Copenhagen is packed with culinary and shopping delights
If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be seasoned, generous, beautiful – and with a flair.brunch Updated: May 28, 2016 21:04 IST
If Samuel Johnson is to be remotely believed, I am tired of life. Because I am, indeed, tired of London. Not that it is a bad town. It’s just that it hasn’t reinvented itself as many times as it should have.
Concurrently, for a long time, my compass of cool moved towards Singapore. I still think aside from Tokyo, it is Asia’s most brazenly hip city. It had great design, the alternative publishing scene was heaving and the fashion side to it also ticked with a tony tock.
But it was Berlin last year that opened my eyes to a rather eclectic Europe. One that wasn’t starched. One that walked with a shuffle. And a song on its lips. One in which modernity and tradition kissed each other on its streets.
The Emirates flight to Dubai reaches Dubai at a sweet six thirty in the morning. And before you can say Shake Shack, it goes on to Copenhagen.
But before that, a word about the lounge at Dubai. Brilliant Amritsari kulchas. And perhaps the last of the living places that bestows some dignity to smokers. No hole-in-the-wall room giving you a reminder of your nicotine-induced mortality. Instead a ballroom-sized hall that makes a virtue out of the vice. Almost a pat on your lungs.
The moment the doors of the aircraft opened in Scandinavian climes, so did our eyes. It was two degrees and we had not packed for such meteorological manipulation.
The gentleman who had come to pick us up apologised for the weather. Such graciousness!
After twenty years of marriage, every couple needs two bedrooms. Which is why, I chose HAY. They have a bunch of compulsively cool apartments designed by the fabulous Danish brand, HAY. Everything about HAY is eclectic and edgy. To start with, there are no porters. And no room service. But it is still lovely and luxey. There is a great supermarket on the ground floor where you get the best butter chicken I have ever had, made by a brand called Meyer. It also has some splendid wines and flowers.
The building that HAY calls its own also has a spiffy coffee-shopcum-bakery, a Japanese restaurant and an Italian joint. But that was of no interest to me once I discovered pita bread, jasmine rice, butter chicken and coriander. Dinner was sorted for the rest of the stay.
Now I must confess that I am not an evening person at all. So I didn’t dive into bars or lounges. At 49, it is no longer my age. But I am told that if you wish to soak in the spirit, so to speak, the grand dame of drinking is Ruby. Rumour has it they shake some charming cocktails. Geist is a great place to grab some excellent Nordic fare. Amass too is wonderful, I am told.
However, it was our lunch choices that were quite dazzling. One afternoon, we ate at a tiny but tremendous restaurant called Zeleste. Yannick is the lad at the restaurant. A bit of an India fanboy, which always helps. They have a masterful selection of fine wines. The tasting plate has herring with kale, salmon infused in beetroot sauce and a beef tartare offset with some delicious sauces.
The other great lunch place is the iconic Schonnemann. The Aquavit selection there is staggering. It is considered to be the favourite restaurant of Rene Redzepi, who ran Noma. Once there, settle down with some rye bread and order a minced beef steak with garnished onions and egg yolk on top and capers on the side. It is heavenly.
It is also imperative that you stop at AC Perch’s for tea and scones with strawberries.
On your way out, look out for the nougat at the till. It is ferociously fabulous. For coffee, go to The Coffee Collective. I had a double espresso and was awake all night.
Copenhagen is also home to divine chocolates. And don’t get impressed by shops like The Chocolate Hotel. Instead, head to Summerbird. Savour their pralines. Pick up their chocolate sticks that you need to swirl in a glass of hot milk for haute chocolate.
High on Tees
As far as clothes are concerned, Copenhagen is tee town. Go to a departmental store called Illum. Samsoe & Samsoe, Filippa K, Sand, Mads Norgaard, they are all there. All make tony tees.
For candles, drop by at Storm. It also stocks great magazines. Pick up Kinfolk magazine there.
For sophisticated ceramics, go to Stilleben: a Nordic nicety. And if you like typography, go to a store called Playtype. It has silver fountain pen ink and great font-based sweatshirts. And Pantone Rose Quartz and Serenity pencils.
And of course, music. I picked up several CDs of Agnes Obel and DVDs of Danish movies such as Nymphomaniac and Open Hearts.
And finally have porridge. Go to a store called Grod. It only serves porridge.
Connie Nielsen once said, “If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly but with a flair. A human being that has certain propensities for quarrelling, filled with imagination and with appetite for the new and with respect for the old – somebody who takes good care of things and of people.”
Tak, Copenhagen. Take care.
Getting there: You can fly to Copenhagen from Delhi or Mumbai via Dubai
What to eat: Traditionally Danish food was very rich. These days, a typical lunch comprises buttered rye bread with toppings such as smoked salmon, cod, cheese, beef pickled herrings and eggs.
Currency: The Danish currency is called “Krone.” (1 Krone = Rs 10.21)
For local intelligence: Log on to visitdenmark.com
Founder of the advertising agency Equus, the writer is an author, columnist and avid art collector
From HT Brunch, May 29, 2016
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First Published: May 28, 2016 20:00 IST