A fun part of my life before the pandemic was thinking about all the restaurants that I would never have the pleasure of eating in and then feeling bad about myself. Maybe they were too expensive, or too hard to book, or just too far away. Then there was Noma, the award-winning Copenhagen restaurant from chef René Redzepi. It was a winning trifecta: distant, really expensive and impossible to access. But now, for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to make it to Denmark for a 20-course meal even without a global pandemic holding us back, the restaurant’s Noma Projects branch is about to come out. a range of garum condiments.
Garum, which dates back to the Roman Empire, is traditionally a fermented sauce of fish, salt and sometimes herbs. In the case of Noma, according to the the Wall Street newspaper, these garums will actually be vegetarians and vegans, respectively.
The egg white and smoked mushroom garums are, in some ways, a product of pandemic circumstances. The restaurant was developing fermented sauces as early as 2014, when Eater took a look at Noma’s now closed Science Bunker, but Redzepi and his team never had time to polish their product. “This is something that we have been thinking about for many years,” he told the WSJ, “But we were always too busy.” Now the restaurant’s fermentation lab is ready to showcase its first two deliverables to home cooks.
Because it’s taken so long for these condiments to hit the market – they won’t hit the market until fall or winter, according to the Noma Projects website – the restaurant, for once, isn’t leading the way. charge nor give the trend. Over the past year, with so many people stuck at home and cooking for themselves, tons of restaurants have released condiments and other home-use products designed to improve the lives of home cooks who miss out on them. restaurants. You can buy crispy chili, barbecue sauce, or spice blends and hot sauces from many beloved institutions.. Selling condiments that travel well was a way for restaurants to connect with diners during a time of intense isolation. But it looks like the trend could endure for good. And for Noma, a restaurant that the majority of diners will never approach, condiments and other packaged foods that travel well might be the perfect way to just gift a taste of a very elusive experience.
Of course, like everything Noma does, these two condiments are the result of a very, very exhaustive creative process. They were, according to the WSJ, chosen from hundreds of vinegars, misos, kombuchas and garums produced by the restaurant’s testing laboratory. Jason Ignacio White, director of the Fermentation Lab, said these garums are found in all kinds of soups, sauces and dressings in restaurants: “The same way you could put a tiny bit of zest on a dish. To make these fish-free garums, the ingredients – mushrooms and egg whites, in this case – are brewed in a hot solution of koji rice, the grains inoculated with edible mold. According to WSJ, Noma Projects will release more garums once the first two are released into the world, including one intensely flavored with roasted chicken wings. Redzepi told the Journal that he hopes vegetarian garums will help home cooks switch to more plant-based diets. Internally, he hopes this product line will make money for the restaurant. Since opening Noma 18 years ago, according to Redzepi, the average profit margin has only been 3%. Ideally, these funky condiments will help line the restaurant’s pockets a bit.
Granted, I didn’t spend a ton of time last year wondering what Noma was doing, a little more concerned, you know, going through a pandemic. But my friends are traveling again, posting about it on Instagram, and good old FOMO is back. I feel perfectly satisfied these days to stick my head out of the house for a drink, or even to eat in a crowded restaurant. bedroom. Traveling the world, on the other hand, still doesn’t seem so appealing, especially though my local cafe still feels like an adventure. But top my eggs or rice with a funky sauce made by some of the world’s leading fermentation experts? Still pretty exciting.