If a picture is a thousand words, then here are twenty-eight thousand words, which still wouldn’t be enough to describe the strange beauty of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, in 2012, the year of its greatest triumphs. Here is everything we had that night, in pictures:

The first course, malt-dusted “twigs”, hiding amongst the flowers.
Reindeer moss, the pinnacle of preciousness.
Fried potato haystacks stuffed with chicken liver puree and dusted with dried black trumpet mushrooms.
Mussels bound with mussel mayo served in an edible shell made with squid ink.
Live fjord shrimp: Dip it, still squirming, into brown butter and drop the jaws of life.
“It’s how a carrot would taste to a starving man if he found it in the forest, half decomposed, and still loved it.” -Nathan
Smoked and pickled quail eggs trapped with a cloud of condensed hay smoke.
Crispy pork skin with black currant fruit leather. Think: genius stoner food.
Crispy chicken skin sandwich with lumpfish roe and smoked cream cheese.
Smoked cod liver, shaved into wafers and served on top of a milk crisp.
Radish hidden in a soil made with hazelnuts and dark beer.
Creme fraiche and seaweed oil encased in a tumbleweed made from braised and fried veal neck.
Danish Christmas donut stuffed with braised cucumber and skewered with oily fish. Tastes infinitely better than it sounds.
Noma’s dining room. If you squint, you can see people laughing.
Wine and pine: Noma’s juice and wine pairings, stacked side by side.
Sourdough bread with “virgin” butter and whipped pork fat cut with apple aquavit and crusted with cracklings.
Noma in a bite: razor clam, parsley, dill, and frozen horseradish.
Scallop chips with a puddle of mussel juice and squid ink–the lone loser of the night.
Dipping dots! Monster langoustine with oyster-parsley puree.
Pike perch grilled in a cabbage leaf served with wild herbs and lemon verbena puree.
Grilled white asparagus with rosemary salt and pine.
Pan-roasted turbot with wild mushrooms, roe and a forest’s worth of foraged flora.
Danish bitters ice cream with yogurt ice whey and dill oil.
Grilled conference pear with pickled pine and spruce parfait.
Noma by harbor light.
Noma’s collection of serving vessels.
Head chef (and native Californian!) Matthew Orlando, expediting and plating his ass off.
One for the road.

Part 2 in our 4-part Noma series, a plate-by-plate breakdown of the Noma experience. Read the full review here. Or watch a behind-the-scenes video of Noma’s Project Night, the famous training session where Noma’s ringmaster René Redzepi put his cooks to the ultimate test.