Sustainable Cuisine and Craft Come Together in Copenhagen
Like a phoenix from the ashes, Copenhagen Street Food has risen again. This time better than before and with a broader concept. More than just food carts in a warehouse, Reffen is striving to “hack the future” and create a space where sustainable cuisine, craft and culture can co-mingle.
Reffen is the reincarnation of the former Papirøen (“Paper Island”) warehouse on the Copenhagen canal chock full of old shipping containers turned food carts. Closed after four years and millions of visitors later, Copenhagen has been missing the unique and creative culinary offerings of the old Papirøen establishment. While other food markets have cropped up, including West Market in Vesterbro, the Tivoli Food Hall and the newly minted Bridge Street Market (Broens Gadekøkken) near the old Noma, none have quite the vibe of the old Copenhagen Street Food. Reffen is a little further afield than the original, but I believe worthy of the effort. Come see why you should check out Reffen in its newest iteration.
Authentic Americana and Apple Pie in the heart of Copenhagen
ALMOST TASTES LIKE HOME
Care to share a sweet slice of authentic Americana right in the middle of Copenhagen? It’s as easy as pie. Except that I had yet to try. Until yesterday, when I finally succumbed to step inside The American Pie Company in the center of the city, which has been charming locals and garnering nominations for the City’s Best (Byens Bedste) Awards since it flung open its button-cute café in 2015. What took me so long you might ask? Wouldn’t a nice piece of pumpkin, pecan or key lime pie be the perfect palliative for any potential bout of pining for home? Yer darn tootin’ it could be. However, I’ve resisted. Until now. Continue reading “A Sweet Slice of Nostalgia at The American Pie Company in Copenhagen”→
Ah Norway. The big brother of the Scandinavian siblings. To me, Norway is like the tall, athletic hulky older brother who braves Arctic temperatures and winters without light while running up mountains with kids on his back to all ski down; he believes that every problem can be solved simply by going outside.
In comparison, sweet tow-headed sister Sweden – she’s got flowers in her hair, shares her land but waves from a canoe as she paddles out to her archipelagos to forage for lingonberries in her cute clogs and colorful clothes.
Denmark is the moody little brother whose lands aren’t as large, but is still happy ’cause – you know, hygge – and he thinks his sibs aren’t quite as cool as he cruises by on a bike wearing skinny pants and fancy white trainers while sipping a locally roasted small batch coffee on the way to the latest craft beer release. (Ok, maybe that’s just the Copenhagen version.)
But Norway, he is rugged. It’s true. Norway is. Whether you think Norwegians are or not. The landscape here surges from the sea in stark sharp peaks and fierce fjords. And so much sea. In fact, Norway has more coastline than most countries in the world. Only 7 countries have more.¹ And 90% of all Norwegians live in places by the sea.² Think Vikings and hearty bearded fisherman. Or just people who eat fish. Lots and lots of fish.
Yep. You guessed it. Seafood is supreme in this coastal country. Now you sea it. Norway is actually the second largest exporter of seafood in the world.³ With their clean, clear waters and a sustainable population of migrating fish species, it is easy to see why. So naturally, the diet here is dominated by food plucked from the cold waters. Especially above the Arctic Circle. And you should try some. Here’s what and here’s why. Continue reading “Oh Dear Cod | Eat This Above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway”→
Ok. I always say that. And you should. There are really so many reasons and never a wrong season to see the compact Danish capital full of colorful culture and creative cuisine. Cuisine you say? Yes! I’m talking about tasting this town today. And there are some delicious options to dine on when visiting in the Danish capital.
All around the world, foodies know of Copenhagen’s New Nordic culinary scene. We have Michelin stars and forageable foodstuffs. But what if you didn’t nab a table at Noma or Geranium? And maybe wood ants on moss isn’t your thing. Maybe it is? Don’t knock it until you try it, I say.
And try things you should. If you are anything like me, you can agree that travel should include a tour through a city’s culinary culture. You like to see what a town can taste like. So especially if your time in a place is unfortunately limited, taking a tour can be the perfect way to see a side of a city that you might not know to seek out.
TRY A SIGHTSEEING AND FOOD TOUR WITH NOVA FAIRY TALES
I was recently invited to come along on a sightseeing and food tour of Copenhagen with Nova Fairy Tales. With so much good food and so many options here in the Danish capital, I was curious to see how they would showcase all the options. While I was a guest of Nova Fairy Tales, as always all opinions are my own. And before you misconstrue, this was not a tour of Michelin rankings. But it was unique and delicious and sustainable too. All things I can get behind and definitively support. So let’s start. Rev up those taste buds, we’re off to eat Copenhagen.
There is no better way to begin any exploration of Copenhagen than with its distinctive food and drinks. Our food tour combines sightseeing with delectable food tasting and is a fun way to explore wonderful Copenhagen.”
– Nova Fairy Tales
A | Start in the Center of Copenhagen
Købmagergade 52, 1150 København K
To begin our 4-hour tour, we meet up in the middle of the inner city at the Studenterhuset right near the Round Tower (Rundtårn). Our group is cozy today and includes our enthusiastic guide, me and a couple visiting from Sydney, Australia. We are lucky with the weather and enjoy bright blue skies, but tours go rain or shine. Bring along an umbrella if conditions look iffy. And in Denmark, it can often be iffy. Layers are key. Don’t worry too much, as the stops are cozy enough that the time spent between them won’t feel too long.
NOTE: For each stop on the tour, I will share what we tasted and a cost to procure on your own if available. A map at the end of the post shows our route.
As we stroll down central Købmagergade towards the big open plaza at Kultorvet, we are reminded to look up at the beautiful old architecture that still makes Copenhagen so colorful. Our guide points out the old telephone kiosk that has been transformed into a coffee shop on the square. We’ll find several more before the afternoon is over. A unique and quirky part of the capital’s history that has been incorporated into modern Danish lifestyles and food scene. But, this isn’t our stop.
Soon, around the corner, we come to the place for our first tastes of the city. This is Osten ved Kultorvet. The Cheese at Kultorvet. This is Demark’s very first organic cheese shop. Here, we meet cheesemonger Mikael “Ost” Henriksen.
Ost means cheese in Danish, maybe that you’d already gleaned. Mikael Ost has been purveying organic cheese here since 2008 and has a real passion for the products on offer in this little shop. There is cheese from all over Europe, but today, we’re focusing on Danish cheese.
I will admit that before meeting Mikael I didn’t know that much about Danish cheese. To be honest, I just didn’t think it was that great. After 30 minutes here at Osten ved Kultorvet, I stand corrected. It can be delicious if done right. And these cheeses are done right. We tried traditional Danbo and Daneblå and others as we listened about the importance of sustainable farming and organic cows.
Mikael then shared a special cheese that comes from cows that eat the salty grasses along the Danish west coast in Jutland. The salt flavor comes out in the milk used to make this cheese, which is then cured in an old lighthouse no longer in use. Called Fyrmester (Lighthouse Keeper), I loved this crumbly cheese the best. It was unique and delicious and completely unexpected.
Mikael himself is as much part of the tour as the samples of cheese and it is a real treat to meet a true Dane. He is charming and cheeky and it is enjoyable to hear him tell stories about how the cheeses are made. I believe him when he claims his cheeses are better than grocery store options and now I know how to enjoy them. Cheers to the best Danish cheese.
TASTES: 6-8 organic Danish cheeses. COST: Depends
C | Enjoy a Traditional Danish Lunch of Open-Faced Sandwiches
From our Danish cheese starter, we now head to a real Danish lunch. This is a classisk. That’s Danish for classic. It’s traditional smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches that you can’t leave Denmark without trying. Literally translated as buttered bread, smørrebrød is served on a chewy dense rye bread called rugbrød, and can come with a variety of toppings. Today we’ll try two of the most popular. I’m a big fan of this dish, but haven’t eaten them here.
We step down below the street into Pilekælderen’s basement and take our seats at a table set up for us ready and waiting. It is small and cozy and soon gets crowded with locals ready for lunch. Our first plate comes with a basket of sliced rugbrød and butter, plus a plate of curry marinated herrings, remoulade, red onions, capers and boiled egg. So very Danish. Don’t think you like herring? At least take a taste. I love it, but some don’t. Our guide encourages us all to try it and see. Herrings are classisk in Danish cuisine.
Here at Pilekælderen, everything is house-made, including their bread. It’s warm and fresh and just the right chewy and the perfect base for the smørrebrød, which you eat with a knife and fork and not with your hands. Our next dish arrives with small Danish meatballs called frikadeller, served with a tangy pickled red cabbage and cucumber. I prefer the fish and probably wouldn’t have ordered the meatballs on my own, but appreciate the variety and the traditional Danish option. We wash it all down with a small glass of snaps or akvavit – a strong clear alcoholic beverage popular around Scandinavia. Pilekælderen may not be a den of Danish minimalist design, but it does offer classic Danish cuisine done right.
TASTE: Two kinds of Danish smørrebrød and glass of snaps. COST: approx 200 DKK
Full of lunch and a little buzzy from the red Aalborg snaps, we make our way to Kongens Nytorv in the heart of the city. Ahead is Nyhavn, that colorful canal, but we’re turning left to seek out some sweets. Before we can cross, we’re stopped by the crisp steps of the Royal Danish Guard. Making their way from the Amalienborg Palace back to their base at the Rosenborg Slot. We watch as they turn the corner at Kongens Nytorv and hear their drums beat and the bright brass horns bleat. Even after three years here, I still love all the pomp and even the circumstance. As a tourist, it has to be a treat. Seeing the sweet scene sets us up for the next stop. Hold on, we’re going to sample chocolate!
Who makes the best chocolate in the world? The Swiss? The Belgians? How about the Danes? One Dane, in particular, dares to you put Danish chokolade – chocolate – at the top of your list. Our stop at the Store Kongensgade outlet of Peter Beier made me a believer. Know I already knew that Danish chocolate was worthy of accolades, but I didn’t know how much attention to detail went into its production.
We sit and are offered a tiny taste of chocolate from our white-gloved guide and learn that Peter Beier is a serious master of chocolate. As the little tangy bit of dark chocolate melts in my mouth, I can’t help but agree. We discover that he studied in England, France, Belgium and Spain learning techniques and tricks from the best chocolatiers in Europe. At 22, Peter became the head chocolatier for Magasin du Nord, Copenhagen’s oldest and most prestigious department store. After 7 years there, Peter decided he wanted more control over his chocolate and founded the company with his name in 1996.
Now, the company owns a cocoa plantation in the Dominican Republic and works with growers all the world over. Strict attention to detail and sustainable production practices makes this chocolate not only delicious but good for the environment too. From his farms to your table, you can feel good enjoying a piece (or two or more?!) of Peter Beier Chokolade.
TASTE: World of chocolate samples, Saaz Blonde Beer Truffle, Classic Nougat Pyramid, Licorice Truffle COST: Depends
From choice chocolate to a popular pølser, we stroll down the Strøget – the longest pedestrian walking street in Europe. Chock full of stores for every shopper’s delight – put away your pocketbooks, we’re headed for hot dogs.
Ok – now you may not instantly think of hot dogs when you hear the word Copenhagen. But if you live here you know. Pølsevogn or sausage carts are on literally every corner in the capital. A quick and communal lunch, they are not always the most healthy. Enter Den Okologiske Pølsemand. The “organic sausage man.” DØP, for short, offers a unique and healthier version of typical Danish fast food.
Here, you can choose a gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan option for your hot dog du jour. Buns are house-made and whole grain. Too many options? Try the people’s favorite – the classisk ristet hotdog. A roasted pork dog with all the toppings – ketchup, coarse mustard, that oh-so-Danish-sauce remoulade, fresh onions, fried onions and pickles. It’s pølser perfection. Like your dog a little more minimalist? No worries – they can do that too. Try the fransk dog. This is my kids fave. A long dog that peeks out above a wrap-around bun. Want it plain Jane? Ask for it without the french dressing or ketchup.
I love that all the products are served in biodegradable or recyclable packages. Sustainable AND delicious. Two locations in town to serve, but we stopped at the wagon that sits on the Strøget. A perfect snack to keep up with your retail therapy. But we’re not shopping yet, we’ve got one last stop on the tour.
TASTE: Traditional Danish Hot Dog COST: 36 DKK + Bottle of water 25 DKK
Home to self-proclaimed best beer in the world, Carlsberg dominates the brews in the bulk of this city. Every restaurant will serve something Carlsberg or Tuborg from their taps. And while I will admit that I enjoy a cold Tuborg Classisk straight from the keg on occasion, true brew aficionados will tell you that there is a powerful craft beer scene here in this town.
For our last stop, we head to the courtyard at Brewpub København for a flight of their house brewed craft beers. Our server slides us each five tasters to test and tells us a bit about each of the brews. From pilsner to porter and IPA in between, we sip and we sample. Sitting outside in Brewpub’s courtyard is a perfect place to end a quite Copenhagen food tour this summer. But, if beer is really your thing, try a Nova Fairy Tales Beer Tour and explore some other purveyors of more premium hops.
TASTE: Flight of house-made craft beers COST: 96 DKK
From here you are allowed to linger. Enjoy the afternoon over a pint of IPA. Or walk back to the beginning, full and content that you’ve tasted the town. And hopefully learned a little about delicious Danish food culture amidst the iconic scenery of the old town.
Nova Fairy Tales | Copenhagen Small Group Food Tour and Sightseeing
Duration: 4 Hours Start Time: 11:00 AM Cost: 825 DKK or €110 per person Walking ability: Average fitness levels and comfortable shoes recommended Group Size: Max 10 people Book online here:Nova Fairy Tales
All Tours are in English and run rain or shine.
I was a guest of Nova Fairy Tales for the 4 hour Small-Group Food Tour.
As always all opinions are my own.
Coming to Copenhagen soon? Or know someone who is? Save it for later or share it with them now! Cheers from Denmark, Erin