In recent years, Scandinavian cuisine (due in large to Denmark’s celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants) has risen in popularity. Therefore, I was more than a little excited to spend a day sampling some of Copenhagen’s famous culinary delights. To my surprise, I ended up with a special bonus; a fascinating cultural exploration of how this city has evolved through its food.
I met up with my guide, Maria, plus two other participants in front of the Torvehallerne Market to start our Copenhagen food tour. Although this location has served as a market area since the 19th century, it has only recently become the favorite haunts for top chefs seeking fresh quality ingredients. Ultra-modern and minimalist on the outside, the interior entices all of the senses with its colorful display of produce, vegetables, cheese, sweets, meats and rows of artisan condiments.
Maria enthusiastically explained the origins of the bite-size gourmet cheese we sampled followed by a tasting of some of the traditional flavors from the neighboring islet of Bornholm. Promising that we would make our way back to the market at the end of the tour, she then led us on a relaxing stroll around the Botanical Gardens.
At the foot of the impressive Botanical Gardens Museum, we took a brief respite accompanied by a refreshing glass of local apple wine. At this point, Maria told us an amusing tale about the origins of the Carlsberg breweries – a fascinating family history wrought with conflict and never ending squabbles.
We left the park and walked the short distance to our next destination; the Aamans eatery, where four mini, open-face smørrebrød sandwiches were served in time for lunch. Each was unique; one made with herring, one with salmon and two with meat. Although we each had a different opinion on which tasted the best, all 4 were freshly made. The tour continued at Norrebro Bryghus, a small brewery with an informal dining area where locals congregate to sample the latest brews.
After trying three different types of beer (in small glasses, of course) we continued our culinary tour around the city. Next, we walked along the peaceful canals, numerous squares and bike riding residents while Maria was quick on the witty anecdotes and quips about daily life in Copenhagen – adding a generous touch of authenticity to our new surroundings.
A couple of hours into our tour, we sampled ecological hot dogs and visited a candy shop where workers make the boiled sweets by hand. Unfortunately, we were unable to witness this unusual method of candy producing since it was too warm for it to set properly, Maria explained. We continued on our walk as our lively guide pointed out a popular local restaurant, one of the oldest bakeries, a butcher shop where the workers all wear bowler hats and a shop boasting the best ice cream in town.
As promised, nearly 4 hours after we started, we found our way back to the covered market. Our tour ended with a tasting aptly reserved for last; the dessert. After showing us some of the varieties of chocolate treats available at the gourmet Summerbird shop, we sampled some mouth-watering chocolate-covered marshmallows called flødeboller. It certainly was the sweetest way to end our foodie orientation in Copenhagen.
-Jessica Benavides Canepa