Hello, Ducklings! Pah! Last time I started off talking about how it felt like Spring may well be springing and then you got the easterly beast, and we got so much snow, it looked like we’d moved to Narnia. I’ll refrain from talking about the weather that’s about as decisive as a chameleon walking through a colourful flower bed and will instead brighten up this miserable excuse for a March day with food, glorious Danish food.
Epic disclaimer: there are so many glorious restaurants, cafés, bars, brasseries and kros (the Danish version of an Inn), we’ve barely even scratched the surface. Last year was still mostly spent organising our move and, once we were here, getting the house under control, building a whole tribe of Kallax shelves and flitting back and forth to the UK for work. Having done all (ok, most) of the above, we have declared 2018 to be the year of Scandinavian adventures so hold on to your hats, Darling People, we’ll have so much to tell you!
For now, here are a few of the places we adore, with pictures that may want to make you hop on the next flight to Copenhagen.
Ahhh, Café Norden, you epic staple. It’s easy to overlook it as a tourist trap as it’s right in the Centre on Strøget, opposite the famous Storkespringvandet (that’s the stork fountain for you), and if you peer in through the windows, the downstairs area looks like nothing much to write home about. All that changes when you take the spiral staircase to the first floor, to a haven of “Art Deco meets Danish Design with the odd moose head thrown in for kicks”. It’s almost always busy with locals and tourists alike, but if you’re lucky to grab one of the window tables, you can spend the rest of the afternoon people watching from above, eating till you drop (the portions are enormous) and stroking one of the many fluffy pillows. I’m serious on the last point: I entirely blame Café Norden for my obsession with Tibetan lamb. Who needs Zanax when you can self-soothe by cuddling the softest of all materials.
If you do go, take my advice and share your way through the menu. I’m not kidding when I say the portions are huge and we almost always end up with a doggy bag. The Smørrebrød selection is simply delicious (I am desperate to thieve the recipe for those lightly pickled cucumbers) and the Hygge Platter is perfect for a little taste of savoury and sweet (I don’t know what they put in their tomato soup but it’s to die for). It’s traditional Danish food, non-fussy and done perfectly.
Oh the beauty of Strandmøllekroen, I don’t even know where to start. It’s a 15-minute drive down the Coast from us, overlooking the Øresund, and serves what you would describe as modern Danish cuisine. As far as I understand, that means the emphasis is on seasonal locally sourced ingredients, lovingly prepared and exquisitely presented but without the fuss of ‘a coulis here with a foam reduction there’. We’d been to dinner a couple of times but last weekend, Mr Mac and I decided to try their Sunday Brunch.
I’ll get on to why I’m particularly partial to a Sunday Brunch a little later, but this was just too delicious to save till last. After a small starter of the lightest yoghurt with granola and freeze-dried berries, all homemade, obvs, you get what our waitress called ‘the beast’: the most spectacular tower of brunchie-style delicacies, from savoury to sweet and all the way back down again.
On a side note, how do food writers do this? I’m seriously running out of ways to say delicious here.
Back to Brunch. All items are served as small individual portions, from the best scrambled egg I’ve ever had (and that’s about the only kind of egg I’m genuinely good at making), to the traditional chicken salad and a selection of obligatory fish dishes. And the pastries! I’m not surprised they let Brunchers linger as long as they want to give them a fighting chance to finish everything. It may not have even looked that much but Mr Mac and I gracefully (not) rolled out of there and spent the rest of the day snoozing blissfully in a food coma.
Mash is an American steak house chain with a Danish twist, with reliably good food and excellent service, and we’re lucky to have one in walking distance by our local Marina (how spoilt does that sound).
I have a little bit of an obsession with Steak Tartare (it’s not for everyone, I know) so we first went for my Birthday when I came to visit the husband in Denmark a couple of years ago. We’ve been back a few times since then, at least enough for the bartender to greet us with a grin and a hug. Not at all a blush-inducingly ‘busted’ moment when I took my Mum for a cocktail last year, nope. Mirror mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.
If you’re feeling carnivorous and only a proper steak will hit the spot, Mash is a perfect place to start, and there are plenty of locations dotted around, even in the UK now. Share a load of sides among you, the green beans with almonds are glorious, the jalapeños not for the faint-hearted and the creamy spinach is just as light and fluffy as my grandmother used to make it.
And if you come to the one by us, inadvertent comedy entertainment may be included. Last summer, we had prime seats to watch a posse of rambunctious seagulls knock the lid off a portable BBQ on the jetty and thieve the steaks off the man who’d temporarily abandoned his barbecuing post and toddled back onto his boat. If you ever wanted to know what an angry Dane looks like, that was it, right there, all swinging BBQ tongs and angry hollers while seagulls giving zero ‘ducks’ gleefully took off with their loot.
Talking of the Marina, I should also say that we’re beyond lucky to have a whole heap of restaurants we can work our way through along the jetty, one of our other favourites being Sticks, quite possibly the best Sushi restaurants I’ve been to, and I’ve tried a lot of them.
Case in point: I wish I could show you some pictures of their breathtakingly beautiful and mouthwatering food but, as we fall all over it like starved cave-people every time we’re there, I couldn’t find a single proper picture in my entire camera roll. You’ll just have to take my word for it and go yourself!
Oh I adore Sunday Brunch, which is probably equally down to me not being a night owl anymore and also being partial to a spot of decadently wayward daytime drinking.
If I ever was any kind of the former, Mr Mac’s 5:30am weekday wake-up calls put and end to that. Oh who am I kidding, I always considered going to Clubs the freshest of hells, I’ll be in my Hygge pants by 7pm, ta very muchly.
As for the latter, who wouldn’t get on board with the idea of it being perfectly acceptable to have a glass of fizz at 11am because it’s called Brunch, not Breakfast? It’s not as if we do it every weekend, right?
Enter Skodsborg Kurhotel, right on the coast, with a beautiful Spa that rescued me when eight hours of pressure washing our mossy patio left me with a hunched back, claw hands and positively humming from the inside (it’s that very particular sound a Kärcher makes, you’ll know it, fellow OCD cleaning peeps).
They do a heavenly Søndagsbrunch in their Lobby, which means you get to loll around on squashy sofas and listen to subtle live music while your work your way through their tower of delicious treats. And the bread! Growing up in Germany, I’ve always been partial to some rye bread but holy endless breadsticks, they Danes raise the art of bread-making to a whole other level.
Having now made myself seriously hungry, I’ll go and raid the fridge – which is utterly pointless as I’ve looked about 17 times today already and its bare shelves just keep staring back at me accusingly.
Love, rockets and bucket loads of snowdrops, see you in April!