The capital of Denmark is justifiable proud of its reputation as a gastronomic destination. With the rock-star Noma restaurant repeatedly named as one of the best restaurants in the world, it didn’t take long until food lovers from around the world were flocking to Copenhagen to sample the celebrated Danish cuisine.
But the good news is that there’s a lot more to the food scene in Copenhagen than just high-end restaurants. Here’s three local specialties to try on your visit to this spectacular city.
Smørrebrød – a classic open sandwich
The Danish claim to have invented the open sandwich – known locally as smørrebrød. Whether that’s true or not, they do know how to make very good open sandwiches – it’s one of their lunchtime staples. There’s a couple of secrets to a really good open sandwich. In Copenhagen they use rugbrød – dense, brown, rye bread, smeared with some proper butter. From there it comes down to personal taste as to what goes on top – it could be anything from slices of cold meat, fish, cheese, or other types of spreads. If you’ve got a few smørrebrød to choose from, then the locals suggest a specific order in which to eat – if there’s smørrebrød with herring, then you should start with that one. From there you move on to any other smørrebrød topped with fish or seafood. After that comes the smørrebrød topped with meat. To finish you eat the smørrebrød topped with cheese. There is some method to this rigid sequencing – the acidity of the herring primes your palate for the richness of the meats, and the cheese completes that journey of taste and flavor.
I’m a bit obsessed with Danish porridge. More specifically, I’m obsessed with a cafe in Copenhagen that sells porridge. In the same way that the streets of Los Angeles are awash with juice bars, Grød is porridge bar. You’ll find Grød on the street called Jægersborggade, the neighborhood of Nørrebro. Nørrebro is a pretty cool neighbourhood, and Jægersborggade is about the coolest street in Nørrebro. If I was tall enough and blonde enough to live in Copenhagen, I’d try and live as close as possible to Jægersborggade – there’s lots of great cafes and restaurants in this area, so it’s a popular stopping point for food tours in Copenhagen. Jægersborggade was where the first Grød porridge bar opened, but there’s now a couple of locations across the city and in other parts of Denmark. In the mornings there’s a range of different porridges to choose from, all with a variety of toppings that you can tailor to your tastes. For lunch and evenings they switch the menu over to risotto. It’s genius, and it’s delicious.
When you’re thinking of the delicious food that you’re going to try in Copenhagen, pickled herring may not be at the top of your list. However, you have to force yourself to give it a go, because it is totally delicious. The local tradition that you should drink a small glass of schnapps with the herring – apparently it helps the fish swim into your stomach. The schnapps may not be essential, but it is a delicious combination.