Okay. So I’ve had literally no ambition or motivation to blog during November. No excuses, I just haven’t felt like it. But a few things I’ve eaten around Europe just need to be seen and talked about!
By the far the most amazing dining experience I’ve had in my life happened on the first night of my trip to Copenhagen. Four of my friends and I had booked a reservation at Kødbyens Fiskebar, an acclaimed seafood restaurant in the old meatpacking district of the city. After getting lost a few times on the way from the center to that area, we finally settled in to our seats and took in the impressively modern and cool atmosphere of the restaurant (which included a beautiful stainless steel square bar, a large aquarium, and concrete bathrooms that had ocean noises playing under the murmur of the restaurant’s patrons traveling through the heating ducts – cool stuff).
A long day of traveling, settling into our hostel, and napping in way-too-comfortable beds had almost ruined our appetites; we kind of just wanted to sleep through the night. But we definitely made the right decision by heading out. We started off with champagne and a shrimp-salad-esque appetizer. Small shrimp were tossed with hazelnuts and a tarragon-mayo-pesto and then topped with micro-greens and a crispy potato chip. It was absolutely phenomenal, and our petite bites tried to savor its flavor.
Hannah ordered the mussels (picture one, top right), which were steamed in apple cider and lots of herbs. I tired one, and they were absolutely delicious. The great bread that came out right after the appetizers was a great companion to the leftover broth. The rest of us ordered Kødbyens’ version of fish and chips – something crispy and straight-up delicious after a long day. I know, I know – it seems ludicrous that five people traveling from the UK (of all places) would order fish and chips at a foreign restaurant. But the truth is that, of the three or four times I’ve had fish and chips in London, I was never impressed. The quality is just never good; it’s passé. In Copenhagen, though, I was prepared to trust the quality of the fresh caught-that-day fish and its careful preparation.
Good thing I did: the fish and chips was – by far – the best I’ve had in my life. Two small filets of pollock (a more sustainable and under farmed version of cod or haddock, used especially in the UK and Northern Europe) were covered in panko and delicately fried; it was great. The fries, too, were expertly fried and tossed with a good amount of green herbs. They were crunchy outside, fluffy inside, and dusted with a ton of flavor. Finally, there was a side of raw remoulade – something that was almost a middle-point between cole slaw and tartar sauce. Whether eaten alone or with the fish, its raw, crunch, and fresh flavor added a lot of the dish.
Nearing the point of being stuffed, we decided to split one dessert. What was described on the menu – peanut butter mousse and chocolate gelato with raspberries in a cocoa pod – did nothing to describe how phenomenal the dish would be. When it arrived, our jaws dropped. Sitting in front of us was, indeed, a giant cocoa pod on top of a bed of coffee beans. But when opened up, the two haves had equally jaw-droppingly good desserts. The top was filled with this peanut butter mousse, which was caramelized like creme brûlée on top. And the bottom half was filled with liquid-nitrogen frozen raspberries, topped with a scoop of silky bittersweet chocolate gelato and a few more fresh raspberries. To sum it up: we wished we would had ordered another one, and would’ve had the kitchen not closed ten minutes before we ate it. Through its impressive presentation, flavor combinations, textures, and technique, it was a world-class dessert to end such a world-class meal.
Nothing since has really surpassed the quality of that meal, but that’s not to say we didn’t eat well for the rest of our time there. The next day, we visited the Carlsberg Brewery, did a lot of shopping and sight-seeing, and eventually had dinner at Kalaset.
Unlike the day before, we had worked up a large appetite after walking around so much. Earlier in the week, I had looked up Kalaset and, based on the great reviews, wanted to try it out. Conveniently, we were walking around wondering where to eat when we literally happened upon the restaurant’s doorstep.
A few steps down off the street, Kalaset’s half-underground setting – along with its antique, kitschy furniture, bar, and menus – creates a ridiculously cozy and vintage feel. We ended up ordering a few beers (Carlsberg, once again) and then decided on our food choices. I ordered a chicken cutlet sandwich on multigrain bread that was topped with bacon, peppers, pesto, mayo, tomatoes, red onions, and arugula. As expected, it was rich, filling, and succulent. Cooper ordered something similar, but with beef instead of chicken. His sandwich also came with a side of roasted potatoes and homemade tomato chutney (which was really complex and much more appreciate than one-note ketchup). And Liz, still craving a good breakfast, ordered blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. All of our selections were really good, and the comfortable and relaxed vibe of the restaurant coupled with the prompt service led to a really good dinner and a great last night in Copenhagen.
Check back soon for good eats in Berlin and Southeastern France!