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.
Looking for a fabulous way to spend a day exploring the countryside around Copenhagen? Let’s go looking for giants! Danish artist Thomas Dambo has hidden 6 Forgotten Giants in green spaces southwest of the city.
Most are hidden within one to two kilometers from a train station making it possible to ride your bicycle to your treasure hunt. We rented an electric car and carpooled with friends for the day as we wanted to bring along our portable grill, pølsers and picnic provisions.
With littles in tow, we found that targeting three giants made for a perfect half-day outing. We had plenty of time to seek and to find and play along the way. We stopped mid-hunt to grill hot dogs and roast marshmallows and play football. With children ranging in ages from 5 to 11, our day out tracking down these friendly beasts took us about 4-5 hours with a planned picnic in the middle.
Don’t have a car? Just visiting Copenhagen? Rent a bicycle and follow the map below. You can take your bike right on the S-trains. This route starts at Copenhagen’s Central Station but can start anywhere and jump in at any stop.
MAP KEY: RED = S-tog or S-trains BLUE = Bicycle routes between GREEN = The 6 Forgotten Giants
#1 Sovende Louis | Sleeping Louis | Rødovre
Closest to Copenhagen, Sleepy Louis lounges lazily waiting for you to wake him. He is the only giant that you can crawl right inside. But beware – he might wake at any moment!
TRAIN: Take B-line towards Høje Tåstrup STOP: Brøndbyøster Station DISTANCE TO GIANT: 1.4 km PARKING: Take first left after Absalon Camping, park at left end of lot.
TIP: Follow the paved path past fitness station. Look for a trail up towards your left after the bend.
Looking for Sleeping Louis in Rødovre
I have a big bunch of siblings, but we are hidden from people. They call us The Forgotten Giants. My sister Trine sits in Avedøre. In the field behind the hill where there are sheep and cows.”
#2 Bakke top Trine | Hilltop Trine | Quark Naturcenter in Hvidovre
Hilltop Trine is huge. She leans against a hillock in Hvidovre with an outstretched hand waiting to hold you. Her size makes your littles look Lilleputian by contrast. This is a perfect place for a picnic if it pleases your people. A fire pit for roasting pølsers or marshmallows is available. Enjoy at nearby picnic tables or play in the shelters. Bring your own supplies.
BIKE: There is no direct train connection to Hilltop Trine. Take the easy flat bike ride, nearly a straight between the 2 giants. DISTANCE BETWEEN GIANTS: 5.3 km PARKING: From Byvej turn right into Filmbyen. Park on the left before fences, walk down path along the field to the Naturcenter.
TIP: Trine hides on the back of the hill behind the chicken coops. To reserve the shelters and get a key for the toilets – reserve ahead with Quark Naturcenter. (As of 21st June, all slots for the summer are booked.)
#3 OSCAR UNDER BROEN | Oscar under the Bridge | Ishøj Strand
Say goodbye to Trine and get on your bike towards the Avedøre Station. Hop on the A-line train here towards Sølrod Strand and pop off at Ishøj. Oscar hides under the bridge near the beach. Carefully climb down and find him hanging out by the water. Cool off in the surf at the beach or grab an ice cream or ice coffee at Ka’nalu Café right at Ishøj Strandpark.
TRAIN: Take A-line towards Sølrod Strand Station STOP: Get on Avedøre Station, get off Ishøj Station. DISTANCE FROM GIANT: 1.8 km PARKING: If driving, park car at Ishøj Strand.
TIP: Walk towards playground and café and continue down the path until the first bridge. Take a right and look under.
Want to really go for it and catch all 6 in one day? You can do it! It is about 5 km from Oscar to the Vallensbæk Mose where you can find Lille Tilde and Thomas on the Mountain. See more about these magical giants and meet Teddy Friendly here on our first day out.
Found some yourself? Who is your favorite? I think I love Trine and Tilde the best. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin
Påske is Easter in Danish. And traditions for Easter in Denmark, are less defined than other holidays like Christmas. Don’t mess with Christmas. In December, there are a specific set of rituals, recipes and rules to follow. But less so for Easter.
Easter in Denmark is more about the season than the reason. Danes are more traditional than traditionally religious. Easter and spring bring a celebration of flowers and longer days. Everywhere you can buy påskeliljer. Daffodils to brighten up your home. And while some may celebrate with outings to church, many take advantage of the first set of state-sanctioned holidays and get out of town. Almost all businesses are closed from Thursday through Easter Monday, giving people five days to travel.
We learned this the hard way our first Easter in Copenhagen. Hello? Hello? Is anybody around? Streets empty. Shops shutter. Plenty of parking available. That is, if you have a car. So what to do if you do find yourself in town for Påske? You may have to get a little creative.
Enter Creative Space Copenhagen. With two shops, one in Frederiksberg and one in the Østerbro neighborhood, there is plenty of space and a bevy of pieces to paint. For the past two years, we have made it our Easter tradition to paint ceramic eggs. All of us. Even the teens. They may groan, but they go. And they paint. We all do. It has become our Danish Easter ritual.
In town this Easter? Create something fun, with your family or a friend. Check out Creative Space CPH.
Gammel Kongevej 154 | 1850 Frederiksberg C
TLF: 3379 0072
11:00 — 19:00 Saturday, Sunday and holidays
10:00 — 18:00 First Thursday of the Month (only Frederiksberg)
11:00 — 22:00
With more than 180 pieces to choose from, there is something for everyone to paint. Prices start at 150 DKK and go up from there depending on the size of your piece. 2018 price for our eggs was 159 DKK. Price includes table space, use of all paints and tools.
Offers coffee, espresso, juices, water, wine and beer for purchase.
Creative Space recommends planning on two hours to pick your piece, find inspiration, pull your colors (all provided), and paint!
When you are finished, you will pass over your piece. Creative Space will put a finishing glaze on it and fire for you. It should be ready in a week to pick up and enjoy.
Go’Påske to you and yours! Happy Easter from Copenhagen! – Erin
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.