[Spain: Cordoba] 2* NOOR Restaurant by Paco Morales
After visiting a few cultural Moorish monuments in Andalusia, it was only befitting that we try cuisine inspired by Al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Spain) which had a major impact on modern Andalusian gastronomy! For that, we headed to 2* NOOR Restaurant by Paco Morales who had worked at Mugaritz and El Bulli before opening NOOR in 2016. For past seasons, the restaurant presented cuisine based on the Caliphate of Cordoba from the 10th to 13th century where each dish is based on rigorous historical research. The current menu explores the cuisine of Spaniards who traveled in the 15th century to the New Continent - combining the products and techniques from both the Old and New Worlds. Three menus of different lengths are available to choose from - THADIR (95€), RIHLA (130€), and WUSUL (190€).
The interior of the restaurant is quite stunning with intricate geometric motifs all around while each table has a view of the open kitchen.
Before the start of the meal, we were presented with a tray of ingredients that will be used for our menu along with an explanation of their significance. Up until this menu, no tomato, potato, corn or cocoa has been used in the past seasons at the restaurant because these ingredients were not discovered yet until the Spaniards reached the New World so we were in for a treat this evening.
Our RIHLA menu started with a trio of beautifully plated bites:
- HABANERO CHILI BREAD with cured meats, pickled onion and ALBAQDUNIS ACHIOTE DRESSING with HIBISCUS and anise
- PERUVIAN LAYERED POTATOES with Iberian pork and shrimps
- FRIED PEPPER with sardine and velvet of its spines with caviar
ALMOND CURD with 100% Venezuelan Araguani cocoa mass
TOMATOES anchovies with pickled mandarin, monkfish in brine and TAMARIND. Delightful and refreshing - it was a flavor explosion in the mouth!
Two types of bread were then offered to us on an antique wooden tray - I particularly loved the one made with chickpea flour.
The KARIM OF PISTACHIO, smoked herring caviar and green apple with black bread was easily a favorite with its impeccable flavor and texture.
One of my favorite dish was definitely the WHITE PRAWN marinated in carob and CASCABEL chili - the spice was on point!
SPINACH JELLY, avocado, yoghurt and tender ALMOND
Another highlight was the SILKY COD, turnip, gem lettuce with CAVIAR and EGG YOLK. The chef had graciously sent out this extra dish for us to try and it was heavenly!
VEGETABLE stew, corn spread and BLACK MOLE
Another standout was the MARINATED OYSTER in CUCUMBER dressing, chickpea hummus, kefir snow and SEA CUCUMBER FILAMENTS.
GRILLED SEA BASS with emulsion of peppers and toasted lemon
The ROASTED and rested SQUAB, sautéed spinach with béchamel from sheep’s milk, marzipan and coffee was our least favorite dish as the coffee sauce was too bitter. I originally thought that maybe I was too sensitive to bitterness but J thought so as well. The squab was cooked perfectly though.
Before desserts, the chef sent out another surprise - a 100 year old Monte Cristo brandy! Made with Pedro Ximenez grapes and presented in a beautiful leather case, the brandy was quite intense with deep flavors, velvety smooth textures and alluring aromas.
For desserts, we started with the CEUTAN LEMON with mint sponge cake, coriander snow and black pepper followed by the MANGO ICE CREAM, coconut, and KALAMATA olive ice cream - I really liked the unique taste of olive ice cream!
The last dessert pays tribute to the CAROB BEAN which is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, and resembles chocolate. The carob bean is what was used as a substitute for chocolate in Al-Andalus before cocoa was introduced by the New World.
Finally, an impressive tower of petit fours concluded our amazing meal at NOOR!
Thank you Chef Paco Morales and team for the unforgettable experience! The service is great for the most part (except for some junior staff who needs more training) while the cuisine is certainly unique and original - I highly recommend to make a journey here!