Living in a small country and staying sane is only possible if you leave once in a while. Copenhagen has benefited from all those who spend time abroad and have later returned with fresh ideas, and a new way of doing things. Some of the most influential persons in Danish history were frequent travellers, including the founding father of Copenhagen Archbishop Absalon (you know: the man under the bird). I just came back from a too short trip to Amsterdam, and I started to think about how I really feel just as much as a European as I feel Danish. And it never ceases to amaze me how different we live and especially eat, just one short plane ride away. So even if this is a blog about Copenhagen, it would still not be complete without the input from the outside.
Amsterdam is like a second home to me, I used to live there, and I still have my bike and my favourite places to go on it. On bicycling let me just say there is a big difference. First: no one wears a helmet. And I have never seen a serious accident involving a bike, or even heard about it. There is not a lot of hand signalling going on, but everybody stays alert, you communicate more subtly, and it is always a smooth ride. Maybe even more so because the flow is constant, no one is racing like maniacs, and the cars are showing a lot more restraint around us than here.
And then there are the markets: fleas, food and flowers, a never ending flow of smell, taste and color. I love my country, but I would be lying if I said we have a sensuality about food. The selection of food available the the general public is not that exiting (and I am being kind here). If you have the time to seek it out and the money to pay for it you can make it work, but if not, you are stuck with 3 kinds of meat and plastic wrapped vegetables. Which is surprising in a country with what was recently crowned the worlds best restaurant. I am hoping the upcoming food market will mark a change and set a higher standard.
But the grass is pretty green here too, the absence of summer not withstanding (thunder and heavy rain as I write this). We insist on summer even if the weather is not keeping its end up, and there is lots of socialising going on this time a year. Outdoor concerts, festivals, happenings, parties, eating, drinking and even movies. It may not be warm or even sunny, but we have daylight, and after 6 months in the dungeon, it is all we need to make it work.
My Bronco and a batch of mutant berries...
Pineapple strawberries, tasting exactly like a delicious mix of the two.
This is always one of my first stops: Op16. Not just a store dedicated to the kitchen, but more of a temple. This is where I was first introduced to the importance of the sound in dining. The sound the plate makes when you use it, and the unmistakable but hard to describe satisfaction you get from drinking your coffee from a bone china cup. The owners primarily makes a living from designing kitchens, but some days of the week this small place of worship is open. There is only one line of cutlery, but it is the best. And there is always something new from a local designer, like the one making the coolest aprons out of dishtowels, or this one with the shirt place mat.
Another check point: the Asian speciality food store Tam Popo. I got that lovin' feeling from the latest invention, the sushi pralines: heavenly little mouthfuls built on a piece of cling film, finished with a piece of sticky rice. It stays in this shape when you remove the film, and it tastes as good as it looks. The store has a workshop you can sign up for, teaching you how to make your own.
Fresh and organic herbs on the Saturday Market, half of the space is food..
... the other half is a flea market. In other words: heaven.
********* UPDATE *********
In case you are using this post as inspiration for places to visit in Amsterdam:
OP16 and Tam Popo are no longer in business. Ugh.