denmark, eats, travel

The Danish Summer: Magic or Myth?

Summer in Denmark has an almost mythical quality to it. When will it come? How will it behave? Will it rain? Will it last? Will it even show its face at all? Since the moment I arrived in Copenhagen, I had been regaled with tales of a golden season that would magically materialize after all the damp and darkness. OR possibly not appear at all. Only time would tell.

So after months of waiting, and wondering, and staring up at the grey cloud cover that seemed permanent and immovable, it happened. Summer arrived in Copenhagen. And it arrived in style.

I can finally say with confidence that the Danish Summer is truly worth waiting for. The city becomes a bike and boat riding paradise. The sun rises at 4am and sets at 10pm – that’s 17 hours of daylight to soak up. You are surrounded by unpolluted canals you’re encouraged to jump into. You can barbeque meat literally anywhere, via disposable grills sold in supermarkets. At the beach, men wear thongs, girls over-tan, and grandmas lounge topless while grilling, smoking, and drinking.

Summer food specialities emerge as well. I was treated to koldskål or ‘cold bowl’ – which is basically like drinking a bowl of melted vanilla ice cream with small cookies thrown in. It’s delicious. I feasted on Danish strawberries – which for Danes are unparalleled to ANY other strawberry in the world. They signal the official arrival of Summer and should be eaten often – unadorned, or drenched in heavy cream.

Then there are the perfect temperatures and zero humidity, which seem impossible after living through 10+ years of swampy, sweaty, sanity-testing NYC summers. There is no air conditioning, or even fans really. Or screens on the windows. A fresh breeze is all you get, and for the most part, it’s enough.

Scarred by dreadful years of ‘no-show summers’ and the constant unpredictability of the forecast, Danes are super sensitive when it comes to the idea of a long, lasting season. Inevitably a cool, rainy day disturbs a stretch of near perfect weather, and Danes instantly quip “Ok, we hope you enjoyed the Summer, because it’s over now.” The best part, even if it isn’t true, is that you know it easily could be.

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eats

MEATBALLS! MEATBALLS!

I checked out The Meatball Shop last night with Amanda, Cleary and Carrie, a small, relatively new LES spot specializing in unique meatball combinations. Though skeptical about shelling out ‘big bucks’ (everything was actually really cheap) and standing in line for hours (ok we passed the time at a bar nearby) for what Rich calls ‘poor immigrant food,’ I will say I was pleasantly surprised. I was also pleasantly drunk after spending the wait guzzling beer and wine, so who knows, everything tastes better after a few IPAs.

Carrie and I split the beef meatballs in tomato sauce over polenta and the Meatball Smash, which is a slightly fancier sloppy joe with juicy pork balls & mozzarella on a perfect, soggy brioche roll.

Dessert was amazing – homemade ice cream sandwiches where you choose the cookie and ice cream flavors. Mine was the best. Peanut butter cookie/choc ice cream.

This is what I ate.

PROS:

The huge, amazing bathroom (you’ll know what I mean)
Really friendly bartender, hostess and waitstaff
Affordable everything
Interactive white-board-style menus!

CONS:

Really crowded with a long wait (almost 2 hours and they accidentally gave our table away once).

Definitely worth it though if you’ve got a few hours to kill and good friends to pass the time with.

The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street (btwn Allen and Orchard)

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Sun, Gulls, Crabfest

I played hooky yesterday and took the Saturn chariot down to Rockaway Beach with my friend Chris. I highly recommend doing this if you get the chance before summer ends. I spent many a childhood day there, shoving tiny fistfuls of sand into my mouth as a baby and nervously taking on the ‘giant waves’ and deadly rip currents as a little girl. (I have pretty vivid memories of being repeatedly slammed and dragged through shell shards while attempting to bodysurf.)

Aside from the three pruned old-timers doing laps (one called us cowards, or ‘cowaads’ in Queens-speak, for not swimming) and some brawny guy doing push-ups on his beach chair, it was just us and a thousand nosy seagulls. Like this little guy below, who planted himself by our towels, eyed up our sleeve of Ritz crackers and slowly inched his way closer each time we turned our backs.

Yeah, we see you. Jerko.

In keeping with the ocean/beach theme, friends and I had reservations that night at Back Forty for their weekly blue crab boil, where they sit you down at communal tables covered in newspaper, hand you little wooden mallets and literally dump giant trays of crabs onto your laps. Our waiter offered us a proper-method tutorial when we all started wildly smacking the shell tops like idiots. Then we set to work inhaling crab. I was completely overwhelmed for a few minutes and totally covered in a thick paste of brownish, wet crab/spice residue, but the dim lighting and jovial crowd kind of helped me forget that I was de-shelling and sucking on fifty dead crustaceans.

Messy, intense and sort of exhausting – but deliciously so.

If any of the following quotes kind of gross you out, maybe avoid this place. Otherwise, go for it.

“ahhh! you just sprayed crab juice directly into my eye”
“just scrape out the lungs i think they’re poisonous”
“suck on the leg, there’s good stuff in there”
“shit i think i just ate lung”
“shit i think i just ate intestine”
“i dare you to scoop out…wait, are those brains?
“you have yellowy mushy stuff on your lip. guts…it looks like guts.”

Bon Appetit!

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