“He makes foie gras creme brulee”, is the first I ever heard of Jean Georges Vongerichten, the French demi-god of modern, cross cultural cooking. The next I heard of him was about his unique style of marrying south-east Asian cooking to traditional French, which became a source of instant inspiration. The third time I heard of Jean Georges was about his global empire of restaurants, one that people like Gordon Ramsay could only aspire towards (but as we all know, failed spectacularly). It thus goes without saying that my first trip to New York would necessitate and even demand a visit to the flagship of, what I’ve always felt, one of the finest chefs in the world – regardless of it being the rainiest day in New York for over 500 years, but luckily when that happened, I was cosily seated. The only niggle I have is that the reception area is far too small to accommodate customers for both Nougatine (the brasserie) and Jean Georges (the restaurant proper), but that aside, the spectacular full sized windows would, on a normal day, offer pristine views of Central Park, when on my visit, they offered a cosy warmth of being able to watch the torrential downpour whilst sipping on a glass of Gruner Veltliner.
As a child I loved reading stories of Viking adventures, of Thor, Odin, Freya and Valkyries, each with awesome powers and prowess. Recently I learnt about the possibility that there might be a god previously unheard of, and naturally, this fuelled my curiosity with such intensity, I had to travel to the land of the Vikings themselves to unearth and discover this for myself!
I can now confirm that there is indeed a god previously unknown and unheard of. The god of food, taste and culinary delights, the god Noma! Noma, an acronym of ‘Nordisk’ and ‘Mad’ (Nordic & Food) has been quietly seducing diners for years with its stripped down, minimalistic approach to food, but it’s only in the last few years (2 to be more specific) that it has acquired world domination! Best restaurant in the world! That hallowed title held by gastronomic juggernauts like El Bulli, Fat Duck and French Laundry.
But, but, but! Are the powers of this new god all that they seem to be or have we mortals falsely deified him? Having booked 3 months in advance and along with old faithful companions and the parents, it was to Noma that we pilgrimaged on a sunny August day.