Denmark can be proud of quite a few award-winning chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants. While a few years back Noma attracted everybody’s attention to Copenhagen (mine included), there are much more places worth checking. Geranium restaurant with world’s most prestigious cooking competition Bocuse d’Or gold medal winner Rasmus Kofoed at the forefront easily falls into this category.
In 2014 Geranium ranked as 42 at the World’s Best 50 Restaurants list, making it there for the third year in a row. Two Michelin star restaurant offers modern Nordic dishes prepared of local seasonal ingredients, making synthesis between urban minimalism and raw nature.
Our night starts with a glass of 2009 Terre de Vertus Brut Nature from Larmandier Bernier champagne and three hour journey through the universe of flavours begins. Universe tasting menu was created to invigorate human senses and it surely succeeds in that: the dishes are perception challenging, with diversity of flavours and textures and exquisite presentation, some of them imitating elements of nature. We analyse the way the food looks with appreciation of an artwork before the waiters explain the components of each dish served.
When stone plates with white folded linen towels and a couple of wheat spica like ornaments arrive, we are not sure if those are decorations for hand towels, or is it the first course. It appears that they are crispy cheese crackers made of Kornly – Danish goat cheese.
The orange colour theme continues with sea buckthorn filled candied carrot shells served together with small bowls of thickened milk, fermented carrot juice, pieces of crab and sea buckthorn oil. The difference in textures comes into play here: the crispiness of carrots, silkiness of milk and tenderness of crab meat results in a perfectly tuned orchestra.
Squiggly creatures lookalikes on the next plate that is presented are made of thin layers of pear, geléed pear vinegar and lemon verbena leaves. The taste is refreshing and they work well as a pallet cleanser, but verbena is something that I usually smell in my shampoo, so it challenges my tastebuds.
We need to look close at which parts of the organic composition are edible when a plate with branches and fennel seeds arrives to the table. Crispy jerusalem artichoke leaves is the edible component to be snacked on dipping them in flavoursome rye vinegar and wallnut mayo. The chips don’t have that much of character, but the mayo is a real flavour explosion with a dominant walnut taste and the right amount of tanginess.
A parcel with dried apple and flowers looks like a tiny piece of art, making us want to analyse and photograph it rather than eat it. It sits on a prop of fresh apple with apple juice at the bottom that helps to rehydrate the dried components in the process of eating.
Charred potatoes are served in a bowl with coals along with spoons of lightly smoked sheep milk butter. As simple as the ingredients sound, the combination gives a real flavour sensation. It is so familiar, but so unusual in terms of presentation. The smoky flavour reminds me of fire baked potatoes in the countryside that I had when I was a child.
Cep mushroom soup with pickled quail egg yolks and truffles from Gotland is quite tangy, with substantial flakes of truffles in it, but this variety is much milder than the aromatic black truffles, so my tastebud memories still linger on the previous dish.
Seaweed and razor clam impressions from the ocean with razor clam tartare inside and edible clam shells made of rice paper and meticulously painted with squid ink made them look like real shells. The dish is served with skir – the Icelandic yoghurt.
The transition to savoury dishes is made with fruity 2010 Riesling Buntsandstein from Weingut Odinstal, Pfalz.
Jellied ham, tomato water, aromatic herbs and sorrel flowers. The unusual appearances and textures of familiar flavours play tricks with perception, our palates trying to discern what is what.
Dill stones – green jelly coated scallop pieces – is one of Geranium signature dishes. They come arranged among the real stones and served with accompaniment of horse radish sauce and pickled cucumber granita. The aroma of dill and sourness of cucumber are so powerful, that the flavour of scallops is masked by it.
Salted hake with buttermilk and herb sauce made with Norwegian caviar and crispy fish skin. This dish has a diversity of textures: crisp, soft, creamy, crunchy.
Warm bread bites made of emmer and spelt simply melt in your mouth. They are so soft and moist that you just can’t help yourself reaching for yet another one.
The bread is much needed to accompany pickled biodynamic onions with chamomile flower jelly and melted hay cheese. The favour of onions reminds of a red wine and the watercress adds peppery flavour, making a noticeable contrast after the subtle flavour of the previous dish.
We are offered to try 2011 Savagnin Presse from Domaine des Cavarodes. That kind of grapes are grown mainly in Jura region in France. Due to fermentation in barrels it has oaky character and reminds of sherry.
Oysters from Limfjorden hiding under little piles of seaweed and fermented cabbage are drizzled with sour crout and thyme sauce, all intertwining in quite unusual combination of flavours.
Cod head, blue mussel juice with yellow beets and mustard from Bornholm. It all looks so intricate that palate forgets to analyse and register the flavours.
Raw seasoned lamb fillet is presented on a bed of juniper before taking it back to the kitchen for roasting. Juniper aroma is noticeably present in it and the meat is very juicy. Roasted celeriac, juniper sauce and tapioca pearls with rhubarb combine in a perfect harmony. A glass of 2008 Quinta Sardonia, Peter Sisseck from Castilla y Leon is all what one can wish for to go with it.
Just before serving the desserts the guests are invited for a kitchen tour, where everybody is greeted by head sommelier Søren Ledet and by chef Rasmus Kofoed himself. All three Bocuse d’Or trophies won by Rasmus are lined up there, inspiring the team for everyday victories.
We can see the plates with the desserts being finalised by the chefs and they are served shortly after we return to the table. Pear, lemon verbena, tagetes, crispy red currant and yolk are meticulously arranged in the plates and are sprinkled with frozen yoghurt flakes just before eating. The combination is nice, but to me it resembles one of the first pear and verbena dishes too much, leaving me looking forward to the next dessert to come.
Bees wax and pollen ice cream with cloudberries does not impress with presentation, but it is an unexpected surprise in terms of flavour. The most dominant flavour is pollen, with cloudberries not so present in terms of flavour, but adding crunchiness and texture.
When an army of chefs walks in from the kitchen, each holding a plate and starts marching around the table, we just know it has to be something impressive in those plates. “The Taste of Naked Tree” is the seasonal dessert Rasmus Kofoed is particularly proud of. It is very simplistic in presentation, reflecting the state of nature. The tree is made of dehydrated puréed prunes and frozen disc has a recognisable taste of dark beer. Double cream sauce infused with beech wood neutralises the bitterness of beer and bonds the flavours together.
Pour over Kenyan coffee from the local roasters Coffee collective is made in front of us and we enjoy it with chocolate eggs with hints of pine and onion and plum caramel.
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