I hope you’re not too hungry because I’m about to tantalize your tastebuds as I take you on a culinary tour of Copenhagen. The tour was part of an optional excursion on my Viking Homelands cruise, compliments of Viking Ocean Cruises.*
My sister N, who was my traveling companion, agreed that it was a great way to spend our free afternoon in Denmark’s capital city. Since Copenhagen is home to 15 restaurants with Michelin stars, we were confident that Copenhagen’s food scene had much to offer.
A visit to Torvehallerne market
Maria, our guide from FoodTours.eu, gave us a brief overview of the Torvehallerne Market Halls before entering. “This is an old market square. It’s been around since 1889,” said Maria. “In more recent years, famous chefs of Scandinavia got together to invest in these market halls. It took years to get this finished and the halls opened in 2011.”
She told us that one of the requirements of having a stall is that vendors must have interesting food. “Some of the top Michelin-star chefs bought up foods from tiny producers and sell them here. You can either eat in or take out.”
We gathered in the center of the market where the picture-perfect produce stalls were on display. “Local produce has smaller yields because winters are long and summers are short,” said Maria. “That’s why in Denmark, pickling, preserving and salting are good techniques to keep the food.”
With the fresh fruits, colorful vegetables and bouquets of flowers around us, I felt a sense of what the Danish call hygge (pronounced like “hooga”), a sense of coziness. Visit Copenhagen Tourism says: “Hygge always involves creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.” It’s one of the reasons the Danes are top on the list when it comes to happiness scores.
Let’s get on with the tasting
First, we sipped Danish beer accompanied by a slice of Danish ham. “The ham is from happy pigs, said Maria. OMG, even Danish pigs rate high on the happiness scale.
Next, we sampled two types of honey, including a botanical garden variety. Maria told us that the city has a bee project to install new hives and that the bees make honey during the summer. “The difference in taste is in the flowers the bee pollinates,” she said.
In the covered market hall, we stopped by Unika, a wine and cheese stall. We sipped a sweet apple wine with 19% alcohol and tasted three different cheeses, one topped with a tomato jam. This was one of my favorites, I went back to buy a jar and served it for Thanksgiving with a Danish cheese I bought at Aldi.
We visited Bornholmer Butikken. All the products in this stall are made on Denmark’s Born Holm islands. There was mustard, crispy rye crackers, berry jam, rhubarb juice, licorice (which is very popular in Finland too), and marshmallows.
After trying some of the sweets, Maria brought out tiny shots of aquavit. Similar to vodka, aquavit is a spirit distilled from grain and potatoes and principally produced in the Scandinavia countries. “It’s 40% alcohol,” said Maria. “Here we say skol and just drink it down!”
I raised my shot, said skol, and drank. It was pretty smooth going down.
When in Denmark eat smørrebrød
Hallernes Smørrebrød is one of the preferred stalls in Torvehallerne with its award-winning smørrebrød. They sell this famous open sandwich with traditional and gourmet toppings. Smørrebrød has been a luncheon mainstay for Danes dating back to the 19th century.
“Smørrebrød means decorated bread. It’s humble country food dressed up and turned into a show piece. It always comes on rye bread because rye is the main Danish staple,” said Maria. “Rye bread can last for a month. It stays in your stomach longer.”
We sat down at the outdoor picnic tables for our Fiskefilet smørrebrød. The fried flat fish was topped with remoulade, capers and a sprig of dill. “You always eat this sandwich with a knife and fork,” advised Maria. We picked up our utensils and broke bread with our fellow foodies. The smørrebrød was so good, so good, so good.
Always room for dessert
Our tour ended on a sweet note with a delicious ice cream cone from the Bella ice cream shop. “I’m so full,” said N, “How can we eat any more.” “There’s always room for dessert,” I replied. We shared a cone of vanilla ice cream. It was tart and refreshing.
“The ice cream is made with milk from the Unika cheese shop,” said Maria. “The cone is a waffle cone. Not a cardboard cone or in a cup. The cone of the ice cream replaces the cookie, it is really like a cookie.” The ice cream and the cone were so good, so good, so good.
OMG, there was still one more stall to visit. It was Summerbird, where award-winning chocolates are sold. Could I, would I, should I eat one more thing? I had to sample the 100% organic chocolate drop. I had to sample the 61% dark chocolate. I passed on the marzipan – not a fan of marzipan. The chocolates were so good, so good, so good.
Our tummies were full as we headed back to the Viking Star. Soon we would be setting sail for Alborg, our next stop in Denmark.
P.S.: In case you missed my first blog posts about my Viking Homelands cruise and my Berlin pre-trip, check them out here:
♥ All Aboard Viking Star: A Great Way To Discover Scandinavia
♥ A First Taste of Berlin’s Culture and Cosmopolitan Cuisine
♥ A Walking Tour of Berlin: Being in the Present, Remembering the Past
♥ Sightseeing in Copenhagen: A Charming Capital City
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip on the Viking Homelands Ocean Cruise. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.