Emerging from the impressively efficient Copenhagen metro system, I was greeted by my Copenhagen companion: Barcelona’s newest resident, Emily Sims. Guided by her cousin and his friend – thank you, Danny, for showing us around! – with a backpack over my shoulder, we hit the ground running. The trip’s mission was to eat our way through a city known for its warmth and renown by all who have visited for its deliciousness.
What I ate: Sesame bagel with lox, cucumber and horseradish cream cheese.
In a disgrace to Kiddish luncheons and Yom Kippur break fasts everywhere, I must confess: this was my first time eating lox. Maybe it was the cool Copenhagen air or reuniting with my dear friend, but it felt as if there were ever a time to take this step into my womanhood, this was it. The bite was velvety perfection. Smooth, smoky lox melting into warmed cream cheese with the subtle bite of nippy horseradish and cut by crisp cucumbers. I’ll return to the United States with a wary traveler’s love story of lox discovery.
We continued to walk through the city, down the beautifully tiled shopping centers. Surrounded by smiling and stylish Danes, we passed Tivoli with its whirling and whimsical lights. Our mission: all of the sauces.
What I ate: Parmesan paprika fries with nordic aioli, andalouse and smoked chili mayo dipping sauces.
The woman behind the counter was invested in our decisions as we squabbled over fry combinations and the all important sauce – she was not unlike the lovely mother and owner I met in the Belfast restaurant of a former blog post. Each time we would pose a question about a condiment, she would dip four tiny spoons and hold them out as offerings of sustenance. When we finally came to a consensus, the gates to the sauce kingdom were opened. Each bite was a surprise – would it be the tangy chili? The plush aioli? The peppery andalouse? If in the bagel shop I had a coming of age moment, Fries N’ Mayo was a lesson in hope. I may have sworn to never indulge in another cheesy curry fry again, but there would still be Parmesan paprika fries to keep the dream alive.
We said goodbye to the boys and headed to the hostel. When we approached the address, we believed we were surely mistaken. The door said Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, but the scene was a hopping bar filled with unique languages and fabulous lights. But indeed, we were in the right place. Our door was painted with a giant tribute to David Bowie and the walls were decked in a funky sixties pattern. The third floor had already begun to prepare for a night on the town. And we knew we had found a temporary home in Copenhagen that would provide more adventure than intermission during our short stay.
What I ate: Banana pancakes with goji berries, sweet potato fries with aioli, seed bread, avocado, hummus and apple yogurt granola bowl.
Waking up far later than intended, we suddenly found ourselves scrambling for brunch. We had been given lists upon lists with amazing places and unfortunately were cursed with hopeless geographic confusion and general forgetfulness when it came to making reservations. But this was the magic we discovered in Copenhagen: Each time our plans were changed by some twist of fate, we ended up stumbling upon something wildly wonderful. After abandoning our original plan, we chanced upon 42 Raw, a healthy eats restaurant filled with locals. As a savory breakfast woman with a sweet tooth, I appreciated the opportunity to experience a little bit of everything in their collage of a brunch. Each bite provided a playful sampling of flavors, whether it was the tart goji berries on delicate pancakes or rough bread dipped in rich hummus. After refueling and refocusing, we began our trek to Nyhavn.
What I ate: French style hot dog with french herb dressing.
Rerouted by a quick errand, we tumbled upon the Rundetaarn or Round Tower. The steep climb provides a full 360 view of the city from above. Hiking up, we stepped onto a floor on the way to the top in hopes of catching our breath. Instead we found ourselves in a bustling market filled with sparkling handmade jewelry and floor length fur coats. When Emily inquired about the scene, we learned just how lucky we were: the vendors were only in Rundetaarn one day a year. After a breathtaking – in so many ways – view of the city, we rewarded ourselves with heaven’s gift to man. Hot dogs! French style hot dogs are essentially hot dogs stuffed into a roll. The result is a mess free chamber of sauce tightly hugging the glorious dogs. Despite their trendy bun ponchos, there is still no fashionable way to eat a hot dog.
When we finally made it to Nyhavn, we were on the cusp of golden hour. The view was a picturesque postcard. We boarded a boat on the canal and coasted on the sapphire water as the sun set over colorful Copenhagen. The ride lulled us into a relaxed state of awe, only to be startled by the canon marking sunset each night – once again, the timing had worked in our favor. With a playful jump on the trampolines, we said goodbye to the beautiful river and headed to Freetown Christiana. Despite the darkness, the autonomous neighborhood still had enough light to admire the brilliantly hued street art. Christiana’s magic is in its utter authenticity. No photographs are allowed – the neighborhood exists for itself and not for Instagram likes or to have a “cool” factor. In a sense, all of Copenhagen shares this same feeling of unpretentious spirit.
What I ate: Nutella churros.
What I tried not to eat despite being rather unsuccessful: The ice cream.
This is probably where we took it too far.
What I ate: Brie, Danish ham, lettuce tomato and homemade salsa sandwich.
With a plane to catch, our time on Sunday was limited. We debated traveling far for brunch or returning to Nyhavn for a morning view. But in the true style of our trip, walking towards both options, we came across a fish kiss spa, where the masseuses are tiny minnows. I will spare you pictures because this is a food blog and feet just really have no place here. My final meal in the delectable Danish country was at a small shop with massive sandwiches. The strategy in ordering here was to go with the sandwich featuring ingredients paying homage to where I was – hence the Danish ham. With a full stomach and passport in hand, it was time to say goodbye to my amiga and my new favorite city. Farvel, Copenhagen! We will meet again!