Having a ball in CopenhagenALANA DIXON
If I had to describe the taste of lamb's balls in one word: springy.
Writing this sentence feels fairly other-worldly, but of all the things I was looking forward to on my visit to Copenhagen, eating the testicles of a surprise farm animal ranked high on the list.
Perhaps I should elaborate.
As much as I loathe the word "foodie" (it ranks right up there with "Team --", "yummy mummy" and anything with a # in front of it), if you have an even passing interest in food - ie: you eat it - it's nigh on impossible to have not heard the name Noma.
Although it was beaten for 2013's title of Best Restaurant in the World - that honour went to a restaurant in Spain - Noma, in Copenhagen, has taken the top spot an impressive three times, and last year managed to claw onto second place.
Obviously, there is no way in the world I could ever afford to eat at a restaurant in the highest echelon of cuisine, let alone one whose style is described as "seasonal, terroir-led Scandinavian".
(Although, if given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to eat at least part of a reindeer, sentimentality be damned. Say goodbye, Rudolph.)
Luckily for me, then, two former Noma sous chefs decided to open their own place in Copenhagen in April, which I would hazard a guess is also going for the "seasonal, terroir-led Scandinavian" theme.
As appealing as the more accessible price tag and the name BROR, which means brother in Danish but which I prefer to think of as that omnipresent Kiwi word, bro, was the chance to sample perhaps their most notorious dish of all.
Not a risque name for a dish of meatballs. Not a euphemism in any way.
As last week's dispatch illustrated, the Danish capital is full of trendy people; and the trendiest of all appear to flock to BROR - which, coincidentally, was the subject of a four-page spread in my in-flight magazine on the way there that surmised the restaurant was the city's most exciting place to eat right now - even more so than Noma.
(Yes, every single thing I have read/heard about BROR makes the same comparison, which leads me to wonder how all the parties involved feel about that - if it was me, I'd probably be starting to get a little eye-rollish, possibly because I am - as my aunty gently put it once - a "highly strung" redhead. Yet, here we are . . .)
And, unlike all the London restaurants deemed "exciting", BROR actually took reservations.
(I am desperate to go to Pitt Cue Co, but I am not so desperate for the two-hour-plus queue outside every rainy Saturday night.)
The comparisons and the photogenic clientele mean it all runs the risk of sounding a little pretentious, as the food world is often accused of being.
But from the moment you take your first bite of delicious lamb's balls, in all their gently crumbed and slightly gooey glory, which you swathe in a smear of tartar sauce, you know this is not pretension.
It's just really delicious food, made largely out of ingredients I would never think - and, let's be real here, probably never want to think - of using.
The whole "terroir" thing means that each item tastes the way you are pretty sure it is meant to taste, before we got so used to preservatives.
Cod's cheek, which didn't look tooooo unappealing - until Mark accidentally popped out its eyeball with his fork - we spent several panicked moments digging around fins etcetera - smoked roe with egg yolk and parsley, skate wing and turnip, chicken hearts coupled with bacon and a beef broth: it all sounds vaguely frightening.
If I'm honest, a year ago, before I started this whole "hey let's move to the other side of the world where we know literally virtually nobody away from all of the comforts of our lifelong homes" gig, I would have been an anxiety-riddled corpse sitting at a dinner table.
The prospect of being brought out plates of food, the contents of which are kept secret from you until the moment they arrive, hand-delivered by the chef who cooked them, containing various pieces of offal would have terrified me.
(I had one course placed on my table by none other than Victor Wagman - who owns the restaurant along with Sam Nutter).
When you live most days with the thought "I will probably never be back in this place ever again", you tend to be more willing to take the plunge. And when you do, it's not as salty as you might think.