflects the changing seasons.” All of the ingredients are expected to be “distinct and recognisable and their preparation and presentation should bring out their local characteristics” (New Nordic Cuisine 7). This fairly new movement is “changing the way [people] buy food and eat,” noticeable in Danish society (Goulding). I was looking forward to seeing how Høst, a New Nordic restaurant, would comply with these expectations and what type of food would be served.   

Our table at Høst was situated in its own rustic room, surrounded by bare cement walls, with old pizza boards hanging on one side. The table was aged wood, appearing to be unrefined; charming in my opinion. Grey drapes separated us from the rest of the restaurant, but they were pulled open, so I could see into the next room. The dinning area was dark, but candles illuminated the room, making customers feel welcome and at home. I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt and shorts while another was wearing slacks and a button up. Even though the restaurant was recognized by the Michelin Guide, people were not expected to dress fancy. This added a sense of freedom where people could dress how they pleased and truly feel comfortable.

Our dinner started with bread and butter. The two different kinds of bread sat in a bowl of hay, reminding me of eggs in a chicken coop, I assume to allude to its natural ingredients. Our appetizer consisted of radishes, tiny pickled strawberries and cups of shrimp, all on top of charcoal. The presentation was appealing, the bright red radishes contrasted well with the black charcoal. There were two of every item, so you could share with the person sitting next to you. Except for the radishes, all of the flavors were new to me, I cannot describe it as anything other than interesting. The next dish was a mix of cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, bean sprouts, raw salmon and horseradish sauce. After the first bite, I could not decide if I liked it or not. I thought the pumpkin seeds elevated the overall flavor considerably, because I enjoy pumpkin seeds so much. Next, we were served a sort of crab taco that was also interesting. To me, the texture was not desirable, but I kept on eating to clear my plate. For the main dish, we were served a sort of fish that was shaped like a patty with one piece of asparagus. In my opinion, the fish was not appetizing, so I gave it to a classmate, but the asparagus was delicious. I devoured my one piece so quickly, I wish I had more. Hands down, the dessert was the best dish. The ice cream with strawberries and some sort of compote was delicious, it was not too sweet or too bland. Definitely a good ending to the New Nordic experience.  

The appetizer
The delicious dessert

I must say, after all of the dishes I was left feeling mostly unsatisfied, the portions were so small I was not full. Going into this experience I tried to have an open mind and not be picky. I knew New Nordic cuisine would be totally unfamiliar, but I was willing to branch out and try something new. Høst undeniably made me step out of my comfort zone and I am grateful for the experience. Even though I was not totally sold on the food, I was glad to be able to spend the last meal in Copenhagen with everyone surrounded around a table talking and laughing.     

The Last Supper

I personally went into our final dinner at Høst with very high expectations. I consider myself a foodie and have eaten at pretty fancy restaurants before so I thought I knew what our dinner would be like. In my personal opinion, I thought the food was disappointing. However, despite the food not being good, I actually had a wonderful time at our last supper. I got to spend my final night in Denmark all dressed up, enjoying great conversations, laughing and hanging out with the people who I have become very fond of.

 

The restaurant itself was really nice. It had a rustic feel that was reflected in its decor and its dishes. We started our meal with a dish that had a little cup filled with a crab salad, radishes, and pickled strawberries. Next, came the salmon that was served with cucumbers and pumpkin seeds. Then, I had these fried dumpling like things. We then got out main course which was a fish and asparagus dish. Finally, I had a sea buckthorn sorbet with strawberries that was topped with a candied pinecone. To be honest actually did not mind most of the dishes. I actually enjoyed eating most of everything. I think I was just underwhelmed. This is probably because I had such high expectations. I wanted to be blown away by the food and although it was not disgusting it was not phenomenal.

This restaurant is known for being apart of the New Nordic food movement which we had discussed extensively in our class. This movement is the push for using local ingredients and for using traditional Danish recipes. I feel that this restaurant really followed the New Nordic movement and I got a really Danish feel from the food. There was a lot of fish and local vegetables. Some interesting ingredients were the pickled strawberries and the candied pinecone. I expected most of the ingredients that were used but those ones definitely surprised me. The server was also very nice and made sure everyone’s food restrictions were accommodated.

The mood of the dinner was joyous and celebratory. We were all well aware that it was our last night and we all wanted to end the trip on a good note. So, although the food was very interesting, I had a great night which ended my fantastic study abroad experience perfectly.

 

 

The New Nordic Experience

With the sad portions, odd flavors, and confusion over what was on my plate, my taste of New Nordic cuisine matched my expectations entirely. Before eating at Høst, I expected my previous opinions about high-class dining to be challenged in some way. Seeing the craze over New Nordic cuisine had me hoping for something better than my previous experiences at these types of restaurants. At the same time, I was still skeptical of the idea of New Nordic cuisine. After studying it in class, I had seen how small and how confusingly sophisticated each dish had to be. After eating at Høst, I can at least say I gave it a chance, but it just was not for me. It was very aesthetically pleasing, and waiting to see how the next dish would look was exciting. However, in my experience, it seemed to place more importance on the aesthetic rather than quantity or taste.
Høst’s atmosphere was full of relaxation, yet sophistication. While the inside of the restaurant looked warm and welcoming, there was still a sense of sophistication in the way in which people were dressed. The restaurant itself was very simple. With the candlelight and the cave-like underground room we were in, and the different shades of brown that decorated the table, the facade of the restaurant communicated warmth and closeness. Perhaps that feeling also came from the fact that this would be our last meal together as a class and, sadly, our last day together. But, the overall atmosphere brought some hygge to the table and mirrored the goal of New Nordic cuisine— simplicity.
Our first taste of New Nordic came on a plate filled with rocks, raw radish stocks, pickled strawberries the size of pennies, and little edible cups filled with a sort of shrimp puree. With the bright, red of the radishes on top of the dark, black rocks below them, it looked quite appealing. Besides, of course, the fact that there was barely anything on the plate. But, according to the New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto, “the nordic landscape is sparsely populated, with vast areas of untouched land” and, in this way, the plate perfectly matched the nordic environment. The dish was very sparsely populated with food and had a lot of untouched (and inedible) land in the appearance of rocks. After trying the little cups of shrimp puree, I became hopeful for the rest of the plate. However, upon trying the pickled strawberry and chomping down on the raw radish, I was feeling a little discouraged at what the next course would be.

Our first taste of New Nordic


To my surprise, our entrée was not the same as our little taste test before. It was still tiny, but I was happy to see something I recognized and love: raw salmon. A white sauce was added to it by our server once everyone had been served. With the added sour flavor of the sauce combined with sunflower seeds and salmon, the flavor was, for lack of a better word, interesting. This is how I felt about almost every course we had. It had flavors that were familiar yet strange at the same time, and I could never really tell if I liked it. The more bites I had, the more I began to grow accustomed to the taste, but my tastebuds still couldn’t seem to comprehend the different and surprising flavors. This confusion continued into the main course and the little plate of a crab-filled crepe taco we received in between the entree and the main course. While this little crepe taco was a unique concept, the taste of crab with something that I usually have as a dessert just did not work with my tastebuds. Regarding the man course, the patty-like fish we were served had yet another flavor I couldn’t quite identify. It left me feeling confused and hungry.

The main course


The most exciting dish of the night, however, was the desert. This was the only plate I knew I liked. It was yogurt-like ice cream with cream and fresh strawberries, topped with beautiful, crunchy decor. Our dessert ended the meal on a high note, and I was happy to have discovered something New Nordic that I enjoyed.

The best part of the night


As the New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto states, “simplicity is a key characteristic of Nordic cuisine” and Høst definitely stuck to this characteristic. While I know that the idea of New Nordic is to utilize fewer components and, instead, focus on higher quality, I couldn’t help but feel like the random flavors did not make up for the lack of food. Perhaps I’m just not the right person for this type of high-brow cuisine, but it seemed as though aesthetic came first in every dish.

Nevertheless, I’m glad that we were able to end the trip on a “family” dinner that encapsulated what we had been learning about Nordic cuisine. It may not have been my first choice, but being together made it a whole lot better. Farewell, Copenhagen, and hopefully we’ll see you soon!

Creating and Reliving Memories Through Food

To me, New Nordic cuisine had a big shoes to fill since we had been learning and hearing of it ever since the start of the program. My initial impression of the term New Nordic cuisine was that it would be historic, stereotypical Viking food (such as breads, porridge, and tough, dried, aged meats) but with a modern French cuisine twist. When we first began our readings and studies of New Nordic food, however, I never realized this kind of food was palpable. I was so excited by the Denmark television episodes we watched in the DIS theater. A segment that stood out to me was when a group of chefs were sampling one of their dishes, to which the head chef remarked that the sunflower sprouts should be picked sooner to achieve a more desirable flavor. Not only was the concept of eating something like sunflower sprouts so quirky to me, but I loved the concept eating foods “out of peak season.” Also, in the New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto, I loved how New Nordic cuisine utilizes the environment to flavor their food. The location, temperature, harvest time, and even plant stress all affects the flavor of the food product—such as growing carrots in winter to intentionally stunt their growth. I felt like the concept of New Nordic cuisine challenges convention. Who is to say a tomato needs to be ripe to be eaten and enjoyed? An unripen tomato provides a unique flavor in its own.

I appreciated the idea of New Nordic food, but as we made our way to Höst on our last official day of the course, I was skeptical. I have mixed feelings towards the concept of “fine dining.” I often feel that paying a high price at a restaurant ultimately yields a more positive, high-quality service and experience as opposed to a more delectable meal. Was Höst and New Nordic food nothing more than fluff?

The restaurant was down-to-earth, and as one of my classmates described, like eating in a barn house (but a fancy barn house!). We had a private room to ourselves in the basement. The table was uneven and rustic. No music was playing over the speakers, allowing us all to connect and socialize at a comfortable level. Bread in a bowl of hay next to still and sparkling water was at our table as we waited for all our guests to arrive. Once everyone was seated and settled, our waitress greeted us and explained the number of courses for the evening.

Our first meal was minimalist appetizer: a shrimp-based dish served with a single radish and smoked mayo atop a plate of charcoal rocks. Our first course, and my favorite of the night, was a salmon-based dish served with fresh sprouts and horseradish sauce. Our next course was unexpected. We all exclaimed, “It’s a taco!” although it resembled more of a chicken salad inside a pancake/crepe. Then we met our main course, a fish-based dish and asparagus, followed by two deserts: ice cream frozen by liquid nitrogen garnished with a pickled, caramelized pine cone and another ice cream dish severed with strawberries, fennel sprouts, and a sweet crumb. In my opinion, the quality of the dishes was outstanding. The flavors were genuinely unique and difficult to describe. Perhaps the most creative dish was the ice cream and fennel sprouts; it was such an uncommon combination, yet the textures complimented one another and created a new way to enjoy both ingredients.

I never thought I would be one to feel this way, but I absolutely want to try New Nordic food again and bring my loved ones into this new world of food. Perhaps this is the botanist and outdoor-enthusiast in me, but I loved how earthy our New Nordic food was. As abstract as this may sound, eating the dishes evoked feelings of nostalgia. Eating pine cones, malt bread, and fried marigold reminded me of mountain tops, meadows, and valleys I’ve visited on hikes and in the back woods of Georgia—and I feel that a meal which can transport you through time (and tastes good too!) is worth trying over and over again… should my funds permit!

My Fancy pants

When I heard that our class was going to be receiving a free dinner from our DIS program, I was excited. I did not know we were going to be attending a fancy restaurant like Høst. My first thoughts when arriving to this magnificent place was that it had a cool scenery and the employees had a uniform that made them look like a they were part chefs. The place had a sense of classy and fancy. The location of our reservations was underground and since we were 12 guests, they gave us the employee table. As I was getting my seat I observed that the dining table had bread, butter, water, sparkling water, and napkins that were pretty thick. Within a couple of meets we received our first meal of the 3-course meal. I did not know what to expect because it was my first time ever in a fancy restaurant.

When the first meal arrived, it was a type of salad with salmon and different veggies, but the strange thing was that the server put a type of horse relish type of sauce. In the new Nordic cuisine, it states, “cold-water fish have taken the gourmet restaurants of France by storm. in just a few short years, Le skrei – the spawning cod of early winter – have taken on a special status. these fish migrate from the Barents sea to the norwegian coast, and are flown to Paris within 24 hours of being caught. this is a special product and the large, easily flaked fillet is an indicator of freshness.” This made since that our first meal had a type of sea food within. For the second meal we had a taco shape meal but turns out it was pancake formed of a taco with seafood inside as well. The third meal we got was a round shape fish with asparagus on the side. After that we got a creative dessert. The best part of this was that we received two different desserts. The first one was a type of frosty with a pinecone in the middle. Finally, the last meal we got was a fancy ice cream with a sugar flower shaped thing on top to decorate it.

The overall, atmosphere was purity, countryside, simplicity and classic. For example, our server would share each dish at a time really describing the dish piece by piece while connecting it to the Danish culture. I felt like I got a vibe of peaceful and happy. People were dressed both fancy and casual which in my opinion is rare because a fancy restaurant usually has people with dress clothes and dresses. I was in shocked when having all the food because I am used to either Mexican food or fast food in the United States. I have never eaten food that comes in a sense of art or masterpiece. While in enjoying the art food I told myself that I am really missing out on foods out of my comfort. Jonatan Leer states, “From a Bourdieusian perspective, this new generation may be seen as a ‘‘natural’’ reaction to the New Nordic Cuisine, because just as the New Nordic chefs needed to challenge French and Mediterranean cuisine to establish their own distinctive positions in the culinary field, Puglisi depended on a refusal of the New Nordic Cuisine to claim originality.” This means that the new Nordic culture is hard to please people. Overall, for trying something new in my life I can say it was an amazing experience. I thank DIS for a nice dinner I got to enjoy with my classmates. This experience changed me by being more patient with food. First thing when arriving to the states is that I am going to play around in the Kitchen to see if I can pull off a New Nordic dish.

Nordic Conclusion

We arrived at Høst, a modest restaurant front, at 6 pm. The first detail I noticed was the clean and simple tan uniform that the employees wore. The restaurant had a hipster-minimalistic feel. Our table was located under the restaurant. Water, sparkling water, glasses, bread, and lap napkins were set on the table. Fifteen minutes into our dinner we were served our first dish. I expected small portions and the first dish seemed to prove my point. The bread and the first dish were served on natural inedible materials such as grass and rocks. I am not sure if those materials were solely for decoration.

Rather than listing every dish that I had, I will share the ones that I was most intrigued by. Firstly, the small white strawberry. It was a Danish strawberry. It was clever to take a traditional food such as the Danish strawberry and dip it in a Danish classic such as mayo. The seventh statement in the New Nordic Manifesto is as follows, “To develop new possible applications of traditional Nordic food products.” I felt that the strawberry and mayo combo exemplified that statement.

Another dish that got me going was the creamy grains with peas and marigolds. As a child, I could only dream of eating flowers. The dainty purple flowers looked almost too delicate to eat but eating the fried marigold felt so natural. I’ve always felt that no matter what the food, if fried, it will taste good. The marigold was proof for me. The peas and grains were covered in a rather sweet dressing which complemented the flowers well.

The first dessert I experienced was more obscure than the ice cream. It was described as a liquid nitrogen cream and was topped with a tiny pinecone. The tiny pinecone packed a huge punch. I ate the pinecone first, as instructed, and the flavor lasted with every bite of the porridge like dessert. The taste of the cream was sweet yet subtle. I tasted the purity of the dish. In the presentation entitled New Nordic Cuisine, purity is described as such, “Achieving harmony with the environment is important – it reflects the image we have of Nordic society.” I feel like there was a harmony between the strong taste of the pinecone and the subtle taste of the cream. The use of a natural ingredient, the pinecone, gives off the sense of harmony.

The atmosphere of Høst reflected the qualities of New Nordic cuisine- simplicity, purity, and harmony with nature. Our server calmly and proudly described each dish as they reflected the culture of the country where she lived. The mood of the event was laid back. While many people in the restaurant were dressed semi-formally, they seemed to be social and easy-going. The restaurant was what I imagined it to be- minimalist and for well off customers. The food surprised me. While some dishes were minuscule and the plates looked like works of art, the food was of outstanding quality. The dishes all embodied the New Nordic Manifesto. I didn’t expect the food to be as flavorful as they were. While eating New Nordic cuisine, I related to Jared Demick when he wrote, “Senses dilled, you are eating memories, splinters of a landscape tattooed on your tongue.” The New Nordic dinner was more than a meal, it was an experience of the Nordic landscape. I am grateful that I ended the trip with a New Nordic dinner. Nordic cultures, especially the Danes, value time spent together so it was only natural that we ate dinner as a class.