Forget Tivoli Gardens. Never mind the Little Mermaid. If there’s one thing any visitor to Copenhagen should do these days, it’s enjoy a decent meal. Fifteen years since Noma put the Danish capital on the culinary map, the city remains synonymous with food, glorious food.
And it’s not all fine dining, foraging and fermentation – whatever the glossy travel mags might have you believe. Once a gastronomic wasteland, Copenhagen is now a veritable food mecca, replete with top-notch restaurants, burgeoning street-food markets, world-class bakers, brewers and distillers, and a vibrant ecosystem of food start-ups, pioneers, activists and innovators.
The 15th annual Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival, which takes place across the city this month and is expected to attract 80,000 visitors, provides the perfect opportunity to explore the state of the country’s culinary culture – and the capital’s particular role in its evolution.
Under the banner “Breaking the New”, this year’s festival aims to showcase the innovative mindset that has helped spark Denmark’s gastronomic explosion, as well as some of the trends, debates and new business platforms that continue to fuel it.
With more than 100 unique experiences – from harvest feasts and hotdog competitions to snaps tastings and seed exchanges – there’s plenty for foodies to see, do, and of course eat.
In the following pages we take a look at some of the events that have caught our eye. Whether you’re curious about the current state of Danish gastronomy – or just plain hungry – get stuck in.
The ultimate barbecue party
Carnivores shouldn’t miss the barbecue in Israels Plads on opening night. Top chefs will be manning the grill, including Morten Falk, Denmark’s representative this year in the prestigious chef’s competition Bocuse d’Or; former Noma chef Karlos Ponte; and Henrik Jyrk, formerly of Kødbyen’s charcoal-grill restaurant Kul. They’ll cook a gourmet barbecue dinner and serve it under a circus tent with a range of Jacobsen beer – including Nordic Jam, a festival exclusive made with barley from Denmark and Norway and lingonberries from Sweden.
DKK 595 for a welcome drink, four barbecue dishes and free beer and water till 20:00.
Wine under the bridge
Rosforth & Rosforth shouldn’t require any introduction to Copenhagen’s oenophiles. The company sells wine commercially to many of the city’s restaurants – and, in the summer months, runs a popular wine bar underneath Knippelsbro. In August, however, they’re heading in the opposite direction – turning Knippelsbro’s newly opened Culture Tower into a pop-up restaurant for the duration of the food festival. Guests will enjoy several glasses of natural wine, shared snacks and marvellous harbour views from the 13-metre-high, 80-year-old copper tower.
Two sittings per night, from DKK 500
A celebration of gastronomy and agriculture
Finally, one of this year’s most interesting events is taking place outside Copenhagen. Michelin-starred chef Christian Puglisi is hosting Seed Exchange at the Farm of Ideas – an organic farm he founded last summer in Lejre, 40 minutes west of the capital, in order to provide ingredients for his Copenhagen restaurants, which include Relæ and Bæst. Puglisi’s ambition is to make the Farm of Ideas a “melting pot for innovation, gastronomy, and organic agriculture.” And to showcase his thinking, Seed Exchange will include a range of activities “for curious souls of all ages” – including an exchange of seeds and an opportunity to meet local farmers, producers, seed collectors and chefs such as Esben Holmboe Bang of Maaemo in Oslo, René Redzepi, and Carlo Petrini, the founder of the international Slow Food movement. Expect live music, talks, workshops, and plenty of food and drink, too – including a harvest feast.
Asian Hot Pot Culinary Experience
The Japanese call it shabu-shabu, while in Thailand it’s known as steamboat. Either way, the hot pot is one of the most popular dishes in Asia – and potentially one of this year’s highlights. Guests will gather at a large table in Israels Plads – the festival’s HQ – for what organisers have billed as an “interactive eating experience”. That’s because you’ll get to prepare your own hot pot, which is all part of the fun. Start by choosing either a spicy or mild base before adding up to 14 Asian vegetables and ingredients to the pot. And if it proves too spicy, quench your thirst with some Asian juice, beer, sake or wine.
Klør & Klezmer at Israels Plads
Similarly, fans of “everything good from the sea”, should chart a course for fishmonger Fiskerikajen’s takeover of Israels Plads on 25 August. Guests will enjoy live klezmer music, oysters and Champagne, followed by a “shellfish orgy” that includes boiled Greenlandic prawns, crab claws, fried Argentine prawns and lobster.
25 August, 16:00–23:00,
Snaps has long been seen as Scandinavia’s answer to gin, and is enjoying something of a revival. To see why, head to Spirikum. Billed as the world’s first snaps festival, it’ll bring together more than 25 of the world’s best snaps and aquavit producers at Copenhagen Distillery’s new headquarters. With local breweries also showcasing their wares, expect it to be a boozy affair. But there should be plenty of grub, too. Several acclaimed restaurants – including Palægade, No.2 and Nabo – will offer their take on contemporary street food.
From 395 DKK, incl. 5 free samples