I enjoyed a rest day from inline speed skating training on Monday. Instead of putting my feet up for a day of rest and relaxation, I made a quick unplanned day trip to Copenhagen. Unlike most of my typical travel experiences, I did zero research on my trip to Denmark since I expected to keep a pretty rigid schedule of training at Sk8skool in Gerlev sports academy. I did not bother to look up transportation logistics, shopping destinations, tourist attractions, or even places for good eating. Talk about being unprepared! The one exception was snagging a lunch reservation at Noma.
Despite my lack of preparation, it was not exactly rocket science to figure out direction from Slagelse to Strøget, the major shopping district in Copenhagen. As soon as I stepped out of Nørreport Station, I was in my element. The sight and sound of a big cosmopolitan city brought over a wave of familiarity. I was no longer in quiet countryside, skating by the never-ending fields of farmland. I finally felt like my travel adventure has begun! Before I even got my bearings, I made a beeline to Lagkagehuset Bageri & Konditori, a pretty fancy looking pastry shop merely steps away. My inner sense just knew exactly where to go. Like most bakeries and pastry shops in Denmark, there is a heavy emphasis on loaves, buns, and Danish pastries (of course). There is a small percentage of more elaborate tarts and cakes like those one expects in a French patisserie but the baked goods are overall on a more rustic side. It was a hard decision to figure out which to order. All the sweet and savoury buns in various shapes and sizes all seemed so inviting but stomach space is limited. It was not easy to narrow down my selection to two! I enjoyed a strawberry tart and a marzipan bun (boller). The tart consisted of an almond cake base coated with thin layer of dark chocolate. A dollop of whipped cream sat proudly on top studded with juicy sweet Danish strawberries. It was so simple yet the sum was greater than its parts. As for the marzipan bun, all I can say is this trip to Denmark made me fall in love with marzipan. This ingredient is not commonly used in North American baking but quite popular among traditional European pastries. I love sweet fillings in yeasty buns and using one of my new favourite ingredient just made it so much better.
I only had a vague idea of where I was going but following the pedestrian-only area is never a bad idea when exploring. All along the cobblestone street, there were fun little boutiques to feast the eyes. I wanted to buy so many things from the Lisbeth Dahl store! Further down the street, I came upon a street vendor making candied almonds at his stall. Of course I bought a small bag of warm crunchy sweet almonds. I couldn’t say no to such an adorable red and white stripe paper cone!
Directly across from the almond vendor, I noticed tourists were filing into an old building. I wasn’t paying much attention since old buildings are everywhere in Europe. Somehow curiosity got the best of me and I stepped inside. A quick glance at the ticket booth told me that I was inside Rundetaarn (The Round Tower), a key historical building in Copenhagen. Rundetaarn is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Until 1861 it was used by the University of Copenhagen, but today, anyone can observe the night sky through the fine astronomical telescope of the tower in the winter period. Aside from the obligatory Tourist View Of The City From Top Of Building, I really enjoyed the architecture and the exhibits in Rundetaarn.
My afternoon was spent shopping and eating along Strøget. The big department store Illum was a central location for many apparel boutiques including some of my favourites like All Saints and marlies|dekkers. Scandinavian designers are also prominently featured. I was close to buying a pair of platform heels at Carla F until sensibility took over and reminded me I have little use nor luggage room for such shoes. They sure looked gorgeous though.
I took my time browsing many stores but my favourite was the food hall inside Illum. It doesn’t compare to places such as Le Bon Marche in Paris, Harrod’s in London, or Takeshimaya in Tokyo in terms of scale or selection. However, I really appreciated its selection of local Danish products. I’m a grocery and gourmet store geek and can easily spend hours browsing to my heart’s content. I particularly liked the bakery department and Simply Chocolate boutique at Illum. I enjoyed my Illumboller and iced latte by the sidewalk cafe table watching the lively crowd going back and forth. The chocolate chips-studded sweet bun with sugary almond topping made for a nice afternoon snack. Oh, and it was the milkiest iced latte I ever had. Good thing the dairy in Denmark is most excellent. As for Simply Chocolate, they are a local chocolatier based just outside of Copenhagen. Since I tried my first flodeboller last Friday, I couldn’t get enough of this treat! The good ones are usually made with a round cookie based with a thin layer of marzipan. A huge dollop of whipped marshmallow sits on top of the base and the whole thing is enrobed with dark chocolate. A very fancy Whippet! I bought a box of assorted pralines along with two flodeboller at Simply Chocolate.
You would think with all those chocolate in my shopping bag, I would be quite satisfied. No, far from it. Just before I left Illum, I stopped by the Sv. Michelsen Chokolade boutique and got four more flodebollers. I was a happy girl.
Stores close at the early hour of 19:00 in Copenhagen and I was going to take the train back to Slagelse. With the long daylight hours, it felt like the day had only just begun and I didn’t want to return so soon. I strolled leisurely around the area and admired the city slowly winding down in the early evening hours. Of course hunger soon followed and I started checking out restaurants along the route. I could take the chance to try a hotdog from one of the many hotdog carts every which way I turn. However, a nice meal out seemed like a much more appealing option. I’m generally pretty good at sussing out good places to dine and Cafe Quote stood out from the crowd. Actually, I was much more intrigued by the restaurant next door Geist. The small plates menu was packed with things I really wanted to order. Too bad it was fully booked.
From my curb side table, I started my meal with White Asparagus & Shrimps from Skagen, served with mayo and quail egg. The shrimps were tiny but had so much flavour! Normally asparagus would likely be my favourite component of the dish but I have to say the shrimps stole the show. My main course was Pork Cutlet from Grambogaard, marinated in sage and grilled. It was served with creamy wild garlic spelt, pearl onions, and roasted celery. Pork is popular in Denmark and I can now see why. Instead of “the other white meat”, it is as satisfying as a steak. The creamy spelt was so good I want to try making it at home. I concluded my meal with a selection of Danish cheeses served with plum compote. What a delicious meal featuring many local ingredients!
I timed my trip back to Slagelse and ought to return in time for the last bus to Gerlev. Unfortunately, what I did not plan for was rain delay. The thunderstorm rolled in and my train was delayed by over half an hour. By the time I arrived in Slagelse, the town was dead. Thank heaven for taxi! This was only whirlwind day trip to Copenhagen but it left me wanting more. I walked past so many places I wanted to visit but didn’t! Cafe Norden, Konditori La Glace, and of course endless fashion boutiques. A friend will show me around town this weekend. I can’t wait to return!