DANISH DELIGHTS

Vi-Kings of the Culinary World

From the city to the ocean, Arrived’s writer finds seven extraordinary food experiences in Denmark.

WORDS ANN MARIE CAHILL

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DENMARK

Vi-Kings of the Culinary World

Arrived’s writer takes finds seven extraordinary food experiences in Denmark… and discovers much more than just Danishes.

WORDS ANN MARIE CAHILL

Sponsored by

Denmark's proximity to the ocean makes it a seafood lover's dream.

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Denmark is a haven for foodie travel, with an effortless style and sophistication that seems to reflect its architecture and people.

Traveling through Denmark in early-2022, I could feel the country thawing out contentedly post-winter (and pandemic), returning to restaurants and markets en masse.

Copenhagen has three eateries listed on the renowned World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

This is a pragmatic place. For many years, the Danes lived off what they could catch, grow, and farm. They created traditional meals suiting their lifestyle as well as the landscape around them.

Today, tourists flock to Denmark to experience the world-famous New Nordic cuisine; rich in flavor, bringing together traditional processing methods and new ideas with the freshest local and seasonal produce available. But for the Danes, this is how they have always cooked. The food is Denmark.

And the best way to experience this is to follow the menu - right around the country.

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1. Food by Bike in Copenhagen

When in Copenhagen, I did as the locals do: I hopped on a bike! Many of the country’s best chefs are often found testing new menu ideas from street food carts around the city. The thrill of the chase is discovering where they are hiding next.

My first stop was for the ever popular kanelsnegle at Det Rene Broed in Inner Østerbro, who are known for both traditional cinnamon rolls and for mixing up their flavors with newer, experimental efforts. Outside the Round Tower, one of the city’s main attractions, you’ll find the award-winning Danish hot dogs at the Døp food car. Finish the day at Hansens Is & Ice-cream in the Bridge Street Kitchen, located across from Nyhavn. This is flagship Denmark: enjoying liquorice ice cream with one of the best views of the iconic harbor houses of Nyhavn.

If you go to Copenhagen, but didn't get on a bike, did you even go to Copenhagen?

2. Aarhus Street Food

Aarhus is the highlight for art and food devotees, voted European Capital of Culture in 2017, and holding that vibe ever since. You get both at the ARoS Art Museum, where entrance into the celebrated gallery also includes entry to the Café and Orangery on-site, with its sustainability and organic quality.

At Aarhus Street Food, it’s more rustic experience in a former garage at the back of the bus station, where street-food favorites like pizza and bánh mì sat alongside more traditionally Danish options. Sitting back and enjoying the buzz with local beers from the on-site bars, it’s hard not to feel cool in this exceptionally trendy city.

It's not hard to find a trendy spot to grab a bite or a drink in Aarhus.

3. Fairy-tale Traditions in Odense

Straight out of a fairy-tale, Odense is the birthplace of Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen. Wandering the same cobblestone streets that inspired his most famous stories, I can easily picture Mr. Andersen at a courtyard table in Odense’s oldest and most beautiful restaurant, Den Gamle Kro, among the well-preserved, half-timbered 17th-century buildings. Anderson fans will rejoice at the brand new museum built at the playwright’s birthplace and childhood home, just a quarter of a mile away from Den Gamle Kro.

Or perhaps Hans’ would have enjoyed dinner in the iconic Oluf Bagers Gård, a former merchant’s house, built in 1586. The authentic Danish menu here includes a nine-course set menu, where each dish is presented more immaculately than the last.

Klosterkroen and crispy pork.

FOODIE DELIGHTS

The Danes are rightly proud of their literary icon.

Wandering the same cobblestone streets that inspired his most famous stories, I can easily picture Mr Andersen at a courtyard table in Odense’s oldest and most beautiful restaurant.

4. Shooting Stars in North Jutland

Stjerneskud translates to ‘shooting star’ – and one of the shooting stars of Danish cuisine it is. It is rye or white bread, stacked with a piece of fried Plaice AND a piece of boiled Plaice, topped with an impressive display of shrimp and finished off caviar farmed fresh from the Limfjord in North Jutland. Go to any of Denmark’s cute seaside towns, and you’ll find Stjerneskud easily enough.

One such harborside town is Aalborg, a city that not so long ago was found by the European Commission to have the best quality of life anywhere in Europe, with a number of thriving New Nordic restaurants such as Tabu perhaps one reason for this.

Jørn Utzon, architect of the Sydney Opera House, hails from Aalborg. The last building Utzon designed, the Utzon Center, displays contemporary exhibitions and has an on-site New Nordic restaurant which is worth visiting in its own right.

Aalborg's quaint harbor.

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5. Isle of Sweets

The Isle of Møn is a snapshot of the sweet life; rural farms, historic villages, and the breathtaking chalky cliffs of Møns Klint. I found the best view is from the beach, looking up at the 330 feet rocky precipice that stretches across the eastern coast of the island.

The arduous walk back up the cliff was made worth it when I reached Møn Is, the local dairy. This is the site of the famous Møn ice cream – a well-earned reward made from milk provided by the happy cows grazing next to the shop.

The sweetness continues in the quiet village of Stege, at Lene Evers Chokolade. Hidden away in an old prison, the local chocolatier crafts delights from the freshest local produce.

The famous ice cream of Møn.

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The Brackish waters of Denmark are home to all sorts of fresh, salty delights.

6. Take an Oyster Safari in South Jutland

The Wadden Sea Centre hosts oyster safaris with experienced guides that immerse you in the national environment.

As a foodie, I loved collecting Pacific and European flat oysters, and learning how to shuck and cook them with traditional Danish recipes. But as a nature lover, too, I got my share learning about the marine park where wildlife is in abundance, including playful looking seal colonies and an array of migratory birds. I finished the day with the fresh catch I procured prepared back at the restaurant, partnered with schnapps brewed from herbs found in the sea we’d just been on. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

Champagne, anyone?

7. The Smokehouses of Bornholm

Bornholm is the Baltic Beauty of Denmark, famous for its food since the Middle Ages. Peppered across the island is a mix of historic fortress ruins and thatched fishing villages, many with their own traditional røgeri (smokehouses). This is no hideaway outpost.

Every year, chefs from all around Denmark come together for a one-day cook-off for the absolute best Sol over Gudhjem, made from delicious and fresh local produce. The standard recipe is easy to make at home, but like most things, it is never quite the same as a visit to Bornholm for the local dish. Fortunately Bornholm is just a 40 minute flight from Copenhagen, making the real thing relatively accessible.

A chef preparing Sol over Gudhjem for the yearly competition held in Bornholm.

TASTE OF SCANDINAVIA

Recipe for

Sol over Gudhjem

(4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 smoked herrings
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 4 radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 4 fresh egg yolks
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 slices of rye bread (the darker, the better)
  • Chives (finely chopped for garnish)

Method

  1. Clean and peel the smoked herrings, removing the bones, heads, and tails
  2. Place the fillets on the rye bread
  3. Place a couple of red onion rings and a sliced radish on top of the herring
  4. Lightly pasteurize the egg yolks by cooking gently over a double boiler, allowing it to thicken slightly and be light in color. Spoon the egg yolk over the sandwich
  5. Scatter the chives over the top and garnish with salt and pepper as desired
  6. Best enjoyed with a knife and fork

Recipe for

Sol over Gudhjem

(4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 smoked herrings
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 4 radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 4 fresh egg yolks
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 slices of rye bread (the darker, the better)
  • Chives (finely chopped for garnish)

Method

  1. Clean and peel the smoked herrings, removing the bones, heads, and tails
  2. Place the fillets on the rye bread
  3. Place a couple of red onion rings and a sliced radish on top of the herring
  4. Lightly pasteurize the egg yolks by cooking gently over a double boiler, allowing it to thicken slightly and be light in color. Spoon the egg yolk over the sandwich
  5. Scatter the chives over the top and garnish with salt and pepper as desired
  6. Best enjoyed with a knife and fork

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