15 June 2010

To heaven and back

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.


  1. Such lovely photos. Copenhagen seems so lovely. That Tam Popo place looks amazing.

  2. those are some strange berries, nice selection of shoes mind. jelous

  3. Uh, the berries were so tasty, very sweet. And Tam Popo really came up with a fantastic thing there, I am actually contemplating fixing myself dinner tonight with that cling film concept in mind. :-)

  4. Jeg har stadig Amsterdam tilgode, men det er bestemt rykket op på min må-rejse-til-liste efter at have læst om udvalget af markeder. Det er nemlig noget af det bedste, jeg ved. Og hvor ser det altså skønt ud. Du har også lært mig noget helt nyt, og noget jeg ikke anede fandtes: Ananas jordbær? Det ligner altså en albinoudgave, men jeg vil bestemt gerne smage ét alligevel :)

  5. hej Linda, jeg tror også at mutanterne er helt nye på markedet, der var ingen der havde hørt om dem før, og de var revet væk fra butikken, jeg fik fingre i den sidste bakke. De smagte helt fantastisk godt, mmm. Du må klart besøge Amsterdam, og sikre dig at du får mandags markedet med, det er på samme plads (Noordermarkt), bare om mandagen, og kun med lopper. :-)

  6. Wow those berries look amazing !
    Nice European escapism on a brisk Sydney morning ;-)

  7. Hello Sydney! Europe is happy to be here for you. :-)

  8. I love Amsterdam, too (when I still lived in Berlin we used to do a stop-over at Amsterdam staying with friends on our way to the UK), but I have to say I never had much good food in there. Thanks to your tips this will change now - and these berries look delicious!

  9. pineapple strawberries never encountered them... as for the sushi, well i trust you but, it's because you seem trustful.
    we all know that scandinavians have the best design right? (kidding but not so much, it is fascinating)
    a friend of mine proposed to drive from france to scandinavia to look for "good pieces" as she is an interior designer. that sounds so marvelous. the only problem: we both live in nyc...

  10. Sabine

    It is true Amsterdam is not exactly the place you go to have a culinary experience, but there are places with yummy food, if you know where to go (I will give you some tips if you are going again sometime). But if you are cooking in, the selection is so much better than the Danish for whipping up something tasty. And they have a way with cheese too.


    I am happy to hear that I seem trustful to you :-) The sushi concept is of course only as good as what you put in there, and then it should be fresh. It was, mmm. It was sort of the experience as eating a roll, if you know what I mean, but the presentation really teased my taste buds, the visual side of eating is so important too.

    We do have a lot of good design in this part of the world. I suspect it is because we live in an indoor climate (what summer?), so our focus is on decorating and making things cosy where we spend the most time. A road trip is not a bad idea if you are in the neighbourhood sometime.


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