My heart skipped a beat as I inched closer to the rack of meat on display under the counter, steam emanating from between the slices of meat, juices locked peeking out of the glistening surface of the round steak of meat. The seductive look on the meat said, “eat me, eat me”.
An order was completed in front of me and the cook raised her knife to cut another slice of meat. The clean, crisp crackle of roasted skin parted by the knife danced into my ear. I had given up on unhealthy foods in Stockholm (seeing as how fried chicken is not a ‘thing’ there) and yet here was a truly amazing roasted pork – Flæsksteke in Danish. It was, to my mind, the best Danish culinary item I’d seen yet.
And it turns out the Danes though the same too when they voted Flæskstek as the national food in 2016. Despite being located all around the nordic sea, Denmark does not have a strong reputation for seafood. It has instead a stronger reputation for more agricultural produce. In fact, just as there are more sheep than humans in New Zealand (70 million – 3.5 million) and there are more pigs that people in Denmark (around 30 million – 5.6 million). So Denmark has to be porky heaven – maybe not for the pigs, but…
And that piece of flæsksteke wedged between a bun with butter, pickles and beetroot tasted like porky heaven. The fragrant pork fats were balanced in oiliness by the slight acidic nature of the pickles. The sweet-savouriness of the meat contrasted with the sweetness of the beetroot. The soft bun and crispy pork crackling created texture when bitten into.
Roast Pork Sandwich at Tivoli Gardens
Flæsksteke can be served as is or in a bread and sometimes its served as a topping on smørrebrød. Smørrebrød was the must try on everyone tips guide when I did my research.
Smørrebrød is an open faced sandwich with a rye bread base, a generous lather of butter and toppings. Seems simple enough, but there is actually a school and course on how to do smørrebrød properly. And it makes sense. These goodies are simply works of art, too nice to eat. Smørrebrød can be found almost everywhere and in every restaurant and food market serving Danish food simply because it is that ubiquitous, however the best offering in Copenhagen, according to the locals, is to be had at the Torvehallerne Food Market.
And the display was a feast for the eyes.
Steak tartare, salmon, herring, beef were among the proteins on offer. My eyes however spied roasted pork resting above the display, ready to be eaten.
I chose two toppings of smørrebrød – potato and roasted pork. The potato was a pleasant surprise, it was extremely soft and salted (from the boiling) topped with a sour cream, deep fried onions, purple raw onions, chives and alfafa, carbohydrate on carbohydrate was actually very flavourful. The roasted pork smørrebrød though, served with beets and a sweet orange slice was a clincher.
Pork doesnt just come roasted it be ground and stuffed in a casing and served as a sausage – a hot dog. A hot dog is common street food everywhere, but what makes it the Danish version called Pølser special is the toppings. Fluffly roasted buns with a solid sausage are the basics of any hotdog what sets one apart from the other are the toppings. Danish Pølser is stuffed with sauce, pickles and fried shallots which immediately raises the complexity of the dish many fold providing an unforgettable street food experience.
I had pølsers at food trucks on the street as well as at the Papireøn (Copenhagen Street Food Market) – considered the hippest place for street food from all over the world.
Unfortunately Papireøn is closing this month due to the lease on the existing old warehouse space having expired, talks are afoot though on a new location for the street food market. It’s a great place to try food from the world over and is open every day (since these people run the stalls as a job) – unlike the Restaurant Day in Helsinki for example.
The pølsers at Papireøn was something else altogether.
I had a basic one, the third from the left and it was amazing. It wasn’t just a bun with pickles, a good sausage, onions, shallots, remoulade, there was also pesto and peppers to give different textures and flavour profiles to the simple hotdog.
There was obviously also Danish pastry‘s known the world over as Danish. Would it surprise you to know there in Copenhagen they call it, pastry and is it special? Yea it’s called Danish for a reason, but hey, this article is all about Porky the Pig. Sorry, pastry… as sweet and charming as you are, my heart (for the duration of this post at least) is given to pork, pork and pork.
This all local foods that don’t fall within the New Nordic movement, because it was within my budget and I wanted to try something more down to earth rather than the fancy and expensive. There are some great videos on food in Copenhagen, check them out here.
We are, at the end of the day, in the culinary capital of Scandanavia.
ON THE MAP (Copenhagen Torvehallerne Food Market)
ON THE MAP (Papireøn – closes end 2017)