Copenhagen, Hovedstaden, Denmark
Denmark is consistently voted one of the happiest nations in the world. Perhaps it’s the strong bonds between family and friends; the top-notch infrastructure, including efficient public transport; or the fact that the nation’s icon is a winsome mermaid gazing out to sea. But for many, it’s the cuisine – fresh, sea-sourced, delectable. For a taste of old and new Nordic cuisine, Copenhagen, featuring a rich array of both, is the place to start.
Those who think a sandwich by any other name is still a sandwich should lunch at Ida Davidsen, a century-old institution and showcase of the national open-faced buttered treat called smorrebrod. The menu of 250-plus variations, said to be the largest in Scandinavia, is nearby book length. The choices range from haute to homey: tongue with fried egg; shrimp and caviar; frikadeller (meatballs); liver pate; roast beef; and, of course, Denmark’s famous herring. Even the queen arranges for the occasional takeout and has had royal occasions catered by Ida Davidson at her residence, Amalienborg Palace.
Copenhagen also features beautiful, old world dinning palaces like Kong Hans Kaelder, which was a vineyard and wine cellar more than five centuries ago and now offers classic Danish cuisine with modern flourishes, served in an unpretentious ambience.
There’s no escaping the neo-Nordic culinary movement that is redefining Danish cuisine, and Noma is at the helm. It consistently tops the world’s short list of best restaurants and is headed up by young and visionary chef Rene Redzepi. Noma pays homage to the “soil and sea,” with a rarefied meu that hopscotches across the region, and includes Faroe Islands horse mussels, Baltic wild salmon, fresh asparagus, and little known wild herbs.
Noma has blazed the trail for a cadre of pioneering restaurants turning Copenhagen into a culinary destination (see Herman and The Paul, next page). Two others sharing the spotlight have roots in classic French cuisine: Formel B, a high-class bistro serving impeccable fresh local ingredients and the less expensive Les Trois Cochins, a former butcher shop reborn as a stylish and hugely successful l eatery.
BEST TIME : Late Aug for Nordic Food Festival.