You’re on Denmark’s sunniest island!
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Hello, dear readers! I’m back from my recent trip to Denmark and it was, as promised, a delight. My first stop was Copenhagen, where my Airbnb host greeted me with what I would soon learn was typical Danish bluntness, saying, “You could have been luckier with the weather!” Indeed, we could have. It was about 60 degrees and raining for the duration of our stay in the city, but all the better to appreciate the hygge, my friends.
We ran almost directly to Relae, where we had the sort of meal you hope you’re signing up for when you sit down for a prix fixe but rarely ever get. The service was impeccable but relaxed, the wine pairings were on point, the beautiful wooden tables had individualized little silverware drawers that were so perfectly functional and charming, and the food! My god, the food. We are still discussing a tartlet filled with unripened strawberries (which, incidentally, I was served at every fancy-pants meal I ate; trend alert!) And that was the freaking amuse bouche; don’t even get me started on the oyster-cream-cucumber confection that followed.
We also passed a memorable (if hazy) evening at Den Vandrette, a wine bar near the Copenhagen harbor. I didn’t try the food but the selection of bio wines was incredible. I’m pretty sure our group blew through a good portion of the wine list, and it was filled with unexpected flavors and tiny bubbles; we did not find a bottle we didn’t enjoy. Then we stumbled over to a nearby hot dog cart and it was the best night ever.
But the real highlight of the trip was our post-Copenhagen jaunt to the island of Bornholm. We took a train to Ystad, in Sweden, and then a ferry back to the Danish island. You can also fly and it takes about half an hour, but I highly recommend that ferry. It’s a beautiful trip, but mostly you get to see a bunch of Swedes buying a ton of duty-free crap in the gift shop and drinking beers the size of their torsos and you can eat weird meatballs with pickles. (Ferries are a thing in Sweden, as you can tell from that piece in which I made a writer cruise all the fuck over Northern Europe – thanks, Olga!) When you get close to the island, they play this song, which a friend said reminded her of the Nazi singing in Cabaret and The Sound of Music, but hey, I think it sets a tone. Grab some summer aquavit—lighter and more citrus-y than it’s wintertime counterpart—at the duty free and get ready for this:
You’re on Denmark’s sunniest island! Which I know sounds like a bit of a dubious distinction, but really, it is a sun-drenched, pastoral dreamworld. It’s also where I had my favorite meal of the trip, and maybe of my life. This was at Kadeau, which closes down its Copenhagen location in the summers and flies the staff to the island to set up shop. The restaurant is perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean and feels a little like going to your coolest friend’s fancy summer house. The food is mostly made from ingredients harvested from their nearby farm; an expansive herb garden sits right outside, and at one point during our meal I watched a server ferrying just plucked wild garlic into the kitchen.
Each dish in the generous tasting menu was elegance made manifest, but never fussy. That picture at the top of this newsletter that looks like some stupid leaf on a plate was a beautifully composed packet of intense vegetal flavors laced with a soft seafood brininess, and it was awesome. I’m attaching the whole menu at the end of this in case you like to geek out over menus as much as I do. They very wisely don’t bring out the bread plate until the meal is almost finished because it is phenomenal and you could easily stuff yourself with it too early on like a guppy and ruin your meal. Usually I hate it when restaurants try to save me from myself but this was much appreciated.
After the meal, our server let us try some of the ants they raise in the backyard and serve on some occasions—plump, lemony little bugs that pop in the mouth—and then took us on a tour of the herb garden. We listened to the waves crashing in the distance as we sipped coffee afterwards in front of a cheery outdoor fire. Guys, order the coffee.
In short, get thee to Bornholm! Rent bikes and visit Hammershus, Scandinavia’s largest medieval fortification. (I know, again with the VERY specific superlatives, but it’s cool.) We stayed at the Nordlandet Hotel, which was fantastic—comfortable, spare rooms with beautiful views of the water and plenty of places to lounge away the day while you drink that aquavit and soak up the northern sun. I’m already planning my return trip.
But for now I’m back, and looking forward to summer in the city. Ha, ha! No I’m not, it’s been 137 degrees all week and everything smells like putrefying garbage and despair. However, what I AM looking forward to is the next installation of the Banned Countries Dinner series. This time, we’re focusing on Sudan, which I’m very excited about because I know very little about Sudanese food. R&K friend Omer Eltigani, author of the forthcoming cookbook The Sudanese Kitchen, has been collaborating on the menu and is flying in from London to join us for an evening of food, wine, and culture presented by the fine folks at Glasserie. We still have a few tickets left, so get’em while you can and I’ll see you there.
And here’s that Kadeau menu for my fellow menu nerds. Extra credit: anybody recognize that font?
That’s it for this week! See you again next week for more of the best in politics, food, and travel from around the web. Tweet me stories you want to see here @caraparks.