No Knowledge of Norwegian Required: Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus (Meatballs with Gravy)

So about a year ago, I was in one of the most idyllic settings in the world:

Majestic snow-capped peaks sliding down into pristine waters. Cool and crisp air, fresh and untainted by urban smog. Colorful village settings where traditional chants can still be heard. 

Yes, my friends, I was traversing through the fjords of Norway. A once in a lifetime experience (and I really do mean once, it’s dreadfully expensive) that brought me closer to nature than ever before.

I’m not sure if the same can be said about the food. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of delicious food in Norway, the only problem is that most of it is not that affordable on a student’s budget. Fortunately my brother and I were lucky enough on our first night to wander into a cozy little bar serving up some of the best beer I’ve ever had, along with a selection of traditional Norwegian fare. It was here, where we met the kjøttkaker. 

DSCN1441Translating roughly into meatballs or patties, kjøttkaker (prounounced “shyot-ka-kare”) are a member of a family of meatball delicacies that form the backbone of most Scandinavian diets. No matter where you travel within the Nordic states, you are bound to find them. Sweden has its köttbullar, perhaps the best known thanks to the kitchens of furniture megastore, Ikea, and who can forget my favorite place, Denmark, where my host mom prepared frikadeller on a weekly basis. Meatballs are loved in this part of globe, and one would not be able to get at the essence of these cuisines without them.

Most Nordic cooks prepare their meatballs with pork, veal, or a blend of both. Therefore, I was quite intrigued when I came across this recipe using lamb instead of the previous three. Having been eager to make my parents a traditional Scandinavian meal since my return from Denmark, I immediately jumped on this recipe because it’s the only one that my parents could eat (we don’t consume beef or pork at home).

If I must be honest, I’d have to say that Norwegian kjøttkaker taste better than their Swedish and Danish counterparts.DSCN1395 I think it has something to do with the spice profile. A generous dose of allspice along with ginger (I actually used fresh to increase its presence) gives a warm, earthy, and well-rounded flavor to these meatballs. Better yet, the gravy or brunsaus, is banging. Sweet and caramelly brown cheese, a product I have written more about here, is combined with tangy creme fraiche, your favorite meat or vegetable stock, the delicious left over lamb drippings from frying the meatballs, and a hefty spoon of cocoa powder. Yes, it’s a chef’s elevation of a traditional recipe, but this gravy will probably be one of the most interesting and unusual (in a good way) ones that you’ll try, and I know you will love it. My mother, with a strong spice-driven Indian palette, normally finds Scandinavian dishes to be a bit too “subtle” for her liking, but she adored these, so much so that she insisted I make them again and again. Not only does that make me happy, but it brings me more joy to be able to share this foolproof recipe with you all, one that does not require any knowledge of Norwegian to make.

Skål! (cheers),

Rahul

DSCN1434Recipe: Norwegian Meatballs with Brown Gravy

Recipe Adapted from Food and Wine

Serves around four people

Ingredients:  

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 slices of day-old bread
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the gravy:

  • 2 cups lamb, beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons brandy
  • 3/4 cups creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup shredded brown cheese (gjetost)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

For garnishing:

  • chopped chives or dill, to taste
  • lingonberry, black currant, or cloudberry jam

Method: 

Start out by soaking the bread in the milk for about 10-15 minutes, till it has become all soft and mushy.

In a small pan, saute the onions with the allspice and ginger over medium heat, until softened.

In a large bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients together until well incorporated. I find that one’s hands are the best tools for this process. Form into about 40-rounded, teaspoon-size meatballs.DSCN1404

In a large pan, heat up some oil (about 1 to 2 tablespoons will do) over medium high heat. Once hot, add the meatballs in batches and fry for about five minutes, till they’ve charred and formed a nice crust. If you find that the meatballs are not fully cooked at this point, that’s fine. They will finish cooking in the gravy.

After you have removed the meatballs from the pan, save the drippings and add the stock of your liking, whisking around to release any burnt meatball bits stuck to the pan. Bring the stock to a boil and allow it to reduce by half. Then add the brandy, creme fraiche, cocoa powder, brown cheese, and some salt, if needed. Whisk rapidly to combine and allow the brown cheese to melt into the gravy.

Bring the gravy to a simmer and add the meatballs, simmering and stirring occasionally over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs have cooked through and the gravy has thickened. Serve over mashed potatoes and lingonberry/currant/cloudberry jam, and garnish to your liking with chopped chives or dill.

DSCN1424Cooking Notes:

  • If ground lamb is not available in your area, feel free to substitute with ground mutton, beef, pork, or blend of any two.
  • If you don’t eat any of the aforementioned meats, I could imagine this dish working with ground chicken or turkey as well.
  • gjetost (brown cheese) can be found at specialty food stores, such as Whole Foods or at online retailers. If it’s unavailable in your area, you can easily substitute the gravy in this recipe with one used to dress Swedish meatballs instead.
  • This saucy recipe can also be served over pasta, gnocchi, or spaetzle
  • Meatballs in Scandinavia are eaten with a little jam because the tartness of the jam helps to cut through the richness of the meat. I have recommended flavors that are common in the region. If you can’t find any of them near you, cranberry sauce is naturally the next best option.
  • Recommended Pairing: A bitter and malty stout, with its notes of dark chocolate and coffee will complement these meatballs perfectly. Look for a Norwegian brew if you can find it!
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Food Orgy: A Voyage through Mumbai’s famous Ramzan Night-Market

My Dad’s family, particularly his brother and sister are fond of, if not fanatical about, all things non-vegetarian. Even though a vast majority of Indians do indeed eat meat, a veggie-based diet is common during most of the week, and meatDSCN0280 consumption is still seen as a luxury in many parts of the country. Therefore, longings transform into cravings of a magnitude as great as the ones we Americans (myself included) have for juicy burgers or succulent barbecue.

Upon completing my internship in Hyderabad over the summer, I flew to Mumbai to spend a week with relatives before heading back to the States. While on the taxi ride home, my uncle announced that he would be taking my brother and I on a “food orgy” of sorts to commemorate our “experience” abroad. Now, I know my uncle well, and while I know that he was trying to peak at my obsessions with food, he was also trying to satisfy his desires to feast upon the endless platters of meat that were bound to be available.

DSCN0269Our destination for the night was tucked within one of the Muslim quarters of the city, in the heart of Old Mumbai. The vast swabs of humanity that greeted us once we stepped out of the cab on Muhammad Ali Road were DSCN0296unimaginable. Located near a large mosque the small, narrow alleyway we were about to venture into was bursting to the seams for several reasons: it was during the holy month of Ramadan, it was past sunset, and there was the promise of food, lots of it.

This lane of food, an endless stretch of food stalls, is interestingly enough frequented not as much by Muslims anymore as it is by Hindus, Catholics, tourists, and everyone else trying to get their dose of unique foods that are only available during this time of the year and at this time of day (Ramadan permits worshipers to only consume food and water after sunset) as the food stalls along with the crowds that accompany them, disappear once Eid (the final day of Ramadan) has passed.

Navigating through the alleyway is not for the faint of heart. It’s beyond crowded (imagine the congestion on your local DSCN0271metro/bus times a thousand), very filthy (we narrowly missed stepping on a decaying rat carcass lying on the street), and blisteringly hot (enough to coat your clothes in a thick layer of sweat). However, if you can persist through these conditions, by all means please try, you shall be rewarded with some of the greatest street food I have ever had in this city.

Chicken and Mutton RollsWe started off with some fabulous chicken and mutton (goat) rolls. Think DSCN0276delicately spiced, reminiscent of tandoori, chunks of juicy meat wrapped in puff pastry and griddled to perfection. The kind of snack you crave with your evening glass of pilsner. Soon afterward, we moved, or better yet shall I say we were pushed, into the next stall serving up Chicken Soupspicy bowls of a chicken soup and juicy legs of tandoori chicken. While the soup bowls certainly warranted questions regarding their cleanliness, the chicken legs were totally worth it, every bite down to the bone.Tandoori Chicken

After these snacks we decided to sit down, in a cooler location thankfully, for some biryani and nalli nihari. If there is any dish to be Dinner Spreadmost seasonal on this street it’s definitely a nihari. A curry made with chunks of goat or beef marrow, this must have been the delicacy that my uncle made us venture here for. The fat will coatNalli Nihari your throat and you have to constantly stir the curry to keep it from separating, but let me tell you, you’ll awkwardly be craving some more. It’s a dish that taps into the evolutionary human need for fat. No matter how hard you Chicken Biryanitry not to, you will end up eating it. The biryani appeared hard to eat at first, not because it was bad or anything, but I had just returned from Hyderabad where I had eaten the best. The thought of any others comparing seemed slim. Fortunately, it wasn’t half bad. While this chicken biryani did lack its trusty salan (gravy) companion, the heavy-handed use of saffron in the rice was interesting and worth appreciating.

Now with only a fraction of space left in our stomachs, we elected to finish Phirnithe night with phirni, a cracked-rice pudding traditionally set in earthenware bowls. Several flavors including cardamom, saffron, and chickoo (a local, syrupy tasting fruit) were on offer and quite decent to boot. They would have just been a touch better if they were chilled to help combat the intense heat.

MalpuaFinally, there’s always that one item in markets or restaurants that looks insanely good, but you never manage to try it. That day it was the malpua, a deep-fried, pancake-like item that my uncle insisted I take pictures of, but strangely did not let us try it. Staring at the speedy craft-work of the cooks as they dipped the malpuas into the sizzling Malpua Fryingoil was mesmerizing. If I ever make it back to this market, I definitely want a taste.

How Hyderabad Stole My Heart: Qubani ka Meetha (Dried Apricot Sweet)

Qubani ka Meetha with Vanilla Ice Cream

I spent the summer as a research intern working at a diagnostics lab in Hyderabad, a bustling metropolis in Southern India. I won’t bother sharing all the work-related details here because you can find them on another specially dedicated blog I wrote to document the experience, Andhra-Style: My Life in Hyderabad. Do give it a read if you want to know more about me! I think I was able to make some pretty gritty and introspective realizations about my life at the time. 

image
The cramped work area where I conducted my experiments

One thing worth sharing are the contradictory emotions. While I was in Hyderabad, I was faced with a culture that was familiar, yet so alien at the same time. There were many days were I felt lonely, bored, and just wanted to fly back home.

Is it weird though now, to say that I miss almost everything about Hyderabad? I miss those rain splattered walks through work along Abid Road, through the full blown sensory assault that would greet me everyday. The incessant sound of cars, trucks, busses, and motorcycles honking their horns, the endless flow of humanity spilling onto the streets, the smell of the frying oil wafting away in the mornings from little vada and dosa stalls, the uncomfortable splashes of mucky water, swept up from roadside puddles, seeping into my shoes. I miss the lab, all cramped up in that small and windowless space,  full of the incessant chitter-chatter of my coworkers in rapid Telugu. I miss my initially feeble, but eventually triumphant attempts at speaking Hindi and trying to be more “Indian”.

Hyderabad’s Finest: the Famed Chicken Biryani at Shadaab Restaurant

For obvious reasons, I miss the food the most: waking up to an arrangement of fried goodies and peppery hot masala chai, gulab jamuns and puffy-hot pooris every Tuesday at the workplace cafeteria, spending the weekends at Lakshmi Aunty’s house, where I was reacquainted with her simple, yet heavily satisfying cuisine after so many years, and the biryani, oh, oh, oh do I miss that biryani. Juicy chunks (or legs) of chicken or mutton (goat) layered between intensely aromatic basmati rice and served with a peanut and coconut gravy known as salan, I could probably go on for posts about its uniqueness and how I will never be able to replicate this true Hyderabadi delicacy in my home. That makes me sad because most biryanis found here in the States or really anywhere outside Hyderabad for that matter, just cannot compare. What’s Andhra stays Andhra.

Fortunately, there are some Hyderabadi treats which I can prepare within the confines of my small, apartment kitchen. Best of all, this little dish is chock full of one my all time favorite snack foods, dried apricots. Where my love affair with these bright orange gems began is not hard to trace. I would go through almost a bag a day back in Denmark, for they were both cheap and a good way to hold over the hunger until the next meal. When I learned that one of Hyderabad’s trademark sweets features dried apricots as the key ingredient, it became imperative that there was going to be no way that I would be leaving the city without having bowls aplenty, all to be licked down to the last bit of golden and sticky apricot goo.

Chowmalla Palace: Home to Hyderabad’s Nizams

Qubani ka Meetha, which translates to “apricot-sweet” in Urdu, the language of Hyderabad’s Muslim community, is a dessert straight out of the kitchens of the Nizams (old Muslim rulers) of Hyderabad, who would have most likely sourced the dried beauties from the eastern lands of Afghanistan and Iran. Today a staple at most Hyderabadi weddings, qubani ka meetha is enjoyed by all Indians alike, but if you want a truly authentic taste, you still have to venture into the old Muslim quarter of the city, across the dried up river bank, to grab a taste at famous eateries such as Shadaab, where I was able to grab a delicious mouthful.

Qubani ka Meetha in its original splendor, how I enjoyed it in Hyderabad

Simplicity is the essence of this dish for the simplest recipes only require a boiling down of dried apricots, water, and sugar, finished with apricot kernels and a spoon of malai (clotted cream). Thus the quality and more so type of product, specifically the apricot, really factors into the final taste of this dish. In India most, if not all dried apricots, are unsulphured, meaning that they are not treated with sulfur dioxide to give them that bright orange color. They have a different taste, one that is often sweeter and more earthy. Furthermore, the pits are left in, and the utilization of the kernels within, little seeds that resemble almonds, both in terms of taste and appearance, provide the element of crunch. As sweets in India are usually only reserved for special occasions, Indian cooks typically show no restraint with the sugar, so during both instances in which I had Qubani in Hyderabad, they were cloyingly sweet, a taste that was only tempered by stirring in some of the malai. 

While I loved the Qubani ka Meetha with all its realness at Shadaab, this became one of the few dishes were I felt that I could actually make it, dare I say better, with the usage of American ingredients back home. There were naturally some big changes I had to make. Firstly, that the dried apricots we get in the US are the more familiar brightly orange-tinted Turkish varieties, which for me, have oddly enough always bursted with a fruity reminiscence of the fresh fruit. Secondly, as these apricots come without the pits, I decided to substitute this textural element by stirring in some toasted almonds. Also, as making malai usually requires long hours spent over the stove, boiling milk down and  stirring it continuously, I opted for serving with vanilla ice cream instead because as a busy and overworked college student, I ain’t got time to replicate all of my ancestral ways. The change I am the most proud of though, is the addition of crushed cardamom seeds. 

A key flavor in almost all Indian desserts, cardamom is used as often in India as vanilla is in the US, but the two don’t taste anything the same, save for their floral aromas. Lusty, jammy, and full of the warm aromas of an Indian childhood (thanks to my buddy cardamom), the flavors of Qubani ka Meetha will have you missing it as soon as you finish your first bowl. Good thing, I made it again last weekend.

Recipe: Qubani ka Meetha

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried apricots, packed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, adjust to taste
  • 6 crushed cardamom pods, optional
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

Method:

  1. Soak the apricots in warm water overnight, till they have plumped up fully.
  2. Pour the apricots with the water (it should have a nice orange color) into a heavy bottom sauce pan with the crushed cardamom pods. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Simmer the mixture for 20-25 minutes, mashing intermittently, until the apricots are softened and falling apart.
  4. Stir in the sugar and toasted almonds, cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.

Cooking Notes:

  • If you want your Qubani to mimic both the taste and appearance of the Hyderabadi original, try using unsulphured apricots instead of the conventional Turkish kind. Also there are a good deal of Indian grocery stores that carry Indian apricots as well. These may be complete with the pits and will naturally lend you the most authentic flavor.
  • Qubani ka Meehta can also be served with a vanilla custard, creme anglaise, unsweetened whipped cream, or Greek yogurt.
  • My new favorite way to use Qubani ka Meetha is by featuring it as a cake filling. Use your favorite yellow cake recipe, place a thick layer of the Qubani between the layers, and frost with a cardamom whipped cream. It is guaranteed to blow the minds of your guests. It sure did for mine :)!

Restaurant Stories: A Food-Filled May in Copenhagen

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.

20130502_184813Most 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.

20130504_142252Most 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 20130504_165032morning 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.

20130505_124910Returning 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) to20130510_164137 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.

20130511_185239The 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 20130515_140613while, 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 20130515_210649old 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. 20130521_140905Week 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.

Contact Info:

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

http://www.halifax.nu/

Zefside

Frederiksholms Kanal 4, 1220 København K

Telephone No: +45 28 46 89 87

http://www.zefside.dk/

Great atmosphere, strong drinks, happy prices

Gorm’s

Torvehallerne KBH (the glass market)

Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K

Telephone No: +45 53 53 13 99

http://www.gormspizza.dk/

Tonis Langos

Nørreport Station, 1358 København K
Telephone No: +45 20 47 01 91 or +45 20 31 63 46
Morgenstedet
Fabriksområdet 134,  1440 København K
No phone number that I could find, but for more information, one could try emailing them at morgenstedet@mail.dk or try their website: http://www.morgenstedet.dk/
Vafelbageriet
Vesterbrogade 3, 1620 København V (It’s inside Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park)
Telephone No: +45 33 13 24 19
More information about Tivoli Gardens can be found here: http://www.tivoli.dk/en/

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/

Restaurant Stories: A Food-Filled March in Copenhagen

MedistepolseMarch: As I approached the halfway point of my study abroad experience, I began to break more into the core of Danish cuisine, both at home and outside. My host mom, Ellinor, slowly began to introduce Jasmine and I to the foods of her youth, cooking us delicious medisterpølse (a thick and spicy, fried pork sausage), creamed green cabbage, which we topped with cinnamon sugar (I know it sounds weird, but this combination was actually crazy good),  risengrød (a Danish rice-pudding that’s more commonly Risengrodserved for dinner rather than desert), and ægkage (essentially just an omelette with ham, but hey, the name’s cool), and one æbletærte (apple pie) made entirely from scratch. I enjoyed trying it all, along with learning more about these foods along the way.

ChristianiaAround this time, I also became friends with Michelle, a girl in my Danish class. I had known her since like February or so, but we didn’t really bond until a class trip to Christiania (a free town in the middle of Copenhagen populated primarily by, and I don’t mean to be offensive, hippies, squatters, and other alternative folk). Complaining constantly about the bitter cold and blizzardy conditions we were made to walk through, the two of us decided to grab lunch afterward at the Torvehallerne, or glass market, a food emporium in central Copenhagen. The glass market is this large emporium filled with top quality produce and meat sellers along with stalls and stalls of tasty eateries and artisan product vendors. FiskefrikadellerBasically, it was my second home. We ate at the Boutique Fisk, a stand known for its fiskefrikadeller (essentially like frikadeller but made with fish instead). For about 35 kroner (7 dollars) each, we both got a large fish cake, a slice of dark bread, and a slathering of tangy, house made remoulade (a pickle and mayonnaise condiment that is eaten a lot with fish in Denmark). The fiskefrikadeller were hot and fresh out of the oil and the remoulade, with its slight hints of curry powder, went along well as the perfect accompaniment. During this lunch, I learned that Michelle was also a FOODIE like me! We were just made to be best friends, and we decided that we were going to spend the rest of the semester eating our way through Copenhagen. It was perhaps the best decision I had made in a long time.

NyhavnAt the end of the month, my brother flew in to visit me, and we spent the week traveling together across Sweden and Norway. After spending enough money to take us to the moon and back, I came to realize that I ought to be more generous with the cash back in Copenhagen. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity after all. When we returned back to Denmark at the end of the week, we met up with our Dad, who randomly got a job with Maersk and started working in Copenhagen around mid-March. He was being put up in some really fancy hotel near the royal palace, and after reuniting with him after two long months, the three us embarked on a weekend of good eating. Wow, it sure felt great to not be spending the money for once! We started off by having lunch at a restaurant on the famous Nyhavn canal. Now while most restaurants here are quite overpriced, some of them do put out good Danish fare, including the one we dined at, the Nyhavn 17. We treated ourselves to Smørrebrød, without a doubt the most well-known food from Denmark. Skagen ToastLiterally translating to “bread and butter”, Smørrebrød consists of a slice of buttered brown bread that is then piled high with a dizzying array of toppings and served open-faced with a knife and fork. I ordered Skagen Toast,  a creation with boiled shrimps tossed in a sour cream based dressing with dill, asparagus, and trout roe. My father ordered the Shooting Star“shooting star”, Denmark’s most popular Smørrebrød that consists of a fried fillet of plaice (a whitefish that is similar in appearance to flounder) topped with shrimps and fish roe. Finally, because I wanted my brother to get a taste of everything, I made him order a Smørrebrød platter that consisted of three pieces of Smørrebrød topped with the most Smorrebrod Platterpopular toppings. It was a lot of food which he didn’t finish. For dinner, I took them for more Danish food at Peder Oxe, a long-standing establishment on Gråbrødretorv, the oldest square in Cornish HenCopenhagen, dating back to the early Middle Ages. The atmosphere was that of an old-fashioned joint. The waitresses were tall, attractive, blond-haired, Danish women clad in traditional dresses. When you wanted to call them, you would only need to turn on a lamp above your table sending a fluorescent green light floating through the restaurant that instantly drew one towards you. The food was more French-Danish fusion than actual Danish. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with my roasted Cornish Hen, I did enjoy the saffron-infused caramelized onions that came with it.

We spent the next day sightseeing, as I ran around trying to show them all of the Copenhagen landmarks that I could Copenhagenthink of. Naturally, one of them included lunch at the glass market. We at a Glass Marketstall called Palæo, which features foods cooked according to the Paleo diet, one that is shaped around eating things that our earliest human ancestors ate. I had the most interesting hotdog that was wrapped in an omelette instead of a bun. Packed with protein and a ton of other nutritional benefits, the flavors were also delightful and I like the remoulade and pickled cucumbers in here too. As it was only two days after my brother’s birthday, we decided to go afterward to Konditori La Glace for some traditional Danish lakage (layer cakes). La Glace is perhapsRhubarb Cake! the oldest patisserie in Copenhagen, and it is a must if you want to sample a slice of the old European sweet culture. Even though they don’t have contain much actual cake at all, Danish cakes are still quite heavy and sweet, featuring thick fruit fillings and mounds of unsweetened whipped cream. Order a slice of any cake sitting in the window, and it’s bound to be delicious. Mine certainly was. It was a hazelnut base topped with a rhubarb filling, white chocolate mousse, and then meringue. It set me on a love for rhubarb that would have me eating and cooking with it for the rest of the season.

Dinner at Khun JukTo cap off the day, my father took us to Khun Juk, an upscale Thai restaurant that he and his coworkers had been to a couple of times. We had a five course meal that was honestly way too overpriced, but it was also way too delicious. My favorite course was the dessert. We had a Thai pancake served with coconut ice cream and tropical fruits. I have never had much luck with Thai desserts before, so this dish was a Thai Pancakes at Khun Jukbreakthrough. The richness of the pancake reminded me of Indian gulab jamuns (fried Idough-balls soaked in a sugar syrup) and the coconut ice cream was dreamy and smooth, without that cloying and almost artificial flavor you find in a lot of coconut confections.

Chocolate CookiesIn case you had any doubts, I still was in the kitchen a lot during March (I swear, you could have never got me out of there). I made a Pav Bhaji that would have been welcome on any Indian’s table, but proved to be a little too spicy for the Danish host mother, rich and luxurious double chocolate chunk cookies that practically cost a fortune to make, and a less than successful Norwegian-inspired cucumber soup withCucumber Soup smoked trout. With its awkward sweet and sour flavor, this chilled appetizer was hated by everyone, myself included. Hey, I can’t be cranking out kitchen wonders all of the time.

Contact Information:

Boutique Fisk

Torvehallerne

Rømersgade 18, 1360 København K

Phone No: +4529175935

http://www.boutiquefisk.dk/index.php

Nyhavn 17

Nyhavn 17 – 1051 København K

Phone No: +4533125419

http://www.nyhavn17.dk/?lang=en

Peder Oxe

GRÅBRØDRETORV 11 – 1154 KØBENHAVN K

Phone No: +4533110077

http://www.pederoxe.dk/

Paleo DogPalæo

Københavns Torvehaller

Hal nr 1, Rømersgade 18, 1362 København K

Phone No: +4533986969

http://xn--palo-xoa.dk/

La Glace CakeConditori La GlaceLa Glace

Skoubogade 3,  1158 København K

Phone No: +4533144646

http://laglace.dk/

Khun Juk

Baron Boltens Gård, Store Kongensgade 9, 1264 Copenhagen K

Phone No: +4533323050

http://www.khunjuk.dk/english/map.html

Restaurant Stories: Four Food-Filled Months in Copenhagen

When I started CookingFever, I envisioned a blog that would both be about food and restaurant-related travel. While I have certainly delivered on the food front, offering numerous delicious recipes for readers to enjoy, I sadly have not gotten much to discussing the wonderful foods made by the hands of others. I have taken numerous photos and collected stacks of business cards, but hardly any of that information makes it up on here. It’s about time that some of these people get acknowledged. I get inspired by foods I eat in restaurants all the time. Therefore, allow me the chance to present with you a dining guide of some of the marvelous places I discovered during my four months in Copenhagen.

I originally planned on putting the all the eats from four months into one post, but after realizing how daunting of a read that would be, I have decided to break this up into to four editions to enjoy and salivate over!

January I didn’t get the chance or take the initiative for that matter, to eat outside as much as I would have liked during734729_4803552679626_1652274112_n the first part of my stay here. The landscape was frigid and unwelcoming, and we were told during orientation week that eating out in Copenhagen was expensive, unaffordable, and should be avoided at all costs. Being Danish, the orientation lecturers were not lying, but I was lame enough to take their advice as if it was the law. I remained cautious with my money and avoided spending it, except for a select few occasions. Lunches were always sandwiches packed at home and dinners were cooked by my host mom, Ellinor. However, this is not to say that I stopped myself from 67950_4949663772312_943997319_ncooking! I figured that most Danes were more comfortable spending their food money on groceries instead of restaurants, so I did the same. I threw a fantastic Indian dinner party for some my friends, taking limited ingredients and turning them into mouth-watering saag aloo (curried spinach with potatoes) and a simplified version of Rajma (a tangy and smoky kidney bean curry). Everything was served with plenty of warm and734705_4949664612333_1841854382_n fluffy pita bread for dipping and awkwardly paired with numerous glasses of a dry Spanish red and cans of hard apple and pear ciders. We finished this delectable feast with my take on a traditional Danish æblekage (applecake). What’s funny about the apple cake in Denmark, is that’s it’s hardly a cake at all. It’s more of a layered 603120_4949664812338_1573078741_nparfait of stewed apples and a crumbly biscuit and oat topping. Regardless of what you want to call that, the “cake” was quickly devoured and made a great way to end a night of fun bonding among us new friends.

The one occasion on which I did eat out in January was completely payed for by DIS, the school I studied in. They had organized local network groups of students, based on where we lived in the Copenhagen area, to meet and mingle for brunch at a local cafe. One of my friends, Katie, and I decided to go, mainly cause it was a free meal. After wandering endlessly, getting lost several times along the way, we ended up at the some abandoned and closed restaurant only because the lady organizing the event sent us the WRONG address! Frozen from head to toe with the icy winter wind blowing in our faces, Katie called up the organizer who then told her that the event had been moved to the location they had originally planned for. Severely frustrated and pissed at this point, we debated whether or not we actually wanted to walk all the way back there, till we were approached by another student who had also arrived with the wrong address. Fortunately, they had come with their host family so we were able to get a lift in their warm car back to the venue. We finally arrived at the restaurant, Dalle Valle, which is actually just a stone’s throw away from Nørreport station (the train station we originally got off at) and DIS. You can probably imagine how angry I was at that point, but it all subsided once we were greeted by the delectable brunch waiting for us inside. Katie and I shamelessly filed our plates twice with loads of grav lax (smoked salmon), frikadeller (Danish meatballs), Rugbrød (a dark, dense, and sour Danish-rye bread), creamy bree cheese, vegetable crudites, and ofcourse, the ever present sild (pickled herring). Washed down with a milky cafe au lait, this was a fabulous brunch that I returned to indulge in two months later (this time having to pay though) with my family.

Contact Info: Dalle Valle

Fiolstræde 3-5, 1171 København K.

Phone No: +4533932929

Frokost (lunch) buffet available daily for around 69 kr.

Oh, there was another time I ate out in January, this also a being a meal covered entirely by DIS. It was a group dinner with my Danish class. The food in this little bistroesque restaurant situated on Christianshavn (a neighborhood in Copenhagen situated on a man-made island) was nothing to write home about though, so we’ll just leave it unsaid.

February: Not very many exciting meals to talk about in February, other than what I cooked at home (this is how the posts for Butter Chicken, Shakshuka, and the much-praised Sticky Toffee Pudding came about). However, there were two, pretty life-changing foods that I did come across during this abbreviated month. While I never got homesick in Denmark, I did miss Indian food practically all the time, especially when I had to eat whole, unseasoned, boiled potatoes with dinner almost every night (It’s the quintessential Danish meal accompaniment based on my experience). One Thursday night, both Ellinor and my housemate, Jasmine, were out, leaving just me for dinner. Not particularly interested in cooking for one, I decided to take the risk of trying out this Indian take-out joint that I had always seen on the walk home from the train station. I say it was a risk because I have always found Indian food in Europe to be severely dulled down and devoid of any spice or meaningful flavor. However, I was actually rewarded for my efforts this time when I returned home with a steaming-hot aluminum carton of saag murgh (chicken cooked with spinach), 20130221_190548basmati rice, and naan. The chicken was so homestyle and “real”, much better than those cream and oil-laden renditions you find at most Indian restaurants, including those in INDIA. It had a decent amount of heat to it, and the spinach was brimming with a beautiful, earthy flavor. To be honest, it reminded me a lot of the chicken curries that my mom usually makes on Sunday afternoons, just what I needed on that cold winter night.

The second great find took place during the last week of the month, and it was definitely a gift dropped down from the heavens. It was a Wednesday, a day of the week that was usually looked forward to by most DIS students because Wednesday usually meant no classes, save for the occasional field study. I too was looking forward to a day off on this day until my Psychopharmacology professor, feeling that we were behind, decided to schedule an extra class! BOOM! My day was instantly ruined. How could he? After all, I already hated that class to begin with because the material was far too dense for a study abroad course, and I don’t know, it just bored me. Realizing my predicament, I decided that there was no way in hell that I was going to sit through a two-hour long lecture in the early hours of the morning without something delectable to munch on. I had heard since day one about the legendary cinnamon rolls served at the local Sankt Peders Bageri. Measuring to be about the size of an average human head, these big treats are known as onsdagsneggle (wednesday snails) because one, they are only available on Wednesdays, and two, the swirl shape of the cinnamon roll obviously resembles that of a snail’s shell. Sure, you may feel as sluggish as a snail afterward because they are quite heavy, but boy oh boy they are probably the best cinnamon rolls in existence! Period. Point. Blank. That opinion is not up for debate. You would easily agree if you have eaten one too, and believe me, if you find yourself in Copenhagen on a cold Wednesday morning, the smell of warm cinnamon wafting down the street alone, will drive you right up to the bakery’s doorstep. It worked for me! No addresses or maps are needed, just follow your nose! Anyways,  the roll comes in two varieties, med sukker eller med glasur (with sugar or icing). I recommend sugar if you’re sober and icing if you’re inebriated. I can attest to both, hehe. Beyond that fact, these rolls are warm, soft, yeasty and full of sweet cinnamon goodness. The best part is the center. The sticky gooeyness melts in your mouth as you close your eyes and think about things that are far more beautiful than you’re ugly psychopharm lecture. Yeah, I pretty much checked out for the day after eating one of these, and I wish I had pictures, but my hands were too sticky everytime! You’ll just have to take my word for it!

Contact Information: The joint is called Sai Take Away and it’s in Glostrup, the little suburb that I had the pleasure to call home for four months.  Situated about 20 minutes by train from central Copenhagen, Glostrup is most likely not on anyone’s vacation plans when they come to Denmark. However, if you happen to be in this little town, stumbling upon this place would be a reward indeed! I unfortunately do not have the address or the phone number, but it is located at the intersection of Hovedvejen and Sondre Ringvej, the two major thoroughfares that run through town, and right directly across a gas station. For about 65 kroner (roughly $12 USD) you can get a boatload of curry with rice. Easily enough for two normal people, or one fatso like me.

Sankt Peders Bageri

Sankt Peders Stræde 29
1453 København K

One large onsdagsneggle costs only 15 kroner! That’s very much worth it and both your stomach and your wallet will thank you!