Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Sorgenfri storefront, København, Danmark
Despite the city's being surrounded on all sides by water, all roads in Denmark lead to Copenhagen. Denmark's capital is still its hub and gateway. I arrived by night train from Paris on a Monday morning. Whogus and his greeting party put me right to work. A tour of Pusher Street in Christiana (no photos, please) and then a forced march to the top of the gold and copper spire at Vor Frelsers Kirke (the Church of Our Savior) all before breakfast.
Spire - Vor Frelsers Kirke, København, DanmarkBourdon bell - Vor Frelsers Kirke, København, Danmark
There is an architectural flaw with the spire at Vor Frelsers Kirke, it winds its way up counterclockwise, fatal for right-handed soldiers defending it and the city. But confident there would be no marauding hordes in our immediate future, we paid our kroner, and started the climb, all 311 feet and 400 steps. If you click the photo on the left above, you can just make out figures at the very top of the spire. The view is breathtaking. But it was rainy and cold, and slippery when wet. I couldn't wait to get back to solid ground. And what should greet me upon my return to terra firma? A frosty cold Tuborg Classic. Ahhhh...
We had come to Copenhagen instead of meeting at the summer house not because Copenhagen is the heart of Denmark, but for the archetypal Danish lunch. On the weekend, Danes will sit down to a meal lasting most of the afternoon. It is not uncommon to remain seated at the table for three hours or more. Sorgenfri (roughly pronounced song-free) is famous for its traditional fare. Danes go to great pains to eat here.
Aalborg Norguld AkvavitLunch always begins with a skål  before one even thinks of ordering. Everybody raises a shot glass filled with akvavit (snaps) and meets everyone else's gaze before drinking the contents. As a sign of respect, tradition demands that you again meet everyone's gaze before setting your glass back down. I just love that and am a strict adherent of the practice here at home. Aalborg makes a whole line of snaps distilled from either grains or potatoes. Sorgenfri serves their Nordguld (Northern Gold), distilled in amber. It hints of pine and resin, and will kick your butt.
Fish is always the first course in a formal lunch. Herring, pickled or marinated, shrimp salad and fried cod. Everything is eaten on buttered coarse rye bread. Danes wash down lunch with beer and more snaps. Every skål, or toast, follows the same strict ritual. Unless just released from prison, a Dane won't be seen wolfing down his food. Each morsel is savored with lots of conversation peppering the meal.
Fish courses - Sorgenfri, København, DanmarkMeat courses - Sorgenfri, København, Danmark
After the fish plates are cleared and more toasts offered up, the main courses come out. Liver pâté, frikadeller (Danish meatballs), roast pork and aged cheese. The pork is always roasted with crackling - crispy, crunchy and sweet. The cheese is strong enough to get up and walk away of its own accord. Being Danish is not for the faint of heart. Finally, forks and knives slow their pace, there is a distinct silly turn to the conversation, and grins break out everywhere. You've just spent a good part of the afternoon in one attitude sampling Denmark's greatest joys: sharing her spoils.
Americans nap after stuffing themselves. Danes walk. We ended up at Tivoli, people-watching and playing arcade games. Somewhere along the way a beer garden was spied and the remainder of the day became a blur. Welcome to Denmark. Please check your liver at the door.
Brolæggerstræde 8, 1211 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel. 33 11 58 80

Monday - Saturday: 11.00 - 23.00
Sunday: 12:00 to 18:00
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

Matt said...

I would enjoy a walk to a good place to nap.. preferably under a tree or whilst wearing an attractive sombrero!