Innovation in Scandinavia: Nordic Eats

Late on Day 3 (well, early on Day 4), it’s becoming clear how intense Chazen trips can be. We’re packing it all in: culture, adventure, tours, food, fellowship. It’s been nonstop. We arrived on Saturday in Copenhagen – considered one of the world’s most livable cities, capital of what may be the world’s happiest country – checked into the Scandic Palace (as nice as it sounds, featuring both modern amenities and the weight of its own history), and began our quest for aesthetic indulgence.

Our first event was a group lunch at Radio, which served us locally sourced, creative combinations that can be called “innovative” without any sense of irony. The five-course meal included salsify root, scallops, veal tenderloin and licorice cake with white-chocolate foam and apple ice cream. It set the bar ambitiously high, to say the least. The restaurant is owned by Claus Meyer, the man behind Noma, which San Pelligrino named the best restaurant in the world for the second year running, and it was the perfect place to start the trip. (NB: Three of our group arrived a day early and were able to score last-minute reservations at Noma, as well. Think a few dozen courses, beginning with fried moss. All report that if you have an opportunity to get in, don’t pass it up.)

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By the time we’d left Radio, Copenhagen had transformed itself from gray and rainy to crisp (enough) and (relatively) sunny, and we took the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the city. The group splintered off in various directions. Josh and I began our unsuccessful hunt for bikes to ride, a goal that still truly eludes us (more on that later). Some went shopping, or headed to the market for duck sandwiches (apparently delectable), or moseyed around the city’s web of streets.

But in keeping with the day’s culinary theme, a group of us reconvened to cap the evening at Geist, another highly recommended panacea for hungry gourmands. Like Radio, Geist is grist for the argument that Nordic food is in the midst of a revival. It’s bigger than Radio and a bit shinier, but it too focuses on local ingredients and satisfying the adventurous. The plates are small, and seven of us passed around a host of offerings: lamb’s heart, raw ox and roe, suckling pig, turbot, cod roe, potato mash and crab, and black lobster and endives. We were too full to eat dessert, but we ordered it anyway, after our waiter, without a tinge of a smile, told us the “air in air in air tiramisu” was unlike anything we’d ever had before. He was right.

Tomorrow (Day Four) we visit the BIG offices and Designit, a strategic design consultancy. We visited some of BIG’s key buildings on Day Two, which I’ll write about tomorrow. With an early morning ahead of us, it’s key to get some R&R – we want to have enough energy to tick a few last things off our to-do list before heading north to Sweden. ~Brandon Wall

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