Friday, April 27, 2012

Copenhagen: The Danish Hot Dog

In northern Germany, there are a number of rivalries that define the region, polarize people and occasionally instigate all out wars of words. For example, the camp who insists currywurst comes from Berlin vs. those who believe it originated in Hamburg; the St. Pauli fans vs. the HSV fans; the born Hamburgers vs. the transplants; and those who insist Hamburg and all of northern Germany should still belong to Denmark (i.e. the Danish) vs. well, basically, Germans. It's a little dispute that the Fastaguchis love to jokingly (with the slightest hint of seriousness) get into, throwing historical jabs in favor of their respective countrymen, tallying battles and refusing to divvy the spoils. 

But one thing the northern Germans will admit, at least Kai and Ingo, is that when they do cross that border from Germany into Denmark, just outside of Flensburg, the first thing they think about is not territorial integrity, but hot dogs. Yep, pink, probably mechanically separated pork scraps wrapped in intestinal casing. These boys will pull over at the first gas station or rest stop and pony up the Kröners for (the first many) Danish hot dogs. 

So what gives, boys? You come from the land of sausage. Bratwursts of all shapes and sizes are available at every major sporting event, holiday market, street fair, etc. The entire Deutsch language constantly pays homage to its beloved pork products with sayings like, "Das ist mir wurst", meaning  "I don't care" but literally, "This is sausage to me"; or "Es ist sau kalt", meaning, "It is realllllly f*cking cold" but literally, "It is pig cold (or hot or expensive, insert other adjective)"; there are many others that I am forgetting (what is the one about "schinken" or ham? - German speakers chime in!) but the point is, pork is ingrained in the German psychy.

Despite the omnipresence of the wurst in Germany, these boys beeline for this: a "foot-long" skinny hot dog, in a one size fits all bun (that's not nearly long enough to accommodate the dog), topped with ketchup, mustard, raw onions, pickles slices and (the kicker that distinguishes it from an American ballpark hot dog) crunchy fried onions. And I must admit, either because it reminds me of my childhood or because it's somewhat "exotic" compared to the typical German wurst, I too, am a fan. 

We stopped at a little food truck downtown to kill a couple for lunch when the kids got whiny and tired. And they totally hit the spot. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Copenhagen: Dinner at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl

So, after we run out of the house into a warm, waiting cab, we slam the door, give the cabbie directions and cackle as he peels away at how very clever/cunning and crafty/fabulous we must be to be heading out to dinner alone while the boys are home with the babies.

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is housed in a gorgeous little greenhouse on the lawn of one of the Danish royal gardens. There is one open dining room with floor to ceiling windows, floral decal on the walls and a cascading chandelier that sprinkles light in droplets from above. The setting is formal but intimate, chic in an old school kind of way.

Rather than try to describe these dishes, I thought I would write a little haiku for each one. In full disclosure, this meal happened nearly two months ago and I cannot tell you as much as I would like to about each of these amazing little plates. And honestly, after wine pairings with every course, I am not sure I could fully describe each of them even an hour after we left the restaurant. What I can tell you is this: Fen's friend Jakob Mielcke, head chef and owner, is creative, attentive, and inspired. And while the food and perfect pairings played a prominent roll in the overall enjoyment of the evening, it was also just really, really lovely to be catching up with a good friend over a great meal. 

First plate from the chef
taste like a freshly mowed lawn
where unicorns play.

Potato on sand
eat the chips if you want but
they're decoration.

A shrimp with shrimp cream 
sit atop a cracker made 
of, surprise, more shrimp.

These small saffron eggs
cast a shadow on the plate,
looks like runny yolk.

The pebbles on sand
remind the chef of the coast;
these are potatoes.

 Looks like deviled eggs;
No, foie gras with raspberry;
Fen and I swooned.

Delicately rolled
leaves and ceps and greens in jus
of I forgot what.

I think this was squid?
It was a little slimy
yet delicious, too.

Roasted beet carpa-
cio looks a bit like roast beef
but it's not at all.

Jerusalem art-
ichokes never tasted as
good as they did here.

If I enjoyed the 
taste of lamb, I am sure I 
would have liked this more.

Smooth pumpkin ice cream
on thin ribbons of pumpkin
not too sweet, just right.

More drinks! Why not?! Beer
for dessert? Yes, of course! So 
sweet, frothy and good.

Sprinkled ferry dust
floated down from the ceiling
enchanted lighting.

chocolate overload just
looking at this pic.

Foam! Foam! Ginger foam!
Carry you away on a 
cloud of bubbly schaum.

Fen, the evening was
fantastic. The food whoa and 
time with you priceless. 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

SmashandSniff Returns! And Copenhagen!

OH MY, it's been a long time. Sorry SmashandSniff friends, family, fans - there has been quite a lull here on the blog. But not a lull in real life. The last six months, for me personally, have included the birth of my third child, a breast infection that required hospitalization, 50 Thanksgiving guests - 15 of whom flew in from Paris, Prague, Copenhagen, the Hague, New York, London and Dubai, lots of family time over the holidays - including crashing with Smash and family in Chicago!, step throat, pink eye, a staff infection (and that was just me!), the wedding of a dear friend out in Jackson Hole, an Easter road trip to southern France and a quick and tasty weekend with friends in Copenhagen. Pfhhew. 

We could blame our absence on what Germans call "still dimens" or "breastfeeding dementia", but instead, we'll just apologize for deserting you so abruptly and get back to it. Sooooo, that said, why not start here...

If my friends, the „Fastaguchis“, had an emblem or an image to best symbolize their union, and that image were food porny, this might be it.

Two different yet equally adored pork products from Denmark, thick-sliced juicy bacon and thin-skinned pink hot dogs, on a Danish country plate adorned with … chopsticks. Kai, my half-German, half-Japanese, former Kabuli roommate, and his wife Fenja, my dear half-Danish, half-Norwegian friend have returned from Sudan and firmly ensconced themselves and their two gorgeous children in the Danish capital. No strangers to the chaos and challenges that small children and overnight guests breed, Kai and Fenja invited us up for a visit (actually, did we invite ourselves? We may well have..). A quick 4.5 hour train ride, an hour of which includes a choppy ferry crossing, and we arrived, all five of us, on their doorstep.

As a couple with children, you quickly learn to hone your bartering skills. “I’ll trade you a Wednesday night out with Martin to watch the Bayern-Dortmund game for my Friday afternoon hair appointment.” And sometimes, when you’ve sharpened those skills enough, you may be able to slant  things slightly in your favor. Like the Friday night we arrived in Copenhagen. Kai and Ingo got five hungry, tired kids under four years of age at bedtime in the guise of quality time together while Fen and I got our five hours of QT with ten courses – including wine pairings – at Fen’s friend Jakob’s restaurant, Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. Luckily we were in the cab on our way to the restaurant before the boys realized that negotiations may have resulted in a lopsided trade. Or at least before they could object.

Jakob's creations were so gorgeous and our evening so lovely, it deserves it's own post. Forthcoming - tomorrow...