Food/Travel 2017 – Copenhagen (Week 3)

Monday 20th February to Friday 24th February, 2017 – Copenhagen

So one more week in Copenhagen and slowly going nuts in the Radisson Blu Scandinavia because actually three weeks in the same hotel is too long for anyone. The first night of the week I didn’t really feel like going far so wandered out with the intent of having a plate of cheese and meats at Adendum. Except they’re not open on a Monday. Damn! It was cold out there and I considered a return to Cafe Alma, but wasn’t that enamoured of the food to want to go there again for a meal.

On the way out I’d passed what looked like a cafe/winebar that did seem to be open, at Islands Brygge 21, and despite not being able to read the menu outside (there the Danes go with poor light levels again) I decided to go in and see what they had to offer. Turned out to be a good idea actually. A glass of wine and a starter plate got me off to a tasty start with some salami, a handful of sun dried tomatoes, caperberries, some soft cheese and pate would probably have been enough most days.

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However on a nasty wet night a plate of cassoulet had seemed just the thing. It was a massive, rough hewn plateful of a thing, with chunks of vegetables dotted among the beans, and big slices of chorizo. It might well have seen the chef run out of the south-west of France for heresy but it was delicious and filling and warmed me through to my bones so I felt able to go back outside afterwards to walk back to the Radisson and try and sleep through the racket of the wind howling round the building incessantly.

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I felt a lot better afterwards about life in general it’s fair to say.

Tuesday was a better day weather-wise and it’s starting to be lighter now in the evenings so, when we finished quite early, I set off for a walk along the harbour from the Black Diamond to Nyhavn and the Royal Playhouse, intending to get there around dusk to enjoy the Wave, part of the 2017 Frost Festival. The light was lovely and the water could be seen to great advantage as I walked along, and I wasn’t the only person taking photos out there.

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I made it to Nyhavn just as the light started to go and was thus ideally placed to play with the Wave. Again, I wasn’t the only one. You walk through the installation and the lights change colour, and frequency, and sounds are generated and it’s just brilliant! I loved it and spent a happy half hour just going back and forth and trying to capture the sheer joy of it in pictures.

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Sadly I think it’s been dismantled since which is a shame. I headed back along Nyhavn conscious that it was getting late now. There was an interesting photo exhibition in one of the boats on the canal that detained me for a while, entitled Europe’s New Borders, by Rasmus Degnbol. It was an interesting photo essay and had quite a lot to say in just a few pictures.

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Anyway, from there I walked over the bridge to Copenhagen Street Food and rounded up another portion of the wonderful sushi. It’s my plan to get to CSH at least once a trip while it’s still based at Papiroen.

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The waiter remembered me from the Saturday, as did the chef at Banzai Street Sushi which was nice and I had something of a chat with both of them (as well as extra ginger and wasabi, and some edamame) before claiming a portion of pasta carbonara from Il Mattarello as a change of country/scenery. I was amused by the edible plates used for the pasta but couldn’t possibly have managed to eat even a bite of it after I finished the carbonara.

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The following night, Wednesday, we got out early and I spent a big chunk of the afternoon and evening making copious notes all over my training course material, before deciding, around 7pm, that if I was going to have some dinner I should probably get on with it. It was blowing a damn hurricane down the street as I walked out so I went as far as Adendum before bailing out, having had difficulty actually walking forwards at one stage. I settled in on what seemed to be a very busy night and ordered a glass of their rather wonderful Zweigelt and the main course that night, a steak.

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It was a flat iron steak and perfectly cooked, seasoned nicely, and rare all the way through. The fries were a bit of disappointment, being a bit on the flabby side, but the mayo they came with and the salad were very good indeed.

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And the dessert was brilliant. A chocolate fondant, and one that was just as it should be, with a nice crisp outer edge, and a soft, melting, liquid centre. I could forgive them the fries…

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I let the wind blow me back to the hotel and spent the rest of the night finishing my notes (until I ran out of Post-Its anyway).

Thursday we finished early again so I decided I’d use up the final part of my ticket for Christiansborg and go and see the Royal Kitchens, the one part of the complex we didn’t make it to while Lynne was out. It was interesting, especially the short film explaining how banquets and the like are catered now, with food prepared at Amalienborg and the transported across town to Christiansborg and finished off there.

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After I’d finished with the kitchens I walked over to the Royal Playhouse again where I sat and drank the worst hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and finished making notes for my exam the following day. By the time I’d finished it was dark and the rain had shifted to snow.

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I set off to walk back along the Christianshavn canal and by the time I got halfway I was soaked, my collar coated in thick snow. It was starting to settle and I was in two minds as to whether to go straight back to the hotel and eat there or whether to stop en route. I reached Kanalen and realised they were already open, with a couple of tables already occupied so I went in and asked if they could seat me. They could.

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A glass of Champagne and a study of the menu and I decided I’d go with the chef’s choice of three courses. It sounded good and uncomplicated and as ever came with a wine pairing. As ever a bunch of plates arrived before the first course, this time a small poppadom with shrimp which was a lively little mouthful and a very good way to clear the palate ahead of the main event.

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Some excellent bread was also quickly delivered and devoured as I watched the snow coating the outside world (and some desperate smokers from the bar across the canal)!

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The round rolls were more choux pastry than bread but they went beautifully with the butter nonetheless.

And then there was a small extra in the shape of a turbot mousse dusted with mushroom powder.

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It’s always interesting to get these “snacks” because you quickly realise whether or not you’ll be in safe hands with the kitchen. This certainly suggested I would be…

The first course duly arrived and was a decent sized piece of cod, served with crispy cabbage, basil oil and some tiny croutons of fried bread.

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It was a very good piece of good and set me up perfectly for the steak and beetroot that followed. Proving that sometimes less is more there were really only two main ingredients in this dish and it was all the better for it. With two styles of beetroot and a perfectly cooked piece of meat it was just the thing to eat on a day when the weather gods had turned against me. I was just thinking that I could do with some more bread to mop up the juices when the waitress turned up with a fresh basket of just what I needed.

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The dessert was also a case of keeping it simple, with blueberries and ice cream set off with toasted seeds and some vanilla cream. It was tasty, with textures that kept it interesting, and some very classic flavours in the ice cream and berries. Perfect.

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I asked the waitress to get me a taxi and rolled back to the hotel in a blizzard, happy to get to bed early and ready to fly home in the morning.

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