diamond geezer

 Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dansk mad (Danish food)

Danish cuisine generally means meat, fish and potatoes. This is not a bad thing. Danish meat generally means pork. This is not a bad thing either. But dining out in Copenhagen can be expensive. I somehow spent more on food and drink in 72 hours than I'd spent in the previous 7 weeks.

At lunchtimes the traditional meal is smørrebrød, an open sandwich consisting of rye bread (rugbrød) smothered with layered toppings (pålæg). We found ours at the Torvehallerne, a trendy food hall near Nørreport, where the queue for Hallernes Smørrebrød was the longest of all. I decided against the most popular herb-sprinkled fish option, and several variations on shrimps with mayonnaise, and fixated on the leverpostej - liver pâté, pickled beetroot, bacon, lingonberries and thyme. In this artfully decorated slab I may have discovered my new comfort food.

For dinner on the first evening we wandered down to the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro, a hip cluster of former butcheries repurposed as restaurants, clubs and galleries. We targeted somewhere quieter than the brewpub, aimed higher than the burger bar and shied off the Michelin-friendly fish diner. Instead we plumped for a restaurant called Gorilla, whose main menu read promisingly behind a sheen of raindrops, and were shown to a table inside the white-tiled slaughterhouse. Let me explain, said the ponytailed waiter, it's a sharing menu so we generally recommend four or five plates per person. We chose not to rise to expectations lest the bill rise into four figures, but my smoked haddock was delicious, BestMate swore by his ceviche of herring, and they were not joking when they said the small hot dog was small.

Hotdogs are Copenhagen's cheap takeaway of choice, often sold from small independent kiosks in the street. Particularly popular is the fransk hotdog, which oozes out from a sheath of bread rather than a split roll. Kebab shops are also widespread, and overwhelmingly branded as shawarma. Fried chicken shops are very much not a thing.

Tea is also very much not a thing because Danes are beholden to a proper coffee. BestMate reckoned the bespoke coffee blend at Kaffesalon (at the pedalo end of Queen Louise's Bridge) was one of the finest he'd ever tasted and went back three times to prove his point. As for alcohol Carlsberg lager is unsurprisingly prominent, and a much tastier brew than the liquid foisted on us in Britain. But given that I typically paid eight pounds for half a litre (which is not quite a pint), and on one occasion over nine, perhaps it's no wonder Danes prefer to stay home for a dash of hygge.

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