This truly was a dream come true. I mentioned last week that my friends Xavier and Nina were coming to town with their friends Wade and Ginny, and that Xavier had seen my interview in Bon Viveur where they asked which one restaurant I was dying to go to… and my answer was NOOR! So as the gang had already planned to go there Xavier very generously invited me to go with them.
NOOR, which means “light” in Arabic, was opened in 2016 by Cordobés chef Paco Morales. His concept is all about tasting the history of al-Andaluz (the moorish name for Andalucía) and for his first season he began in the 10th century, using ingredients that were available to the people of that time. With the help of documentarians, historians, archaeologists and designers, Paco has told the culinary story of the times with skill and imagination, which has earned him two well-deserved michelin stars. Each season he has moved up a century (with a retrospective in year 4) and so, for this visit, we found ourselves in the late 16th century. And for the first time at NOOR new world comestibles have been introduced into the menu.
I won’t say too much about what happens there because there are some lovely surprises, but the space is simply gorgeous, all light and open and elegantly minimalist. The tables all have a clear view of the open kitchen and the service is beautifully choreographed without being pretentious or stuffy. Maître/Sommelier Pilar Vargas keeps everything running smoothly and is charming and helpful, as are all the staff.
The food. I’m not going to go into detail here because it would take all day. So much detail, so much care, so much going on. And so just go have a look at the photos and, yes, they were all as delicious as they look. Not a wrong step, though I will say that a couple of personal favourites were the cured meat starter with pickled onion and albaqdunis, the almond curd with tuna, and the grilled sea bass. But honestly, I loved every bite.
The wines. In the end we did the wine pairing and omg it was fabulous. While there was an emphasis on Montilla Moriles (of course) Pilar also surprised us with some international choices and then a special 2014 Moscatel de Alejandria by Pérez Barquero made exclusively for NOOR and served from a gorgeous green damajuana.
There are three menus available. Xavier chose the middle one “rihla” with the wine pairing option, but you could also order a bottle of wine and have Pilar “fill in” with a couple of special tastes during the menu tasting.
At the end of our meal we huddled together with Paco for a group photo and asked him what he was planning for the upcoming season. He made a show of asking one of the team, Josef, to come over so he could translate Paco’s answer to our group into English… and the answer was IT’S A SURPRISE. Honestly, if you can, go. Pics below…
Josef gives us a history lesson
new world ingredients
Habanero chilli bread, cured meats, pickled onion and albaqdunis Achiote broth with hibiscus and anise Fried pepper, sardine and its soft spine, with caviar Peruvian layered potatoes, ibérico pork, prawns
Beef tartare with fried polenta, pine nuts and saffron
Almond curd with bonito and 100% Venezuelan Araguani cocoa
“Anchovied” tomatoes with marinated mandarin, monkfish in brine and tamarind
Karim of pistachio, smoked herring caviar and green apple with black bread
Spinach jelly, avocado, yoghurt and tender pumpkin seeds
White prawn marinated in carob and cascabel chilli
Vegetable stew, creamy corn and black mole
Marinated shellfish in cucumber marinade, chickpea hummus, kefir snow and squid
Grilled sea bass with emulsion of peppers and toasted lemon Roasted and rested squab, 70% cocoa and black recado
Ceutan lemon with mint sponge cake, coriander snow and black pepper
Carob bean cake with its “bark”
Pilar Vidals – sommelier and maître d
Xavier, me, Paco Morales, Ginny, Wade & Nina