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The Nordic Essentials food tour with

Given that four out of the 12 things that I’m excited about in my life were centered around food, you can imagine I was pretty stinkin’ excited to find a Copenhagen food tour which would introduce me to the “Nordic Essentials,” while we were here. We tried more than a dozen flavors representing Denmark, and left with a great appreciation for the food, drink, culture and history of Copenhagen!

Britton and I met up with Maria, the lead organizer of the Copenhagen tour. We knew right away she was dedicated to her craft: our tour was on the same day the Michelin Star ratings were announced, and she was borderline giddy to tell us Denmark had received several new stars, including its first three-star restaurant — located in Copenhagen! (And it wasn’t Noma.)

Most of the Nordic Essentials tour is in the Torvehallerne Market, two structures built in 2011 on the site of the original town square (established in the late 1880s). The food on the tour focuses on the New Nordic Food Manifesto, culinary guidelines established in 2004 to encourage the use of ingredients that are indigenous to the Nordic countries. It’s been quite successful in fueling a renaissance of food with local flair and pride!

Our first two stops were in Torvehallerne’s Hall 1, where we sampled a blue cheese that will haunt me forever (so creamy and without the strong bite that some blue cheese has), award-winning apple wine that tasted like it had just fallen from the apple tree, and traditional rye crackers with mustard, along with several other local, organic tastings. Plus, licorice. The one food I might never like. But I gave it a go, just to confirm that it still tastes like licorice, which it did, which is gross (to me). Everything else was delicious though!

FoodToursEU First Plate | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog
FoodToursEU Copenhagen Market | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog

We also tried Akvavit (Aquavit), an after-meal liquor used for warming you up after a long day, or perhaps waking you up after a long night. The “traditional” way to take a shot is to look your drinking partner dead in the eye and exclaim, “SKÅL!” The origins of the tradition could be from the Vikings, who would drink out of the skulls of their fallen enemies — skull and  skål sound almost identical — or it might just be an extrapolation of “I raise this drinking bowl to your health and/or success” since skål translates literally to “bowl.” You can decide for yourself 🙂

Next in Torvehallerne we sampled Danish wheat beer with a very old recipe, and thinly sliced smoked beef. The beef looks like and tastes like prosciutto, but is made from a very specific breed of cow which can survive off the tundra-esque plants that grow during a Scandinavian winter. Talk about free-range!

FoodToursEU Beef and Beer | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog

We walked a few blocks to our sweetest stop, Sømods Bolcher, Copenhagen’s oldest candy store! They are still making candy the way they made it when the store opened in 1891. It’s the kind you’re supposed to suck on for a long time, but I can’t help chomping down within thirty seconds. Britton kept his until we were practically at the next stop!

FoodToursEU Hard Candy | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog

To get to the next stop, we hiked all the way up to the highest point in Copenhagen; a whopping 19m above sea level. Whew! Copenhagen is gloriously flat — part of the reason cycling can be so popular — but that didn’t stop the early Copenhageners from building a church on the highest point in the city, as happens in just about any other city (including Kansas City)!

The location turned out to be a local, organic sausage cart. Yep, as odd as it might sound, a sausage cart has been recognized by the New Nordic Food Manifesto. There’s an interesting history surrounding the sausage carts — including how scandalous it was to bee seen eating street food. Once there were hundreds of stands and now there are only a few dozen thanks to the fast food movement. My sausage (pork with wild garlic) was served with some shredded kale, a traditional winter food for Denmark since it’s one of the few things that will grow in winter!

FoodToursEU Sausage | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog

To finish the trip, we headed back to Torvehallern, this time exploring Hall 2 where we stopped at a spice shop (where we drank lovely, warm, homemade chai tea), an herb stand (where we picked lemony-spicy sorrel straight off the plant and smelled the aroma of strawberry mint and chocolate mint plants) and a sweet shop (to devour a chocolate covered marzipan-and-white-fluff treat). Our very, very last sampling was of two different kinds of local honey — one made from the bees in the botanical garden and another from a hive about 5km away. It’s interesting how different they tasted, since the bees would have harvested pollen from barely-distinct areas of town!

FoodToursEU Chai Tea Cup | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog
FoodToursEU Lemon Plant | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog
FoodToursEU Marzipan Dessert | Ellen Says Hola | Travel Blog

The tour not only provided a taste of Denmark’s and Copenhagen’s local cuisine — Maria knew Danish history and, as a life-long Copenhagener, also knew answers to my random questions about daily life and language. I absolutely recommend it if you’re a foodie looking for an experience in Copenhagen!

Thanks very much to for providing a discount in exchange for a post about the tour. The company had an opportunity to review for accuracy (dates and locations and such) but had no influence over my opinions. 

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