Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a place for dreamers, a city of inspiration that gives you the feeling that everything is possible. It can be inspiring but both intimidating – facing so many opportunities. It is a city of innovations and initiatives in different fields including food.
Food in Denmark on its basics is pretty straightforward, as most of the Danish culture, the Danish design, and the Danish philosophy. Based on Hygge, the Danish idea of wellbeing that is talking about the quality of presence and experience of belonging and togetherness. Of being warm, safe, comfortable and sheltered. Those qualities are achieved by simple means as sharing a meal together.
Take the typical lunch of Smørrebrød as an example – the famous Nordic open sandwich. If you think about it, it is a sandwich, but made with amazing creativity and precision. The most traditional ones are either made with potatoes and mayonnaise or with the most Danish fish, the herring, laying on a piece of rye bread – both beautiful and delicious. They are prepared in advance so everyone can sit together and enjoy the meal in comfort.
“Both hygee and the Nordic cuisine situates us in time and place. The food expresses a land or terroir on a plate, and hygee pulls us into the flavor of the present moment” (from the book of Hygee, the Danish art of living well by Louisa Thomsen Brits).
Talking about the Nordic cuisine, we must acknowledge Noma, as it is one of the reasons that brought the city of Copenhagen to the worlds food map. It is for sure an essential point in the renewal of the Nordic cuisine and a vital point for the change we are facing in the culinary world – talking about locality and seasonality.
One of the innovations that we met on this visit was a foraging app. Foraging in Copenhagen is much more than a romantic idea. After Noma introduced it to the world, the foraging fever took over the citizens of Copenhagen. Coming back to the origins, eating seasonal and local food and rebuilding the connection to the territory. Growing up in a city I never had the confidence of peaking wild plants directly from the ground (maybe watching “Into the wild” was a bit too traumatic for me….) but following the guys of the city foraging app, revealing to us wild edible plants under our noses was incredible. (Noma also released a foraging app recently to help people cook with wild herbs).
The movement of the Natural wines in Copenhagen is beautifully adopting both the Danish simplicity and the Nordic Food movement towards natural products. Natural wines are a bit weird and funky but if you find the right one you can really fall in love. Natural wines are wines that are made without any additives and with as less intervention possible, usually made from organic or biodynamic grapes using wild fermentation and traditional methods. It is an alternative movement to the closed club of conventional winemaking, a trend that is widely spreading around the world (read more at this excellent article by the Guardian).
One of the visits that left the most definite impression on me was – Kukkula Farm. This little piece of heaven is located just outside of Copenhagen. Established by Edith Salminen, a UNISG Alumni, food writer, gastronomic science academic, pop-up cook, consultant and research intern at Nordic Food Lab, and Mathias Skovmand-Larsen, wine importer and sommelier.
Not only that nature here is outstanding; we had the chance to prepare together a fantastic dinner from entirely fresh ingredients. Walking around the fields and hills of Kukkula we discovered that the guys have a beautiful vineyard and later this year, we heard that they made successful bottles of wine out of it. Apart from the fresh vegetables, this magical piece of nature is shared with a bunch of pigs that spend most of their time either eating or wallowing in the mud.
What to do in Copenhagen in 10 steps.
- First, rent a bike – it is the best transportation around.
2. Have dinner at Manfred’s – seasonal menu, natural wines and amazing tartare.
3. Have breakfast at BROD bakery – Start your day like a local.
4. Try the best Tacos in town made by Rosio Sanchez from Noma at Hija de Sanchez. Locates in the old meat district of Copenhagen which became a very alive food district, full of restaurants and bars.
5. Shopping and brunch at the most packed food market in the city – Tovehallerne Market, Coffee is excellent here but don’t miss the fish and chips.
6. Spend an evening at Gardenenoggaden, try their amazing natural wines and food.
7. Visit Groed, before trying it I was also not a fan of porridge, but after trying their menu, I definitely changed my mind.
8. If you are a beer fan you for sure heard about Mikkeller, being one of the best breweries in the world, so when the Danish Mikkeller and the American brewery 3 Floyds join their forces to make beer – the result is beautiful. It is a great brewpub with extraordinary beers and extra meaty dinner – Warpigs.
9. If you get the chance to visit this wonderful rooftop farm and maybe even dine in their restaurant, it’s definitely worth the trouble. OSTERGRO is an amazing rooftop garden that has a small restaurant in the middle of it open for special events and occasions.
10. Grab a glass of wine and chill on the canal at Ved Stranden 10 Vinhandel & Bar.