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Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine [Hardcover]

René Redzepi
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2010

"Noma is the most important cookbook of the year." – The Wall Street Journal

René Redzepi has been widely credited with re‐inventing Nordic cuisine. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was recognized as the #1 best in the world by the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards in April 2010 after receiving the "Chef’s Choice" award in 2009. Redzepi operates at the cutting edge of gourmet cuisine, combining an unrelenting creativity and a remarkable level of craftsmanship with an inimitable and innate knowledge of the produce of his Nordic terroir. At Noma, which Redzepi created from a derelict eighteenth‐century warehouse in 2003 after previously working at both elBulli and The French Laundry, diners are served exquisite concoctions, such as Newly‐Ploughed Potato Field or The Snowman from Jukkasjarvi, all painstakingly constructed to express their amazing array of Nordic ingredients. His search for ingredients involves foraging amongst local fields for wild produce, sourcing horse‐mussels from the Faroe Islands and the purest possible water from Greenland. Redzepi has heightened the culinary philosophy of seasonally and regionally sourced sustainable ingredients to an unprecedented level, and in doing so has created an utterly delicious cuisine. At the age of 32, Redzepi is one of the most influential chefs in the world.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine will offer an exclusive insight into the food, philosophy and creativity of René Redzepi. It will reveal the first behind the scenes look at the restaurant, Noma, and will feature over 90 recipes as well as excerpts from Redzepi’s diary from the period leading up to the opening of the restaurant and texts on some the most enigmatic of Noma’s suppliers. The book will include 200 new specially commissioned color photographs of the dishes, unique local ingredients and landscapes from across the Nordic region. It will also include a foreword by the artist Olafur Eliasson.

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"Noma is an international sensation." – The New York Times

"René is a master locavore – the most intense and ingenious I've ever met." – Jeffrey Steingarten, VOGUE

"The hottest topic in the food world. While Noma is all about Nordic cuisine, its philosophy is about the cuisine of wherever you are." – Mark Bittman, Kitchen Daily

"A gorgeous cookbook . . . spectacular. NOMA is going to influence another generation of cooks." – The Atlantic

"Noma is the most important cookbook of the year." – The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

René Redzepi is head chef and owner of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, where he creates his inventive take on Nordic cuisine with a distinctive emphasis on regional specialities. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential chefs.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars culinary art, not tomorrow's dinner recipe April 20 2011
By A.J.
As some reviewers seem irked by the impracticality of this book as a recipe source I'd like to first point out that this is not a cookbook in the sense of "The Joy of Cooking", just like not every book about art is a manual for how to draw. In fact, the comparison to an art book is particularly apt considering this book is published by Phaidon Press, a publishing house primarily specializing in beautiful visual arts volumes. And "NOMA - Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine" is to culinary art what their Stephen Shore road trip book is to American photography of the 70s. It captures a cultural moment in a specific niche of artistic expression, from the perspective of one iconic artist. As such it is a gorgeous book from the hand drawn map at the front, to the ethereal photographs of both food and the landscape they connect with (in this case quite literally), to the fascinating story of the world's best restaurant and the creative process of its chef. Yes, it does include recipes, and while they would be exceedingly difficult to replicate, even in a professional kitchen (they would not only require ingredients impossible to acquire normally but also the use of precise thermometers, sous-vide cookers and Pacojet processors), they do provide inspiration and some of their elements could be somewhat loosely adapted by home cooks. But following any of these recipes to the letter would run contrary to everything it's trying to express about respecting the origins of ingredients, adapting to seasonal rhythms and sourcing locally in a creative and culturally meaningful way. Don't buy this book thinking you can replicate its dishes. It is a culinary art book, with the emphasis on art. With that distinction in mind, enjoy it - it is gorgeous and inspiring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best.Book.Ever. Aug. 20 2011
By Misiu
Of all the cookbook that I own I would have to say that this is one the best, inspiring, and uplifting cookbooks of all time. Buy it NOW!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Oct. 31 2010
By Alex_CS
as the title of the review... the book it self, physically is AWESOME, and the content is a whole journey, as a culinary student, i just can say WOW
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3 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The emperor's new cookbook Jan. 14 2011
It would probably be really 'fine dining" of me to say this book was great, but unless you plan on creating the carbon footprint of the Alberta Tar Sands to fly in the authentic 'locavore' Scandiavian ingredients(and you have 15 hours to create the meal), I have to say it's laughably unusable. My friends and I enjoyed looking at the pictures, though. Especially the dish that resembled drywall chunks in a smear of phlegm with a sprig of grass.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you live in the Nordic countries and would enjoy doing your own foraging you'll like this book Jan. 11 2011
By Jackal - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very beautiful book. How does the content match up? Well the number of pages are divided as follows:
60%. Photos of plates of the various dishes. Very beautiful.
30%. Recipes. Full of local produce. Foraging essential.
10%. History of Noma. Profiles of employees. Extract from a diary.

The chef is interested in using ingredients from the Nordic countries. This is an approach that I applaud. A lot of the ingredients required have to be foraged in nature. In this respect he is following Marc Veyrat (no book in English) or David Everitt-Matthias (Essence: Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage). However, my impression is that the chef is more interested in impressing with the book than to really educate. So you do not get any information about the unique Nordic ingredients or cooking techniques. The chef is young so I guess this lack of educational approach is acceptable. So don't let the subtitle "Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine" lead you to believe that you will get any information about Nordic cuisine or ingredients. Check out Fäviken for a somewhat more honest book without too much posturing.

Now, the restaurant has been voted number one worldwide so there is certainly value to the recipes and we probably get more than 100 of them. If you don't live in the Nordic region, I don't think you have a chance to do the recipes with much success. A ripe wild blackberry is nothing like the cultivated kind. Buying farmed raspberries is okay, but not blackberries. My point is that most recipes require difficult to get ingredients. And you will not have the army of Nordic foragers that this restaurant has access to. However, if you live in the Nordic region and like foraging and are an amateur chef who like high-tech stuff (think sous-vide), I think it is possible to replicate the recipes. I hope the book can inspire some people to become amateur foragers. If you don't know anything about foraging have a look at this book Edible Seashore: River Cottage Handbook No.5. There you'll find more foraging information.

Off course the book is really meant to impress and not to be used in the kitchen cooking. That is why the book is covered in some textile material that immediately would soak up water and grease, if you were to take it with you to the kitchen. This really is meant as a beautiful coffee table book that might lie in the reception of all Danish embassies around the world.

Okay I conclude that the book is worth three stars. That means that it won't be a value to most people but there is a niche audience that might find it very interesting. This could include the young chef looking for inspiration.
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must, but won't get used after the first read Oct. 17 2010
By Robert E. Connoley - Published on Amazon.com
Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi is the culinary equivalent of one of those books you find in a museum gift shop - impressive, beautiful, inspiring... but not likely to get opened much after its first reading. And yet, this book will fill you with hope in our culinary future, inspire you to expect more out of your local restaurants, and re-examine the food on your plate.

René Redzepi is the darling du jour of the culinary world with a restaurant named top in the world in 2010 (de-throning the icon elBulli), and a food philosophy that cries for widespread consideration.

Redzepi was raised from humble beginnings and a "I don't have anything better to do" start in the culinary landscape. But that quickly changed with a classroom cooking competition. A simple challenge led to training at Le Jardin des Sens, elBulli, The French Laundry and Kong Hans, and those experiences resulted in a partnership with media personality and entrepreneur Claus Meyer. Forced, contrived and restricted by concept, Noma didn't start out as the superstar it is now. In fact, it was a laughing stock and oddity in a region that few would consider a culinary mecca. But as Redzepi refined his philosophy and became unshackled by his past training experiences, a seasoned and focused chef emerged full of youthful vigor and idealism. The result is the top restaurant in the world.

Released by Phaidon Press (other titles include Coco, The Silver Spoon, A Day at elBulli), Noma is 365 pages with 200 photographs and over 90 recipes. [Editor's note: It follows Redzepi's 2006 Danish language book, Noma: Nordisk Mad, which the English language release appears to share a lot of content with.] The significance of Redzepi's book is not in the realm of cookbooks, however. When considering Noma in the context of other great restaurant and chef books such as Alinea: The Cookbook, A Day at elBulli, or any of Thomas Keller's books, Noma leans more toward the philosophy of the kitchen than preparation. Redzepi's philosophy of re-engaging indigenous Nordic ingredient and preparing and elevating them with a sense of renewed esteem infuses a transferable energy into any chef. Diners should feel the same energy. As Redzepi says, "Food is never `just food.'" Redzepi's youthful spirit is felt in each of his words, but his youth also comes through in his writings.

The book begins with a series of essays from Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, Rune Skyum-Nielsen and Redzepi himself including Redzepi's diary while conducting research for the restaurant. His diary ends abruptly. As Redzepi puts it, "Unfortunately, I have not kept a diary since, and over the years I have in some odd way erased three days from it." The missing days are not crucial to your appreciation of the book. However, entries such as "Sleep in, mainly due to the wild rolling of the boat. Do not make it for breakfast," and "Also Greenlandic post, a herb that can resemble rosemary or marjoram. Wow!" are interesting context for the reader, but as sparse as a Nordic skyline and left me feeling a bit hungry for details.

In many ways this book reminds me of Black Pudding and Foie Gras by Andrew Pern, offering a contagious enthusiasm for foodie passion, documenting important culinary anthropology, part dictum, part kitchen notes, but alas, unattainable because of the focus on local ingredients. The difference between the two is that Redzepi's passion remains in the mind, while Pern's permeates your soul. It would be interesting to see a 20 year re-issue of Noma if for no other reason than to read Redzepi's age-wisened thoughts on his place in time.

The only detracting element of the book is the incessant flipping required to read the recipe index, view the picture, and see the recipe itself. I found myself with fingers curled between pages to keep everything in order and captions properly aligned. But in a way that makes sense. This is a book about time and place, and begins with that context. Once context is established the reader is taken on a photo journey and only concludes with the recipes. The recipes are presented as secondary or tertiary to the book. Few will attempt to prepare the myriad of sea buckthorn recipes or will want to prepare the overflow of beet dishes. Only advanced cooks and professional chefs will have the skill and equipment necessary for most of the dishes, while a handful are adaptable to the home kitchen.

Because of its significance, Noma is a must-have book for collectors, and will certainly provide inspiration to professionals cooks and chefs, but buy it for its importance and not to make your Sunday supper.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and unique Oct. 18 2010
By Bradley Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
When Noma was named 2010 Best Restaurant in the world, many of us in the restaurant industry were kicking ourselves for not knowing the first thing about the little Copenhagen restaurant. Fortunately for us, Noma was in the process of publishing their first cookbook. And it is stunning. The photography is quite artsy and rustic, but perfectly highlights the plates and ingredients.

What is most striking at first is the style of food. This is local Nordic cuisine. It is heavy on the vegetables and almost totally devoid of elBulli/Alinea-style chemicals. It is fresh and unique. Tribute is paid to Redzepi's purveyors, whom he carefully sought out to provide the finest Nordic ingredients.

In a practical sense, as a cookbook, I disagree with a couple other reviewers who say you will read this once and then never touch it again. There are very approachable recipes in this book. Keep in mind that recipes do not always need to be followed to the letter. If you are willing to adjust and be creative and make the recipes your own, you can easily make many of the dishes in this book. The biggest hurdle is acquiring some of the many obscure vegetable ingredients Redzepi uses. But that is when you go to your local farmers' market and find a similar substitute.

My only problems with this book is that 98% of the plated food pictures are taken from straight overhead and that the dish descriptions are not written on the same page. But other than that, this is a stunning book and very refreshing one for the restaurant industry. This book embraces the mindset of the local farmers market and does it with refinement and style.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it if you know of it Oct. 15 2010
By Reginald Abalos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The previous reviewers pretty much hit it on the head with the critiques surrounding the photographic layout that doesn't include descriptions. But it was at least a nice touch that they included the picture page number on the recipe section. Look, if you know of Noma, have eaten there or understand the chef's philosophy of hyper local and hyper seasonal cuisine then it is of course a must buy. Trying to replicate any of these dishes as they are at Noma is technically impossible because although Rene uses fancy modern equipment and a smattering of hydrocolloids, the sucesss of his type of cuisine lies in the scandinavian sourced ingredients; things like vegetable and hay ash, malt flour, birch wood and syrup and smoked/wood elements are prevalent in the recipes in the book, Rene's genius is in raising the quality and creativity level of a cusine that has gone on relatively ignored in the fine dining community and by doing so by using only what the region provides in that sense he's essentially the Scandinavian Andoni Aduriz. The publisher, Phaidon once again produces a very high quality, creative and interesting book that is fitting for the chef and his vision, paper qualtiy and binding are superb and considering the preorder price I got it for, a great value.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of time and a northern place Oct. 14 2010
By dementad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Stunning photographs and well-written recipes make a great coffee table book. Yes, the kitchen equipment to reproduce the recipes faithfully is not likely to be found in most home kitchens -- Thermomix, Pacojet, superbags, a pantry full of Willpowder and Le Sanctuaire containers, ...the usual list -- and the ingredients for many dishes will be a challenging find unless you have access to markets in the Nordic region. However, many of the recipes can be reproduced with more modest equipment and a little ingenuity, and many of the ingredients can be found seasonally here in Seattle. When the first new-growth spruce tips appear next spring, I will definitely be trying "Blueberries in their natural environment." This dish is eye-poppingly beautiful and requires nothing more exotic than the spruce tips to reproduce. Ten stars for the photography.
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