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Thursday, June 14, 2018

EATING AND DRINKING IN COPENHAGEN

Copenhagen is a cosmopolitan city.  Everyone speaks English.  Most visitors do too although they are not all from English-speaking countries.  Signage is in English more than it is in Danish.  On the one hand, any English speaker can feel comfortable, but on the other hand, if you are trying to get a feel for all things Danish, you might have a tough time--especially when it comes to food, once a sure way to get a taste of another culture.

For advice, we head to the hotel concierge.  We are lucky that our concierge is honest with us even though his honesty brings sadness.  Most heartbreaking to me is the fact that Hans Christian Anderson is not the beloved figure in his native land that he is in the United States.  We do take a photo with him right outside the Town Hall, there is a ride for him in Tivoli Gardens, and the Little Mermaid watches over the harbor, but, alas, that is all except for a skipped something or other in the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.



Anyway,  the concierge tells us that trying to find traditional Danish food is tough.  He knows of only one restaurant, Axelborg Bodega.  This restaurant becomes our destination.  Danish food here we come, and Axelborg Bodega is just a short walk from our hotel, Raddison Blu.

It is still too chilly to sit outside, but the restaurant's interior is perfect.  Wood-paneled walls, heavy tables and chairs, and a wonderfully warm staff, who,despite the descriptive Danish/English menu, wants to help us make the right choices.



Axelborg Bodega is not very crowded, but judging that Danish is the language of choice and people are meeting each other in small groups, the other patrons did not appear to be tourists.  We are on the right track.

What is Danish cuisine?  It's heavy on pork, fish, and vegetables.  Rob, always more adventurous than I, orders two home-breaded filets of plaice served with a remoulade.  Little did he know until the platter arrived that there was a lot more--two kinds of shrimp, vegetables, and other pieces of fish.  It is essentially a fish sampler to which he gives two thumbs up.



I order roast pork with home pickled red cabbage (delish) and cucumber salad (delish) and rye bread.  When that arrives, there are scrumptious potatoes too.  There is enough pork to split three ways.  Incredibly ample serving.  Absolutely perfectly done, and the vegetables are exceptional.  The edges of the pork are crackling, but the interior is soft enough to forego using a knife.



And Danish beer, of course.



We leave Axelborg Bodega with renewed hopes for more exploration of Danish cuisine. 

The next day we are up and early to explore Copenhagen.  Breakfast in the hotel is delicious with a buffet offering all kinds of cheeses and fish, fruits, different yogurt combinations, eggs, etc.  There are quite a few Asian guests, and there are many offerings to satisfy that palate.  That is an unexpected treat.

We have a walking map and feel sure that when lunchtime comes, we will be able to find a second restaurant specializing in Danish cuisine.

We are so wrong!  The plazas are full of people picnicking on take-out acquired from one of the many shops along the plaza or sitting at outdoor tables eating hamburgers.  Hero sandwiches, salads, hamburgers and other fast foods familiar at home. As far as restaurants--if you are interested in Italian, Chinese, or Indian, your wish would be granted.  We pass an English pub, a Scottish pub, and several French restaurants.  Among the restaurants listed in our guide book, none in our area seems to specialize in native Danish cuisine.  We find it quite sad, and while we sit in one of the large plazas enjoying the spring weather with the other people, literally surrounded by eateries of all kinds, there isn't one that satisfies our quest.




Know what we do?

We walk back to Axelborg Bodega, stopping along the way to investigate other restaurants but coming up empty.  We enter Axelborg Bodega for a second, but different, delicious Danish food experience.  And it is just as good as the first.

This time I order smoked salmon served with home-baked bread, asparagus and a creamy, scrumptious herb sauce. It is a platter big enough for three, and every delicious bite is a reward for our return.



Rob, knowing it is now or never, tries a sampler--traditional open face sandwiches (smorrebord), chef's choice, each one presented beautifully and touching every tastebud in his mouth.



In no way do we feel we've missed anything by not going to another restaurant.  Each visit is unique and special on its merit.  My advice is that if you're looking for Danish cuisine in central Copenhagen, visit asap.

SKAL

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