Saturday, February 7, 2009

Volume 9. Copenhagen

It all started when I was a kid surrounded by all this beautiful Design. Herman Miller bedroom furniture, the colorful Eames hang-it-all on the pale yellow wall of my childhood bedroom, Harry Bertoia chairs at our round Saarinen dining table in the kitchen. Georg Jensen silverware was stashed away in the buffet. Our walls were adorned with Marimekko wall hangings, our bodies with their striped T shirts.

Then, because of my love for Design and Jazz, and because of my attraction to the Danes and the manner in which they take care of eachother, I decided to take my Junior Semester Abroad in Copenhagen. On my flight over... Joe Pass who while running through Klastrup Airport with his guitar in a plastic case, invited me back to Montmartre to hear him with Oscar Peterson, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, and Albert "Tootie" Heath. Also on that flight... Frank Zappa and his entourage. Needless to say, this was a great harbinger of things to come. I did go to see Joe Pass at Montmartre. I hung out there often in fact. I went to concerts all over the place. I attended performances of the Bournonville Ballet and it would not be unusual to find me out in Humlebaek at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art strolling the galleries or enjoying the beach, the waves, and the sculpture gardens. This was, as you can no doubt imagine, a very special time for me. I learned a lot and met wonderful people. I went back there for the first time a couple years ago and it was a lovely reunion of great Design, Music, Architecture, and Cuisine.

For this edition of Global Around Town we are heading to Copenhagen, where among other things, we will celebrate the birthday of one of the Fathers of Scandinavian Design: Arne Jacobsen. He would've turned 107 on February 11th.
Arne studied at The Royal Danish Academy of The Arts in Copenhagen and began winning awards for his Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe influenced works at a rather young age. He designed every inch of, and much of the contents of, The Royal Hotel in Copenhagen which remains quite a time capsule. I have the Series 7 Chairs (pictured above) at my dinner table and dream of the day when my home is graced by the presence of an Egg Chair (top) or perhaps a Swan (below).
To celebate Jacobsen's Birthday you just might want to head on over to The Royal Hotel and take it all in. Better yet book a couple nights there and surround yourself with all this beauty. You may also want to contact Republic of Fritz Hansen which manufactures Jacobsen's goods to see if you can arrange a tour of the factory.

I ended up staying at the seriously beautifully designed Hotel Skt. Petri right near where Montmartre used to be. I enjoyed my stay very much. Looking forward to their pastries every morning for breakfast was enough to drive one mad! The quality of the ingredients in Denmark is very high indeed. Beautiful butter, cheese and pork products. With the sea right there, you can be sure that its bounty, found on many a table, is only the freshest. That said you can be sure that there are many wonderful restaurants to try. I did!

My first night in Copenhagen I had a lovely meal at a restaurant named after the wild Peter Greenaway film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Here's an example of a set menu offered there.

Salted langoustines served with mayo, cabbage, dill and apple

Fried Gurnard with green asparagus, mussels and savory

Confit of roe deer with pea purèe and rhubarbs

Saddle of roe deer with shiitake and peas, dried blueberries and lardo

Selection of cow milk cheeses, peach-onion chutney and manitoba bread

Mascarpone cream with strawberries sorbet, nougatine and pepper

There has been something of a change of guard since I visited, but from all reports the cuisine, wine and atmosphere (a quaint 18th century townhouse that used to be a brothel) are all just fine.

One night I ventured north to Klampenborg to Den Gule Cottage for another special treat. This beautiful little place on the Bellevue Beach serves wonderful Modern Danish cuisine.

Also up in Klampenborg, another way to celebrate Arne's Birthday would be to drop in to Restaurant Jacobsen. Surround yourself in things Jacobsenian and dine on good fusion cooking. All around you "ant", Swan" and "Egg" chairs. The view of the Oresund Sea is to die for. Not a bad way to go!

I also had a very special French meal with a very special Danish gal at the much lauded (two Michelin stars) Kommandanten. Exquisite regional/seasonal cuisine. Lovely ambiance.

The one culinary experience I wished I'd revisited was smorrebrod. Those lovely little open faced sandwiches that the Danes top with just about everything. If I had my way I'd head on over to the more than 100 year old "Carl Faberge of the smorrebrod world", Restaurant Ida Davidsen. With so many delicious toppings, deciding what to have there can be a real chore! Perhaps you should try the Victor Borge. "The old showman is a piece with salmon, freshly marinated lumpfish caviar, crayfish tails, Greenland shrimp, lime and dill mayonnaise." You can see why I'm kicking myself for missing out on this landmark of Danish Cuisine. Yummers!

I would not go to Copenhagen and miss visiting The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Currently on exhibit there Max Ernst, Eve Sussman, and Manga!

A visit to the museum Ordrupgaard, with it's new wing designed by Pritzker Award winning architect Zaha Hadid, is also a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Currently on view there you'll find a lovely exhibit of the works of French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte.

Another treat while in Copenhagen is their relatively new and stunning Opera House. When I visited I felt very fortunate to be able to attend the world premier of a song cycle The Secret Songs from Elvis Costello's opera about Hans Christian Andersen and his obsession with the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind. This week if you're lucky, there will still be tickets left for Mozart's "romantic comedy of dreamers and schemers" Le nozze di Figaro.

Take in Henning Larsen's brilliant building, glass of something bubbly in hand, and thank Arne Jacobsen for giving us a wonderful excuse for visiting this great city.

Happy Birthday Arne!

1 comment:

  1. Hi David, I just got around to reading this edition. Did you know I have your Eames hang it all? Mom sent it to me, there was some crazy eccentric guy in S.F. who supposedly had a collection of them, like twenty or thirty in one room, he loved them so much! I was going to try to sell it to him. He was paying $650 for them! But by the time Mom sent it to me the bottom had dropped out of the hang it all market.
    I loved reading how you ended up in Denmark, I had no idea, and had never heard the story of your plane flight over with Zappa et al!

    Ilove the reminder of the Cook the Thief his Wife and her Lover- Thanks, your Sister in Danish Furnishings and Life, Wendy Melissa E