Restaurant Stories: A Food-Filled April in Copenhagen

April: Month three came with yet more traveling and more eating. Can’t complain with that now, can we? To celebrateDSCN9318 Easter, Ellinor decided to treat Jasmine and I by putting out a cold lunch spread for us to enjoy. Featuring two kinds of pickled herring, smoked salmon, sliced meats, boiled eggs, dark bread, and lots and lots of ost (cheese), it was a probably the most Danish way to celebrate this holiday.

Speaking of lunches, by now I was fed up of trying to pack my own. I have never been that creative in the sandwich-making department, so after eating some rather ratchet creations, I took to the streets, purchasing gourmet sandwiches (at quite the pretty penny) from local establishments. During this time, I hit up Sandwich Pigen and Smagsløget. I highly recommend the latter because they have a 40% STUDENT DISCOUNT on Wednesdays and BIG sandwiches with wickedly awesome combinations that will not disappoint. I do not exactly remember what the sandwich I ordered was called, but it was clearly being marketed as the “spicy” or “hot one” on the menu. It certainly delivered, Thick ciabatta bread served as the base for piquant chorizo, manchego cheese, a menage of peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and loads and loads of sriracha sauce. Oh, and the sandwich was warm and toasty too, perfect for a crisp April day (Yes, there was sadly only a handful of days here where I was able to walk around without a jacket).

Michelle and I also went over to Ma Poule at the, you guessed it, glass market to try out the byens bedste20130412_134304 sandwich (city’s best sandwich). What was it though? Well, it was the famed (at least among DIS students) duck sandwich featuring a very French baguette filled generously with shredded duck confit, arugula, and Dijon mustard. I have never been much of a duck fan, usually because the meat can be quite gamey, but this sandwich was a winner for sure! The meat was incredibly tender and oozing with fat (in a good way). Far richer than shredded chicken, but still maintaining of a similar taste, we both loved this sandwich, and it was sure worth the 50-60 kroner we shelled out for it.

DSCN9433Mid April brought yet another travel break, during which I flew down to Spain to visit the homegirl Pooja in Valencia and try out paella, horchata, fartons, and a wickedly DSCN9519strong drink known as Agua de Valencia. Do give it a drink if you’re in the area, but I warn you, make sure you’re not on an empty stomach!

The following weekend my Dad and I took a road trip to Germany where we visited the old Hanseatic city of Lübeck. As there DSCN9706was not a ton to see there, we spent a large portion of our time eating, and I tried liver for the first time! It actually was not as bad as I thought it would be. Yeah, it was little bloody and it certainly had a mineral aftertaste, but oddly enough, I was okay with it. I also liked how DSCN9626it was prepared; the woodiness of the sage cream sauce complemented the liver’s wild flavor perfectly.

When we returned back to Copenhagen that Sunday evening, my Dad and I decided to have dinner together before I headed home. Mistakenly, I took him to Geist, a gastro bar of sorts where we dined on what I thought was probably my favorite meal in Copenhagen. The restaurant operates on the small plates concept, meaning that portions are small and one has to typically order 3-4 plates in order to enjoy a proper-sized meal. Obviously it’s expensive. The small plates cost around the same amount as any entrée would at a standard restaurant, and two glasses of deliciously dry Gruner Vetliner wine cost us $40 alone. However, let me remind you that this is Copenhagen so you have to quickly move beyond the prices and enjoy the experience for what it is. If you seat yourselves by the bar, as we did, you are treated to a large open kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare the food. In spite of the large open space, the intimate Danish feeling of hygge (coziness) is kept by the numerous candles and tea lights that serve as the main source of light during the meal.

20130421_195037As we didn’t have the money to splurge out on a full course meal here, my dad and I decided to just stick with two plates each and then go over to a nearby ice cream shop to feast on Belgian waffles a la mode afterwards. For my starter, I had a fried spinach salad tossed with piment, elderberries, and samphire cheese. Such an ingenious combination, I must say. The spinach, being fried, was automatically delicious and the elderberries, dried but still full of a sweet and tart flavor, and the elderberries added that local Scandinavian touch, which in my opinion, easily classifies this place as a burgeoning New Nordic restaurant.  My dad started with a raw zucchini salad dusted with some really good curry powder.

For the second plate, I ordered spring onions with squid and nasturtium. The onions were charred, so much so that 20130421_202600they could be classified as burnt, yet burnt food has never tasted so good! Crispy and leaving a behind of trail of ashes, cleverly repurposed as a spice to dust the plate, these spring onions were transformed into something so robust and smoky that it hit my palette with a huge “bet you didn’t see that coming” attack. Floored, but in full admiration, I only hope that I can manage to perfect this skill and incorporate it into my next barbecue. The squid, while a little salty, was perfectly tender and soft, and looking back at it, there was reason for the saltiness. The nasturtium leaves, like arugula, were intensely peppery, and they fused with the salty squid to create a plate of composed harmony. While the price of this place was enough to make you cry with sadness, it only made me cry tears of joy. If you ask me, Geist is well on its way to receiving a Michelin star, so if you want to have a taste of the culinary wonders within, visit soon before prices become so high that it will cost you just to look.

20130408_135336One meal that was well worth it, in terms of taste, authenticity, and price, was some damn good Chinese at Magasasa, located awkwardly behind Copenhagen Central Station on the head of Istegade, the street that’s better known for serving as the address for the city’s red light district. Packed with locals (and by that I mean Chinese people living in Denmark) at almost all times of day, it’s no surprise that this restaurant has been touted as offering the best Chinese food in Denmark. On that first visit, Michelle and I shared a platter of barbecued duck and pork belly and a one fiery hot mapo beef. One week later, I returned with my Dad and one of his coworkers to 20130419_204039have an eggplant and pork hot-pot that would easily blow anyone’s mind. Service here may not be excellent, the waitresses are quite sassy as they must attempt to navigate through the cramped and tiny restaurant to serve hordes of hungry patrons, but the food never failed to disappoint me. It’s consistently real and spicy, perfect for when you want to take a departure from the tamer European flavors.

20130430_200207On the search for more Indian food to satisfy my ever-growing cravings, I took two of my good friends to Mumbai, a restaurant in the outer-borough of Valby to celebrate my birthday on the last day of the month. I originally read of this restaurant in a Danish newspaper article. Granted that it was all in Danish, I was able to use my limited language skills to pick out that the restaurant was indeed “Indian” and declared by the writer as “the best place to get Indian in Denmark”. Naturally, I took that statement with a grain of salt, but as I had been willingly dinning at other ethnic joints recently, I decided that there was no reason to not give this a try. As is the case with many Indian restaurants, there was a dinner buffet, and without hesitation we made a beeline for it. Everything was… surprisingly great. Featuring a predominantly Punjabi menu, I enjoyed the pakoras, dal tadka, boondi raita, Channa masala, and saag murgh. What really got me though was the rogan josh. A traditional Kashmiri curry made with lamb and colored with the mildly spiced, but sweet Kashmiri mirch (red chili powder), I liked the sweet heat approach with this dish, and it is on my long and never-ending list of cooking projects to attempt sometime in the near future.

20130407_204639Cooking projects this month including the preparation of a passionfruit pound cake for Michelle’s birthday that was quite the labor of love (juicing passionfruit is an incredibly time-consuming task), savoring more rhubarb in the classic Danish, tongue-twister dessert, Rødgrød med Fløde, baking a famed South African casserole dish, bobotie, and collaborating with a fellow Indian friend of mine, Meghana, to prepare a complicated Indian dish, malai kofta for some peeps in our core class. Essentially a dish of fried cheese balls simmered in a rich and nutty gravy, malai kofta can be a challenge to make because the kofta (cheese balls) all have to be shallow fried, to develop a crust and then placed in the sauce to finish cooking, but not for too long because their delicate nature will DSCN9324cause them to break easily. To make things even more complicated, Meghana’s kitchen, which was supposed to be one of the best, considering that she lived in the DIS Culinary House, did not have a working blender or spice grinder, two basic tools that are a needed to complete this dish. Oh and I had the hardest time finding paneer (the cheese used to make the kofta), and I was only able to find the next best thing ricotta, at the last-minute. Despite all of the challenges, it still all came out okay in the end! Yeah, the kofta may have been a bit overfried and the gravy was a little chunkier than I would have wanted, but the end result was still luscious! Furthermore, I think we even made a breakthrough when I realized that ricotta cheese lends to far softer and fluffier koftas than paneer does. It all melted in my mouth so well!

DSCN9923On an unrelated sidenote, I had Algerian food seated on a roof awning in Amsterdam! It was a completely random day as a friend and I ended up getting split from the rest of our group. While we wandered through the trendy Jordaan neighborhood, we were instantly drawn to the unique sitting arrangement of this teeny-tiny cafe-cum-takeaway joint. It also did not hurt to mention that the food here was quite delicious too. The cauliflower side dish I had reminded me a lot of the Indian aloo gobi.

Contact Info:

Sandwich Pigen

SKINDERGADE 44 – 1159 – KØBENHAVN K

Telephone No:  +45 33 91 51 43

http://sandwichpigen.dk/

Always a student discount available if you are a Danish Insitutute for Study Abroad (DIS) student. I recommend ordering the club sandwich.

Smagsløget

Nørregade 38 – 1165 København K

Telephone No: +45 31 33 43 21

Student discount varies by day (on Wednesday’s it’s 40% off). Sandwiches take a while to make, but it’s well worth it!

Ma Poule

TORVEHALLERNE KBH (glass market)

Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K

Telephone No: +45 27 63 19 81

Fabulous duck sandwiches, but as it is a French delicatessen, other tasty specialties are available as well.

Geist

Kongens Nytorv 8, 1050 København K

Telephone No: +45 3313 3713

http://restaurantgeist.dk/en/

Dine here before the prices rise through the roof!

Magasasa

Istedgade 4, 1650 København V

Telephone No: +45 33 23 80 88

http://www.magasasa.dk/

Byens bedste kinesk mad! (The best Chinese food in the city)

Restaurant Mumbai

Vigerslev Alle 124, 2500 Valby

Telephone No: +45 33 55 11 77

http://mumbaico.dk/

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