Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sandwiches of Denmark

Denmark is a delightful country to visit: its capital Copenhagen has a relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, brightly coloured architecture, a rich history, and – my marker of anywhere worth visiting - delicious food and drinks.

We discovered some of the excellent food, specifically sandwiches, on our recent visit to this beautiful Scandinavian country. We tried out as many different dining experiences as we could, from the take-out sandwich place on a busy street, the cozy sit-down lunch restaurant, to a bustling street-food market. With this much variety, each experience was unique and enjoyable and gave me lots of fun material to blog about.

The iconic and colourful Nyhan, which means 'new harbour'. 
Blue House:
After an epic trek up the 400+ steps of the Church of Our Saviour, we’d worked up quite an appetite and needed something quick and filling.  

The Church of Our Saviour: who wouldn't work up an appetite climbing that spire? 

So we decided to check out the nearby Blue House. The giant sandwich outside this tiny take-out restaurant on Market Street caught my eye – how could it not? 

Blue House: the giant sandwich is excellent marketing for hungry passers-by

The menu was written in Danish but since Danish is a cousin of English, we could pick out some key words, like roast beef, remoulade sauce and tomatoes. So that’s what we ordered. While we waited, we watched their high-lite promo video and learned more about their interesting sandwich-making process. First, they panini-grill the dough in individual sandwich-sized loaves, then they cut it lengthwise and assemble the sandwich directly inside the freshly grilled loaf. Finally, they re-grill the whole thing and serve it immediately. The result is a very fresh, very warm and toasty sandwich that we ate on a bench overlooking the canal.

The roast beef was quite rare, which tasted good but was a bit chewy and caused some messiness but overall, it was satisfying lunch on our first day in the city.

Roast beef from Blue House. A solid introductory Danish sandwich.
We took a day trip to Helsingør, where we spent the better part of an afternoon exploring Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It was a slightly windy and chilly day, which only added to the atmosphere of our tour, led by Horatio himself. Afterwards, as we were wandering the streets in search of a lunch place, we found Spiseriet, a little restaurant tucked away at the end of a cobblestoned alley. 

Spiseriet, in the town of Helsingnor

Its lunch specialty was smørrebrød, the Danish word for an open-faced sandwich. Denmark has a long tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages, of serving smørrebrød as a light meal and who were we to argue with tradition? When in Denmark, do as the Danes do.

I enjoyed two smørrebrød: first the Roast Pork and then the Potato. The Roast Pork consisted of thin slices of rye bread, topped with two thick pieces of roast pork, pickled red cabbage and cucumber. The meat was warm and the cabbage was similar to a nice, non-mayo based coleslaw. Since the portions were small and the first round was so good, we each ordered another: the Potato for me and Mike, and the Mustard-Herring, topped with watercress and fried capers for my uncle. My auntie ordered apple crumble for dessert.

The Roast Pork
The Mustard Herring

The Potato
The Potato smørrebrød was two thin slices of rye bread with warm, thick slices of potato, sprinkled with crisp bacon, fresh dill, red and green onion, and topped with a dollop of smoky cream cheese/sour cream. Divine! It was my favorite – a warm, fresh, dill-pickle potato chip sandwich.

For more information about smørrebrød, check out this excellent blog I found on the subject: 

I know I’ll be searching it for new recipes and sandwich-spiration.

Copenhagen Street Food:
This bustling street food market was a super fun experience on our last day in Copenhagen. Located across the harbour from the Opera House, near Nyhan (the beautiful harbour of colourful buildings and boats) and Christianshavn in an old paper-manufacturing warehouse, the Copenhagen Street Food market is home to over 30 unique food trucks and stalls. You can try everything from traditional Danish sandwiches and burgers, to butter chicken, fancy spring rolls and Brazilian BBQ. There are even a few different bars to try, if you want to get your wine/beer/cocktail on. The food is well-priced and decently portioned so you don’t have to spend all your Kroner at one place – and nor should you!

It was hard to narrow down all our options but we managed somehow and trust me, that’s the #firstworldproblem you don’t mind having on vacation. After a quick initial pass through the warehouse, we decided on DUCK IT, the burger place near the front, for a completely satisfying pulled-duck burger served hot off the grill, stuffed with red onions and salad greens. 

Pulled Duck Burger from DUCK IT

To keep our duck-trend going, we paired our burgers with paper cones stuffed to overflowing with Belgian frites double-fried in duck fat from Copper and Wheat. There was greasy-ducky gloriousness in every bite, enjoyed at one of the indoor picnic tables under the twirling cow-shaped disco ball.

Belgian frites double-fried in duck fat from Copper and Wheat

Groovy Disco-Cow
Visiting Copenhagen was definitely one of the highlights of my summer and I hope that wherever you traveled, you were met with similar positive experiences: friendly people, interesting sights and as always, unique and delicious food.

Cheers to you, Copenhagen, and to your beautiful sandwiches! Skål!