I haven’t been to Copenhagen since I was quite young and my memories of the city are a bit hazy. I think at the time I was most excited about seeing the mermaid statue- Disney to blame there, I’m afraid. But it is fair to say that it was a much busier, livelier city than I remembered or expected. Perhaps because I’m used to the relative peace and quiet of Stockholm, despite being a bigger city- at least in terms of population (or so Google tells me). It seems like (and the Stockholmer in me can’t quite believe I’m saying this) somewhere with a bit more going on.
While this buzz felt really exciting, I left feeling that it’s a city that has gained an international reputation (not least when it comes to food) perhaps before it was quite ready for it. For example, there is so much to do and see, but everything shuts so early. We found the service in general, with only a handful of exceptions, rather brusque and bordering on rude. But more than that, it seems to be a city very much in flux as the many building projects and developments hinted at- roads, offices, flats and bridges, growth spurts everywhere like teens in the summer holidays. I’d love to go back in a few years and see what kind of a city it becomes.
The food though, oh the food. There is no shortage of exceptional places to eat and drink. And yes, we did manage to get a booking at Noma for lunch as a once-in-a-lifetime, just-married treat. And yes, it was incredible (with wonderful service, incidentally). And yes, I took some snaps. And no, I won’t be blogging about it. Partly because it has been done, partly because I covered it at the time on Instagram, but also because no photos or description I could provide would do it justice. It was entirely out of this world, mind-boggling and unlike anything else I’ve eaten and experienced.
Other foodie highlights include Granola on the lovely Værnedamsvej in Frederiksberg. Nestled between little design shops, florists and bars, Granola seemed the perfect place to watch Cophenhagen style hunters go oby over, well, granola. They also do fluffy pancakes, traditional hearty porridge (served with cranberries, cinnamon and butter) and eggs any way you’d like.
We were entirely spoilt for choice for where to go out on Copenhagen’s light summer evenings. The one thing I would say is that it is a shame everywhere closes so early, particularly when the days are so long. The streets were absolutely deserted by 11pm and forget about getting any food whatsoever post about 9pm, which didn’t suit our lazy honeymoon mindset at all. We were caught out quite a few times, settling into a funky bar, ordering drinks and before we knew it (but just as our appetites started to wake up), they had stopped doing food. Get with it Copenhagen!
Some fave areas included Nørrebro, where we found the Laundromat Café on Elmegade (yes, an actual laundromat as well as a café and bar, although no machines whirling when we were there). The meatpacking district of Kødbyen (literally ‘Meat village’) would definitely be top of my list were I to return to Copenhagen anytime soon- most of the old slaughterhouses have been turned into restaurants, bars, cafés, delis and art galleries and the whole area makes for a lively place to spend an evening, wandering between place to place. Some of the area’s original history still endures, turn a corner and you may well come face to face with a butcher’s shop window.
Other highlights include Dyrehaven bar for its selection of beer and nibbles and the wonderful Torvehallerne market which overflowed with pristine fruit and veg, incredible fish and seafood and the most beautiful, almost architectural open sandwiches (which inspired my recipe, see below). The cafés there will also do you a damn fine breakfast.
I should probably but in a disclaimer at this point to note that you shouldn’t just go to Denmark or Copenhagen for the food. It is a gorgeous city to walk or cycle around and of course you can’t move for design- the Designmuseum and Statens Museum for Kunst as well as the quieter Danish Architecture Centre. But you can also see plenty of contemporary design for free at Hay House, George Jensen, Illums Bolighus and the Royal Copenhagen Flagship store to name but a few. Not to mention a few recognisable landmarks that are worth seeing in person- we were delighted to be staying to close to the actual Borgen.
One of the inescapable staples of Danish food culture is the dark, treacle-y seed filled roggebrød. Dense rye bread, filled with hearty goodness and available at practically every meal time.
For me, this was what I was most keen to perfect from our trip so that I could enjoy it back at home in London. I thought it was important to develop a simpler recipe that didn’t use traditional sourdough, as it would be easier to throw to together, although, I accept, finding rye seeds and flakes isn’t exactly something that you can do at your local Tesco Metro- I would go online for this and stock up. I promise it’s worth it. I’ve used treacle too, for depth of flavour. The photographs are, once again, by the fantastic Faith Mason.
Danish Rye Bread
Makes 1 loaf
You will need:
120g rye flakes
50g rye seeds/grain
80g sunflower seeds
12g sea salt
30g fresh yeast
250g rye flour, plus a little extra
100g strong bread flour
1. The night before you wish to make the loaf, soak the rye flakes, grain and all of the seeds in 200ml of water and leave overnight.
2. The next day, mix the treacle and 100ml water (at blood temperature) together in a small bowl. Crumble in the yeast and stir to combine. Place the flours in a large bowl along with 12g of salt. Add the yeasty mixture along with the seeds and grains. Mix until you have a very sticky dough. Turn this out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It will be a very tricky dough to work with- sticky and dense, but that’s to be expected. Hang in there.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warmish place (an airing cupboard is perfect) for at least one hour, until the dough has visibly risen. Tip out of the bowl and knead briefly, only for a few seconds, before shaping. I baked my loaf in a lightly greased 900g/2lb loaf tin. Leave, covered in a clean tea towel, for a further 45 minutes, until the dough has risen to fill out the tin.
4. Preheat the oven to 230 C. Sprinkle the bread with a little extra rye flour then place the tin in the middle of the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 180C. You can also put a baking tray with hot water in the bottom of the oven, to create steam. Bake for 40 minutes, until the loaf is dark and sounds hollow when tapped on its base. Turn out of its tin and leave to cool completely before slicing.
It has been an absolute age since my post, practically a lifetime in blogging terms. The reasons for this are simple and hopefully understandable: firstly, I got hitched! Secondly, I’ve been embarking on a freelance career foodstyling and writing so between that and planning a wedding, something had to fall by the wayside and that, unfortunately, was this blog.
However, I am back now and very much raring to go. The blog has had a makeover which is now almost complete- just a few niggly behind the scenes bits to sort out and a long backlog of posts featuring wintery fare to warm your cockles.
I couldn’t get stuck back in without sharing some photos and recipes from our ‘scandimoon.’ We spent the week after the wedding in Denmark- a few days relaxing on the island of Bornholm before heading to bustling Copenhagen. Bornholm was the real surprise- perhaps a slightly unusual choice (I’m fairly sure we were the only honeymooners on the island), but absolutely worth the trek. The island is in fact closer to Sweden than it is to Denmark (as I’m fond of pointing out), about an hour and a half by ferry from Ystad in Skåne.
There’s plenty to see and do on the island and although we had hired a car, the most popular way to get around is definitely on two wheels. Bikes are easy and cheap to hire and mean that you can whizz along the coast with ease- darting between pretty seaside villages, forests, cliff tops and beaches. And what beaches- white sand, clear blue sea and a not-too-shabby 24 degrees in the water! We were there in August and had many of the beaches to our selves, including the one at the bottom of the road from our little cabin/cottage (or ‘cabbage’ as we found ourselves calling it).
Bornholm is well known for its incredible produce. It almost feels like the island could be self-sufficient, with its agricultural riches and hard working locals, who all seemed invariably passionate about their goods. We came home with pasta made from durum wheat grown on the island, buttery, golden rapeseed oil, a basket of garlic and several bottles of the local brew. We passed on the local wine, however. Though perhaps that was a mistake as a certain famous Copenhagen restaurant proved to us later in the week with its offering of Danish vino (more on that in the next post).
Every road was lined with little stalls filled with bags of produce, when we were there these overflowed with several varieties of spuds, with a little honesty box for your contributions. Each little coastal town or village had something foodie to offer- flødeboller from chocolate shops and smoked fish from the smoke houses in Snogebraek, fish restaurants in Nexø, beer from the brewery in Svaneke and the Gårdbutik och Polsemageri in Hallegård. This deli and sausage specialist was a bit tricky to find, but well worth getting lost down narrow country lanes for. The unassuming farm also has garden with chairs and tables set up under fig trees and rosehip bushes where they serve a few open sarnies and nibbles. However, the highlight is definitely their tapas board, laden with home-made charcuterie, pickles, veg, cheese and even soup.
Bornholm was basically one giant food coma as it was (the cycling helped), but we still couldn’t miss out on dinner at Kadeau. Inventive, local and yes, foraged, this is the place to experice New Nordic Cuisine on Bornholm. We had the set menu bursting with freshly caught seafood, herbs, fruit and veg picked from their own garden. The food was excellent, but it really had to be to compete with the ridiculous view.
Below are some snaps of the best of Bornholm- a round up of Copenhagen and a little recipe will follow shortly.
Almond milk Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Cannellini Beans, Fennel and Baby Carrots
You will need:
1/2 shoulder of lamb, approx 1kg/2 lb 3 oz
3 fat garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 green chillis, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley stalks
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly bashed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
300ml/10 fl oz almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
baby carrots, to serve
flaked almonds and chopped parsley leaves, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4. Using a small knife, make little incisions all over the meat and insert the slivers of garlic. Mix together the parsley stalks, cumin seeds, lemon juice and zest, smoked paprika, olive oil and 1 tsp of salt (preferably sea salt) in a small bowl to form a thick paste. Rub this all over the lamb.
2. Place the onion and fennel in a roasting tray, season and pour over the almond milk. Sit the lamb snugly in the tray. Cover with tin foil and roast for 1 hour, basting a few times, then remove from the oven and tip in the beans. Continue to roast for a further 30 minutes, uncovered, until tender. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes then scatter with chopped parsley and flaked almonds. Serve with steamed baby carrots, still slightly crunch and, if you like, some of the beans, fennel and milk whizzed into a thick sauce.
Alright, so the title of this post is a little misleading. I’m not entirely sure it would be possible to make healthy hot cross buns, as there is no way of getting around it- they are a treat. But you can make them a bit healthIER. I’ve tried to lighten them up a little with the addition of spelt flour, oats, agave and grated apple for sweetness and oil instead of butter for richness. There’s still plenty of spice there and if you pop them in the toaster, you’ve got a perfect Easter breakfast. This was originally a recipe I created for Women’s Health Magazine. You can see it and other healthy treats here. Make a large batch then freeze the rest for later.
Lighter Hot Cross Buns
Makes 16 buns
You will need:
500ml skimmed milk or dairy-free alternative
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 2 oranges
300g spelt flour
300g strong white bread flour, plus about 100g extra for kneading and the crosses
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action yeast
50ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp agave nectar
1 large egg, beaten
1 apple, coarsely grated
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp apricot or fig jam, ideally a no added sugar brand
1. Bring the milk to boil with the cardamom pods, cloves, lemon zest and zest of 1 orange. Set to one side and allow to cool to blood temperature. Meanwhile, sift the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl. Tip in the oats, yeast, oil, agave and beaten egg. Once the milk has cooled, remove the cloves and cardamom and pour into the bowl.
2. Mix together until the ingredients are well incorporated. Then tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface and knead for a good 10 minutes, either by hand or using the dough attachment of a table top mixer. It will seem like a very wet dough, but keep working it, slapping it onto the work surface to develop the gluten. It will eventually come together to form a sticky, but elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove in warmish place for about 1 hour, until risen.
3. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and flatten slightly. Mix together the apple, cinnamon, currants and remaining orange zest and sprinkle over the dough. Knead briefly to distribute all the ingredients. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and roll into smooth balls. Arrange the buns on 2 lightly oiled baking sheets in rows of 4, about 1 cm apart. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for a further hour.
4. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200/gas mark 7. In a small bowl mix together 30g of flour with 2 ½- 3 tbsp water, adding the water gradually until you have a thick paste. Scrape into a small sandwich bag. Once the buns have risen and puffed up, cut off the tip of one corner of the sandwich bag and use to pipe crosses over the buns. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, swapping shelves halfway through. Meanwhile, heat the jam with 2 tbsp of water in a small pan until the jam has melted and is syrupy. Sieve into a small bowl and use to brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and allow to cool before tucking in.