Magic

Yesterday I saw this on my run around the canals in Copenhagen:

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And I should have known good things were to come.

The entire day was surreal. A leisurely walk (happening upon picturesque public square after picturesque public square) to Tivoli, where we enjoyed the afternoon lounging on lawn chairs listening to music (and actually falling asleep!) was capped off by the most magical of dinners I’ve ever experienced.

On our first day in Copenhagen, we took a running tour; Lena (our guide) brought us to lots of spots off the beaten track, and pointed out what looked like a make-shift hang-out underneath one bridge. She mentioned in passing that the wine purveyor whose building was next to the bridge hosts family style dinners, only in august served under the bridge and specializing in local and organic foods and wines. We thought that was cool, and Lena shared the website with us after the tour.

I couldn’t really make heads or tails of the website (my Danish is non-existent), but I muddled through and got a reservation for two for Friday. At first, I was a bit hesitant. As a tourist, I didn’t want to overstep and be a nuisance for the Danes who probably weren’t expecting an American and Japanese to show up at their event, but at the same time, we wanted good local food without waiting for months for a reservation at Noma.

Everything was perfect–delicious appetizers and wine to start–and then we moved under the bridge to sit at this long picnic table where our host encouraged us (in Danish) to get to know our neighbors, and that by serving others first, we will appreciate our meals more.

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We started with these small lobsters (they had a more accurate name, but basically they were tiny lobsters or giant crawfish) and salad, then roast vegetables, then pork cooked on the bone, then taken if the bone and charred over a grill, then a wonderful berry desert. The wines changed with each course.

But the best part was the company. People from all walks of life–all having heard of the event by word of mouth. We across from a young couple–the young man was a food consultant and had cooked at the event in past years. An older couple was on the other side–they belonged to a wine club. Another couple worked in the pharma industry. Yet another had lived for a short time in the US. Further down the table, someone was celebrating a birthday, and everyone sang the Danish birthday song (which is not even remotely close to Happy Birthday to You). The host (who also cooked) was surprised to have us in his group (we were the first non-Danes to have participated) but he didn’t change anything. He introduced each course, but didn’t translate anything into English. And he didn’t need to–the food and atmosphere were self-explanatory. I think one of the things I appreciated the most was how unpretentious it all was. This event is in its 7th year and only happens in august. If there was something like this in my area, it would all too quickly become exclusive and celebrity-driven. Instead, it was a lovely meal, offered by a gracious host, shared by friendly, welcoming people–could there be anything more perfect?

The dinner started at 6:30. We didn’t finish until 11:30. We had plans to return to Tivoli to see The Simple Minds at 10pm, but you know how it is once you fall into Narnia…

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6 Comments

  1. How fun! The best things on a trip are the things that just sort of fall in to your lap without any planning. Have a great rest of your vacation!

  2. OK, this goes on your list of gastronomic and social travel memories. As a slow eater and someone who loves to dawdle over dinner, I love the long relaxed meals in Europe and practiced in many restaurants in Quebec as well.

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