31 August 2011

Fashion and beans

The coolest and cosiest thing to happen in Danish fashion in recent time is the knitting club Kaffeslabberas (coffee club), a collaboration between designers and elderly knitters. This season they were invited to decorate the traditional Copenhagen Fashion Week window at confectionery La Glace:

Fashion week macaroons

The fashion week macaroon, coffee version.

The knitting club

(Introduction reads) The knitting club Kaffeslabberas was founded in 2008 by designer Susanne Hoffmann and four women from the elderly-facility Sløjfen. Today ten knitters meet every Tuesday to knit sweaters, stockings and scarves sold in the Mads Nørgaard and Henrik Vibskov stores. The proceeds goes towards financing lectures, parties and day trips for the members of the center. Kaffeslabberas is the living proof that you are never too old to take on a challenge, and that a sense of purpose improves the quality of life. Kaffeslabberas is an encouragement to share a passion, regardless of differences and age.

Last week they published their first book "Til Kaffeslabberas", a compilation of interviews with designers and knitters, knitting patterns and beautiful photos, on the perfect choice of crisp, matte paper.

Back piece by street artist HuskMitNavn.

It was appropriately launched in the Designmuseum Danmark, and attended by the esteemed knitters (hello kryptonite), gracefully dressed for the occasion. Only rarely does fashion make so perfect sense to me as it did right there. Or in the words of Godfather:

Kaffeslabberas (in Danish only) 

"Til Kaffeslabberas" is in Danish, and published by Gad.

29 August 2011

MAD Foodcamp

On the boat to this weekends MAD Foodcamp, brainchild of Noma's René Redzepi and friends, I was seated next to an inside man. A restaurateur specializing in seafood, the man to ask the pressing question: is it true that tuna is in danger of becoming extinct? I have read up on it and asked around, but my findings correspond poorly with the fact that canned tuna is dirt-cheap and available in every supermarket. Yes, everybody knows that, he said, giving me a slightly confused look. But the thing is, we don't. The more I learn, the more I understand that I need to ask questions. I don't want to support unethical farming, and I certainly don't want to eat endangered species. It bothers me that I even have the choice.

The MAD Foodcamp held at the remote Refshaleøen was like two separate events in one. One for the people, and one for the trade, in a camp built from haystacks and beautiful tents. I parted ways with Mr. Inside at the entrance, and joined the people. My first encounter with a passionate food camper was a professor from the Technical University of Denmark, a true root fetishist.

Behold the evolution of the carrot. The ancestors are still around, but today they are considered weeds. The bushy roots smell exactly like carrots (well, because they are), but there is no use for them. The way I see it we just haven't found it yet, at the very least the dried roots would make for interesting toothpicks (oh, and remember the apple eggs? I wonder how carrot meat would taste). The professor giving an inspired speech on his beloved roots:

And then there was the school-garden project (full post on that to come). This girl was so proud of her sunflowers, picking the most photogenic ones for me. Look at that tender touch:

There were several events for children, like the Veggie bling bling workshop by Dutch eating designer Marije Vogelzang (I am a huge fan, but I didn't have the balls to tell her... well, the timing seemed wrong... or maybe I am just too Danish for my own good)(dammit). And no shots of happy children in veggie jewellery either, because I didn't want to violate their privacy. Tricky thing, that.

The weather was crazy wet, the worst possible scenario for this kind of event, yet it didn't seem to suffer from it.

MAD Foodcamp backstage.

The stripey temple where the worlds royalty of fine cooking according to twitter were inspired by each other, sustainable cooking, hay and lime flavored ants. I am so happy that there is someone out there who cares enough to make this camp happen. The revolution may start at the Michelin level, but eventually it will make it to the people. I have a feeling that if we start asking the right questions, the market will have to meet our demands.


***** UPDATE *****

Katie from Parla Food made a great post on what went on in the stripey tent.

24 August 2011

A coming attraction

Last spring I rode by a cluster of neon signs, hovering in the middle of nowhere, way out on Nørrebro. They were fenced in, and there were no clues to what they were about. Every couple of months I would pass them, and see something more going on, like the crazy cool bike racks lining up. Eventually I learned that this is part of the monster urban lift Superkilen, and as I was reading up on it, I was shell shocked. It is like nothing anyone has ever seen before, mixing cultures and colors in a freak show of epic proportions. Yesterday I trespassed and sneaked as many pictures of the progress as I could. They are approaching the final stages of the red square (wait until you see the pictures) with the expected opening in September. 

The weird thing is that I was halfway lining up to hate it. But now that I have had some time to think about it, and seen the effort to make it happen, I am warming up fast. I find that I like living in a city that makes room for red floors and rainbow colored bicycle racks.

Rainbow parking

Rainbow bicycle racks

Cranberry bike rack

Superkilen floor

Superkilen almost ready

Bicycle highway / the red square

A bicycle highway runs through it, of course, like a main artery.
Epoxy floor

Here's the floor half done, I bow to the craftsmanship involved in making this sandwich of a floor: first layer is asphalt, second layer epoxy (the Danish summer rain reaking havoc with the poor German specialists, poking a million holes in the drying floor, calling for a do-over and more sanding), then a layer of sand and the final coat of colored polyurethane.

Oh, and there is a giant Japanese octopus waiting for its close up further down the stretch.. I'm on it!

Superkilen (in Danish only)
Topotek1 (in German and English)

22 August 2011

Sunday safari, part two

As I passed the glass and steel heading for Nokken, the end of the world appeared. Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it. A wilderness that I didn't even know existed in Copenhagen, so peaceful. I still don't know if people live there or just use it for the weekends, and it wouldn't have been that hard to ask someone, but I realized that I really don't want to know. I like the mystery. 

The waterside, with old boats and campers:

Public service:

Public service

A ten minute bike ride from Town Hall Square.. hard to grasp.

Going in, it is more like a forest, with everything from simple sheds to real houses:

As I ventured down a pebble road, a young boy at maybe ten came towards me on his bike, and as we passed each other, he took his cap off in a sweeping gesture to greet me. It was murder by extraordinary kindness, I still can't get over it.

21 August 2011

Sunday safari, part one

Friday Copenhagen went in to a full frenzy, as our tap water got infected with E coli bacteria. Well, as it turns out the bad sample was from Thursday morning, so at the time the alarm went off, we had all been drinking and showering in it for at least a day. Yesterday the hot zone was narrowed down to my neighbourhood (greetings from the epicentre). The sinner is presumably rainwater seeping into the exposed water pipes at the Nørrebrogade road work. No fancy pictures, just thought I would keep you updated. Saturday I passed the outdoor flea market and I had to stop for these gentlemen. Expressive old mannequins, you know? They suck me in.

Hindsgaul mannequins, made in Denmark. It breaks my heart that they stopped making them here. You can't outsource the feeling..

As I was having my close encounter with his half-men, I chatted with the seller and he recommended I visit Nokken, a small garden community in the far end of Islands Brygge. I had never heard of it, so I made it my Sunday safari destination (hop on the bike with me, like in the old days):

I always assumed the bike path along the lakes was limited to the Østerbro and Nørrebro lakes, but you can take it to the fancier Frederiksberg side too, a totally different experience. No farty goo, of course.

Harbour pool

Passing the harbour pool, so cool. So cold.

The bicycle bridge

Crossing the bicycle bridge, like flying over water. Intoxicating!

The Silo

The Silo

The Silo

The Silo transformed into crazy expensive real estate. Mixed feelings here: I can appreciate the architecture, but I also feel guilty about it knowing this development came at the cost of the old Brygge inhabitants, a.k.a. the "real people" getting evicted. Not all of the architecture is equally impressive, for the most part it is an impersonal inferno of glass and steel. But that's just me, I am partial to the lived in feeling of old and mixed income neighbourhoods.

Copenhagen surfer dude

Copenhagen surfer dude.

And then I made it to Nokken.

(stay tuned for part two)

20 August 2011


I have been hovering over these guys since they were hatchedhissing at thoughtless humans, mourning the ruthless reduction ...and now they are back to six. I will never know how they pulled this off.


18 August 2011

High times

As part of a new routine I am going to Vesterbro every day to get high. I never thought it would happen to me, but now that it has, I only wish that it did a long time ago. Seriously people, why did no one tell me that exercising feels so damn good? The stupid stress is backing off just a little, the headaches are gone and I feel goooood. High, I tell you. And as a bonus (one of many), I am rediscovering Vesterbro in a rare daytime version. It is only a comfortable 15 minute ride from my home, so how come it is so different? Copenhagen.. I am beginning to realize that no matter how long and hard I look, there will always be more.


You ain't seen nothing yet..

(Service announcement: the mosaique is on the corner of Oehlenschlægersgade and Kaalundsgade on Vesterbro)

16 August 2011

Grandparents For Asylum

Grandparents have a shortcut to my heart, if they have something to say, I feel obligated to listen. Today I spotted a small demonstration on Sankt Hans Square by Grandparents For Asylum. The first time I heard about them was last year when they were arrested in the Parliament for singing during the announcement of yet another tightening of the asylum law, by Minister of Integration Birthe Rønn. They caught some of it on video before they feed was interrupted. First words out of Birthe Rønn: "stop the meeting, then they will be punished". 

This woman earned her mural:

Shame on you Birthe Rønn.

Some of the refugees have been stuck in the asylum centres for over ten years, people who have experienced torture and prosecution (counseling of torture victims is only available to those granted asylum). According to the grandparents they have had an unfair trial, and following their rejection, they are now stuck, traumatized, petrified of going back home and not allowed the opportunity to start a life here. The children, of which some are born at the centres, are stuck in the middle and moved from one asylum centre to the other, unable to form relationships with children their own age, as they may not be around long enough. I know firsthand how this cripples your social skills in the long run. And the deprivation of a social life is only one of the many inhumane obstacles they are up against.

Human rights are being trampled.

We grandparents are outraged and ashamed of the Danish refugee politics. Too many have been stuck for years in the Danish asylum centres - passive, denied the right to work.

Bedsteforældre For Asyl

Every Sunday the grandparents stand in front of the asylum centres to show their discontent, they have been doing so for the last three years, and this month marks the 200th appearance. They are a reminder of a humanity that used to be at our very core, and they make me so proud to be Danish.
Link: Bedsteforældre For Asyl (in Danish)

And now I miss my grandparents.. ugh.


13 August 2011

Your Back Garden

Copenhagen is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and the winning formula is regional cooking, using locally grown produce. Obviously they don't shop where the mere mortals do because our choices up until now have primarily been limited, and controlled by a few supermarket chains. I always wondered where they got the good stuff, and who I would have to... eh, buy a cup of coffee to get my hands on some. And then I discovered Din Baghave (Your Back Garden), a chain of small shops buying directly from the best farmers. The shop on Tullinsgade (on Vesterbro) is a small two room basement, of which the back room is refrigerated to keep the veggies happy. And from the look of them, they are.

Baby beets.

Despite the size of the place, there is almost too much to take in, in just one visit: vegetables, fruit, honey, homemade vinegars, whole grain for grinding on the spot (like coffee) and fresh herbs. But what really blew my mind were the eggs. I would never knowingly buy eggs from unhappy chicken, if I can't afford the good ones, I would rather go without. But I don't think I ever tasted eggs from deliriously happy and apple fed chicken before. What a difference, from the taste (not apple, just... rich), to the shell, harder and more varied in size and shape. And I love the story behind it: at an apple orchard they had trouble with the fallen fruit rotting on the ground faster than they could pick it up. So they got chicken to do the job, problem solved. As a bonus they got a production of eggs. And as if that was not enough, the apple trees have never been happier, with the chickens contributing to the soil (if you know what I mean). Have you ever heard of so many wins in one?

Everything is clearly marked with the farmers name and location.

 Baby tomatoes, sweet but sour.

Since my first visit the procrastinator perfectionist in me wanted to wait until I got even more yummy pictures for this post, and as a result the Monocle beat me to it, naming Din Baghave one of their five favorite grocery shops in the world. As a consolation (yes, it is all about me, haha) the Baghave lady offered me an onion flower to sprinkle on my eggs on rye. My first onion flower:

Onion flower

Life can be so good sometimes.

The shop in Tullinsgade:

Din Baghave
Tullinsgade 10
1618 Copenhagen V

Opening hours May-October: 10-18, Fridays 10-19

Link: Din Baghave (in Danish)
Link: Small movie from Monocle on the worlds best grocery stores (Cph starts at 1.07)


Din Baghave is no longer in business. Poor Copenhagen.