Thor's Hammer.JPG
This ceremonial Viking hammer was used to crush ice (and enemy skulls) at Mistral Kitchen. Somehow I thought Thor's Hammer would have more lightning bolts


Rene Redzepi Dazzles Mistral Kitchen With Caramel Marrow, Rejects Scandinavian Metal

Thor's Hammer.JPG
This ceremonial Viking hammer was used to crush ice (and enemy skulls) at Mistral Kitchen. Somehow I thought Thor's Hammer would have more lightning bolts shooting out of it.
Rene Redzepi is the head chef of Noma. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Noma was recently voted BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD. Do you understand what this means? There are NO restaurants that are better than Noma. Compared to Noma, the French Laundry's $250 tasting menu tastes like a rotten bag of fermented grandpa cocks. In fact, here's a convenient, bullet-pointed list of things that aren't as good as Noma:

• Les Freres Troisgros

• Alinea

• Crush

• Arby's

• Le Bernadin

• The love a man has for a good horse

Redzepi was in town for one night only. He'd stopped in Seattle to promote his new book Noma: Time & Place in Nordic Cuisine, and was hosted at Mistral Kitchen by the lovely and dedicated Kim Ricketts as part of her "Cooks & Books" series. Mistral Kitchen was turning out food: miniscule graham crackers topped with smoked cream, dried blueberries, and a quivering amber slip of maple syrup gelatin. Petite chocolate bombs were filled with truffle cream. And there was some kind of tartare too.

Drinks were being poured liberally. There was red and white wine and a cocktail of aquavit and campari, which came garnished with a sage leaf and served over a single gigantic ice cube, hand-sculpted into geometrically perfect hexahedrons by the bartenders, who were wielding what were either specially made ice machetes, or just really fucking gigantic knives. Sometimes the bartenders crushed these beautifully symmetrical ice chunks by wrapping them in a napkin and smashing them with a rustic wooden hammer, charmingly accented with decorative coils of copper wire. This was probably some ceremonial Viking hammer used by Redzepi's ancestors to crush the skulls of their enemies, and make bitchin' pina coladas. The crushed ice was then used in some citrusy mixed drink, garnished with a pineapple leaf.

Eventually Redzepi addressed the crowd. "I consider this book not to be a cookbook, but an atlas of Scandinavia." He acknowledged the difficulty of the recipes for the home cook, especially in sourcing local ingredients. "The recipes," he laughed, "... good luck." He went on to describe how the photography for the book took an entire year to complete, because they could only take pictures when the locally sourced ingredients were in season.

Redzepi then gave accolades to his friend Blaine, who did some time at Noma but currently works at the Willows In on Lummi Island. Blaine looked embarrassed. Redzepi admonished the audience. "I hope you will embrace this man into your circle of gastronomic people."

Afterwards, Redzepi was very engaging, talking extensively with anyone who approached him. Mr. & Mrs. Wright of the excellent local blog wrightangle, for example, discussed their recent meal at Noma with him.

The Wrights were blown away by the experience, especially the caramel marrow bones. The marrow was smoked, then scooped out of the bone and used in place of butter in a caramel sauce. The caramel was then poured back into the core of the bone. Diners could scoop out the caramel "marrow" and eat it for dessert. It would be like if the Gingerbread Man came down with leukemia: he would need a transplant of that caramel marrow, and the people eating at Noma were the oncologists.

I asked Redzepi what his favorite band was. He recommended Danish indie band Efterklang." It's Electronica with real instruments," Redzepi told me. But what about all the awesome Scandinavian black metal: Bathory, Entombed, At the Gates, or In Flames? Or Burzum? Or Emperor? Mercyful Fate? Amon Amarth? Or Opeth?

Redzepi was having none of it. "Metal? I don't listen to metal." Somehow I doubt Crom approves. In fact, if you listen to Efterklang you won't get into Valhalla, that's for fucking sure. Your skull will probably be bashed apart by a berserker wielding the Rustic Ice Hammer of Thor.

After taking my leave of Resdzepi, I ran into chef Matt Dillon. I asked Dillon what he thought about Noma. He's impressed with Scandinavian cooking, especially given the short growing season. "There's a deep subconscious connection to the land because there are no seasons," Dillon told me. Because there's so little time to produce vegetables in Denmark, the crops they do yield must be perfect.

Dillon also told me about the farm he and his girlfriend Naomi recently purchased on Vashon Island. As of right now, they've got two goats and SIXTY chickens. Dillon plans to source all of the eggs used at his restaurant Sitka & Spruce from his own chickens. Eventually they plan to expand the farm, acquiring goats, then a chimpanzee.

I suggested they stock the farm with leprechauns, but Naomi didn't like that idea. "He might steal the oats we feed the sheep and make whiskey out of it." But Dillon seemed delighted by my suggestion. "We can make leprechaun cheese! Have you ever milked a fucking leprechaun? They have gold tits!" Also, as everyone knows, leprechaun cheese has Omega-3 fatty acids. It has so much fatty acid because leprechauns like to smoke lots of fatties.

It makes sense that the best restaurant in the world is in Denmark. Scandinavians are, after all, known for taking everything to its logical conclusion. In the rest of the world, taking arguments to their logical conclusions usually results in everyone calling each other Hitler. But Scandinavians use their ruthless logic to make great art: the movies of Ingmar Bergman, the bleak symphonies of Sibelius, or Let the Right One In (soon to be remade here in the USA in English, now with sexy teens). Even the usually awesome French people seem like a sorry bunch of assholes when compared to the Danes.

Denmark! Fuck yeah!

Rating: 7 logical conclusions out of 10

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