Copenhagen: An Edible Guide

A couple of weeks ago I was in Århus, Denmark for a short academic course, and finished up my time away by spending a few days in Copenhagen, the city of biking blondes and attractive, sweet people. I considered it a good omen when, on my first day, I saw a copy of the Copenhagen Post lying about and noticed that I was in town for Copenhagen Cooking. So I mailed a woman at The Food Agency and on my last day I took a cooking class at Bisquit Fabrikken (the Biscuit Factory! How adorable). At 195 DKK (around 25 euros) it was a rare bargain and a great time. If you have any interest at all in Nordic cooking, definitely consider taking a class with them.

Noma-style crudités

The hosts at the cooking school, Kim and Carsten, were so welcoming; Kim is an ex-pat New Yorker who has lived in Denmark for over 30 years and Carsten is a Dane, so together they have the ultimate eye for what they were teaching: Danish Modern cuisine. We started on smørrebrød, those lovely open-faced sandwiches, topped with Kim’s garden-fresh new potatoes or pickled herring, before moving on to the main course of wilted cabbage and smoked herring. It’s interesting to see that Denmark, like Estonia (another country on the Baltic sea) had not really been making use of its proximity to the ocean until very recently; fish was déclassé, so most would eat meat (and lots of it) when they got the chance. The new Nordic cuisine is instead focused on getting Danes back to their roots with rye bread, potatoes, and home cooking.

The street that houses Bisquit Fabrikken, Jaegersborggade, was also very cool; once a really rough part of town, it’s now a co-op filled with independent cafes, ceramics shops, and caramel-makers. Definitely get some caramel while you’re there, some pastry or bread at Meyer’s, and explore the rest of the Nørrebro and stop by the awesome Laundromat Cafe; my friend Gillian recommended it to me, and I ate there twice in my three days. They even have a selection of books near the counter all arranged by colour. Beauty.

Of course, there’s always room for dessert; we finished up our cooking class with a delicious, very simple buttermilk soup, which I’d never had before. To my mind, it tastes almost like melted lemon mousse. After some selective searching, I’ve posted a similar-seeming recipe below:

Koldskål (Danish Buttermilk Soup) adapted from Giovanna’s Trifles

  • 3 egg yolks (you can buy these packaged and pasteurized if you’re feeding them to someone especially sensitive)
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon (especially a thin-skinned organic lemon)
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • About 1 litre buttermilk

Beat the egg yolks well, add the lemon juice, zest and sugar, then beat until pale and fluffy. Shake the carton of buttermilk really well and slowly pour it into the egg mixture. Beat it all together. Chill until very cold, then serve with fresh strawberries. Perfect on a hot summer’s day.