Sponsored by the Food Organisation of Denmark
This weekend I am in the Danish capital for the annual Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival. It’s the 12th year for this celebration of Danish gastronomy and food culture, and the program is better than ever before. There are more than 150 events taking place in the course of the ten days the festival lasts. Including lots of exciting pop-up restaurants! We ate lunch in someone else’s house, attended a social dinner in a civic restaurant, tasted local beer, enjoyed breakfast on a boat and farm to table food on a rooftop. This article will still be updated in the next few days with more stories, pictures, and even some videos from the best experiences.
A Lunch at Katrine Klinken’s House
Katrine Klinken is a Danish chef and cookbook author who has published more than 20 different books on food and recipes. As a part of the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival she opened her house for us and prepared a wonderful, rustic, Danish home-cooked meal. Katrine shared her philosophy on food:
– Ingredients decide what I cook. I buy the ones that are in season, and figure out later what to do with them.
I was stunned by the picturesque surroundings of Katrine’s home. It’s a brick and mortar house located at the north-eastern outskirts of Copenhagen. The house lies next to a small pond, and when you sit in the garden you completely forget that you’re actually just a 15 minutes bike ride from Copenhagen city center – it feels more like the countryside. The interior is beautiful as well, with simple Scandinavian design, clean white walls and a perfect kitchen for good old home cooking.
“Ingredients decide what I cook.” – Katrine Klinken
The lunch began upstairs with an aperitif of the wild Danish cider Æblerov and a tartare with apples from Katrine’s cookbook “Tartar.” The cider was a great match to the food. This was our first chance to meet and greet each other. I talked to the Danish food journalist and critic Lars Bjerregaard who writes for numerous magazines including Vice Munchies. I met the Polish food blogger and freelance journalist Minta Eats, and I spoke with the lovely French restaurateur and writer Sophie from Fulgurances.
My favorites dishes included the smørrebrød – Danish open sandwich – with different potatoes, including blue congo, and hollandaise on top, the leek-and-cheese tart, and the layer cake. The latter is probably the best layer cake I ever tasted. With freshly picked blackberries from Katrine’s garden and topped with a whipped cream and tiny bits of shredded marzipan. My goodness! Eating that in Klinken’s garden with the spectacular view of the pond and the sun in my eyes is a memory I will treasure for a long time.
However, the best part about a meal like this is the social element. You meet so many wonderful people! A lovely Danish couple sat across our table. They had interesting inputs on the food we ate, and they shared fun stories about other cultural aspects in Denmark – like the royal family. I asked Katrine when she would start doing this kind of event more regularly because, currently, it’s only available once a year during the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival.
Tasting Our Way Through the Copenhagen Beer & Whisky Festival
We rode our bikes back to Frederiksberg and the concert arena Forum, which was host to the Copenhagen Beer & Whisky Festival – a three-days only sub-festival to Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival. There were representatives from all over the world present, but I prioritized the local Danish craft breweries. I tasted my way through beers from To Øl, Frederiksberg Bryghus, Nørrebro Bryghus and Kølster, as well as the Danish single malt whiskey Braunstein.
To Øl is one of the most successful Danish gypsy breweries – second only to Mikkeller. The guys, Tore and Tobias (hence the name), just opened a cool restaurant and brew bar combined in Nørrebro. The restaurant is called Spontan and the brew bar is called Brus. They serve beer, of course, but also taptails. I got a taste of the gin & sorrel taptail and it was so good I had to visit Brus later that night just to have another one. Tore was hanging out in his own bar that night, which is a good sign, I guess.
I also liked the philosophy of the two guys, Claus and Lasse, from Frederiksberg Bryghus. They wanted to make a neighborhood brewery since Frederiksberg lacked one, and their focus is to create really good versions of classics like pilsner, lager, and ale. Less crazy hipster IPA, in other words. They don’t plan to expand or go big. You have to go to Frederiksberg to experience their beer. Lastly, I stopped by Kølster, which makes the equivalent to natural wine in the beer world. They produce almost all the ingredients they put into the beer themselves, and everything is organic and biodynamic. The result is a new Nordic beer, with unique flavors and sometimes funky aromas.
Social Dining at Det Økologiske Folkekøkken
In the evening, we joined a social dinner hosted by the civic restaurant Det Økologiske Folkekøkken. A civic restaurant is a place where everyone is welcome and you can eat really cheap meals. These guys host social dinners every Thursday that cost DKK 50 for adults and DKK 25 for children. The rest of the time they make food for 300 children in a kindergarten. Believe it or not: kindergartens have a requirement of 90% organic ingredients in Denmark. How awesome is that? Apparently the same applies to retirement homes. Imagine if they had these regulations for workplace canteens.
The meal took place at Energicenter Voldparken in a straw bale garden, which most likely is the biggest in the world (or the only one?). All plants are grown organically on top of straw bales, which prevents certain creatures from ruining the crops. The park has been made in cooperation with the company Bioark that specializes in urban farming and technologies to grow plants without soil.
The host this evening was Martin Pihl. He and his team of professional chefs made all the food, but the evening could not have been possible without the wonderful volunteers that helped serve the food and clean and recycle all the waste. Apparently, these elderly people from the community show up every week for no pay. That’s how this meal could cost only DKK 100 per person, and even wines and ciders were offered at cheap prices.
I love this style of honest cooking. In many ways, it was quite similar to what Katrine Klinken served us for lunch, but less classical Danish. We got a delicious Thai-style beef served in little gem salads as a snack. A simple cauliflower was made into a delicacy with a pesto of nasturtium, garden cress, and parsley. Hearty and buttery baked potatoes tingled our taste buds before the main course of Danish pork from Knuthenlund arrived on the table. Served with carrots that had been drizzled with seabuckthorn juice. What an amazing combo!
Breakfast on a GoBoat
GoBoat.dk is an excellent service if you want to explore the canals of Copenhagen without having to sit in one of those terrible tourist boats. We met up on the harbor at Islands Brygge in the morning to have our breakfast on a boat. Stephen and Sigrid had ordered a picnic basket filled with sourdough bread with cheese from a local baker and cups of iced coffees. This is another service that is available to order during the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival.
I am not sure if the best part about these boats is that they’re powered by solar cells or the fact that you can buy a bottle of natural wine from the boathouse to bring with you. One hour on the water costs DKK 400, and the boats can seat up to 8 people. That’s quite affordable for most people, and since the boats have a limited speed anyone can drive them without the need for a license or boater safety course.
The bridges in the Copenhagen canals are all so different. I love the name of Knippelsbro, and under that bridge, there’s a summer-only wine bar and restaurant pop-up called Rosforth & Rosforth. They also did some cool events during the food festival, among them a dinner with Daniel Berlin. Can’t catch ’em all, unfortunately! The new “Inderhavnsbroen” that connects Nyhavn with Strandgade on the other side is highly popular. The bridge was supposed to have been finished more than three years ago, but experienced delays and complications on the verge of comedy.
During our boat ride, we passed some great sights: “The Black Diamond”-building is the royal library that also houses a great new restaurant called Søren K. Another favorite spot along the canal is Claus Meyer’s “The Standard” which is host to several great restaurants including Studio. On the opposite side is Noma and 108, and slightly further out we saw Papirøen. Sadly, Copenhagen Street Food Market is bound to close next year, but hopefully, it will reappear in a new venue at some point. We also cruised passed the beautiful Royal Playhouse and took a right by the Opera House to head for a sightseeing along the canals of the free-town Christiania.
Just in front of The Black Diamond is a bridge designed by artist Olafur Eliasson. Cirkelbroen consists of several circles, of which some can rotate and swing out in case bigger boats need to be let through. Tall pillars that look like masts on a sailing vessel further helps give the bridge a unique look. What’s so great about the Copenhagen seaside is all the public space. All along the waterfront, you can walk, cycle, chill with a bottle of wine or take a swim. Next to GoBoat they’ve even built an outdoor swimming pool, complete with swimming lanes and a diving board.
Spectacular Rooftop Lunch at Stedsans
On the final day of our visit, we ate lunch at the spectacular rooftop restaurant and urban farm Stedsans at ØsterGRO. The restaurant is run by the couple Mette Helbæk and Flemming Hansen and has been a huge success. Bookings for the second season was even more popular than the first. I have dedicated a separate article to the rooftop lunch at Stedsans.
Have you been to Copenhagen for the festival? Which events did you take part in? Please share in a comment.
This trip was sponsored by the Food Organisation of Denmark. They had no influence on the choice of recommendations or content of this article. I received no monetary payment.