If you are a vegetarian and going to Denmark dreaming about all that good food you could possibly eat, you might be disappointed. Danish cuisine is meat-based and you will not find not more than one option and if you are lucky, two in most restaurants. But that is no reason for not making the most of what you get and more often than not, you will be surprised.
For me, Danish cuisine was a surprise, one I’m still not sure if I’m fond of. Since it was part of a media tour, we got a chance to experience all kinds of restaurants from four course meal at Frisholt to a modest vegan restaurant in Copenhagen. Needless to say, it was an interesting experience.
The Organic Lab was small and can accommodate eight small tables. The menu consists of open sandwiches with three different vegan filling, set meals, varieties of tea and other drinks you usually find in any menu. In our case, the menu was pre-ordered for our party of six.
Our menu had three different fillings for sandwiches, which was ordered for us. Though I do not remember exactly all the fillings, I do remember the main ingredients in each of them. It would be avocado, apple and potatoes. I was told that the one with potato was the most favoured one and I could understand why. It had all the ingredients that was the right balance between sweetness and sourness making it very easy to eat. I have never been a great fan of avocado but the one with apple was crispy but with an overwhelming taste of what I thought to be creamy substitute for mayonnaise, making it difficult to eat more.
To go with sandwiches I ordered matcha tea and a colleague ordered ginger and mint tea. I had always wanted to try matcha tea, thanks to all those food manga I have read in the past. Matcha is a Japanese green tea and I ordered the tea to quench my curiosity. Just like I thought it was green in colour and unexpectedly gave out a slight bitter taste. Though the tea was good, it did not go well with sandwiches.
But the mint and ginger tea the colleague ordered is a whole different cup. It had a perfect balance of ginger, mint and lemon that was soothing. As soon as I was done with my matcha tea I ordered the mint tea. Even weeks after I came back from Denmark, it is one thing that refused to get out my mind.
If there is one another experience that ranks high in my foodie list, it had to be the Indian cuisine made by a Dane when we were staying at Grundfos guesthouse Frisholt. I should agree that the Chef bowled us over when he presented the spread. He surprised us with samosas and crispy onion vadas to channa masala for nicely cooked basmati rice.
I wanted to meet the chef, a sentiment shared by our group, to thank him for the wonderful spread and also to understand how he could bring out the Indian flavours. Bringing out the Indian flavours is really hard, for they are complex and there are too many spices to confuses you. Should one mix chilli, cumin and turmeric or should it be coriander, turmeric and a bit of sesame. For tangy flavour, should one add more lemon along with ginger and garlic paste? See what I’m talking about. It is so easy to lose your sense of smell and taste in the richness of spices. But this man had got most of it right.
When he came to our table, he said, “I love Indian food and spices. I learnt to make Indian food during my two month stay in Nepal. Then I wanted to travel to India to specialise in them but had to return to Denmark. I hope to travel to India someday to learn more about Indian food.” I do not remember much of what transpired during four-course formal dinner during my last night in Frisholt; only that they looked so damn good and I could not help but click pictures.
After two days in Frisholt, we stayed two nights in Copenhagen. Apart from the Organic Lab, other restaurants we went to in Copenhagen were French restaurant Alsace, Italian and Mexican place Rizraz and Nimb at the famous Tivoli gardens. Except for Rizraz, where we had a huge spread of vegan pasta, pizza and salad to choose from, there was not much of a choice at Nimb and Alsace. But I liked what they had.
Alsace is a small but a cozy restaurant a kilometre from the hotel I was staying. Though it was crowded, the ambiance was intimate. You might be spoilt for choice but for vegetarians it was not hard at all since you only have a vegetarian risotto to choose from. They would make you an appetiser from asparagus and carrot, which was satisfactory, if you are interested. There is always an option to quench your residual hunger through a tangy French lemon pie or rich Cream bulle. I loved both.
As we were nearing the end of the trip, as a sign of fitting farewell, the company took us to Nimb, an upscale restaurant situated in Tivoli gardens. The restaurant was upscale indeed with posh interiors, swift service (except the newbie who served us) and excellent presentation. Nimb again reminded me of how hard it is being a vegetarian in a predominantly meat-consuming nation.
But I take what I can get. We were served mushroom consomme, main dish consisting of fried cauliflower and good harvest of seasonal fruits like passion fruit and grapes for dessert. I could not help but eat everyone’s passion fruit, which is my new found favourite on a foreign land.