Copenhagen Cravings

Sunday, January 19, 2014

As a hopeless food fanatic, coming to Copenhagen was a joy but also a bit of sweet torture. If you're food-obsessed like I am and nurture a dream of coming to the city of Noma to gorge on inventive, foraged goodness, take this lesson from me: Make your reservations before buying the plane ticket. By the time I decided to add Copenhagen to last summer's Europe hit list, Noma and the restaurants nipping at its heels were booked solid. I had to bid my fevered foraged food dreams, "Farvel."

I consider this failure only slightly heartbreaking because, it turns out, there's more than enough good stuff to go around in Copenhagen. From the eye candy that is Nyhavn at sunset (as seen above) to the plethora of yummy underneath Torvehallerne's roof (as seen below), Copenhagen can keep many of your appetites sated.

I all but pitched a tent and lived at Torvehallerne during my visit. Torvehallerne is an upscale covered market in the midst of the Danish capital, which offers all manner of things delicious: organic produce, fresh fish and butchered meats; smørrebrød and pintxos; shops specializing in everything from olive oil to fudge to licorice ... I could go on and on. And all of it done in tasteful, modern Danish style, to boot.
I took every opportunity to feast at Hallernes Smørrebrød, a stall specializing in the traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. For my intro to Danish cuisine, I had a beautiful pickled herring and egg smørrebrød to sample that culinary holdover from the Viking era. The Scandinavian love for herring has long tickled me pink since we tropical creatures several temperature degrees and time zones over share the passion for herring (a.k.a. tuyo to Filipinos). Our version is dried, fried and dipped in spicy vinegar then eaten with a generous heap of garlic fried rice and a fried egg (Did I mention it all has to be fried?). While I very much enjoyed the Danish preparation, I'm Asian and rice is rice my friends ... I also had to try a smørrebrød topped with bacon as our Danish friend assured me their bacon is quite stellar. My bacon smørrebrød was indeed delicious ... then again, I've never encountered a piece of bacon I didn't love!
Every day I spent in Copenhagen was marked by at least one cappuccino at Coffee Collective, also conveniently located at Torvehallerne. The modern minimalist bar serves them potent and pretty much perfect. I also felt quite at home there as my go-to coffee spot near work in New York, Pennylane, is supposedly inspired by this joint.
As a sister and cousin to avowed Paleomaniacs, I also felt it was my duty to have a meal at Paleo, which is completely inspired by and truthful to the Paleo (a.k.a. caveman) diet. While the meal lacked the heart palpitations I've grown accustomed to, I did enjoy the salmon wrap, which was encased in an omelette and tucked with rocket, tomatoes and avocado, and the red grape, red pepper and ginger juice. What's for dessert you ask? Kettlebell swings, naturally.
In between meals, I caught up with friends living in and visiting Copenhagen—and even got in quite a bit of sight-seeing. A quick way of getting to know the city is to hop on a boat tour at Nyhavn. It's a great vantage point for seeing the city's lovely architecture, which ranges from Gothic to that distinctive Scandinavian modern. As a nice little bonus, we also got to see the royal yacht, which was an impressive sight, indeed.
I even spent a morning wandering through Freetown Christiania, a commune established in 1971 and still going strong. It's best known for Pusher Street, which peddles an impressive array of hashish (take pictures at your own risk). Where Christiania was once an enclave of hippies and artists, the populace seemed to me (and to this Vanity Fair writer) more of the motorbike gang variety. Still, it was quite a sight and a definite must-see when in Copenhagen.
If you're feeling rebellious, you could partake of Freetown Christiania's wares. And when the inevitable munchies hit, let's just say I have a few ideas on where you could go with that appetite ...

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