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.