Understanding the Copenhagen Food Scene in the most Copenhagen way Possible

With a little help from Foods of Copenhagen food torus and a lot of delicious eats along the way, I got a better understanding of the emergence of New Nordic Cuisine in the Copenhagen Food Scene. Turns out I did it in the most Copenhagen way possible.

My Second Helping

My first visit to Copenhagen was over 10 years ago and was the result of a spontaneous decision at the Malmo train station. Armed with a Eurorail pass and on my way to Norway, I deviated to Copenhagen on the simple fact that I had just read that Denmark is responsible for bringing Lego to the world. Surely this small Scandinavian country has lots to offer if it literally invented the building blocks of my childhood.

It did.

My random trip was awesome and gave me some of my fondest memories while in Europe however, none of which includes its food. Beyond ordering a “Danish” in Denmark, the Copenhagen food scene was forgettable. The odd stare I received when ordering this pastry this way, however, was not.

That was then.

A lot has changed in this happiness haven over the past decade and a lot of it has to do with its food, specifically the emergence of New Nordic cuisine in the Copenhagen food scene.

What is New Nordic cuisine exactly? Good question. My experience with Scandinavian food revolved around spreadable shrimp from a tube, salted fish, and Icelandic Hot Dogs. With my return to Copenhagen, a city at the forefront of New Nordic Cuisine, I decided to see what the buzz is about. To better understand this question enlisted the help of Cindie, local foodie and proprietor of Foods of Copenhagen food tours.

Meals and Wheels

My quest to understand what New Nordic Cuisine is all about took me through the not-so-mean streets of Copenhagen, literally. Foods of Copenhagen’s Culinary Bike Tour combines the two very best things about the city, it’s food and it’s bikeability. Copenhagen has surpassed the likes of Amsterdam as the world’s most bike-friendly city and renting a bike while on my short visit was already at the top of my list. Combining that with a food tour was just icing on the, err, Danish?

Meet Cindie

Between stops and while herding the other guests I got to know our host and why she started Foods of Copenhagen. First and foremost, Cindie loves her homeland of Denmark. She studied abroad and has travelled extensively but always knew she would return home.

After my three days of hygge, I don’t blame her.

Sampling food tour products across the globe including Hungry Birds in Amsterdam, Cindie took what she loved about the best of them and incorporated it into her new service. The result is a unique offering by someone who truly loves her home city, which is never a bad thing.

The most notable take away from my experience is her self-proclaimed allergy to big tours. Cindie believes in keeping her groups small and lives up to Copenhagen’s philosophy of being sustainable, flexible, and real. With that in mind, Foods of Copenhagen tours are never the same. Stops and restaurants change depending on the season or mood. The result is a fresh and private approach to Copenhagen’s beaming food scene.

On my Foods of Copenhagen tour experience, this meant visiting a brand new Street Food area which happened to be celebrating its opening weekend on my visit.

New Nordic Cuisine – First Bite

This new food truck area was also my first introduction to new Nordic Cuisine. While fawning over a sexy bowl of porridge, something I never imagined I would do let alone type, Cindie explained how Grød has brought a simple Scandinavian breakfast food into the mainstream.

With an emphasis on local, seasonal, and fresh, Grød redefines porridge in a way that is both versatile and delicious. Their menu offers both savoury and sweet variations with the most awesome toppings possible. We’re talking Icelandic yoghurt, raspberries, and local rhubarb compote. My sample was a curry porridge with salty almonds, cherry tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

Again, this is porridge we are talking about.

Two bites in and I had already fallen for New Nordic Cuisine, even though I still didn’t understand it.

New Nordic Cuisine Explained

This global trend of fresh and local in New Nordic Cuisine in the Copenhagen food scene can be traced back to one restaurant – Noma. Before Noma’s emergence, Danish food typically included heavy ingredients such as bacon and imported flour. Noma said enough of this and focuses on ingredients that are fresh and available in its backyard.

Noma’s chefs played an intricate part in defining New Nordic Cuisine, specifically stating its “purity, simplicity and freshness.” The result is a successful restaurant and notoriety that goes well beyond the city limit, repeatedly winning the title of world’s best restaurant. The has spawned other great eateries to follow suit. One of which is 56° Restaurant, our next stop.

Seated at the outdoor tables at 56° and chatting over local craft beer, the manager/adorable Viking explains the beautifully arranged dish we were about to sample. This trio of bite-sized and Instagram friendly eats was packed with fresh and local flavours. Just how local? Herbs are from the garden next to the restaurant and, as the name suggests, every ingredient is from above the 56° parallel, which just happens to be Denmark border to the south.

On top of buying into New Nordic Cuisine, 56° is one of Copenhagen’s most unique. Located in a former ammunition bunker in the Holman neighbourhood, the building itself pairs well with the beautifully arranged dishes the kitchen creates.

New Nordic Beyond the Norm

New Nordic Cuisine stretches far beyond vegetable soup and cod semen. At Brace, for example, classic Italian dishes are prepared with a Nordic twist and by sourcing local ingredients. The Copenhagen food scene isn’t all lump fish roe and deer lichen.

Our last stop on the Foods of Copenhagen Culinary Bike tour was another great example of the diversity of New Nordic cuisine. Wintersping is focussed on the sweet side, particularly sorbet and ice cream. I watched in amazement as artisans handcrafted the most incredible dessert I have ever seen or tasted. Think hipster barista meets cocktail bartender meets ice cream parlour. The results are mind-blowing.

Intricate components that include celery, apple ice cream, and rye bread crumble – again all locally sourced and loved. Don’t just take my word for it. This hip ice cream high-end restaurant has garnered praise from Denmark and beyond for their sweet creations.

Foodie Capital of the North

Armed with a head full knowledge on New Nordic Cuisine a belly full of the same, I said goodbye to Cindie and Foods of Copenhagen to venture on my own and see what other gems the city has to offer. Turns out I didn’t have to look far. From street vendor hotdogs that rival those found in Iceland to the extremely popular open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød) at the Torvehallerne Market, there is much to write home about this time around when it comes to Copenhagen’s food scene.

This is a city full of fresh eats and the pride in being at the forefront of New Nordic Cuisine can be enjoyed in every bite. So tuck in to this foodie capital of the north and enjoy the Copenhagen food scene for yourself. Vær så god!

What say you?
Thoughts on the Copenhagen Food Scene?
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Although my time understanding the Copenhagen Food Scene was made possible by a Foods of Copenhagen,
the experience, opinions, and love of New Nordic Cuisine are own.

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