A Meal to Remember – COPENHAGEN 2014

 When did Denmark gain culinary supremacy over the world’s appetite?

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Who would have guessed that the land of dragons and Vikings, best known for open-faced herring sandwiches on dense rye bread, could spawn the young Michelin star chef René Redzepi whose NOMA captured the BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD award in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014!

Recently the U.K’s Telegraph asked Redzepi for his favorite restaurant in Copenhagen (outside of his own joint) and he chose AMASS RESTAURANT (Refshalevej 153, Copenhagen 1432, +45 43 58 43 30). It’s a brilliant yet obvious choice since AMASS is the brainchild of Redzepi’s former head chef, American Matt Orlando and his Danish wife Julie Bergstrøm Orlando.

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It's fun to take the Movia ferry boat to Amass. The Refshalevej stop on the Christianshavn neighborhood.

The best way to arrive at AMASS is on the Movia harbor boat. If you are biking, you can bring your bicycle on board. The Refshalevej stop is smack in front of the restaurant.

The interior design is warehouse chic, casual and minimalist – the perfect foil for the intricate flavors to come.

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Our Saturday afternoon five course prix fixe lunch started with an appetizer that was a friendly conversation between a minced potato, a marigold and a fermented mushroom. Fermented mushrooms? Yes, it’s all part of zymology, the science of fermentation – a practice that’s been going on since 7000 BC. It  produces those tangy flavors that make your taste buds sing and boosts your immune system with a variety of healthy microflora.

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The sidekick here is a free form potato chip.

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For Danes, it’s not a meal unless there’s bread, but Chef Orlando ditched the ubiquitous rye for a grilled, fermented potato flat bread that’s served with a pungent fusion of pickled cabbage, chard and leek tapenade. This bread became our instant addiction.

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Our first course was a refined salad of red lettuces and local “beach plants” that sat atop the sweetest, freshest langoustine. If only I could bottle that crunchy chicken skin salad dressing!

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“Grilled corn, egg yolk and black pepper oil”  was the austere description for what came next. What arrived looked like an egg yolk poached in broth. I was baffled. No trace of corn as we knew it.

Chef Orlando deconstructed this creation for us. First, he took dozens of ears of  corn, barbecued about half of them, then tossed them all in a cauldron of boiling water and cooked it down for 3 days until only the essence of corn was left.  The resultant dish was egg yolk poached in a bouillon so sweet and so fragrant that it was a revelation.

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After the richness of the egg yolk, we welcomed the zesty mélange of beets, red seaweed, and slightly dried plums in a splash of almond oil.

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We lingered over the Sommelier’s excellent choice of Franz Strohmeier – St. Stefan am Stainz Sauvignon Blanc until a wild duck (watch out for buckshot) arrived surrounded by sorrel, oysters, and fresh home-grown spinach. I experienced a momentary pang of conscience for the flocks of ducks we’d seen flying high over Copenhagen, and yet…my mercenary self found it too delicious to worry for long.

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I checked the menu for desert. What in heaven’s name was “yeast ice cream”?  Were we having microbes for desert? It turned out to be a lively, yet mellow background for everything carmelized: carmelized Aroma apples, whisky caramel and carmelized puff pasty.

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If it weren’t for the dégustation “small plates” trend  I think I would have had to be carried out of the restaurant to an ambulance, a victim of food coma.

At the end of this divine feast we sipped our coffee and planned a much-needed post-meal bike ride, but before we could gather our wits about us we were surprised by a bonus desert. Here was a nest of irresistible warm mini carrot/sea-buckthorn berry muffins paired with a dipping sauce of  crème fraîche drizzled with intense carrot reduction syrup. More, please!

What are sea-buckthorn berries? (Thanks, Wikipedia!) They’re the fruit of a shrub that grows from the Atlantic coast of Europe all the way to Mongolia. The berries are bright orange, astringent and high in vitamin C. You have to eat them combined with other foods or you’ll look like you’ve swallowed a mouthful of sour balls.

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Thanks Matt, Julie and team AMASS for a meal worthy of Danish Queen Margrethe II.

AMASS is a celebration of  life in all its ingenuity! Price tag for this extravaganza? Approximately $250 for two without wine.

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Chef Owner Matt Orlando

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The AMASS kitchen garden reminds you that when the Danes say “lokal” they do mean local.

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The 19th century Danish brewery Carlsberg adopted the motto “we work for our country.”  It  still rings true for the young, energetic chefs of the 21st century. They’ve gathered here to embrace the spirit of inventiveness, revolution, and youthful enthusiasm that is Denmark.

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 Refshalevej and AMASS are the last stop on the harbor boat line in the Christianshavn neighborhood of Copenhagen – home to both the Republic of Christiania and the Danish Royal Opera. Meet you soon at AMASS!

5 thoughts on “A Meal to Remember – COPENHAGEN 2014

  1. Torture. Pure torture. To read sitting in one’s kitchen in Los Angeles, about as far from Copenhagen as one can get, no matter how you measure it. And the wonderful writing makes it worse! Brava!

  2. this sounds absolutely fabulous and I loved every bit of this, the food, the sightseeing, I’m not surprised that you both were too exhausted to go for a bicycle ride…..adriane

  3. Welcome Home you guys! This was as tasty to read as it was to see. What a delight! My taste buds are still salivating with envy!
    See you soon!

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