Thursday, December 13, 2012


Copenhagen of late is best known for its New Nordic cuisine and ‘Noma’ voted the world’s No 1 restaurant for the past two years in a row, which is creating a buzz across the world! That said, before Chef Rene Redzepi made foraging haute and served ants as a starter, the city’s restaurant scene boasts of many Michelin stars and is also home to serving Innovative and top class cuisine , making it one of the most exciting culinary destinations.


Smorrebrod galore
What caught my fancy were the gorgeously decorated open faced sandwiches called ‘smorrebrod’. Interestingly it dates back to the 19th century, when the city’s elite spruced up the traditional working class lunch. Basically it is a dark, sourdough based rye bread smeared with creamy butter and hidden under toppings of your choice. Toppings run the gamut from eel, boiled eggs, and chives to combinations of avocado, roast beef and mustard. There are endless varieties and all look beautiful and taste creamy and crunchy. As for me, I checked out ‘Told & Snaps’ which I was told has one of the largest selections in the city and true enough not only there was a huge variety but they were innovative, fresh and superlative. My vote goes all out to the curried herring, and roast belly of pork with red cabbage...Simply divine! One can have them with wine, but as this is true local cuisine I paired with ‘Snaps’ aka Danish grain alcohol. The panelled walls and gilt framed pictures made for perfect setting for a memorable lunch.


Air quality encourages walking, so that’s exactly what I did, through ‘Hojbro Plads’ with its many outdoor cafes surrounding the famous Stork Fountain moving on to the colourful and touristy ‘Nyhavn’ which is also known to be the longest bar in Europe. I couldn’t help but admire the colourful 18th century houses, hotels and restaurants reflected in the canal below. The cafes are on the side of the colourful buildings so when I sipped my cuppa I was a part of the scenic view too. The area buzzed with tourists, sipping their drinks and enjoying Danish food. I could see locals get takeaway food and sit on the edge of the canal looking back to enjoy the view.


When I first heard of New Nordic Cuisine, pickled fish, potatoes and meat balls in Gravy came to my mind, but if you are dining at Noma’ think again, it’s much more than that. Using local, seasonal produce in innovative ways is the cuisine all about. No more olives, oranges, exotic fruits etc. instead attention is given to musk ox, fruit and water from Greenland, cod -fish, lamb, sea-weed and wild berries from Iceland and herbs from Danish forest beaches and so on. At the summer Olympics, Chef Rene Redzepi caused a stir by serving live, lemongrass-flavoured ants at his London pop-up.
Chef Rene Redzepi
This vision proved successful indeed as ‘Noma’ today is the best restaurant in the world as per the Michelin guide. While walking outside ‘Noma’ I found a standalone houseboat where I was told by some locals that young, enthusiastic cooks and academics spend their days experimenting with things like seaweed, pine needles, lichens and insects and they are happy to share their findings with anyone who’s interested. One of the protagonists of the New Nordic Movement is also Claus Meyer; his restaurant ‘Radio’ has earned rave reviews as well. Other restaurants worth trying are ‘Relae’ and ‘Manfreds & Vin’ on the hip jaegers brigades and ‘AOC’ situated on Kongens Nytorv. All in all the New Nordic is a movement driven by two terms local and healthy, which can get tricky when the growing season is just June to August. Hence the ocean takes on added importance, as do wild game, root vegetables and cold-climate berries.

popular street food

My actual mission for the day was to eat some ‘herring’, one of the great delicacies of Denmark. Basically they take a preserved herring out of a barrel, slice it, take out the bones and cut off the head, very tasty, though these stalls always seem to be so crowded that it takes a while to get your herring cut up. I had mine with gherkins and onions…it was decadent to the core. ‘Hotdogs’ on the streets are still quite popular, being a takeaway style rooted in Danish culinary tradition. The polser aka sausages are quintessentially Danish and polser wagons are peppered around the city, making it uber convenient to grab and go a snack. The hot dog sausage is steamed, then grilled and the bread made from leaven and rye is warmed in either an oven or a toaster. And I said yes to everything the vendor asked including raw onions, fried onions, ketchup, cucumber salad, mustard and even remoulade, in one word wow!  I also came across many ‘pancake’ stalls, hot sellers being sugar and butter, though I would recommend the one with ham & cheese or if you have a sweet tooth try the one with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Best Way to Reach- Emirates has a direct flight to Copenhagen via Dubai. It is the cheapest and the quickest way to reach from India. A good idea is also to stop at Dubai enroute to make the most of your trip. Fares may vary; check on while making a booking.
Visa & Currency- Indians require a Schengen Visa to enter Copenhagen and the currency used is the Danish Krone and 1 DK equals to approx. 10 INR.
Dialect- Danish is the predominant language, while English is widely spoken.
Best way to Move around- The most efficient way to move around is by foot or a bicycle. The city is completely flat and has an impressive network of cycle paths and dedicated bicycle traffic lights.
Best Place to Stay- Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, a premier designer hotel is ideally located across from the city’s main train station, and is a short stroll away to the Tivoli Gardens and Stroget shopping district. Hammerichsgade 1
Copenhagen, V DK-1611 Denmark. Tel: +45 3342 6000
Must Try- Kiin Kiin, the World’s only Michelin starred Thai Restaurant.

published in TLF