Coping In Copenhagen | Cooking With Jade

Coping In Copenhagen

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Coping In Copenhagen
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Whenever I talk to my fellow vagabonds about their dream European vacation (as you can tell, I love to talk travel), a lot of the same destinations keep coming up: France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. I hardly ever hear Denmark mentioned, which is a shame, because this small Northern European country is an awesome vacation destination. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in culture, especially in its capital city of Copenhagen. Here’s how I “coped in Copenhagen.”

Food

I think the secret is officially out: Copenhagen is one of the world’s great food cities. Danish Chef Rene Redzepi helped put Copenhagen on the foodie map with his world-renowned temple to fermentation, Noma. While Redzepi is the undisputed king of Copenhagen fine dining, plenty of other chefs have done their part to advance Copenhagen’s food scene. Take Rasmus Munk, whose groundbreaking restaurant, The Alchemist, was recently named the fifth-best restaurant in the world by Eater. Unfortunately, I didn’t have thousands of kroner to spend at these ultra-luxe restaurants (but if you’ve got it, I say go for it—just make sure to book as soon as you buy your plane ticket), but I did enjoy plenty of brilliant, much more affordable meals.

Breakfast

Breakfast in Denmark can be a rather hearty affair, often consisting of bread, sausage, seafood, fruit, and cereal (though not necessarily all at once). Since I can’t eat most of those things, I tended to go for a lighter breakfast. One of my favorite breakfast spots was The Union Kitchen, a trendy bistro with locations throughout Copenhagen. Of course, for me, a quick pastry can also make a solid breakfast (check out my tasty vegetarian Danish recipe, if you’ve got a craving). Many of the Danes I met swear by Andersen Bakery, which serves up a healthy array of deliciously unhealthy baked goods and a solid cup of coffee to wash it all down.

Lunch

Much like here in the U.S., lunch in Denmark often consists of a cold-cut sandwich. Except in Denmark, the lunchtime star is an awesome open-faced sandwich called smørrebrød (literally “butter bread”). The bread in question is a slice of sourdough rye called rugbrød. In addition to butter, the rugbrød can be topped with all kinds of savory ingredients—pickled herring, horseradish, and dill often make appearances, though I had a hugely craveable vegan version with hummus and cucumbers. Restaurant Schønnemann (Denmark is really making me bust out my keyboard’s special functions!) has been serving some of Copenhagen’s most classic smørrebrød for over one hundred years, and it is still the best place to go for this uniquely Danish lunch.

Dinner

As I said, I didn’t have the kroner to spend on Denmark’s fanciest dinners, but I certainly ate well. One of my favorite meals was at an elegant, trendy spot called Ark, which features a fully vegan tasting menu, complete with fake fois gras. Like many great cities, Copenhagen is a melting pot, attracting people from all over the world. That’s why it’s home to restaurants like Chef Rosario Sanchez’s namesake restaurant, Sanchez. Rosario Sanchez hails from Chicago and made a name for herself at Noma, before venturing out on her own. She now serves highly creative, seasonal takes on the Mexican food she grew up eating. Mexican food in Europe can be hit or miss; this spot knocked it out of the park. For something quicker and cheaper, check out Sanchez’s more casual taqueria, Hija de Sanchez.

Culture

More than just a foodie paradise, Copenhagen can hold its own with Europe’s great cultural centers. As my trip to London’s Charles Dickens House certainly proved, I am a massive book nerd. It should come as no surprise, then, that I saw as many Hans Christian Andersen-related sites as I could. One of the world’s most famous fairy tale writers (sorry, Brothers Grimm) hails from Denmark, and the country is very proud of its native son. I started with the iconic Little Mermaid statue on Copenhagen’s waterfront. The statue – which was completed in 1913 – is best seen from the bow of a boat on one of Copenhagen’s many canal cruises. That’s how I saw it and I maaay have broken out into a cringeworthy rendition of “Part of Your World ” as we floated by.

Next stop was the famous Tivoli Gardens, said to be the inspiration for Andersen’s The Nightingale. Aside from being a favorite haunt of HCA, this historic theme park (the third oldest in the world, I’m told) is full of fun, modern rides. In the summer months, it hosts a popular concert series, featuring big-name international bands (Smashing Pumpkins, anyone?). And as an added bonus, the 15-stall Tivoli Food Hall is a great place to chow down on global street eats!

Whenever I think of fairy tales, I think of castles, and Copenhagen’s Rosenborg Castle is one of the coolest castles I’ve ever seen. Completed in 1607 as a royal summer retreat, it’s now home to the Danish crown jewels. This lavish retreat is open for public tours most of the year. You can book a ticket online, but I recommend getting a Park Museum Ticketwhich also gives you access to several other Copenhagen cultural sites, including the National History Museum of Denmark and the National Gallery of Denmark. Culture vultures, you know I’ve got your back.

Shopping

For a relatively small city, Copenhagen is incredibly fashionable. In fact, Timeout recently named it the tenth most fashionable city in the world, right after Miami! So of course, I had to load up on show-stopping bargains in this trendy town. Here were some of my favorite shopping spots:

Home Goods

If there is one thing Scandinavia is known for – aside from long nights, cold winters, pickled fish, and Vikings – it’s design. This part of the world seems to excel at producing modern, stylish furniture and décor. There is a reason IKEA started in this region, after all. Like nearby Sweden, Denmark has some amazing home goods stores, and the best can be found in Copenhagen. Hay House is one of the city’s most popular spots for eye-catching contemporary furniture, while YONOBI specializes in handmade ceramics from all over the world. Both these spots are worth a visit, even if you’re just window shopping. While you’re at it, stop by the flagship store of Georg Jensen, founded in 1904 by the master silversmith of the same name.

Vintage Deals

There’s plenty of high fashion to be had in Copenhagen, but as you may have guessed, I spent most of my time at the city’s awesome vintage stores. Veras, in central Copenhagen, offers a vintage exchange! This was a fun, sustainable way for me to upgrade my wardrobe. I also stopped by Reseller, which specializes in second-hand designer clothing: turns out high fashion isn’t so out of reach after all! Finally, I fell in love with a shop called Carmen—one of the oldest and most popular vintage stores in Copenhagen. Here, it’s all about the 70s and 80s. Luckily, so am I. If only I had room in my luggage for platform shoes…

Still Coping…

I call this article “Coping in Copenhagen,” but these days I am trying to cope with not being in Copenhagen! From food, to culture, to fashion, this truly is an awe-inspiring city. And, given its compact size and friendly locals, it’s an easy place to explore as well. Did you know that Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world? According to a very recent “wellness index” published in CNN, Denmark is the world’s second happiest nation, behind Finland. And while I haven’t been to Finland (yet), I can easily see how Denmark would rank high on that list. In the meantime, I will draw on some of that Danish happiness as I continue to cope.

If you enjoyed this article or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other articles I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.


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