Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Copenhagen Food Diary

The most obvious thing to say about food in Copenhagen is how expensive it is: over twice as much as in the UK. The bill at an averagely-good restaurant can resemble a top-end establishment, such as The Crown Social here in Cardiff.

Therefore, an inclusive hotel buffet comes in handy, especially for putting away a large breakfast to set you up for the day. Luckily, our hotel (The Tivoli) had plenty to choose from each morning: a variety of breads, including the popular Danish rye bread; fresh and dried fruits and nuts; hams and cheeses; smoked salmon and herring; warm egg, bacon, sausage etc; and Danish pastries.

At the top-end of Copenhagen restaurants is Noma. We didn’t eat there, as it requires booking a year in advance and, in our case, would probably have involved re-mortgaging the house. Noma was recently voted “the best restaurant in the world” by British food writers (something the locals don’t let you forget). It’s Nordic Cuisine, with an emphasis on foraged (e.g., fungi, berries), fresh and seasonal ingredients prepared using traditional methods.

A stone’s throw from the affluent waterside development in Christianshavn, where Noma is located, is Christiania: an alternative society founded in 1971 when young squatters took over an abandoned military barracks. It says a lot about Danish society that this “free city” still exists and maintains a high level of autonomy. Eateries in Christiania centre on the Nemoland bar. We had Shwarma sandwiches and ta’ boulah salad in this busy al fresco location.

Meanwhile, in the Tivoli pleasure gardens in central Copenhagen we opted for pork and beef sandwiches. The good news is that, though nothing edible is cheap, the cheaper food is generally of a high quality in Copenhagen.

I ate a lot of salmon and herring (sild). A popular dish is smoked herring prepared in three ways (e.g., curried, pickled and in tomato sauce); my favourite method being curried. I also had some excellent poached salmon with dill and smoked salmon (for breakfast, open sandwiches at lunchtime and in starters for dinner), while the smoked halibut was also very good.

Our main extravagance was a meal in Restaurant Vingården (it was a special occasion) in the Indre By district. For starters, I had a salad that included smoked salmon, crab meat, prawns, a large mussel and rocket, followed by a fillet of sole with king prawns in a white wine sauce with risotto and vegetables. Good stuff (just don't think of the bill!).

The Nyhavn area is a popular outdoor eating area. The canal tourboats start from here. There was also a boat selling a wide range of apple varieties, as part of a Danish apple promotion. The Danes like eating outdoors, and it is customary for blankets to be put out on the seats for use when the sun goes down.

There is some great art to be seen in Copenhagen, at the Staten Museum (National Gallery) and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. The highlights for me were the French impressionists at both galleries, the Danish and Nordic art galleries in the former, and the Degas and Rodin sculpture in the latter. The Winter Garden in Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a pleasant place to eat and they do fine salads and sandwiches.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by Danish brewery magnate Carl Jacobsen, and named after his brewery. Carlsberg is still the dominant beer in Copenhagen, although microbreweries have sprung up in recent years to provide alternative styles of beer.

Finally, I attach a picture of the Rådhus, familiar to all fans (myself included) of the Danish thriller The Killing.

The Killing:
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek:

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