Words cannot even begin to describe our experience at Alchemist - it was not just a meal but so much more with an immersive journey through all our senses. With 50 impressions imparted in 5 different rooms, our 6 hour meal never had a single dull moment. Mesmerizing and one of a kind - Alchemist is one of my favorite restaurants in the world and a must-try in my opinion!
I first met Chef Rasmus Munk 7 years ago at an OAD event and even then his dishes had left a lasting impression - we still remember the lamb brain and ashtray vividly. It’s amazing to see how far he had come since then - I can’t wait to see what else he will do in the future!
|The grand entrance to the restaurant|
Our very first impression was shortly after the entrance with “Lulu” where a violinist from Copenhagen Philharmonic performed a moving 19th century emigrant song in a dramatic dark setting at the entrance.
Then we made our way to the lounge for Act II with a view of the R&D kitchen and the impressive wine cellar with over 10,000 bottles of wine. This was where we choose our beverages and pairings for the rest of the evening on a digital tablet with an impressive interface. I had heard amazing things about the botanica pairing and it was definitely the best non-alcoholic pairing I’ve ever tried!
At the lounge, we had a series of snacks starting with “Daisy” with lemon verbena where we slurped the creamy liquid from the flower like a shot.
Next was “Greed” which looked like shaved ice and disappeared in your mouth as if you were eating air - the first of many dishes with a philosophical and/or political statement.
“Smokey Balls” with a crispy puff ball topped with almond cream and Oscietra caviar. The magic came when we took a bite and a spell of smoke escaped from the puff ball!
“Dumpling” which was made with Japanese candy floss and filled with bok choy and nam jim sauce. I loved the texture of the dumpling skin along with the sweet and savory flavors of the fillings.
The R&D kitchen also works with NASA on research into gastronomy in space and one of the tasks is to make a bread that does not need to be baked. The result is “Space Bread” - an aerated bread made from vegetable leftovers & milk proteins, encapsulated with an aroma of sourdough bread, and freeze-dried after. And since we are still on planet earth, we got to enjoy ours with Beluga caviar on top!
Then we had the chef's version of the perfect “Omelette” with an espuma of egg yolk tempered at 4 different temperatures and topped with lardo, black truffle and black pepper. We were able to pick up the delicate omelette with our fingers and the result was the ultimate umami heaven.
“Sunburnt Bikini” which was a homage to the Barcelona classic but instead made with a delicious chewy mochi dough.
Finally, we had the “Sea Buckthorn Tonic” - an edible cocktail with a tonic meringue and sea buckthorn marmalade with vodka to conclude our time in the lounge.
Leaving the test kitchen behind, we made our way up the stairs to the planetarium dome for Act III - the most exciting part of our meal at Alchemist!
Act III of our meal began in the awe-inspiring planetarium dome where beautiful projections of jellyfish, sakura, and northern lights change periodically. Although I’ve seen pictures of it before, it was totally different to experience it person and truly understand the scale of it.
Our first dish “1984” is inspired by the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell where the people are constantly watched and monitored by big brother - much like today’s social media. The pupil of the eye was filled with the cream of white asparagus, lumpfish roe, smoked lumpfish, caviar and gel of cod fish eye. Above us, an all-knowing eye watches over while scenes of real TV footage from renowned events play in the background.
|1984 - Big Brother is watching|
“Ankimo” - monkfish liver parfait topped with a seaweed crisp made with 5 different kinds of seaweed. Seaweed is one of the ingredients that the chef believes will become a bigger part of our diet in the future. The bottom half is made with coagulated protein from cod fish skin.
“Marine Invaders” - this dish aims to put invasive species to good use. The restaurant conducts 10 research papers each year and last year one of them was on invasive species from the sea - specially the Danish beach crab. They found out that the beach crab actually has a lot of sweetness in their meat, so they turned it into a bouillon and caramelized it for the crisp shell on top. Underneath there is a purée of sea urchin from Faroe Islands mixed with Foie Gras and fresh sea urchin.
“Lobster Claw” - a beautifully reconstructed lobster claw made with Danish lobsters which is then dipped in cornstarch and vodka to create the most aerated and crispy coating. Paired on the side with a smoked butter sauce with horseradish and fermented tomatoes as a dip.
“Plastic Fantastic” - an obvious allusion to the increasing amount of micro plastics we are finding in fish from our oceans. The cod jaw was topped with edible plastic made of dehydrated bouillon of cod skin which is then brushed with smoked bone marrow.
“King Crab” - another dish that aims to use the less desirable parts of an ingredient. Usually we find ourselves eating the king crab legs so here they used the crab meat from the body and fried it on a thin piece of bread to protect its natural delicate texture. It was then stuffed with scallop and langoustine (which is what the king crab likes to eat), and paired with a smoked butter and orange kosho (a twist on yuzukosho).
Act III 2nd Scene
“Tongue Kiss” - an intriguing dish where the way to eat this was to lick the toppings off the tongue! The ingredients were only revealed after we had finished and will change seasonally. Ours were inspired by Japanese ingredients with a gel mixture of rhubarb, white asparagus, shiso and umeboshi.
“Breathless” - made of lamb lungs that are usually discarded. The lungs are smoked and braised into a cream using a Korean pressure cooker, and served with pickled chanterelles, ransom capers and black crackers made with black currants. A fantastic way to reduce food waste!
“Food For Thought” - featuring Foie Gras from Eduardo Sousa who is the only producer in the world that does not force feed the goose. Served in a silicon human head, the Foie Gras was pan-fried and layered with caramelized onions before being topped with frozen Foie Gras fat - resulting in an interesting temperature contrast between hot and cold.
“Mycelium” - a tribute to mushrooms and how they communicate underground through a web of mycelium. Served in a Petri dish, the oyster mushroom gel was inoculated with oyster mushroom and grown in incubator for 3 weeks - resulting in a natural web pattern of mycelium. Served with thinly-shaved truffles from Italy and espuma sauce of oyster mushrooms.
“Pigeon” - inspired by Australian/NZ aboriginals’ practice of using beeswax to preserve food, the hanging pigeon was dry-aged in beeswax for 14 days! Cooked whole in beeswax and grilled on a Josper grill, it was served with fermented black truffle and sauce of brown butter, honey water, fermented red currant and pigeon bones. What a flavorful dish!
Act III 3rd Scene
“Airy Bread” - inspired by the structure of croissants, the airy bread is created using thin layers of potato starch brushed with frozen yeast butter and onion juice. Topped with sauce of roasted yeast, egg yolk and crème fraiche, and a rose of Iberico ham aged for 5 years.
“Stuffed Morel” - the stuffed morel mushroom had a texture similar to that of silken tofu (a texture the chef picked up the first time he was in Tokyo). Served with a nice earthy sauce made of pickled mushrooms and walnuts.
“Hunger” - a strong statement on world hunger where an estimated 25k children are dying of hunger everyday. The solution is food obviously and rabbit is one of the most sustainable sources of meat as they exists worldwide and spread quickly. Served on a silver ribcage, the cured fillet of rabbit was paired with North African harissa sauce and Nordic herbs.
“Fluffy Bao” - Squid Game bao anyone? When the chef realized that 90% of Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Europe were buying frozen buns, he sought to make his own fluffy bao. It took 2 years to perfect it and instead of stuffing it, the bao was paired with a ring of coriander paste and soy sauce that has been aged for 5 years, and sauce made of roasted ox tail infused with roasted shrimp, dried scallops and kombu seaweed.
“Burnout Chicken” - another strong statement on caged chicken farming. Served on a chicken foot in a metal cage, the chicken thigh was stuffed with a soufflé of chicken and shrimp, glazed with tamarind paste and coated in crunchy potato bits. To match, projections of caged chicken loomed above us. We had to grab the chicken foot and gnaw on the meat from the other end - a delicious and yet thought-provoking dish!
Act III 4th Scene
“Force of Nature” - it's dessert time and the first dessert features colostrum which is the first milk from a cow after giving birth. The milk came from cows that graze on sugar beets so it was naturally high in sugar and protein. After a low heat treatment, the result was a silky tofu-like texture which was then topped with a sauce made with Danish honey and bits of acidic freeze-dried wood ants.
“Andy Warhol” - inspired by Andy Warhol’s iconic banana that first appeared on the Velvet Underground & Nico album! The crispy shell is made with green banana peels and milk proteins while the inside is filled with ice cream of green bananas, Tonga beans, vanilla, pistachio and jasmine. Absolutely a work of art!
“Lifeline” - designed to raise awareness on the importance of donating blood. The dish came with a QR code to scan if you’d like to learn more. The dessert is a ganache made with pig’s blood, garum of venison’s blood fermented for 3 months, blueberries and junipers. While it’s not my first time eating blood, I would have to say that the flavor is not for everyone.
“Guilty Pleasure” - 90% of children in the West African cocoa industry work under dangerous conditions with sharp machetes, chain saws and pesticides. Inside the wrapper is a coffin-shaped chocolate filled with mango jam to call on restaurants and consumers to play a bigger role in demanding accountability and transparency from chocolate brands and retailers.
“Pinky” - meant to be an interesting experience between complying with authoritative social rules and a longing to let loose! Walking into the completely neon pink room after the planetarium dome was shocking at first. After sitting down at the long table, the performer pressed a button on the wall to signal the start of this impression. We were told over the speakers to follow orders such as sticking our finger into the bowl in front of us and licking the cream off. Then we were instructed to dance around the room by the performer as Barry White’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” blasts through the speakers. Pink room, disco ball, dancing after a night of eating - what a way to leaving a lasting impression!
Act V took place in the balcony lounge where we enjoyed our petit fours with tea and coffee before leaving for reality:
Thank you Chef Rasmus for bringing your vision to life!
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