TEXT: LISA MARIA BERG | PHOTO © NOFO
Comfort food brings to mind cheesy slices of pizza and double burgers. It often also finds itself accompanied by a bad conscience and a nap. At Nordic Foodprint (NOFO), comfort food has found a plant-based rebirth, making it possible to indulge without grease.
The Oslo restaurant only opened its doors in September last year, but has already caught the attention of Norwegian diners. Owner and founder Hanna Borg wants for her guests to take pleasure in more than just a good meal when visiting her place. “Dining at NOFO means not only enjoying good food; it is about being part of something bigger than yourself. By changing the way we eat, we can change the world we live in,” she says.
One would think that a greasy cafe would be the place for cravings, but Borg looks at it differently. “You can come to us to indulge, and you can leave with a clean conscience. Not only have you eaten a meal that is good for you – you have also eaten a meal that is sustainable, and therefore good for others.” Borg’s plate is full of ideas, but it is in something greater than ambition that she is rooting her restaurant.
Community at the core
It is with the idea of building a sustainable community that Borg truly stands out amongst the plethora of restaurants popping up all across Oslo. “We want the meal to resonate beyond the restaurant walls. By setting examples of how a locally sourced, plant-based meal can become an experience, we hope that our guests leave feeling inspired. We are not just a restaurant, but hope to be part of a bigger, global movement,” Borg says, explaining that she plans to spread the good word through knowledge of how to eat and live in a sustainable way. “As a business, we work towards a low carbon footprint. We want to share the knowledge of how to do that with our guests – making food that can bring comfort not only to our bodies but to the planet we live on,” she explains. It seems she has not only started a restaurant, but a full-blown plant-based revolution.
The menu at NOFO lives a life of its own, and more: it lives the life that the seasons provide. Vegetables grow at different times of the year, and as they make the foundation of the entire restaurant, the menu changes accordingly. The restaurant has teamed up with Alm Østre, a biodynamic farm not far from Oslo, which provides it with seasonal vegetables all year round. The farm is like a haven of locally-sourced produce. “Alm Østre is not only an all-organic alternative – it is a farm that shares our beliefs in what food should be,” says Borg. “It makes us proud to be able to know that our guests are eating something grown with love.”
The aim to bring knowledge out of and beyond the restaurant walls has also sparked a workshop programme. “We invite chefs from all over the world to share their love and knowledge for plant-based food. We let them take control of our kitchen, and we give them free rein,” explains Borg. Colombian, Spanish, English and Swiss cooks have already visited NOFO and brought their take on the Alm Østre vegetables. “We have had brunches, dinners and pop-ups of all different shapes and colours, and we cannot wait for our spring programme to continue,” Borg continues.
It can be overwhelming sometimes, to be surrounded by theories on what food should look like. If you can think of a diet, it probably exists. But one thing is certain: if the planet is to maintain itself, then human kind cannot keep eating the way they are eating. Perhaps the answer lies in the Scandinavian menu rooted in a season that provides whatever it provides, and people that eat according to it.
“By taking care of yourself, you can take care of the planet,” Borg asserts. As winter lets go and spring emerges onto the streets of Oslo, there is a sense of summer coming sometime soon, bringing with it a wealth of nature – a comfort to indulge in.