A Few Wintery Days in Copenhagen

TofC contributor, Ingrid Pankonin, has recently taken a trip to Copenhagen with some friends and has shared her experience here on the Trail of Crumbs. Ingrid is a private cook ( Miel Cooking ) and close friend who lives in Oakland, California. Thank you Ingrid!

When a dear firend invited me to join him at Noma, the celebrated Copenhagen restaurant, I pretty much HAD to figure out how to get to Denmark! I was to join a group of friends, and we found a really lovely home on AirBnB. Traveling to Copenhagen could not have been easier - there is an excellent public transit system. Once we had al arrived, we hit the ground eating!

Despite the cold weather, the citizens of Copenhagen were out in full force - shopping and drinking mulled wine from stalls in the outdoor markets. The architecture was beautiful and I loved the mix of old, old buildings with all the mid-century design.  We definitely found some amazing eating and shopping… 

Our first, jet-lagged dinner of Copenhagen was at this modern, very open waterfront restaurant.  The vast space somehow managed to feel cozy, and the food was surprising, yet still recognizable.  Nice wine list, smart service, and literally one of the best tartares I've ever eaten - veal with tarragon and egg yolk.  It had all of the elements you want in a tartare, while opening your palate to something different, and with an obvious sense of place.  We also had delicious cocktails, like the Nordic Negroni, a twist on the classic using science-project techniques for marrying the flavors under pressure.

Lunch at Slotskælderen - a typical smørrebrød - the iconic Danish open-faced sandwiches - restaurant.  We somewhat stumbled upon this one, reputed to be the best in Copenhagen, and somehow snuck a group of six of us in at the last minute.  Apparently everyone in Denmark likes to have these lavish lunches around the holidays, and in general, reservations are recommended well in advance.  We started with special holiday-edition aqvavit, which had travelled around the equator twice, picking up spices along the way to infuse in it.  Skål!  We had beautifully fresh oysters, many sandwiches - tiny bay shrimp, fried and marinated herring, pork belly, hard-cooked eggs, lots of mayonnaise and the requisite capers, red onions and dill on most of it.  So delicious!  And all amongst a super cozy, family vibe - we left with warm hearts and bellies!

Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace
Every day at noon, the changing of the guard at the Queen's palace happens - think Buckingham Palace-style uniforms and stern faces.  This was an amazing display of history and tradition, not to mention hardiness against the cold, in the plaza between the four identical palaces that comprise the Danish royal family's winter residence.

Words can't really describe how amazing this meal was - from the cozy setting, to the flawless and super-personal service, to the mind-blowing food and wine and juice.  Believe the hype.

This is a gorgeous, modern, indoor-outdoor food market located just a block or so away from Nørreport Station - one of Copenhagen's central metro stops.  There are two large, glassy halls and a central outdoor area between them, filled with stalls selling everything from fresh produce to wine to Danish cheeses to seafood to artisanal licorice.  This is a wonderful place to have a casual lunch at one of the restaurant-y stalls, and to pick up typical Danish products to bring home.

This is a sweet little neighborhood with lots of vintage shops, little cafés, clothing stores, and galleries.  The vintage places range from fully-curated mid-century design emporium to sardine-packed bric-a-brac mess - which makes for a fun shopping experience!  The lovely Frederiksen boutique has a great selection of women's clothes, and Bevar's serves a cozy, slightly hipster smørrebrød lunch.

We made a reservation at Geist for the evening after the Noma lunch, cancelled it due to overwhelm, and then ended up in their lounge/bar area for a light dinner anyway!  As with pretty much anywhere we went, the staff was incredibly nice and helpful, with the bartender offering great advice on their interesting wine list.  We had just a few dishes, but they were delicious and inventive.  The suckling pig and crispy artichokes were rich and comforting, and the baked celery root and chestnut dish was a STUNNER.  The well-heeled, slightly older vibe matches the inventive but not bewildering cuisine.  

Our last meal of the Copenhagen days was at this modern smørrebrød restaurant nestled inside the Standard Hotel along the canal front.  An airy, comfy space and an open kitchen started out lunch off right, and the updated versions of the sandwiches were exciting and still grounded in tradition.  As with all the restaurants we visited, there were myriad aqvavit selections, as well as nicely chosen beer and wine lists.  A perfect send-off, wrapping us in a Danish modern hug and leaving us wanting more!

All photos and text: Ingrid Pankonin

A Candlelit Birthday Dinner in Paris

Recently, I was able to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister Simone, who crossed the seas from Marfa, Texas to be in Paris for our annual fête. First we went on a road trip through white truffle laden Piedmont, Italy and after, hosted an intimate birthday dinner party at a friend's elegant home in Paris. 

My French-American friend and private cook, Alix Lacloche, helped us prepare the meal. She effortlessly organized the shopping and the prep and let us chill out. She threw on her apron and started chopping, tasting and pulling all the elements together. Simone and I were in charge of one thing, the white truffle ravioli that we made from scratch using a truffle we hand selected at the white truffle fair in Alba. 
I adore the apartment that belongs to the charming couple, Michaela Lee and Alex Thumerelle.  Alex runs a bookstore, gallery and boutique, called Ofr. I met Alex when I curated an art exhibition in the Ofr gallery a few years ago featuring three artist and musician friends from California. Their chic apartment also functions as an extension and atelier of the Ofr universe. It's a gorgeous apartment used for photo shoots, private events, a showroom during fashion week and beyond. I was thrilled when she offered us the space for our birthday dinner, as it has lots of old world Parisian spirit, magic and soul. 

Alix prepping a pile of fresh Chanterelle mushrooms from a nearby market, 
Simone cutting the pasta sheets for the ravioli

Alix carefully inspects the Chanterelle mushrooms

Simone inhaling the intoxicating smell of the chosen white truffle at the Alba truffle show in Italy

A truffled egg yolk sitting in a pillow of fresh ricotta from my favorite fromagerie down the road

Each guest was served a single raviolo to begin the meal. I finished each one with a drizzle of browned butter and grated white truffle. One of the best things I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. Quickly cooking dishes à la minute was fast-paced and fun, especially when one of our guests happened to be co-owner of 3 of Paris' best cocktail bars (Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste and Glass) and made everyone in the kitchen a round of very good Negronis. Yes!

Á table! Simone takes a moment to slowly stoke on the raviolo. Mmmmmmmmmmm

Stuffed pork loin with Chanterelle mushrooms and herbs, 
Lovely Michaela in her billowy white chiffon blouse

Alix explains it all

Alix slicing the pork loin, 
A happy dinner plate with stuffed pork loin, roasted potimarron squash with herby salsa verde, potato purée, sautéed Chanterelles, and fresh greens. 

Last but not least... came two birthday cakes brought by a guest from Stohrer, the oldest Pâtissier in Paris (since 1730), along with lots of champagne

All photos by Danielle Rubi-Dentzel, except for top 2 photos by Simone Rubi

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