What I ate on vacation: Part III: Eating Copenhagen
If you missed the last two posts in my three-part series, be sure to check them out here:
Part I: Cruise Food (Aboard the Emerald Princess)
Part II: Offshore Eats (St. Petersburg, Russia and Rostock, Germany)
In planning our vacation, my dad made sure we had a couple of extra days in Copenhagen after the cruise to explore the city. The transition from having every single meal (whether it be an extensive buffet or a formal four-course meal) at our fingertips on the cruise ship to being completely on our own for finding our meals was interesting, to say the least.
My sister and I were totally willing to undertake the challenge of getting our meals on our own (we love any opportunity to explore the cuisines of other cultures); however, after eating western (therefore, unfamiliar) cuisine for 10 days on the cruise, my grandparents were seeking the familiar (our first lunch was at a Chinese restaurant near our hotel). Being the obedient grandaughters that we are (seniority is a big thing in Taiwanese family culture), we decided go along with it . . .
The first night we ended up at a McDonalds, and since I wanted to try something different, I ended up ordering a burger humorously called “The Little Mexican” (that name would never fly in the US). Basically, it was a hamburger dressed with shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese with a “spicy” taco sauce and sour cream. Sounds gross but it actually ended up not being too bad. Price hurt though, as this went for about $5 US.
One thing I noticed is that food in Copenhagen is expensive . . . very expensive when comparing it to food in the United States. I couldn’t believe it when I picked up a fast food breakfast of espressos and breakfast pastries at a local 7-11 for my sister, dad, mom and myself and the total came out to be nearly thirty US dollars!
Another night we ate a Scandinavian restaurant chain steakhouse called Jensen’s Bøfhus (Jensen’s Beef House), which served virtually nothing but steak. I’m not a big beef eater, so I ended up just ordering a cold smoked salmon filet salad:
It looked a little sad here on the plate. It was a little too salty and I ended up just eating all the lettuce and leaving most of the salmon . . . that’s what I get for ordering seafood at a steakhouse.
The rest of my family’s steak and ribs were actually really nicely cooked, not dry at all and well seasoned. They were all served with various sauces (a red wine sauce for my sister, a mustard-based sauce for my dad) on the side so that you could dip your steak in if you wished.
I did have some opportunities to try some local cuisine though! I had heard that one Danish specialty was smørrebrød; these are open-faced cold sandwiches on buttered dark rye bread. Apparently “smørrebrød” literally means “butter and bread,” but it’s interesting to note that how the cold cuts, cheeses and spreads are arranged on top of the bread is considered to be a sort of art; the smørrebrød should always be constructed such that the end product is “a tasty and visually appealing food item.”
Walking around downtown I was able to spot this small store selling smørrebrød, so we bought two to try. My mom’s smørrebrød consisted of a ginormous beef patty topped with a poached egg and tomato and wrapped in lettuce:
I ordered a smoked bacon smørrebrød; this ended up being really delicious as the bacon was thickly sliced, and super fatty, the meat was tender while the outer edges of the skin were nice and crisp. With the sourness of the pickled red cabbage and the sweetness of the sliced peach and prune, the flavors came together really nicely.
Sausage carts (more like hot dog trucks) are even more plentiful in Copenhagen than they were in Rostock (they’re literally like the Starbucks of Copenhagen, you could close your eyes, throw a stone in a random direction and chances are you’ll hit a hot dog truck). However, don’t think that this means that these dogs are subpar; they’re anything but. Called pølser, these stands serve up what the Danish consider to be one of their national dishes.
A standard pølse is topped with several condiments; mine was topped with remoulade, ketchup, mustard, raw chopped onions, as well as fried onions and pickles. Sounds excessive, but it really was just a delicious, umami-rich party in my mouth. If I could go back to Copenhagen again, this would probably be the first thing I’d seek out.
I couldn’t leave without getting this cute traditional confection (bought at a local 7-11). I didn’t catch the name of this, but it was a thin cookie wafer topped with a piped marshmallow cloud and dipped in chocolate and coconut. See how pretty it is?