By Chef Alexa McKay
On February 24, noma served its last meal at the Strandgade 93 location and will re-emerge as a new concept located on an urban farm. While their new restaurant location is being prepared the crew at noma has taken up residency in Mexico for a seven week popup. Chef Rene Redzepi and his team have spent months foraging ingredients and learning about Mexican culture to build a masterpiece menu.
The popup is located in Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula. The road that leads to noma winds along the coast and is just wide enough for two cars to pass each other. With the ocean on the left and the jungle on the right the drive is a picturesque prologue for the evening. Past the beach are echo chic hotels, outdoor clothing boutiques, and eclectic shops filled with items made by local artisans. The funky vibe along the coast of the Caribbean sea is the perfect scene for noma Mexico.
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Had we blinked we would have missed the noma sign, which was half hidden behind a large palm leaf. The restaurant setting is a “slightly refurbished jungle site” with tables set in the sand and nestled between trees. The bar is built around a tree with twisted and woven branches that make it seemed as though the two had merged to form a single structure. The kitchen ran along the back of the restaurant with the smoke from the grills and fire pits gently wafted into the dining area. With our toes in the sand and the tree canopy above us, we enjoyed fourteen courses created with beautifully intriguing ingredients from every region of Mexico.
The atmosphere was adventurous and gave the sense of foraging in the Mexican jungle. The concepts were presented on clay plates, woven baskets, leaves, and wooden bowls. The service was elegant, detailed, and yet still lighthearted and welcoming. There a strong sense of comradery between each member of the noma team. It was even more exciting to hear the stories of their adventures in Mexico and about all they had learned during their residency.
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The meal was exquisite and unlike any other. Personal highlights included the avocado leaf sauce, tostada with ant larvae, suckling pig cooked in coconut milk, and a beverage of epazote, green tomatoes, and mezcal. It was truly an experience of a lifetime and a meal to remember.
Menu of the evening…
- Flor de Mayo and tamarind
- Melon clam from the Sea of Cortez
- Salbute with dried tomatoes and chapulines (grasshoppers)
- Cold masa broth with lime and all the flowers of the moment (with habanero granita)
- Young coconut and caviar (with seaweed salt)
- Tropical fruit and chile de árbol
- Banana ceviche (with grilled banana skin sauce)
- Chaya taco with fresh Bahia Falsa oyster, Giant kelp and mussel michelada
- Whole grilled pumpkin (with avocado leaf sauce)
- Tostada with escamoles (ant larvae)
- Just cooked octopus with “dzikilpak” (cooked in salted masa)
- Cerdo Pelón and fresh milled corn from Yaxunah
- Dessert of grilled avocado and mamey seeds
- Chocolate from native Jaguar cacao and Mixe chile
Check out the slide show to view all of my pictures from noma Mexico: