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Food is taken seriously in Copenhagen, and this is not a city where you casually miss a reservation — the city’s best restaurants fill up weeks, sometimes even months in advance. The restaurant scene does cater to all budgets, and regardless of where you eat, food here is known for being of high quality, locally sourced, and globally inspired. Aida travels to Copenhagen Street Food market, Neighbourhood Pizza, and Restaurant Kul.
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- I'm Aida Mullenkemp, I'm a chef and writer with a passion for exploration, and I'm in search of the best food a city has to offer. Whether it's a locals only favorite, or a chef's secret special, join me as I go off menu in Copenhagen. - [Aida] Copenhagen is known as the happiest city in the world, and with just a quick glance it's easy to see why. With its mix of vintage quaintness and ultra modern design, the city is dripping with charm. But there's another reason the Danes are so cheerful, their incredible food. - So Aida welcome to Copenhagen. - Thank you. I'm meeting up with Dan Housted, design maven and restauranteur, to get the inside scoop on this city's tastiest bites. - I brought you to a special place called Papiroen, it used to be a warehouse for paper storage for the newspaper industry, so we created a little venue called "Copenhagen Street Food." - Whoa Dan, this is awesome. - What I'm gonna show you today is a new Nordic scene, it's something a bit different. I'm gonna give you a bit of a tour of one of what is classic Danish, kinda like say fast food. - I have to say this is not what I was expecting. - Street food is up and coming in Copenhagen, I seek a lot of inspiration from the US and the food trucks over there, I love street food. But because of the weather in Copenhagen and in Denmark in general, it's really hard to have carts around. So we built this venue so that we can actually be a year round venue. And basically what it is, it's a little platform for small entrepreneurs to be able to create a business for themselves. - Incredible. - We'll start with a couple of classic Danish things. I'm gonna have a few surprises lined up for you. Hey guys. - Hey Dan. - Good to see you, man. - I'm just guessing you guys are twins. - Yes, we are. - Okay, so is it a family business? - Yes, we run this business together. I'm Mills Bjorndau, creator and co-owner with my twin brother Jakob of where we're trying to reinvent the Danish hot dog. Our sausages are all meat and herbs, so there's no additives, all our garnishes are homemade. - So I know you guys have a big tradition of Danish hot dogs, right? - Right, there used to be a hot dog stand on every corner in Denmark. That tradition kind of died out a little bit, so now we're trying to pick it back up by reinventing the hot dog and do a better meal than it used to be. - Do you have a favorite? - Red devil for me. - Which is spicy I imagine? - Yeah, it's a little bit spicy. - [Jakob] We spice it up with our own spicy mayonnaise, pasta pesto, and fried peppers. - Okay, what's your most classic one? - For you I would suggest our Nordic hot dog, which builds on the classic Danish features, so you got something sweet, something sour, something crunchy. - Perfect. - We're trying to cover the whole little mommy range, so it's a different experience all together. - And it has bacon. - It has bacon! Well you're looking at the American, you're like "she needs some bacon" - Yeah, definitely. - Don't we all sometimes, don't we all love bacon? Port sausage, remmilard, horse radish cream, and pickled cabbage. - How's that flavor? - That's excellent, the bread is super crunchy and just like Mills said, there's that balance of the sweet and the sour. This one's certainly gorgeous, I have to say that. It's a looker of a hot dog. Mm! That one, the parsley really makes it super fresh, and it kind of counteracts all the spiciness of the-- - But not too spicy, and that's what I love about it. It just gives you a little bit on the back side. - Mhm, this place is so big. Could you show me around a little bit? - Sure, let's go. - Okay, take these with us? - Yeah, we can eat on the way. - Hot dog to go! - My name is Maggi, I am one of the owners of the Smorrebrod stand here at Copenhagen Street Food, we serve Smorrebrod, it's been existing for like 130 years, and we try to update it just a bit, give it a small twist, with a big focus especially on the rye bread and the products were very seasonal. - [Dan] Okay, so I have a little treat for you here. - Great. - Hi! - Hi! - Hi, I'm Maggi. - Nice to meet you. - Nice to meet you too. - This is Smorrebrod, it's a very classic Danish dish. You can get it basically anywhere in Copenhagen. - So an open faced sandwich, right? - Open faced sandwich, yes that's correct. But these guys make some of the best ones in town. - While everything starts with a piece of rye bread smeared with butter, that's where smorrebrod comes from. It means to "smear the bread." - Well I love herring, so you have this special herring. I wanna try that for sure. - I'm gonna have the potato, that's my favorite all time. - [Aida] Okay, they're gorgeous though. They look like little pieces of architecture. - Freshly baked rye bread, you know they do everything by hand here. - [Aida] Wonderful, thank you so much. - Wanna have a seat? - Yeah. - Come on. - Oh, right next to the fire, okay. I love herring, so I'm really looking forward to this. That is excellent, very unexpected to have these really warm spices with the herring, I never tried that before. - Do you wanna try this one? - I do actually. - Okay. - It's kind of everything I like about a perfect American baked potato, on top of a bread. How can you go wrong with this? - Not really. This is just the start of it and maybe we should save a little bit of room. You wanna head on to the next one. - Yeah let's do it, I'll follow you. - So how did you like that? - Oh, that was incredible. I feel like I have a good overview of traditional street food with a twist. - Okay, ready to go down town? - Yeah. - How do you feel about boats? - I like boats. - Is this your first boat ride here in Copenhagen, yes it must be. - First trip to Copenhagen. This is cool. - [Dan] It is. - What is this area called? - Christensen. - This is very pretty. - And the opera house is over here. - [Aida] That's impressive, I was not expecting that. - I think it's beautiful, it really pulls the harbor together. The guy who built that spiral staircase, when he got down and looked at it, it went the wrong way. This is like 1600, 1700, so he looked at it and said "oh my God, it's the wrong way," and then he jumped out. - That's horrifying. - You can actually walk all the way up there, it's terrifying being up there. - [Aida] That's a horrifying story. - That's the parliament up there. Our flag is to be told that it is the oldest flag in the world, and it fell down from the sky. - That's the legend behind the Danish flag? - Yes it is. - Okay. - [Dan] There's a total of one, two, three, four, five, bridges that's been built in the last five years. So you ready to get off and get some lunch? - Thank you. - Bye bye, thank you. - [Aida] Even though Dan's tour isn't focusing on new Nordic cuisine, you can find that movement's emphasis on the freshest ingredients inspiring chefs to innovate all over the city. And Neighbourhood Organic Pizza and Cocktails, is no exception. - My name is Marti, I'm the founder and co-owner of Neighbourhood Organic Pizza and Cocktails. What I wanted to do when I opened Neighbourhood was to make something that was different. You know, Pizza 2.0. We made the crust thicker, more airy, and it's very, very crispy. We're using a lot of fresh, organic toppings, after the pizza has been baked. - They serve lovely organic cocktails. - Do you want a cocktail. - Of course, if you insist. - I do. - The most popular one on the menu is the pumpkin sour, lemon infused rum, homemade pumpkin syrup, some lemon juice, egg white. The other one is a bit of a controversial one-- - Controversial in what sense? - It's got beetroot in it, which is a really popular Danish vegetable that they all love to eat here. Mint infused gin, beetroot juice, sugar, a bit of lemon, an egg white, and then just to give it a bit more flavor, some fresh mint. - Cheers. That is delicious. - Can I taste yours? I'm gonna have a red beard for the rest of the night. - Okay, I wasn't expecting this at all. - That' really fresh. - This is super fresh. - Would you guys like to have a look at the pizzas. - Yeah sure. - A duck pizza has to be had. - That's unusual. - Yeah, okay. - Yeah we have one with red cabbage and confit duck, which is a traditional Danish dish. - Shiitake cod fish also, what about that one? Have you had that before? - No, chiso leaf, shiitake, and cheese. Okay, we're getting that. And then we go classic. - It's got a thick ham. - Yeah, let's do thick ham. - Well, just head on through to the restaurant. - Hello you guys. - Oh my goodness. - Red cabbage duck. - Just drop it anywhere, thank you. - And we have the thick ham. - Oh, one of my favorites this one. - And the shiitake cod fish. So before you eat we've got an orange in this one, please squeeze that over the pizza before you eat. - [Dan] I got mine. Who thinks of shiitake and cod on a pizza? - [Aida] I don't know, that one's by far the most interesting. - It sounds weird, but when you got it served and you have the first bite, people are totally convinced. - Okay, pulling my sleeves up. I'm gonna start with the thickened ham. This is a combination, even though it looks very Italian, it feels very Danish to me. Because there's the capers, pickles, you gotta try this one, it's like sweet, and a little bit pickled, and you got that ham. How's the cod and the shiitake? - It is delicious, let me cut you a slice. It is unexpected, so... I never order pizza with fish, but I was so curious. - Wasn't so sure when you ordered that one, but that is really awesome. I'm gonna go for the duck next. I never thought I'd say confit duck is light, but that's surprisingly light. It's like a cozy pizza, which I don't know if I've ever had a cozy pizza before, but then... Copenhagen feels cozy to me, so it all makes sense. - We do have the Danish word "hygge" which is "coziness," the cozy things like candle lights, lots of food, drinks, companionship. Bring it all in. - There we go, cheers to "hygge." - Hygge! - I'm not even trying. - You do it right. - Danish pizza, I'm completely surprised in a very good way. I love the flavor combinations, they do feel distinctly Danish. And now we've gone from street food to pizza and so, what's next? - Well maybe a little bit of, I wouldn't say fine dining, but it is one of the gems of Copenhagen. - We're in the meat packing district right now, it's located in Vestibule. The meat packing district is a little bit similar to Les Halles, and the meat packing district in New York. I'm taking you to a restaurant called Restaurant Kul which is one of my favorites. And I think you're gonna enjoy it. - Well it sounds very intriguing. Built into an old butcher shop and retaining its original tile walls, everything about Kul is unexpected and seemingly impossible. From its mix of high-modern and cozy, to Chef Henrik Gejark's totally unexpected combination of Danish ingredients and Southeast Asian flavors. The restaurant is a tightrope walk that's breathtaking to watch. I like the look of this place. - It's gorgeous, isn't it? Hi, meet Aida, friend of mine from the US. - Nice to meet you as well. - To eat and dine a little bit in Copenhagen. - Yeah, I've heard great things and it smells amazing in here. - So what are you cooking for us today? - [Aida] Thank you. Okay, a Danish salad that also has tamarind and macadamia nuts, these are a little unexpected. Thank you. One of my favorite things about being in this part of the world, is the seafood. So I am very excited about this. - Danish lobsters are well known around the world. They're actually a little bit hard to come by, especially the black ones. - Whoa, I can see why this lobster is so prized. It is so delicate. How long has this restaurant been around? - A couple years, I think it's the first one of its kind that has this love for the open fire. - That is exceptional. Like a roti? - That's fantastic. - That's exceptional. Chef, this one, I don't know how you're going to top that. - I'm excited to see what he comes up with next. - Yeah I would say so, this has been a very good finish to our day. - Thank you. Oh, we get our own little grill. This is like an orchestra, this is just stunning. - What's that? - Confit sweet bread barbecued? Okay, I love North African flavors, so I'm very excited to try this combination of the Harissa and the rassa hanut, with the sweet bread. It's very unexpected. I like how your cuisine is surprising and yet also restrained, great. Bite of perfection right here. And these sweet breads are cooked exceptionally well. Yes. So an eggplant ketchup? - I'm going in. - Go in! A good Thai spice is one of my favorite things. All the complex spices and like the warmth of them all. He captures it really nicely. - It does, delicious. - I think this might be my favorite, and that's saying a lot because that lardo pizza thing, I'm going to be dreaming about. - So is this for like 10 people, or is it just for us? - This is stunning. - I have a dare. - You have a dare? - Yeah, the one who first licks their lips by eating that loses and pays the bill. - Okay, sounds good. - You know, because that's a challenge that's almost impossible. You cannot eat a Berliner without licking your lips. Like all night, mm. Do you trust me? - Taking a dare, ready? - Okay, oh God they're heavy. - I know they are heavy. - Yeah! Ah, it's so hard, isn't it? - A little stubbornness in me wanted to not lick my lips, but I can't. - No, it's impossible. - It's like sugar fall, it's a sugar waterfall. Thank you, this has been incredible. Dan, that was a spectacular day. I mean we all know Copenhagen has great food, but you showed me such a variety from classic to new, I really can't thank you enough. Thank you for showing me your city. - I'm happy you liked it. And I do hope you're coming back to eat some more of Copenhagen. - Most definitely, you can count on it.