I came across this post on my Facebook feed, from Buzzfeed, and had to share. Non-Danes reaction to Danish stuff. I have to admit when I moved here I had a lot of the same reactions. What is a hygge anyway? Aren’t sandwiches suppose to be two pieces of bread filled with delicious deli meats and mustard? And more importantly and frightening why is that baby left alone outside, in a stroller in below zero weather? I was horrified at first. Soon I came to embrace these things, with the exception of the “smørrebrød”, the open face sandwich with one piece of bread. A funny side story regarding my love for American sandwiches, non-Danes and how foods from different countries are identified. I met one of my dearest friends in Denmark due to my whole wheat sandwich with ham, cheese and mustard. Standing at the vending machine at my language school, I was eating my sandwich. Suddenly I hear someone behind me say in a typical loud American fashion, “Are you American?!” I turn to look at who is yelling in my ear and respond with, “Yes, how did you know?” and she says, “You’re sandwich! You are eating an American sandwich!” We’ve been dear friends since! All thanks to those two pieces of bread wrapped in foil. So my followers, I digress in a way, but I always find that story interesting and funny due to a simple American food that we bring for lunch as children to school, not realizing that something so little can identify you to your culture and where you come from. In this case, as a non-Dane. I hope you find this Buzzfeed post as funny as I did.
Lately I have been seeing a lot of banter about Fall not getting enough attention and Christmas taking over with the decorations and music starting earlier every year. Well my husband is the culprit to the Christmas take over. Now I like to celebrate one holiday at a time. We kick off those holidays with the unofficial holiday, Halloween. Why? Because it kicks off the fall celebrations, I get to decorate using my favorite fall decorations and my favorite holiday is approching, Thanksgiving! How could you not love it, with PSLs – pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins, crackling fall leaves, crisp cool sunny days… you get my point. Most of the fall decorations have always stayed put in my home through my favorite holiday. Until now. I’ve had to compromise. My husband, a Scandinavian, likes to start listening to Christmas music in early October. He’d listen to it year around if he could. In fact, last year, on Halloween, he had Christmas music playing. It just doesn’t go. At least for us Americans it doesn’t. So I’ve banned Christmas music until Thanksgiving Day, for all of our sake. But I am giving in and will start adding some light Christmas decor but not to take away from my Fall/Thanksgiving decor that will surround our Thanksgiving dinner table. So as I write this I realize what I originally came here to share and I took a bit of a detour, kind of.
Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest theme park in the world, highlights my favorite time of year (aside from summer), and decorates the park with my favorite decorations of the year. I am a little late in posting this as the park is now closed and getting ready for their Christmas season, which is also absolutely beautiful. However, should you find yourself in Denmark next October it is definitely worth a visit. And if you are reading this you should probably go visit during the Christmas holiday as well. Tivoli reopens November 15, a little more than a week before Thanksgiving, so we will let the early Christmas decorations slide.
I feel as though I owe Denmark some love since winter has come and gone and and summer has just arrived. While we still have had our share of rainy days the long, sunny days are making up for it. I came to this realization early this morning as I was running through the forest. I walked the boys to school today, while they cycled, and I tried to keep up with them sprinting at times, and once I left them I continued on exploring my surroundings. Yes, I have been here for a year and a half now, but I started running outdoors recently, rather than on the treadmill, not only because I find the treadmill to be boring, but because I realize I need to take full advantage of these beautiful, sunny mornings in Denmark. And the treadmill will be there in the winter when it is below zero and snowing. As I was told, “When its the middle of winter, on those dark, gloomy days, you just need to remember the long summer days you had and more to come.” So I am spending as much time outside so I can remember these long, sunny days in the middle of January next year. While I have no concept of time at night because its only May and its still light out at 10pm I am loving every minute of it. Along with this new appreciation I’ve found that I am enjoying living in the suburbs. I’ve lived in the burbs of San Francisco all my life but when you move to a new country and move to the suburbs it can be a bit tricky because there isn’t much outside your front door. Lets face it, you want things to be easy and available when you aren’t familiar with something, especially a foreign country. But these days I make my way into Copenhagen often enough to visit friends, run errands, whatever the reason may be, and I am equally enjoying making my way back to the burbs. Something about the peacefulness, the birds chirping, the trails in the green forest, where it’s safe enough for kids to roam, the parks and nature at its best. Ask me about all of this in the winter and I might have a different view on things but for now I am truly appreciating Denmark for what it is, the city life when I want it, the seaside and the beautiful countryside the rest of the time. Since they are so different yet so close to each other I am lucky enough to take advantage of each. Maybe this is one of the reasons they say the “happiest people in the world” are here. I’ll look into the other reasons for you in another post … For now I will share some photos that I’ve taken over the last few months. Enjoy!
Tak for besøget
(Thanks for visiting)
After a rainy day
Copenhagen, 9:30PM middle of May
Swing in the forest near home
Roskilde, Denmark – The ancient city dates back to the Viking Age. This town deserves its own post. More to come…
Just another trail near home
My favorite trail in the forest
Hornbæk is a seaside resort town on the north coast of the Danish island of Zealand, facing the Øresund which separates Denmark from Sweden.
Evening walk in the forest
Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen, Denmark.
View from the Rundtårn (Round Tower) – a 17th-century tower located in central Copenhagen, Denmark. This was built as an astronomical observatory
Just a cozy cafe in Copenhagen
And a church
Den lille havfrue, The Little mermaid – most know this from the fairy tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
The changing of the guards in Copenhagen takes place every day at noon as they march from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace through the streets of Copenhagen.
Århus – The outdoor museum in Århus. This also deserves its own post as its the second largest city in Denmark and so charming. More to come…
While most of us know the first day of Spring to be March 20th, in Denmark they make up their own rules and this year it fell on Saturday, March 1st,, or so I am told. It has something to do with reaching a certain temperature , which I’ll tell you, didn’t go above 4C (40 Fahrenheit). One thing is for sure though… it doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside the Danes love their ‘IS’ better known as ice cream. It could be snowing out and you will still see people taking a walk and eating ice cream. It must be the Viking blood. Anyway, I’ve decided to join this madness. This weekend everyone’s favorite seasonal ice cream shop opened, Paradis Café, or at least I like to think of it as a favorite. Why? Because this ice cream is like crack. Yes it’s like a drug. I was never a huge fan of ice cream (aside from Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey) until I moved to Denmark. Now I find myself waiting for Paradis to open its doors, alongside the rest of the Danes (see picture below). Maybe its because its made fresh every day, using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients. This is how I justify going back, on a regular basis. Now my California friends… if you are interested in tasting this ‘drug like’ ice cream you are in luck! Our friendly Danes helped open up a franchise in Southern California. Paradis Café can be found in Montrose, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Huntington Beach. So if you are taking a stroll on a winter or summer day and come across this place fabulous spot give it a shot.
Since we started our weekend with our drug, umm I mean ice cream of choice, we decided why not continue it with a hyggelig brunch. So off we went to Hillerød, a beautiful Danish town north of københavn. It’s especially known for Frederiksborg Castle, which is conveniently located in the center of town. The oldest parts of the castle date back to 1560, but most of the palace was constructed between 1602-1620. It was built as a royal residence and is now a
museum of natural history. There you will find a variety of Danish cafes serving brunch on Sunday mornings. We stopped in at the Café København. Quite a spread which consisted of eggs, bacon, lox, fresh meats, cheeses, pastries or “danishes’ (as I like to refer to them just to remind people that I am indeed an American) and Schnapps , for most Danes a tradition. Unfortunately I can’t handle the Schnapps at 10am so I settle for MY traditional mimosa. Overall I really do enjoy the brunch but I mostly like going here for a beautiful walk around the castle and of course the shops along the way.
Café København (Torvet 4 3400 Hillerød).
Much to my surprise the day continued with more Danish traditions. It was time to celebrate Fastelavn. This day is similar to Carenvale, only that these days its more of a day for the kids to dress up and bang on a barrel, similar to a piñata, that holds candy and a black cat. You must bang on this barrel, break it open, and the last person to knock down the last piece of the barrel, which is suppose to be the figure of the poor black cat, wins a prize and becomes the kattekonge (“king of cats”). The black cat is supposed to ward off evil.
And of course there is a pastry/bun associated with this holiday, as there is with most holidays in Denmark, the Fastelavnsbolle (Shrovetid buns). It’s a round sweet roll usually covered with icing and sometimes filled with whipped cream.
And last but not least there is a song to accompany the bun…
|Danish Fastelavn er mit navn,
boller vil jeg have.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.
Boller op, boller ned
boller i min mave.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.
|English translation: Shrovetide is my name,
buns I want.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.
Buns up, buns down
buns in my tummy.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.
Bottom line, don’t mess with the Danes and their buns (or sweets :)).
Til next time mine venner (my friends)!
I’ve decided my first post should be dedicated to “hygge” in Denmark. Friends and family have many questions about Denmark, which I can never really give a response that does it justice because I always turn to my biggest quam with this country… the winter. I am well aware I should not complain because compared to the US and their East Coast weather this year it probably feels like spring here, although my first winter didn’t but we’ll cover that some other time. Even so, I feel as a Californian, I still have a right to get tired of the short winter days and low, gray skies. Besides that and the difficult language Denmark is a very charming, “hygge” country. What in the world is “hygge” you might ask? Well, the Wikipedia definition says, “one of the fundamental aspects of Danish culture is “hygge”, a concept closely related to “coziness”: relaxing with good friends or loved ones, often while enjoying good food and something to drink or creating a more friendly atmosphere by lighting a few candles, Christmas time, when loved ones sit close together on a cold rainy night, is a true moment of hygge, as is grilling a pølse (Danish sausage) and drinking a beer on a long summer evening.”
As stated above, in Wikipedia’s definition of the word, it is a huge part of the culture. For clarification purposes Hyggelig is the adjective for hygge. This word is used to describe everything from homes, bars, snow, rain, sun, dinner, candlelight, the long spring days, and the list goes on. Anyone who has visited Denmark or has spent an extended period of time here is familiar with this word. Its part of every day life. Things AND people are “hygge”. For example, you enter a cozy restaurant, its “hyggelig” . If you go visit a friend at their home, its “hyggelig ”. A drink on a sunny afternoon along Nyhavn is “hyggelig”. Candles at dinner or while watching TV are “hyggelig ”. Walking through a blustering wind storm can be “hyggelig ”. It really is amazing how the Danes can turn even a gloomy situation into a “hyggelig” one. For that, I must give them credit. Maybe this is one of the reasons they are known to be the happiest people in the world.
Now that you understand the meaning of Denmarks most used word, I’d like to share a few of my favorite “hyggelig” places in Copenhagen with you.
Høkerboderne 9, 1712 København
Now one might say I am picky when it comes to Italian food. Well I feel that I have every right to be, being raised in an Italian family where my Nonnas cooked amazing Italian meals for the family every Sunday followed by my mother and aunts doing this on a daily basis. So yes I have set my standards high. When you walk into Mother not only do you get the aroma of the dough rising, the pizza in the wood oven, and the antipasti platters filled with cheeses, salumis and bruschetta (pronounced bru-sketa), passing you by but you also get a feeling that you are in the restaurant of true Italians. The majority of the staff in the kitchen, which is an open area right behind the counter as you enter, are speaking loudly in Italian, and this makes me feel at home. Why? Simply because I come from a loud Italian family. The pizza is quite amazing. With the doughy sourdough crust and the tomatoes tasting like they’ve come straight off the vine, you can just taste the freshness in the ingredients. They also offer a brunch, which makes me smile every time. This is a perfect way to try a variety of their pizzas as they are continually come straight out of the wood oven onto the buffet brunch table, piping hot. It’s also followed by sides of pastas, salumis, cheeses and traditional ‘old’ Italian dishes that I have only seen my dad make. For example, Pane Cotto (cooked bread). This is a dish with dry chunks of Italian, French or baguette bread, sautéed in olive oil, garlic and fresh zucchini. Every time he makes this dish its followed by him saying in our family’s Italian dialect, “This is a poor mans meal. It’s what we ate when we had nothing in Verbicaro”. For those of you who don’t know Verbicaro, it’s a little picturesque, charming, undiscovered town in Calabria, where my parents grew up and my cousins and I were fortunate enough to spend summers there with our grandparents. More of those stories to come later! With that said, Mother is a casual and modern spot in Copenhagen that brings me back to my Italian roots every time. Its good quality food, great service and you’re guaranteed to have a “hyggelig” time.
Vodroffsvej 39, 1900 Frederiksberg
If you are a whiskey and rye connoisseur this is your place. Unfortunately that’s not me, but I have been known to enjoy a fresh cocktail. At Salon 39 the bartenders use quality ingredients, all of their juices are freshly squeezed and you can see the passion within them while making your cocktail. This always makes me appreciate drinks and food so much more. Speaking of food, it’s another good reason to come here. I never really thought I could write about a cheeseburger but this one is worth taking the time for. The 39 House Cheeseburger has so much flavor and deliciousness to it that I want to go back there as I think about it. From the bun with a slight crisp around the edges to the fresh beef burger topped with their smoked mayo makes for a delicious burger. If you are meat eater you will also appreciate their Bistecca Fiorentina, all 900 grams of it. Made to share you will definitely get your fill of protein. I can’t speak for this myself as I have never had it but Daniel and friends have enjoyed it and they seemed pretty content after their 450 grams each. Last but not least this place is the perfect description of “hygge”. When you walk in you first see the bar. It looks like a small venue but the further back you go the more tables there are although the places books up quickly. Walk-ins for dinner are rarely able to be accommodated so its best to make a reservation. If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the bar you can enjoy the view of the wall filled with whiskeys, while the bartenders are happily making the most interesting of cocktails and listening to jazz, soul and blues tunes spinning on the record player. It’s definitely a place to visit if you’re in town or planning a trip to Copenhagen and looking for a “hygge” atmosphere.
Ved Stranden 20, 1061 København K
K-Bar exudes the “hygge”! It’s small and quaint with limited seating but it’s the kind of place you go to when you just want to catch up with a friend or that someone special. K-Bar offers cocktails, bubbles, wines, mocktails, and a variety of over a dozen martinis. If your drink of choice isn’t on the menu, just ask. It’s definitely worth a visit.
As I said these are only a few of my favorite places in Copenhagen. Stay tuned for more!
Tak og har en HYGGELIG dag 🙂
(Thanks and have a HYGGELIG day)