DON’T MAKE ME EAT REINDEER! Denmark – December 2013

Looking for Christmas in Copenhagen?

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Start with the new food Renaissance. In 2013 Denmark was awarded 15 stars to 13 restaurants. We  started our competitive holiday feasting at Torvehallerne market (metro: Nørreport,  approximately 10:00am – 7:00pm 7 days a week). Torvehallern,  means “open air market”,  a hilarious concept that would put you out of business for nine months of the year in Denmark. Luckily,  someone threw a roof over the place and  Danes make a mad dash for the venue the minute their 7 1/2  hour work day is done.

You can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables outside in the biting cold next to the Polish sausage vender if you want, but all the real food action is inside, fueled by high spirits, literally. There are cheese shops, pasta makers, fish mongers, veggie juicers, butchers, Spanish Tapas bars, French pastry stalls, coffee, tea and  spice venders who all benefit from the comprehensive Happy Hour fiesta hosted by the jolly wine and beer bars.

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Here’s Josefine, our lovely Sommelier at Noorbo Handelen, the independent bottlers.


Noorbo Handelen buys barrels of  specially curated liquors from all over the world and re-bottles them  in custom sizes. There’s even a bottle small enough to make it through your hand luggage back to the U.S.


For under $10 USD you can sample  before you buy. Waldemar is drinking Speyside 21 year old whiskey, and I sampled a delicious Calvados VSOP. You should sample the Rum or the Cognac.

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No! Danes do not eat polar bears! But in their former colony, Greenland,  whale meat is standard issue. Since  you have to chew every bite 50 times, we were happy to be  here in Copenhagen where salmon is more popular.

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The Danes are a fish-loving people: eel, scampi, dorade, cod, flounder and whatever floats in on the next current. Fisk & Velde, fresh and wild seafood is run by an American ex-pat  Desert Storm vet who makes his home in Copenhagen with his Danish wife and three children. Yes, he pays much higher income tax than in the U.S., but he loves the quality of life it brings: efficient public transportation, excellent free education and  free healthcare for the whole family.


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These descendants of the Vikings love a protein-heavy meal no matter what esoteric foam or beach debris those Michelin chefs are dishing up. Reindeer is not as popular here as it is in Sweden, Norway and Finland so we weren’t forced to eat Donner or Blitzen after all.

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 Poor little bunny,  but outside of us organic-vegan-paleo-pescetarian wimps most of the world thinks that rabbit is a completely reasonable meal.

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Surgeons at work. Cleavers were friendly young men who wanted to teach us how it’s done.


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Smørrebrød is the typical Danish open-faced sandwich that has gone gourmet in a big way. Start with   dense sour dough rye bread studded with pumpkin seeds, then slather on some full fat butter and/or mayonnaise.  Pile high with a topping of roast beef, salami, pork,  shrimp, salmon or egg and tuck in until you feel mild cardiac arrest coming on. Quickly cut it with Akvavit to steam open your arteries. Yummy!


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This spice vender proudly proclaimed, “A lot of love went into this display.”


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“When the weather outside is frightful,

but the fire is so delightful,

and since we’ve no place to go,

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”…or convince yourself it’s Spring.


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Flowers make the six sad hours of daylight look a little bit brighter than it really is.  Next to the food, there’s a great selection at Torvehallern and flower shops are ubiquitous throughout Copenhagen in the Christmas season.

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Everyone’s out looking for food and holiday cheer!



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Denmark, I heart you with a homemade spice cookies.


Good Yuletide!

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