May- My final month, or should I say half month, in Copenhagen, flew by before I could even give a proper goodbye. Amidst all the finals, friends, parties, food, and last-minute adventuring, I was in no way ready to leave Denmark on the 16th, but we’ll get to that later.
Michelle and I had been talking, for a while, to visit this burger joint that had become quite renown amongst DIS students for having some of the best burgers around. Because we were trying to eat across Copenhagen in every way possible, we decided to add the restaurant, Halifax, to our ever-growing list of restaurants and foods that we had to try before leaving. Sadly, the length of the list did little to keep us on schedule. I’m pretty sure that almost half of the proposed eating venues were left untasted. Anyways, we did make it here. It was conveniently located near Michelle’s dorm in Østerbro, an upmarket neighborhood situated just north of the city center. However, I later found out that Halifax actually has four locations spread across Copenhagen, so accessibility is certainly not a problem.
Most students find Halifax burgers to be appealing because they are BIG and a good value for the money. What drew me in were the different styles, each one inspired by a particular destination across the globe. Ordering your burger in Halifax consists of first choosing a style, followed by a patty (choose from beef, chicken, chickpea, or green pea), bun, and a zesty sauce to dip your fries (which fortunately come complementary) in. I settled for the Kreta, a Greek-inspired combination of aioli, black olive tapenade, feta cheese, tomato, red onion, and lettuce, which I paired with a chickpea patty and classic burger bun. For my fries, I stuck with the classic Danish remoulade, house-made of course, for dipping. The burger was good, nobody was lying about that. I agree that it was large and filling, and I liked that. While I did find the chickpea patty to be a bit dry, I still loved how it paired so wonderfully with all of the toppings creating a pseudo-falafel taste sensation in my mouth.
Is Halifax home of the byens bedste burger (city’s best burger)? Certainly, but we gotta keep it real though. I’m from the US. I ain’t gonna find the best burger of my life in Denmark! However, I won’t lie in saying that this was one of the best burgers I had in a while. It also does not hurt to mention that virtually all patties, condiments, and buns are made in-house, and many of the ingredients are locally sourced, so these burgers are a definite upgrade from fast food.
A bit later after filling our stomachs, we headed back out for a nightcap at Zefside, a classy cocktail bar located only a mere few steps away from Christiansborg, the seat of Danish parliament. Like a lot of other bars, Zefside offers a happy hour special, theirs falling on Thursday nights. I had never had a cocktail before, so I was quite eager to go, and when I got there, I certainly was not disappointed. For about 75 kroner, I got two STRONG drinks, definitely a must when going out because if I’m going to be paying a ton, they better delivering a ton as well! The only catch here is that even though you get two drinks for 75 kroner, they have to be the same drink, so I didn’t have a chance to sample more of the ingenious combinations (although, now looking back on it, the four of us could have each ordered a different set and then swapped). However, I was plenty pleased with my herbaceous and pleasantly citrusy cairpirinha, that was smooth but also pleasingly gritty with coarse sugar used to muddle together the mint and limes. I guess it is probably similar to a mojito, the only difference being that this was Brazilian? Eh, I can’t be too sure, but I was satisfied to the max, and I left the bar feeling happy, a little dizzy, and more than ready to sleep in and skip Danish class the next morning, which I did.
The following weekend started with me meeting up with my Dad on Saturday to take a day trip to Malmo, a Swedish city right across the Øresunds bridge. As much as he enjoyed working in Copenhagen, the company my Dad worked for was quite demanding and would make them come into work practically everyday, including the weekends. The only excuse my Dad could make in order to take a day off, was to say that he wanted to spend time with me, so as a favor to him, I originally suggested that we make this Swedish escapade. After quickly buying the train tickets at an electronic kiosk, we were ready to make the 40 minute hop across the sound.
Most Danes travel to Malmö for shopping because prices here are a little cheaper than in Denmark. While my Dad and I originally intended to just go for lunch and take a stroll around town to see the sights, we quickly realized that there was actually nothing to see and then proceeded, like the Danes, to shop, returning home with new spring coats to beat the brisk morning breezes. We also ate plenty, and my Dad took advantage of Malmö’s cheaper prices by getting a much-needed haircut. Food highlights from this Swedish saturday included some surprisingly good Indian food at a restaurant in one of the main squares along with a well-made jordgubbstårta (strawberry tart), a Scandinavian, summertime speciality, at a local cafe.
Returning back to Copenhagen in the evening, I decided to spend the night at my Dad’s hotel, mainly cause I wanted to try his hotel’s breakfast the next morning. It was great. After this big breakfast, I took my Dad for a walk around one of the lakes by Nørrebro, a borough of Copenhagen. The weather was glorious, pleasant, and sunny. I wish we had bikes to make the experience ten times more Danish. We concluded with lunch at my favorite spot, the glass market. What’s great about this place is that each time I visited, I went to yet another stall for lunch so there was never a dull moment. This time we ate at Gorm’s, a stall that specializes in thin-crust pizza. My pie was piled with spicy salami and spinach while my father chose one with thinly sliced potatoes, creme fraiche, and rosemary. Having tasted some of the best in Italy, it’s hard for me now to find good pizza elsewhere so I usually try my best to not compare. Therefore, the pizzas at Gorm’s were probably the only good pizzas I ate in Copenhagen. They are perfect for light meal, something my Dad and I desired as we were still full from breakfast and our gluttony feast the previous day.
The good part about May, besides all of the eating, was that the weather was finally starting to warm up. I was even able to walk around without a jacket for a couple of days! More than ready to take advantage of these fine conditions, Michelle and I decided to have a picnic because that is something the Danes just love to do once the sun comes out. We started at Nørreport station to try out some Hungarian lángos from Tonis Lángos, a street cart right outside. I had first heard about lángos from Pooja, who had tried it on a recent trip to Budapest and claimed that it was wickedly awesome, so naturally yielding to a fellow foodie’s suggestion, I ran to try it when I saw a cart offering it in Copenhagen. A deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream, garlic, and dill, there was obviously nothing wrong with this dish. We loved it, so much, and its similarity to Navajo fry bread found here in the States means that I can easily make it at home.
After our fried food appetizer, Michelle and I then headed across the street to the Netto (a Danish-grocery store) to pick up a bottle of rose wine before hopping into the metro. We originally planned to picnic at the lawn outside of Fredensborg palace, located in the posh urban borough of Frederiksberg. Even though we got off at the right metro stop, or so we thought, we couldn’t find the palace to save our lives! I swear we didn’t only walk all around Frederiksberg, but we easily crossed into Vesterbro and Norrebro in the process. It was crazy, and we ended up picnicking in an awkward forest which was believe it or not, located RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the palace. Oh well, missteps certainly happen when you are running around a foreign country, and the eggplant and mango dip I prepared was still every bit as delicious, especially when Michelle, an eggplant hater, loved it.
The next day I taught my friend Val to make a very semi-homemade raspberry tiramisu (but it still tasted good) before we headed out to have dinner in Christiania. Even though I was less than impressed with Christiania the first time I visited (mostly cause it was during a blizzard), I still thought the neighborhood was quirky, and I wanted to give it another try once the weather had warmed up. Fortunately, the day finally came, and we went off to eat dinner at Morgenstedet, a vegan restaurant that was a natural fit within its very alternative surroundings. I had a spinach and onion curry that was served over brown rice with plenty of mixed vegetables. It was healthy, filling, very affordable, and best of all the perfect escape away from the standard, meaty Danish cuisine. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Copenhagen as a vegetarian.
The raspberry tiramisu, of which there was a huge tray, was devoured the next day at a picnic on the beach that Val and I had with some of our friends. While a good idea, the picnic was still kind of awkward because it was quite windy and most of us (atleast myself) still had to wear our coats. Not actually how I would imagine a day on the beach to be but atleast it was still sunny out.
I spent my last day in Copenhagen inevitably eating. Michelle and I had lunch together, for what will be the last time for a while, at our usual haunt Magasasa. The food, as usual, was terrific, particularly the beef in chili sauce, whose generous Sichuan peppercorns popped and sizzled on our tongues, leaving an interesting, vibrating sensation in the mouth. After we parted ways, I then met up with Jenn and Swetha, two buddies from my core class, to spend the evening at Tivoli Gardens, the famed amusement park, situated smack in central Copenhagen, that served as the inspiration for Disney World. While Jenn and Swetha got to enjoy me screaming like a 12-year old girl as I rode roller coasters and other thrill seeking rides for the first time, we all ended the evening enjoying a good old cone of ice cream at Vaffelbageriet, an old-fashioned ice cream stall in the park. So good is this ice cream, that National Geographic rated it at number 9 on their list of top ten places to eat ice cream in the world. What makes this ice cream so special, is not just the cone, satisfying all of the qualities I raved about in this post, but the toppings. Whipped cream, currant jam, and a flødebolle (chocolate-covered marshmallow puff) took my creamy banana-chocolate and tiramisu ice creams to the next level, and I say that when in Tivoli, do as the Danes do, and head over to Vaffelbageriet to savor an Amerikaner (that’s what you must order if you want to enjoy the special cone with all of the cute fixings).
The next morning, feeling a great deal depressed, I had to wave good-bye to my entire Denmark experience and board a plane back to the US. Leaving was terribly hard. In four short months, I had managed to make a home for myself in Scandinavia, and I felt as if I was just getting to know it. Thrust back into Chicago, I found myself dealing with a great deal of culture shock for the first couple weeks. Gone were the days of waking up to muesli and yoghurt, riding the s-tog (Copenhagen’s commuter rail) into the city, attempting to speak Danish, shelling out kroner after kroner for amazing meals, and being able to hangout with some damn amazing people. I wanted Scandinavia back so bad, and I challenged myself over how I could make it happen.
I had been in love with the television show, New Scandinavian Cooking, for months before leaving to study abroad. Week after week, I followed along as the spunky host, Andreas Viestad, traveled across Norway’s breathtaking landscapes to create uniquely Nordic meals with local ingredients and produce. Sure, a lot of the food made on the show may not actually be something that I would necessarily try making at home, but I was intrigued by it nonetheless. The first episode I watched upon return featured Andreas traversing across Norway’s central heartland to learn how to make brown cheese. An interesting dairy product, this cheese is actually made from the leftover whey from cheese making. What results after boiling this all down, is a soft and fudgy-textured cheese with a caramelized appearance and sweet taste. Andreas described it tasting much like dulce de leche, and I would say the same, adding that it reminds me of a very lightly sweetened cheesecake. Throughout the entire show, Andreas cooked with the cheese in a variety of ways, but the first thing he made was a snack popular with Norwegian children. It was nothing more than a slice of dark rye bread topped with thin slices of brown cheese and fresh strawberries. Not quite sure if such cheese could be found in the US, I put aside any plans to try it until my Mom decided to ask the if the people at the local Whole Foods had it. Who would have known, it was there! Very excited, we ran home with organic strawberries and some 100% rye bread that we were able to find at Trader Joe’s (this bread was very similar in taste and texture to the dense rugbrød I ate all the time in Denmark, but if you can’t find it, I suppose a pumpernickel will do). The resulting combination, while simple, was enough to make me feel as if I had returned to my beloved Denmark again, even though this snack is Norwegian in origin. In fact I recommend this strategy to any culture-shocked returnees from extended stays abroad. Look around for ingredients and food products from the country you visited and attempt to create a little something that you may have enjoyed there all the time. It will certainly make the transition to living back home a lot easier.
With that advice, I conclude writing this massive restaurant guide/memoirs of time in Copenhagen. Shall you ever find yourself in the Danish capital sometime, I hope that you refer back to these posts on where to grab a delicious bite, anywhere and anytime.
Halifax Burger Restaurant and Bar
Four locations in Copenhagen, but the one we visisted was:
Trianglen 1, 2100 København Ø
Telephone No: +45 82 30 32 00
Frederiksholms Kanal 4, 1220 København K
Telephone No: +45 28 46 89 87
Great atmosphere, strong drinks, happy prices
Torvehallerne KBH (the glass market)
Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K
Telephone No: +45 53 53 13 99