NOEL – One of a kind gastro experience

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I’ve reached the age when I do not settle for less and only the best is good enough for me. Seal fetuses, Mediterranean monk seal in a baboon’s index finger sauce on a bed of nightingale tongues…to the common peasants that is exotic, but such delicacies are everyday life for me.

I admit that sometimes I hop to our neighborhood store because I have a weakness to expired products, but that is just a way of punishing myself for a lecherous life. That store is there just to remind me of the imperfections of this world.

I met Alex aka Fidel in the city the other day who moved to Doha 4 years ago (she married rich, but she’s not a gold digger). I haven’t seen her in around ten years. She was accompanied by a chocolate colored friend Liv who I also haven’t seen because it was too dark outside. She said she was staying in Zagreb for a whole week so I’ve decided to invite her for dinner and since Liv  was with her, I said she could come to watch us eat as well.

Alex travels all around the world and eats at the best restaurants so I had to leave a great impression. I’ve reserved a seat at the NOEL restaurant. Dinner in courses, liquid nitrogen perversions, exotic wines along each course…my hand is short but generous.

NOEL, Source: Facebook

Alex doesn’t drink cocktails, but that hasn’t stopped Liv and myself from ordering two amazing cocktails along the first course: Codons of cod, oscietra caviar, shot of lemon grass and organic verbena tea from Paraguay.

NOEL – Liv’s cocktail: Lantation rum, Carlos Alberte red rum, fermented pepper syrup and earl grey, lime, peach bitter infused with pequin pepper ; Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr
My cocktail: Gin, Japanese plum wine, verbena and cardamom syrup, ice harvested pomegranate vinegar infused with elder flower, lime

You know how women always see the smallest details on men: nails, hair, shoes, keys to their BMW…? The hair I do not have nor the BMW keys, but Alex noticed the wrist watch I bought for this occasion right away. She had a look in her eyes like Gollum when he saw the ring.

Alex aka Fidel, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

I cleaned up nicely: shirt, fancy jacket, Strugar shoes and my new SEIKO Presage SSA343J1 (cocktail collection). I really wanted to say “Just give me a sign and I’ll make you mine!”, but her husband will read this as well so I won’t.

SEIKO Presage SSA343J1 – cocktail colection

Just when my ego has hit the ceiling (at least that when my legs wouldn’t), the second course of food has arrived to the table. Veal tongue terrine, beetroot variation, celery panna cotta. To go with it, the waiter has served Geržinić Malvasia, western Istra, 2016.

NOEL: Veal tongue terrine, beetroot variation, celery panna cotta, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

Beetroot chips was a true revelation. If they sold that at my local store, I would’ve hanged there day and night. Alex didn’t like the Malvasia at the first sip but after ten minutes she said: “Now that the wine has sat at the table for a bit, it’s much better. It goes great with the dish.”

At one point she told me there was Taylor Swift at the table just behind us. She knows Taylor is my weakness. I turned naively with lust in my eyes and she took advantage of my lack of attention to swiftly, like a Roman on the tram, take the watch off my hand. She said: “Now it’s mine! Look, it looks much better on me.”

NOEL – Alex aka Fidel and my new SEIKO watch, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

The third course was seafood. Bouillabaisse, shellfish, octopus, squid with Domaine William Fevre, Chablis, Burgundy 2015

NOEL: Bouillabaisse, shellfish, octopus, squid, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

Mackerel was phenomenal in this dish. We have all agreed we do not remember the last time we had such fresh and delicious fish. Perversion of flavour.

NOEL. Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

I know some of you are already asking where is Liv, but I haven’t forgotten about her. The last thing I need is someone accusing me of racism. She called me at one point “Hey, Shorthands!” and I politely replied: “Better Shorthands than Blackhands.” and that’s where the chemistry happened. We hit it off right away. The girl is really smart. She finished two universities, agronomy and marketing, but that is not the reason I liked her. It was her skin color. What can I say, I am weak to the mulattos. I am superficial, I admit it.

NOEL – Liv, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

It was time for the fourth course. Herbs risotto, snails, chestnuts, mandarin with Esencia Rural, Pampaneo, Airen, Toledo, 2015.

NOEL – Herbs risotto, snails, chestnuts, mandarin, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

Even though I am a known Gastro Snob, I have to admit I have never had snails before. I somehow found it gross and I always thought it was some kind of a French showing off thing. Liv said: “This looks good.” I replied: “That’s what the Christians said about the Colosseum!” I wasn’t so sure what to do but after a while I dug into that risotto like Donald on Melania. I didn’t even notice I was eating snails. I thought it would be all slimy and tough, but every bite would just melt in my mouth like Albanian ice cream on a hot summer day. Perfect combination of risotto with fresh herbs, chestnut, mandarin and snails. I never would have thought of such an ingredient combination on my own nor would I be able to get them from my local store. I think that is one of the main reasons people go to the restaurants like this one. You’re definitely not going to make a snail and chestnut risotto at home. Congrats to the Chef on his creativity. Sensual perfection. The best course so far.

We have continued in great style: Veal entrecote, black vegetables, pumpkin with Miguel Torres, Celeste, Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero, 2014. The image is worth a thousand words.

NOEL – Veal entrecote, black vegetables, pumpkin, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

As we went through the courses, each wine started tasting better than the other. It’s fascinating thinking about how we use to drink those cheap venoms like Ribar, Peristil, Kapistar… It takes years for a man to come to his senses. Only the best for my liver, please.

A dinner without a desert is like Donald Trump without a wig. We just had enough space in our bellies left. Chocolate and blueberry cake with Grahams, Ruby style porto, Six grape.

NOEL – Chocolate and blueberry cake with Grahams, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

After this amazing desert, we had to take a photo together.

Alex aka Fidel, Gastro Snob aka Dear Leader and Liv aka Liv, Photo: Flash.hr

We have enjoyed in selected delicacies and talking about all the things that happened in the past ten years for three hours. We were thrilled. The restaurant looks phenomenal and even though it has all the qualities of a snob club, NOEL doesn’t feel snobbish at all. The personnel is very polite and the atmosphere is relaxed. No one is looking down at you (except at me because God has punished me with short legs). Great food, perfectly presented on the plate and a great choice of wine. Liv still can not believe I asked her to join us so I might just take her to NOEL one more time just so she doesn’t think it was all her imagination.

Restaurant NOEL – SEIKO Presage SSA343J1 – cocktail collection, Photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

NOEL

Ulica popa Dukljanina 1

tel: 01 4844 297

mail: info@noel.hr

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Author: Josip Novosel aka Gastro Snob, lover of local store brand processed meats, the biggest toupee collector next to Donald Trump, corresponding member of the “Short of a length” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, above all a human and only then a tycoon and a snob.