Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival (CCFF) started last week on the 18th of August and lasts until Sunday the 27th. This was my second time participating, and the festival is better than ever. It’s easily the best food festival in Scandinavia. Just check out all the incredible events you can take part in. CCFF offers multiple opportunities to dine in the homes of well-known chefs, cook book authors, and food personalities. There are farm dinners, ice cream workshops, grill parties, food crawls, and a celebration of the Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches. Top chefs from around the globe are flown in to take part in certain events. At three-Michelin-starred restaurant Geranium, you could eat a dinner prepared by the restaurant’s head chef Rasmus Kofoed, together with Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn and Anne-Sophie Pic from Maison Pic.
You can’t even compare Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival to a far simpler food festival like Gladmat in Stavanger – they are in different leagues altogether. I attended Gladmat in both 2009, 2015 and 2016, and, sadly, it didn’t move forward. After all these years, the main attraction is still the 80+ food stalls, of which only a handful holds the quality you would expect. Of course, the very best restaurants in town, like Re-naa, Tango, Fisketorget, and Sabi Sushi, are great as always, but that’s not enough. The Gladmat food festival has been criticized by many before me of being more of a drunk party than a celebration of the amazingly good food and talented chefs of the Stavanger region. Next year, I hope they look to Copenhagen for inspiration.
Harvest Picnic at the Farm of Ideas
This year at Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival, there was even a festival within a festival when Christian Puglisi invited to his Farm of Ideas. In case you don’t know already, Puglisi is the Danish-Italian chef behind famous restaurants like Relæ, Manfreds, Bæst, Mirabelle, and Rudo. The organic farm in Lejre is Christian’s latest project where chefs and farmers can get together and learn more about the local produce and how to make it better.
The farm works, the chef explained, because his restaurants are obliged to buy everything it produces. Every vegetable that is picked, is rinsed, cleaned, and brought to the city to be served the same evening. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. While the goal is not to be completely self-sufficient, Puglisi admits that they have been very close, at least parts of the year.
– Some weeks we used almost 100% our own produce, but in total, during a year it’s only 30%.
Other notable restaurants in Denmark who work with a farm of their own, or at least smaller urban farms or large kitchen gardens, are Amass in Copenhagen, Falsled Kro on Funen, Henne Kirkeby Kro in South-Western Jutland, and Kadeau on Bornholm. The new Noma 2.0, set to open in late 2017 or early 2018, will also have an urban farm out on Ræfshaleøen, where the chefs can experiment with growing different species of fruits, vegetables or berries at a scale that regular farms can’t afford.
A bunch of activities took place at the Farm of Ideas’ Seed Exchange-festival. We headed up a small hill with a picnic basket filled only with blankets, plates, napkins, water bottles, and flowers. The food was served out in the field by some of Scandinavia’s greatest chefs. Matt Orlando of Amass was present with his fermented potato bread and a chicken salad made from the happy hens at Høgnsholt. His assistant this morning? None other than Esben Holmboe-Bang from three-Michelin-starred restaurant Maaemo in Oslo. Chef legend Claus Meyer contributed with a potato salad, and Jock Zonfrillo was flown in from Australia to make a pasta salad with pancetta. Nothing fancy to see here.
Raw Milk Ice Cream From Christian Puglisi’s Cows
The cows at Christian’s Farm of Ideas are out walking on the field every day, all year, as long as there is grass to eat. There’s even a mobile milking system in place out in the field! In the winter the cows are fed with hay, which doesn’t affect the flavor of the milk as much as other fodder. Unlike conventional agriculture, the calves here are allowed to walk with their mothers and drink the milk, but the farmers control and regulate how much they consume. That’s similar to the ideas of Norwegian farmer Hans Arild Grøndahl, and the Swedish farm Ängavallen, which I recently visited.
Puglisi has a mix of different kettle races, although mostly Jersey cows, and together they create a unique terroir for his milk. At the food market of the Seed Exchange-festival, Mirabelle had an ice cream truck with three varieties: strawberry, hazelnut, and raw milk. Fior di latte, as the Italians call the latter, was the absolute best. Served plain, with only a sprinkle of sea salt and high-quality Italian olive oil.
Bæst Farm Pop-up
Evening come, the barn at the Farm of Ideas turned into a pop-up by Puglisi’s successful Italian pizzeria Bæst. Mozzarella made from the same amazing milk as the ice cream, and made on the spot, just like the home-cured charcuterie. Finally, the grand finale, a perfected pizza Margherita burned off at high-temperatures in a wood-fired oven. Proper Naples style!
Home at Home With Mads Battefeld
The headliner of Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival for me personally was the private dining event Home at Home – hjemme hos Hjemme. Mads Battefeld is the former sous chef at two-Michelin-starred restaurant Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark. He’s probably the most Japanese cuisine-savvy of all young chefs in Scandinavia, regularly traveling to Japan and learning the trade from the masters. Together with experienced sommelier (and sake specialist) Henrik Levinsen, he runs a restaurant concept called Hjemme in the district of Østerbro. This evening, the guys had invited one of Japan’s most talented and respected yakitori masters, Hideto Takeda from restaurant Ichimatsu. In a social dinner setting, Battefeld and Takeda cooked up amazing Japanese barbeque sticks, mainly based on different parts of the chicken, and mixed in other specialties from Hideto’s home country. All paired with hearty amounts of sake and natural wine. I’m so spoiled with good sake now, I can never drink the cheap stuff again.
PS: Battefeld has also made an excellent guide to the Tokyo food scene that you should check out (article in Danish).
Did you take part in Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival this year, or are you going to in the next couple of days? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
This was part of a press trip with the non-profit Food Organisation of Denmark. As always, only the events that I truly recommend are featured.