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. Continue reading “Come taste Copenhagen on a Food Tour”→
I adore French macarons. Those pretty, crunchy, chewy ganache filled little round cookies that people line sidewalks in Paris to procure. If you love Ladurée but live in Copenhagen, you are in luck. You can learn to make them yourself. From a French pastry master. Frédéric Terrible has been creating and cooking delightful French desserts in the Danish capital for over twenty years. He runs the Terrible French Pastry School in Frederiksberg.
I recently spent a not-terrible-at-all afternoon learning tips and tricks about the tasty treats with a group of friends. Frédéric has a lovely light filled space on a quiet street off Gammel Kongevej and can host your group outing easily. Birthday party? Bachelorette party? Team-building? Oui oui! Don’t have a group? No problem. Regularly scheduled classes allow for individual participation as well.
Think macarons are hard work? Not under the master’s close supervision. Frédéric breaks down the process and gives you all the tools to succeed. We used an Italian meringue recipe in this class, as it is more lenient and easier for us newbies to work with than the traditional French version, Frédéric explained. We worked in teams of two to boil the sugar to just the right temperature and then carefully add it to the whipping egg whites for our meringues. This glossy white mixture was then added to an almond flour base and blended by hand to the perfect consistency. Not too little, not too much.
After watching the technique demonstrated for us, we piped in pairs, filling our trays in a variety of colored batters. Once in the oven, we watched and we waited for the cookies to rise. Do they have a “foot” asks Frédéric? Yes? Oui! Then adjust the temp and time for a break. As the cookies finished baking, we enjoyed coffee, tea and (of course) macarons in a separate party room set up for our group.
Once cooled, we popped the pieces off the paper and got them ready for filling. Today we took a condensed version of the class and did not make the ganache centers ourselves. Frédéric had already prepared a variety of flavors for us to fill. He quickly shared his process and preference for all-natural ingredients. We used salted caramel, raspberry, coffee, chocolate and of course – licorice – this class IS in Denmark. Once full, they get five minutes in the freezer to set the cookies for travel. We get to pack a mixed box to take home.
Other pastry class options, as well as the full macaron lesson including the ganache filling, can be found at Frederic’s site online. He offers classes for children, but suggests that they work best for ages 8 and older.
When I say porridge – you say? Grød! No, no, no. Not grod. Grød. Listen.
When I say porridge – you say? Grød! At least the Danes do. Grød is porridge. To me, the word porridge conjures up visions of huge kettles of oatmeal that has been sitting out way too long at the breakfast buffet of your hotel when on a long weekend away with your son’s lacrosse team. Oh sorry. Just me? Maybe the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? I always steer clear. Of the “porridge.” Goopy. Soupy. Snotty. Oatmeal. Don’t get me wrong. I love oatmeal. But it isn’t porridge to me. It is oatmeal. And that stuff in the kettle? That is not oatmeal.
Here the Danes love porridge. Specifically risengrød. Rice porridge. When presented with new foods, I instinctually scroll through my mental rolodex of experiences and tastes. As you do when trying to make connections with that strange dish placed in front of you. The closest thing to risengrød that I have tried before would probably be rice pudding. In the States, it is a salad bar staple, but often gelatinous or potentially chunky. Now before you judge, not all American rice pudding is bad, but many can be. We do love the Trader Joe’s rice pudding straight from the container. Especially when served cold with cinnamon and nutmeg. Wait. Cold? Nutmeg? Did you say NUTMEG?!?! Records screeching silent. Looks of disdain. Utter shock and horror. You do NOT put nutmeg on risengrød, says my Danish friend. Oh. Ok. Duly noted. Thanks for the tip.
When we moved here two years ago, we found a tube of risengrød at the local Netto, a local market that I can only describe as a cross between Safeway, Tesco and the Dollar Store shoved inside the space of a 7-11. But Netto is an institution here. And a shopping experience it is. You either love it or you hate it. Or you grow to love it. Nothing is ever in the same place. There are boxes everywhere and there is nary a concern for presentation or atmosphere. Of any kind. But the prices are good. Very good. For Danish prices. Before arriving, I had read a little about Danish Christmas and knew that this tube at Netto was potentially a key player. It said Risengrød. That was an important Danish dish. You can see our first attempts at testing it here. Oh what we didn’t know that we didn’t even know at that time.
In Denmark, grød is a staple. (You’re still trying to say it correctly aren’t you? Keep trying.) You can eat grød for breakfast, lunch AND even dinner. Risengrød gets elevated status as a special dish at Christmas time. Think about it. Rice doesn’t grow here in Denmark. It was imported. You had to buy it. So if you normally made your daily grød from commonly grown grains like oats or rye or barley, rice was special. A treat. As was the exotic cinnamon which topped it. A risengrød was for Christmas. And when served at the beginning of the rich Danish Christmas dinner people filled up and it helped meter the costs of the more expensive dishes like the Duck and Roast Pork. Today, when modern Danes serve risengrød to their families, they make connections to history and those cultural roots. Those roots set in early, as most children have grown up with porridge for breakfast. It is comfort food in a bowl. And my family was eating it all wrong.
It should be served piping hot. With a “knob” of butter. And covered in cinnamon sugar. COVERED. Let the butter melt, but don’t stir it all in. Nibble like a Nisse from the edges. What’s a Nisse you ask? Those mischievous little sprites that live in the forest and help at the farm, but only if you treat them well. In December they move inside. Modern children place nissedør (doors) in their homes to allow the Nisse access. Leave them a little risengrød and they might leave a present in your boot. But forget and they might hide the toaster. Or move your shoes. They’ll play tricks to remind you. I can’t help but think that the “Elf on the Shelf” tradition has some roots with the nisse. Nisse love risengrød.
And risengrød has to be the perfect consistency. Recipes allow for any short grain rice, but Danes only use grødris. Follow a recipe. Keep stirring and stirring. Don’t walk away or the milk will burn. The rice shouldn’t be al dente, but definitely not mush. You want to feel the grains when you chew. It needs some tooth. Too much to take in? Not interested in making your own risengrød? But you are intrigued by this Danish tradition? Don’t worry. You can try it. At GRØD.
Yes. There is a restaurant that serves only porridge. In bowls. Piping hot. In fact, GRØD loves to claim that they were “the world’s first porridge bar.” You can visit the mother ship in Nørrebro on charming Jæggersborgade or in the glass market at Torvehallerne. Lucky for me, my Danish friend loves GRØD and we have one right here in our Østerbro neighborhood.
Today, we met for a bowl of the klassisk risengrød. Served just how she taught me. It’s simple. But homey. And definitely not soupy. Just right. Let the butter melt. Don’t stir it in. Warm and filling. Do I need it everyday? Probably not. But I would not say no to another bowl of porridge served hot.
A warmed spiced cider with elderflower.
Ready to nibble like Nisse?
My little Nisse, still not so sure.
GRØD serves many different kinds of porridge beyond the simple and traditional risengrød. They want to elevate what they believe a classic and elegant meal in a bowl. I will admit that last time I visited I enjoyed the curried lentil porridge. Been to GRØD? It is definitely worth seeking out. What did you try? This time of year – don’t miss the risengrød. Cozy Danish Christmas in a bowl.
WHERE TO FIND GRØD
Torvehallerne Glass Market
Hall 2, Stade 8A, Linnésgade 17
1362 Copenhagen K
Monday – Friday: 07.30-19-00
Saturday & Sunday: 9:00 to 18:00
Jægersborggade 50, kld. TV
DK-2200 Copenhagen N
Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 21:00
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 to 21:00
Nordre Frihavnsgade 55,
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Monday – Friday: 7:30 to 21:00
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 to 21:00
Additional locations in Frederiksberg and on Jutland in Aarhus.