We're fortunate to have great friends in different parts of the world. It's sad for obvious reasons that we can't see them often. But it's awesome that we have these connections that expose us to different foods, cultures, and traditions in an intimate level whenever we go visit them.
Last October, we decided to do a European friends tour and visited 4 places. Copenhagen Denmark, Vorarlberg Austria, Bern Switzerland, and Barcelona Spain.
Our first stop was Copenhagen. We have been to most of the major cities in Europe except Copenhagen and as it turns out, its a good thing we waited. Our good Danish friends Inger and Per just moved back to Denmark from Chicago and were waiting for us to show off their city. Here are some of the food highlights.
The first night we arrived, we were presented with these beautiful Danish open-faced sandwiches, brought in from their favorite local place Aamanns. The typical open-faced sandwiches are made with whole-grain rye bread topped with cold steak, shrimp, smoked salmon, caviar, hard boiled eggs, herring, fish fillets, liver pate etc. The toppings we had were raw fish, mushrooms, red bell peppers, raw beef with variety of veggies, very colorful and elegantly arranged, but most importantly it was very yummy and healthy! I'm so glad that they have a second restaurant in New York, which is much closer to us than Copenhagen. Just one more fabulous place to go when we are in NY!
I think you can easily say the Danish open-faced sandwiches and Sushi share many common threads. They are served as individual pieces. The fish, meat, veggies are placed on a piece of bread or on a ball of rice. They are both served in a colorful and artistic manner. Here is a good example of how The Royal Cafe created "Smushi" combining both of the elements from Sushi and open faced sandwiches. This popular cafe in Stroget (major shopping/restaurant area) is decorated in funky baroque style and they call themselves "mini danish castle" and is a must lunch place in Copenhagen.
We stopped at an Organic hot dog stand Hanegal one day in the middle Stroget, also just a few steps away from the Royal Cafe. Coming from Chicago, known for the famous char-grilled Hot Dogs, Carlos and I were tough critics.The verdict, we liked them equally! The best way to describe this Danish hot dog would be to call it a gourmet version of an American hot dog, and healthy one at that. It's the brainchild of Claus Christensen, who while studying nutrition, came up with the idea of making an organic alternative to fast food. Since the stand opened 3 years ago, it's been a great success and known as one of the best Danish hotdogs in Copenhagen.
We all need a little rest with a cup of coffee/tea between all of the eating, sightseeing, and shopping. Cafe Paludan is a perfect spot if you are in Stroget (Copenhagen Center). With the balcony on the second floor and walls covered with books from the floor to ceiling, you can feel quite at home.
Torvehallerne Open Market: We love open markets! I must, and make it a point to visit one whenever I'm in a new city. This is a Copenhagen's version of La Boqueria in Barcelona. Much quieter, a little bit more high-end food with a modern structure but both places are equally fun and exciting. They have everything here as any good open market should. Bakeries, coffee shops, wine shops, french duck sandwiches, sea food, etc from 80+ vendors .... all fresh with qualities that we all appreciate.
Madklubben Restaurant in Tivoli:
Tivoli (which has been in the same location for over 100 years) is one of the most popular hang outs in Copenhagen, especially if you have children. It was around Halloween time when we visited and the entire Tivoli was decorated with pumpkins. I don't think I have seen that many pumpkins in one area before. Tivoli is a garden/play ground/theme park, basically the Danish version of mini Disney World. I was surprised to see so many good restaurants in the park. One of them we tried was Madklubben. Modern casual Danish food with reasonable prices.
Sticks N Sushi (11 locations in Copenhagen, 1 in London ):
Most people have low opinions of chain restaurants (and sometimes rightfully so) but there are plenty of exceptions. We loved Sticks N Sushi in Copenhagen. The name comes from Sticks: skewered and grilled meat on sticks and sushi. Those two types are the only thing they serve. We loved Sticks here but please pass the sushi if you are a sushi snob like me.
This restaurant is in Klampenborg just north of Copenhagen and its entire interior is dedicated to Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen back in the 1930. It's by the sea and is a great place for lunch. They do traditional Danish dishes with a modern twist. The "fiskefrikadeller" (fish cakes) with homemade rye bread were outstanding. Unfortunately we heard that the restaurant has closed since we dined there. It always makes me sad seeing any business disappear after many years but I'm glad that we were able experience the food and the place.
It was lovely seeing you Copenhagen!
P.S. Be sure to climb up the outside of the corkscrew spire on the top of the Church of Our Saviour. I think this is my favorite catholic church from all the ones I have seen in Europe because of it's simplicity and elegance. It seems the Scandinavian design had already been differentiated even back then. It's not that I don't appreciate the other amazing cathedrals with their massive scale and details, its just that this church appeals to me in a personal way.