Yes, we’re back! Well…we’ve been back. But as tends to be the case when you return from a glorious vacation of not looking at any to-do lists, the to-dos pile up, and Jen and I have been rather swamped.
But I figured what better way to return (and earn your forgiveness) by starting out telling you about all the magnificent food we ate! What is a Hashtag Jetlag post without appropriate food worship? Let’s start with Copenhagen, the first half of our Scandinavian jaunt.
I figured we’d have lots of seafood on our trip, knowing fish is a staple of Nordic cuisine. I also know that Copenhagen is home to one of the literal BEST restaurants in the world, noma, where Rene Redzepi transformed Scandinavian cuisine by making the most of what grows and lives in and around Copenhagen.
What I wasn’t expecting was how much noma has led the rest of the scene in really stepping up its game. Jen and I can’t afford noma (maybe one day someone will sponsor this blog), but I feel like we still benefited from its excellence.
The other thing I wasn’t expecting was how clean and healthy that food is. Despite recently sticking to an antiinflammatory diet (more or less), I ate absolutely everything I wanted — baked goods, dairy, cocktails — because who knows when I’ll be back, and I STILL felt the best I’ve felt in a long time. Scandinavia has been on the all-organic, non-GMO, clean eating train for way longer than we have, and they’ve really figured it out. None of it tastes like health food.
Jen and I took an overnight on Norwegian, which I have to say, offers the second most garbage meals you can get on an airplane even though you have to pay for your meals separately. (Read about the worst airplane meal award here.)
Anyway, by the time we got to our hotel in Copenhagen’s touristy Nyhavn area, it was around 2 p.m., and we were ravenous. We asked the front desk at the hotel for recommendations, and we were sent to Havfruen around the corner in what is arguably the most picturesque spot in Copenhagen.
Jen opted for mussels and fries, and I tried the Danish smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwiches. These come on some dense, super-healthy brown bread, and the ones I got at Havfruen gave me herring three ways — pickled, fried, and curried. One was more delicious than the next.
We fueled up for a full day of sight-seeing and Scandinavian shopping at Café Norden, which conveniently sits on the Strøget (appropriately pronounced stroll). This street is the main shopping drag, and Café Norden was a perfect cozy spot for us to fuel up on a rainy morning.
As you can see, our iced coffee came in GOBLETS with complimentary ginger snap cookies. Nice touch. Jen and I split our first Danish danish, and then we each got the most beautiful avocado toast I’ve ever seen. Extra healthy too, on that hearty bread and smothered with seeds.
Jen cites Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona as having given her the best meal she’s ever had, and my all-time favorite was the sushi I had at Kyubey in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, but it is possible our first Copenhagen dinner at Høst may have toppled these meals’ reigns at the top.
From the beginning when the waiter came out with a VAT OF FRESH BUTTER, scooped some of it out onto a cold stone for us to eat with our freshly baked bread, I knew we were in for an amazing meal. Although it was a five-course tasting menu, we were treated to “surprise” courses throughout, and each was better than the one before it.
The combinations were totally new to me — witch flounder with fried chicken skin and fermented asparagus sauce, Norwegian lobster in a juniper pancake, raspberry sorbet served atop a brown cheese crème brûlée with crispy caramel on top. My favorite was one of the surprise courses that came before dessert, a sour cream smothered in something involving beer with freeze-dried raspberries on top.
And by the way, that one dish that looks like a pile of dirt (top middle)? That’s one of Jen’s vegetarian alternatives and the dirt is a pile of fucking TRUFFLE shavings! They do NOT skimp on truffles in Copenhagen (or Stockholm for that matter, as we learned later).
The best part? While the meal wasn’t exactly what I would want to spend on an average Friday night, compared to high-end tasting menu restaurants in the States, it was a fucking steal — roughly $70 post-exchange rate.
Sometime after doing some shopping and sight-seeing after our breakfast at Café Norden (yes, I’m going wildly out of order, but that’s not really the important thing here), we stopped for a break at Sonny, a perfect little cafe. Jen had a parfait and I had lox — excuse me, smoked salmon — with crème fraîche and greens on a freshly baked English muffin (though I guess it isn’t called an English muffin there…?). I also had a raspberry lemon spritzer because the raspberries in Copenhagen were poppin’.
Admittedly, my pictures of Torvehallerne do not do it justice, but like all of our favorite food halls, from Mercado de San Miguel to Time Out Market Lisboa, Torvehallerne delivered.
We had a late dinner reservation and somehow found ourselves hungry that rainy afternoon following Café Norden and Sonny. What are two jetlag hags to do? Welp, we perused the two (!) Torvehallerne buildings and settled on a fresh cheese board with local beer at Omegn, as one does.
Our second dinner was at Spisestedet Feed. Do not ask me how to pronounce that. Definitely don’t ask Jen how to pronounce that. The cocktails here were awesome, Jen had fish and I had duck. I ordered the price fixe because ceviche was one of the options. This is where I began to suspect that the Danish don’t understand ceviche. Or maybe American’s don’t, because this was not what I’ve come to expect when ordering ceviche, but nevertheless, it was tasty.
But the toffee bread pudding we split for dessert blew everything else away. And let’s be honest, toffee bread pudding? With bombass ice cream made from that Danish dairy? How could this dessert NOT take the cake?
In both Copenhagen and Stockholm, we witnessed restaurants being verrrry careful about how many people they let in without reservations. There is no waiting around for a table in these cities. If there IS a table available, you’re told you need to be out by a certain time. Such was the case with Restaurant Pluto, the one dinner we had that was not with a reservation.
TBH, the waitress stressed me the fuck out. Like everyone else in Copenhagen, she was perfectly friendly, nice, and polite, but I dunno, maybe she just doesn’t know how fast we can eat and assumed we needed to make choices quickly, as if we don’t inhale delicious food on the reg.
Restaurant Pluto is tapas style, so we split a bunch of food, and I didn’t have to worry if we were pushed into making the wrong choices because it was all good. Yet here again you can see (second from left) that the “ceviche” was something totally different than what I had at Spisestedet and something different yet than what I am used to at home. Still yummy.
CAFÉ BLÅ TIME
In supporting my marathon training, Jen agreed to go on a run with me in each city. Ever the planner, she plotted out routes for us and our route in Copenhagen ended at the Blue Time Cafe. There, we met Moshe a fellow J who owns the cafe and has decorated it with some of the most charming, welcoming art I’ve ever seen. (Click on each image to enlarge if you want to read.)
Yeah, I bought a hot dog as a snack.
The thing is, apparently hot dogs are a real THING in Copenhagen, and I didn’t want to miss out. Because of timing, I DID miss out on DØP, the “best hot dog in the world” due to its organic, healthy…um, content? But I did grab one on the way back to our hotel in Nyhavn.
I have no idea what was on it because I just told the guy to give me his favorite kind and he didn’t speak enough English to explain it to me, but it was different than the hot dogs I am used to, and it was pretty delightful.
Our last dinner in Copenhagen was at 108 in Christianshavn, sister restaurant to noma! It is not as expensive as noma, nor is it as hard to get a reservation. However, it was still expensive, and the dishes were somewhat hit or miss, TBH (especially in light of the grand slam that was Høst.
But we could see the foraging influence in the fried, truffle-dusted mushrooms (which are not photogenic, but were probably the best dish), the, um, foliage in our lobster in raspberry sauce, and my tiny tartar tacos served in perfect little leaves.
So…was this an adequate welcome back present from us to you? Have you been to Copenhagen? More importantly…have you been to noma?!
More Scandinavia to come!