I recently made my way to Scandinavia with the promise of amazing landscapes in Iceland and Greenland (but not to discount the other magnificent Scandinavian countries) and also to visit the rellies in Norway. Sure it was going to be an expensive trip, but it was well worth it. However if you ask me, though some things were definitely more expensive than Australia (or pretty much most or all other European countries) some things were actually cheaper than Australia.
First city, Copenhagen, Denmark: the home of Crown Prince Frederick who married Australian and now Crown Princess Mary.
Denmark (along with Scandinavia generally) is pleasantly filled with very friendly locals complete with an excellent standard of English-as-a-second-language that puts other nations (and especially the single-language English speaking nations) to shame. I argue some of them speak better English than some who speak English as a first language. On top of that, Copenhagen has a nice relaxing feel that makes me feel at home to stroll around the various canals, beautiful King’s Garden, longest pedestrian shopping mall in the world – “Torget”, or even to sit back and relax with some coffee and Danish pastries.
But enough about Denmark as a city and more about the food given this is a food blog. Apart from the obvious good connotations that Danish Pastries or “Danishes” in Denmark can bring, Denmark has quite a bit to offer. Apart from export grade produce including meat, seafood, vegetables, and the ever prominent and great tasting Lurpak butter, Denmark and specifically Copenhagen is a host to a range of restaurants and cuisine from around the world and even has the honour of being home to the San Pellegrino 2010 restaurant of the year “Nomad”. Unfortunately, the 90-day-in-advance booking process that opens at midnight each night is so quickly snapped up that I was unable to secure a booking. Sad. But no matter for this round, as I was still able to sample a few local dishes.
In the heart of the canal area in Copenhagen is the infamous and postcard-famous Nyhavn strip. Nyhavn (meaning New Harbour) is the home to the start of many canal tours for those wanting to explore a part of Copenhagen via the various canals, as well as being host to many restaurants. Here you have a large choice of European cuisine, of which most venues have an attached bar, or you can even get a takeaway beer and drink it along the walkway next to the canal.
Most restaurants on Nyhavn capitalise on the scenic views of the canal by offering well placed al fresco dining that is great on any non-rainy day. Restaurants tend to be quite casual and well suited to cater for tourists including the large amount of Scandinavian visitors from Norway and Sweden (and especially Norway where street drinking is illegal and alcohol costs a lot more). Service during peak periods can be quite slow here but the staff are still seem relatively friendly under the stress.
Whilst the amount of restaurants on Nyhavn may make choosing difficult, many display a menu at their front which may help tickle your fancy or let you know in advance whether they specialise in say fish or steaks or other seafood. On top of that, many of the restaurants have set course specials with two or three courses of an entrée, main and dessert. The going rate whilst I was there was DKK225 for two courses.
Doing what most prudent people would do (i.e. walk along the canal to see what’s on offer), I came across this Nyhavn Restaurant which not only had a DKK225 two course special but allowed you to choose any two courses from their menu thus increasing the available combinations exponentially. On top of this, the Nyhavn Restaurant accepted any Kroner on a one for one basis, which for my slightly weaker Norwegian Kroner base currency represented even more value.
Foie Gras Terrine served with Elderflower Gel – DKK105 (separately)
The slice of foie gras terrine came served with a bit of salt and pepper sprinkled on top. Accompanying the terrine was some bread and strawberries. I’m not really sure where the elderflower gel was unless it was mixed into the strawberries.
The foie gras terrine was a decent entrée with a definite but not very strong foie gras taste. Spreading it onto the rye-like bread allowed you to appreciate the taste of the terrine. The strawberries were a bit sour for my liking even as a palate freshener to compliment the foie gras terrine.
Tender loin with marrow pipe pepper sauce and roast potato DKK189 (separately)
I personally made a big mistake in ordering this dish. Given that the waitress didn’t ask me how I’d like it cooked, I assumed that it’d be done medium or even medium rare. Quick assumption – big mistake. The steak unfortunately came out well done which although goes completely against how I think a steak should be done, was surprisingly still tender and juicy for a well-done steak. I later asked the waitress about it being done well-done and she said that’s the norm there unless you ask for something different. I personally would ask for something different, which is a pity as I suspect the steak would have been done great medium-rare!
Accompanying the reasonable but well-done steak were roast potatoes which had a nice golden outer layer with a buttery taste, pickled cabbage to offer a palate freshening side, and a beef flavoured pepper sauce to go with the steak.
Det Rome Brod
I found this 100% organic bakery whilst walking along Kronprinsessegade but there are a few branches across Copenhagen. Det Rome Brod is a bit of a mix between a bakery and a coffee shop, serving (limited and casual) dine in or takeaway breads, pastries and cakes, as well as machined coffee.
Cinnamon bread, apple cake and cafe latte
For DKK51 I got a cinnamon bread, apple cake, and a café latte.
The apple cake was a recommendation from the very friendly and helpful (and quite frankly very attractive) girl running the store and my own tastebuds confirmed it was good. The cake had only a moderate density of apple (as opposed to say a typical apple heavy apple pie) and yet was reasonably dense. The moderate levels of sugar, freshness of the apple, and light crumbly and cake like taste and texture of this cake was a pleasant surprise to me as something different in a good way.
The cinnamon bread was like a typical cinnamon roll that you get in Australia, but was very fresh, didn’t feel too sweet (even with the sultanas and the icing), and had a crispness to it that made this taste all the more fresher. Overall, I found this nicely balanced and fresh.
The coffee was smooth, had a slightly nutty taste and only a slight bitter aftertaste, but the froth was pretty average – being a thick layer of inconsistent bubble sizes that created a foam that didn’t sit as well as better frothed milk.
Overall, and with the added goodness of being an organic bakery, I really thought the pastries (or *ahem* Danishes) were great. However, this is the home of Danish pastries.
This café came recommended to me for the Copenhagen Burger. It’s situated in Hillerod, very close to Frederiksborg castle, so a visit to the grand and postcard-worthy castle warrants a visit to this café.
The café has a very casual and relaxing atmosphere, but feels clean and modern with indoor and al fresco dining. The waiter who served us was very friendly and accommodating but I found this not unusual in the places I went to in Denmark.
Copenhagen Burger – DKK110
The burger had a thick patty, bacon, red onion, gourmet lettuce, cucumber, tomato, tomato sauce, a creamy cocktail sauce, and was set in a crusty herb bread.
I was impressed. The burger tasted great with the marinated patty, mixed sauces and combination of ingredients creating a very big and filling burger that was fresh and tasted like an excellent gourmet home-made burger.
The burger was served with wedges and aioli. The wedges were crunchy and seasoned really well. To be honest, I was very impressed with the quality of these wedges and the aioli was also well made – creamy with a light garlic flavour – such that this tasted as good as some of the best wedges I’ve had in Australia.
Cappuccino – DKK30
The cappuccino wasn’t the best I’ve had and was the let-down for me at Café Copenhagen. Unfortunately the cappuccino was served only warm and the foam was quite poorly made in my opinion – being a very thick layer of foam that contained a lot of large bubbles. The cappuccino was topped with cocoa.
So all in all, Copenhagen is a great place to visit. Though in no way able to capture the charm of Copenhagen, I leave you with a small selection of photos for a little taste of what you might expect if you visit Copenhagen.
One of the palaces of Amalienborg - where Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary will reside
Monument to Hans Christian Andersen
One of the Grand Halls in Rosenberg Castle
The Rosenberg Castle with the Three Lions
Danish Crowns on display at Rosenborg Castle
View of Copenhagen from Vor Frelser Church