On my first trip to Copenhagen, I was naturally eating and drinking everything in sight. The Scandinavian city has risen the global ranks to become one of the best food destinations in the world, and it didn’t disappoint. Overall, the food was outstanding and the Danes sure know how to drink — as in, stumbling home at 7 a.m. on the weekends. In my whirlwind three days, these were my five most memorable bites.
Late summer greens and black garlic leather and chocolate petit fours at noma: There were so many memorable moments over the 20-course, three-and-a-half-hour meal at noma, I couldn’t choose just one. One of the first courses was a selection of late summer greens — some charred, others raw — served atop a sweet and nutty scallop “fudge” (pictured below).
We were encouraged to use our fingers with this plate, dragging each leaf through the sticky scallop paste. A fermented black garlic leather is a savory, grown-up version of a Fruit Roll-Up (pictured below), a fun finger food after a whole wild duck main course. The chocolate petit fours were incredibly labor-intensive, featuring a Oialla chocolate-covered fried reindeer moss, lemon verbena leaves, and fermented mushrooms (pictured above) The last bite was a toasty barley double-cream liquid enrobed in chocolate. I didn’t realize just how much effort goes into each of these last few bites until I poked my head in the kitchen and saw a chef airbrushing the fried moss with chocolate.
Cheese course at Relæ: Chef Christian Puglisi worked at noma before opening his own restaurant and some of that New Nordic food philosophy is apparent in his cooking — but with a splash of his Italian heritage. This is far from your standard cheese plate. Instead, you get what looks like a cheese doughnut but is in reality an oversized gougère made with Kornly, an aged cheese stored in rye kernels. A slice of melted Danish red cheese, grated Norwegian goat’s milk brown cheese, and shaved black trumpet mushrooms finish off this savory answer to the doughnut. The umami flavors really brought out the fruity cherry notes in the Spanish syrah pairing.
Smørrebrød at Øl & Brød: These traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches are works of art at this cozy new restaurant in the Red Light District. The base is always a slice of dark, seeded rye bread, and toppings range from smoked fish or eggs to cheese and cold cuts. Here, smoked halibut was paired with confit and crisp potatoes, herbed cream cheese, and pickled mushrooms. Another favorite?Hard-boiled eggs topped with a leek hollandaise, trout roe, and fried onions (pictured below). Savory and fresh but hearty, these are a great hangover cure.
Carrots at Stedans: Dining at a communal table in a greenhouse on Scandinavia’s first rooftop garden is pretty special. Husband-and-wife team Mette and Flemming love vegetables, and their aim is to keep things simple, as one would cook at home. The six-course, family-style meal started off with a pile of carrots covered in brown-butter hollandaise and dotted with bright sour pops of sea buckthorn berries and a sprinkling of crunchy buckwheat. The simplicity of the food set such a homey atmosphere that our table of 27 all became friends, fighting over the wine and toasting each course. We ended the evening sipping coffee out of Le Creuset ramekins, paired with single-origin dark chocolate.
Et Glas Mælk at Lidkoeb: This drink fell under the Nordic cocktail section of the menu, and claims to capture Denmark’s agricultural legacy in a glass. The milky concoction of rye-infused Klodsede Bjørn vodka, hay syrup, crème fraîche, milk, and lingonberries was surprisingly subtle and refreshing — not at all like the eggnog-y drink I expected. Naturally, they’re using organic local milk and you can taste the difference.