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Image 2: We have heard so much about Chef Rasmus Kofoed's challenging journey to achieve Gold in Bocuse d'Or, the toughest culinary competition in the world. There is even a documentary film about his road to clinch the title. We finally had the chance to experience his cuisine at his new location, the home ground of the Danish national football team.
Image 3: Just as I thought it was hard to top the previous course, Rasmus brought out another outstanding course, a small branch of burnt juniper resting on a strip of Mackerel.
Image 4: Next to the entrance was the reception area offering a lovely view of the surrounding. With an elaborate menu and even a choice of wine or juice beverage pairing, this clearly wasn't a place for stadium junk food!
Image 5: It was in this lounge that Rasmus stunned all his guests with an elaborate series of snacks! Here was how our experience of the Universe Tasting began:
Carrot & Sea-buckthorn
Sea salt cheese sticks & Ramson
Dried flowers & Apple
Bark & Smoked cream cheese
"razor clams" with edible shell. The food here was not just about style, every item was very delectable.
The treats continued with a couple of cute silver egg bowls ...
...of cèpe velouté
Jerusalem artichoke tree & Walnut oil
Image 17: And finally, burnt potato & sheep's milk butter to wrap up this incredible set of amuse bouche before they led us to our table.
Image 18: From the extravagant set of amuse bouche, we knew this was going to be a sophisticated meal. To begin, our server poured in tomato water around a Tomato and Ham gel with a thyme jello below. Don't be fooled by this simple looking dish, it had a good flavour from the ham along with a strong floral hint. A nice refreshing start!
Image 19: Our server then placed a plate of Stones and advised us to eat only the green ones of course! Creative presentation!
Image 20: The stone was a cube of salmon coated in dill jello, served with salmon roe and dill sauce. Moist and tasty centre with a nice spark from the salmon roe! Fabulous food!
Image 21: The best part of this course was the "essence of ocean", a broth made mainly from mussels, connecting all these beautiful ingredients on the plate. An exquisite dish!
Image 22: The most memorable course of the night was probably this "Elements from Ocean & Beach", a course that highlighted the exceptional produces that Denmark has.
Image 23: Underneath the seaweed was a bunch of treasures Rasmus gathered from the sea - scallop, prawn, mussel, and tiny clam.
Image 24: If you are lucky like us to get the best table right at the end of the dining room, you will be able to witness the full action in the kitchen throughout the night.
Image 25: Just as I thought it was hard to top the previous course, Rasmus brought out another outstanding course, a small branch of burnt juniper resting on a strip of Mackerel.
Image 26: I initially thought the mackerel was smoked but it was actually just lightly salted. It was the paper thin layer of ash sandwiched between the mackerel giving out an intense smokiness. The marriage of mackerel flavour and smoke aroma was phenomenal while the frozen horseradish and cucumber balls gave it a further lift. This has to be the most sensational mackerel dish I have ever had!
Image 27: Mini warm bread covered with Emmer & Spelt mainly to pair with the next course along with a mild onion flavoured whipped butter!
Image 28: Our meal followed by a soup of Onion & Melted hay cheese.
Image 29: It contained different preparations of onion -- a soft pickled version, a fried crunchy version, a shredded crispy version, garnished with onion flowers, and of course there was onion flavour in the soup. No wonder they brought us onion flavoured whipped butter along with the bread! A good variety of texture in yet another simple looking course!
A beautiful course, in particular the hidden piece of cooked oyster!
Image 31: A taste of "Iron and Mineral", a mixture of ingredients tasted like iron and mineral - Danish oyster, pointed cabbage, broccoli, spinach, with a sauce of beak roe and pickle broccoli flower.
Image 32: Served on a trendy metal plate was Langoustine & Hay aroma. Brilliant texture, nice charcoalness, and just a few tiny pieces of wild herbs on top, that was all it needed. A course that demonstrated Rasmus' precise execution skills on high quality ingredients. What an amazing course!
A tea pot of lamb breast stock and herb with garlic and thyme.
Image 34: This was the Herb garden, a salad course. My initial reaction was a bland course, but the variety of vegetable textures was enjoyable.
Image 35: And wow, it was the broth that soon captured my attention - each drop was packed with bags of flavours. I later learnt that to give the broth an extra fresh flavour, they put in pieces of raw lamb near the end without boiling the meat.
Image 36: For meat course, a seared Venison was wrapped inside a sherry vinaigrette jelly with blueberry sauce. If I had to pick one, this was probably the least enjoyable course as the jelly was a bit sticky and felt odd to accompany it with the meat. However, the venison was extremely tender proving the fact that Rasmus only brings on the best for his guests.
Image 37: Elderflower soda as a palate cleanser. A layer of elderflower jello at the bottom topped with a foamy sparkling elderflower soda!
Our first dessert was Ice herb tea.
Image 39: Covered by an ice disk of herb tea was sheep's milk yogurt with plums. Chilled, herby, and tangy-sweet from the plum and yogurt, quite a distinctive dessert.
Then our server invited us into the kitchen to sit behind his Bocuse d'Or trophies!
Image 41: While being entertained by the close-up actions in the kitchen, they served us one of Rasmus' signature courses - Chervil & White chocolate. On top of a cream white chocolate base was a combination of chervil, cucumber, and green apple…
Image 42: … topped by celery granita. A course served in the kitchen, this is something unique in the world! If all the spectacular courses still weren't enough to make this a memorable meal, this course definitely did the job.
Image 43: Back to the dining room, we continued with Grilled raspberries covered by petals served with cream of goat milk. A very light course before the final dessert.
Image 44: Look at this meticulous attention to detail in plating! It almost hurt my heart to destroy this elegant artwork with my fork and spoon! They cleverly paired this Parsley Root dessert with pear juice instead of wine. Both foam and ice cream were made with parsley root, and the garnish across was salted caramel and parsley root flakes. An original course to end the Universe Tasting!
Image 45: And to accompany the three choices of infusions (dried flowers, garden herb, or apple mint), we had…
... Carrot leaf…
… and Green egg.
We finished our night with a caramel chocolate egg coated with dried pine.
Image 49: Bocuse d'Or, a culinary competition that requires two years of preparations and Rasmus was determined not to surrender! Bronze in 2005 wasn't enough; Silver in 2007 was an improvement; and finally, a Gold in 2011 to complete his dream! A highly ambitious chef who constantly strives to improve himself until perfection!
Of course, how could we leave this place without a long chat with Rasmus and a photo with his trophies?
Image 51: It is rather odd to establish a fine dining in a stadium, a place which is associated more with soft drinks and hot dogs rather than fine dining…
Image 52: Rasmus flawlessly delivered an inspiring meal using regional ingredients with such a high quality beyond my expectation. There is no doubt that this restaurant deserves to be in a different league. I cannot restrain myself of saying the same line I said for Mirazur "if Michelin can give out 2-star to a pub in England that serves average decent food, then this meal we had is probably about... 10 stars?!"