Hej, I’m Laura, a German expat living and blogging in Copenhagen, Denmark. An expat lifestyle blog in Copenhagen, focusing on great food, exciting experiences, and a stylish life in the Danish capital!
If you live in Copenhagen, maybe even Vesterbro, you’ll know that keeping up with new restaurants and eateries can be a daunting task… especially if people assume you always know the latest buzz and have already eaten at the newest restaurants because, let’s say, you have a blog where you write about food.
So sometimes it can be refreshing and relaxing to come across a place which seems like it’s been there forever. Restaurant Bodil – et spisested is such a place. It’s located on Sønder Boulevard, but a little ways away from the bustling meatpacking district (Kødbyen), closer to where Enghave station used to be. Wow – you know you’ve lived in Copenhagen for a long time when you can refer to former S-train stations! Am I a local yet?
I was invited to swing by and have a taste of the menu last week Friday, a beautiful sunny and warm evening in the middle of this absolutely stunning month of May (it’s like we skipped spring altogether and just went straight into summer here in Denmark!).
In a review by Danish newspaper Politikken, the author described Bodil as being somewhere between street and gourmet, and even though that allegory works better in the original Danish with a nice little alliteration, it’s still quite spot on. In typical Vesterbro fashion, the restaurant itself is stylish, yet understated and pointedly relaxed and down-to-earth. The food, on the other hand, is definitely high-end, with small, beautifully plated portions of well-balanced, local and seasonal ingredients.
We were welcomed and led to our seats with a direct view into the elevated, open plating area, before we started out with a glass of crisp champagne. Nothing like some bubbles on a Friday night to start the weekend!
With the champagne, we were served some snacks: a porcini bisque, a “Nordic taco” of kohlrabi with crab salad, pickled pearl onion, and burnt leek. All were really good, but the creamy, yet light mushroom soup was my favorite!
I should also mention the excellent sourdough bread with a perfect crispy crust and pillowy soft on the inside, made even better by a generous slathering of the whipped butter that came along with it. I would honestly be content with a dinner consisting of just sourdough bread, salted butter, and a glass of wine!
But, as luck would have it, Bodil was not content serving us only bread for dinner! Instead, we got to feast on a five-course menu (plus cheese course). The first of these courses was this beauty: oysters with cucumber, radishes, and a dressing with double cream, served with a glass of dry sherry – what a way to start!
I thought this was a very unusual way to serve oysters, and since I’m not a big fan of the slurping, this worked really well for me. The cucumber and radishes gave a nice lightness to the dish, and the sherry worked extremely well, too (though it’s probably wise not to down the entire glass immediately if you want to remember the rest of your dinner afterwards!).
Also, how beautifully plated is this dish?!
Next up was my favorite dish of the entire night: halibut, cooked au gratin with “vesterhavsost”, a Danish cheese similar to Dutch gouda, with a side of pea puree, pickled peas, and pea shots.
Peas are one of my all-time favorite foods, and really anything covered in cheese is great to begin with, so this dish really hit home for me. I’d never had pickled peas, but they were absolutely delicious and a nice counterweight to the sweetness of the mashed peas. The fish was cooked to absolute perfection, soft and flaky – bottom line, it took some effort but I managed to refrain from licking the plate.
For the third course, we got to choose between a beef tartar and a vegetarian broccoli dish. Surprisingly, my fiancé does not like tartar, but loves broccoli, so we ended up ordering one of each.
My beef tartar with beetroot, ramson, and a coffee “dressing” was one of the most beautiful tartars I’ve ever been served. I did like Bodil’s spin on this classic, and the coffee worked surprisingly well. The beef itself was not very strongly flavored, and I personally would have preferred some more depth here.
But would you please take a look at this absolute stunner of a dish?!
The fiancé got a broccoli mash with asparagus, egg yolk and sesame – I thought it was a nice touch to use the egg yolk here in the alternative dish instead of the beef tartar, where it would classically be served.
Of course I stole a bite or two and this was a really excellent dish as well.
For the main course, we were served braised lamb chest with leek, mashed carrots and mushrooms. The lamb was incredibly tender and the flavor was just… *chef kiss*.
I don’t eat a lot of meat anymore, but lamb has always been a favorite of mine, so I relished this opportunity to enjoy it prepared so excellently here.
I also liked the leek as a connection to the starters we were served in the very beginning, a sort of red thread to tie the whole experience together. Two other signatures were the mashed vegetables as well as the edible flowers that were used to decorate the dishes, which I thought was a lovely touch for a spring menu.
For the cheese course, we (and by that I mean, I) got a Danish “høost” – the literal translation is “hay cheese”, and it’s a cheese made from milk from grass-fed cows. It has a lovely nutty flavor, which works best with a sweet fruit compote on the side. In this case, the jam was not made from gooseberries, as I first thought, but actually green tomatoes. Yum!
Finally, for dessert, we got a lovely corn-based dish with cornbread, caramel popcorn, malt, and brown butter. Have I mentioned that I’m a dessert person? This one ticked all the boxes: Cornbread! Caramel! Popcorn! Browned butter!!
The full menu will set you back DKK 325, plus DKK 75 if you opt for the cheese course as well. This is in the medium range for comparable restaurants, and I absolutely believe that it’s good value for money for the delicious and high-quality food you’ll be served here.
During our dinner, all staff, including the head chef who presented some of the courses, were super friendly, and very knowledgeable about the food and wines. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed, and especially as darkness began to set outside, intimate and cozy.
All in all, we really enjoyed our experience at Bodil, and we’ll happily come again.
I’ve been really inspired recently to work on reducing the amount of plastic waste I create. It’s hard to avoid plastic – it’s literally everywhere. One thing I am constantly annoyed by is the amount of plastic used to wrap fruit and vegetables – especially if they’re organic. Why is it impossible to buy a cucumber without a plastic wrapper?
But there’s also a lot of plastic waste we create “on the go” – grabbing a cup of coffee usually means a paper cup with a plastic lid, smoothies and juices are served in plastic cups with plastic straws, and when we buy some groceries on the way home from work, we grab a plastic bag as well.
A lot of this plastic waste can be avoided by simply being a little bit prepared. If you’re a woman reading this, chances are that you’re carrying a purse most days. If you’re a guy, maybe you carry a laptop bag or backpack. So really all you need is to remember to take a few things with you when you leave the house in the morning. Here are four things I’ve started to carry in my purse pretty much all the time:
Reusable shopping bags
Supermarket chain Netto recently announced a test campaign in cooperation with WWF to introduce a deposit on plastic bags – bags get more expensive and customers get a small amount of money back when they return the bags. The returned bags are then recycled. For now, they’re testing the concept on the Danish island of Funen.
I think it’s a great campaign, although it could go even further. I think plastic bags at the supermarket should be priced much, much higher to actually deter people from buying them every time they’re buying groceries. If they cost 50 Kroner a piece, maybe people would actually consider bringing a reusable bag!
I have different fabric bags at home, but the one bag that’s always in my purse is this foldable shopping bag I bought at Helsam for maybe 25 kroner. It can be crumpled together to the size of a tennis ball, so it doesn’t take up much space in your bag. It holds a ton of stuff and is really sturdy to boot, so I highly recommend this. I’ve maybe bought one or two plastic bags at the store since I got this bag, and that was only because I ended up buying more than anticipated.
I also avoid packing my vegetables in the plastic bags provided in the fruit and veg section, most of them are charged by the piece anyways. At Løs Market and ecological stores, you can also buy fabric bags in different sizes to use for the same purpose.
Finally, supermarkets like Irma will often have the cashier pack items such as packages of meat into a separate plastic bag – it’s meant as a service, but if you’re quick enough, you can manage to say “nej tak” to that as well!
Reusable water bottle
Are you drinking enough water? If you’re anything like me, probably not, and in that case, a reusable water bottle serves a dual purpose: saving plastic while keeping you hydrated! They don’t take up a lot of space in your bag and water is easy-peasy to come by even on the go.
My bottle is a glass bottle from Retap, a Danish brand that I’ve already written about a while back. I’m super happy with it – it’s actually really sturdy, it doesn’t leak, and it’s nice to look at. Bu there are of course tons to choose from. Kleen Kanteen seems to be a super popular brand if you’re looking for an isolated bottle, or you can always recycle what you already have, e.g. an old juice or water bottle.
Reusable coffee cup
I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t have a thermos or other reusable coffee cup, right? But most of us probably just use it to bring hot beverages from home, when we should also be using it when buying coffee to go!
Someone did some awesome crowdsourcing in the “Expats in Copenhagen” Facebook group to compile a list of coffee shops and cafés that will refill your reusable cup, which I’m allowing myself to repost here:
Espresso House (I have personally experienced that Espresso House will refill a reusable cup, but I’ve also been told they only do so if it’s one of their own, branded ones, which I find ridiculous)
Small, independent coffee shops are generally more flexible and will usually let you use your own cup.
One trick I have learned from a zero-waster on Instagram is the following: if you ask to get your coffee in your own cup and they refuse, simply ask for it “for here”. Then they will prepare it in a glass or a porcelain mug, which you can then simply pour over into your own cup. It’s not ideal, but you’ve still saved on plastic.
I’m using a KeepCup and a Starbucks thermos cup, both of which I’m super happy with. The KeepCup is especially awesome for iced coffees, cold brews, etc. and I love it even more because I got it from a friend!
My latest commitment to reduce my consumption of plastic is to #stopsucking – meaning I’ll stop using plastic straws. You can start by simply refusing plastic straws whenever possible. Almost always, cafés will serve juices, lemonade, or other cold drinks with a plastic straw – when it’s just as easy to drink from the glass. Or are you using plastic straws when you drink a glass of juice at home? For drinks with ice cubes, having a straw is often easier (and avoids ice cube-related injuries to your teeth!). You can find reusable straws in many different versions, including glass and stainless steel, and in different sizes. I bought mine at Eco Ego close to Nørreport station.
Are you carrying any of these items in your bag? And do you have any further suggestions for reducing plastic waste? Let me know in the comments!
Spring has finally come to Denmark! Did you catch the cherry blossoms?
A busy month ahead
There’s a saying in German that roughly translates to “May makes everything new” – in this spirit, and in lieu of writing an actual newsletter that might clog up your inbox even more, I thought I’d deliver a little update in a newsletter-inspired blog post.
I have loads of awesome plans for May, which include attending the wedding of one of my oldest school friends in Germany next weekend, planting a small veggie garden on the balcony, and a big trip at the end of the month (more on that further below!).
I’m currently enjoying
Sustain Yearly, a magazine about sustainable lifestyle, produced by Danish blogger cooperative Sustain Daily. It’s full of great ideas and information – and available in English!
The monthly overview What’s on in Copenhagen from Scandinavia Standard – if this handy guide is not on your reading list yet, fix that asap! There’s a carbonara festival in town this month, if anyone wants to go…
Crossword puzzles. I might be addicted!
Coconut lattes from Café Souls – iced or hot, they’re just always great.
Afternoons in the sun on the balcony – preferably with a glass of rosé and a book (I’m currently finishing A Gentleman in Moscow*).
A new pair of amazing white spring/ summer sneakers I bought on Tradono – an app for selling and buying second hand clothes. I’m trying to buy more stuff second hand; it’s more sustainable plus you can make a real bargain sometimes!
On my mind
Read all about the delicious steamed buns, dumplings, and of course the famous deep-fried dessert bao with ice cream at MaoBao in Nørrebro in my latest post.
I’m going to New York!
At the end of the month, we’re headed to NYC – it’ll be my first time visiting the city that never sleeps. Got any great tips? Send me an email!
A little Insta-help?
Can I hit 2000 followers on Instagram in May? If you’re not already following me, check out my feed and follow me, if you like what you see: @laura_cphtales
A list of places in your city that you really want to try (with varying degrees of urgency) – like restaurants, coffee shops, museums, etc.? I do – actually several, or at least the same list in different places because I tend to get ideas on the fly and write them down as a note in my phone, in my – not very strictly kept – bullet journal, or on various random pieces of paper, which makes it impossible to keep track.
But no matter how you look at it, Mao Bao has been on one list or other for quite some time, and after they popped back up to the forefront of my mind via the Mad About Copenhagen kickstarter campaign (very excited to get that coffee table book!), I decided it was time to finally cross one item off that ever-growing list!
Mao Bao is a permanent pop-up (isn’t that an oxymoron?!) at Sidecar in Nørrebro that serves some of the best steamed buns in the greater Copenhagen area. Not that I’ve tried them all, but you catch my drift.
After soaking up the long-awaited spring sun in the heart of Nørrebro, we went for an early dinner to eat our way through as much of the amazing-sounding menu as we could.
As is common for bao places, you order by crossing off the items you’d like from a menu list. Props here to our server, who looked at our selection, back at us, and said, “guys, this is WAY too much, you have to get rid of some of these!” I guess that’s what happens when you split a bottle of rosé in the sun and get VERY hungry.
We begrudgingly crossed off two out of the roughly seven hundred things we’d selected and, after he’d left, assured each other that we could always order more later.
Turns out that wasn’t necessary AT ALL, as we had considerably underestimated the size of some of the side dishes, like the dumplings – I would’ve expected two or three per serving, but we got five to seven (as you’ll see in the pictures below). So my advice is, don’t over-order and do listen to the staff when they tell you you’re about to go overboard.
We started with a bowl of kimchi, which is one of my faves, and this was no exception. Give me all the fermented things and I will be happy as a clam!
Alongside, we had tempura shrimp – always a classic, and these were excellent: hot and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, served with a yummy herb mayo.
I think my favorite side was the seared tuna with an amazing apple dressing. The tuna was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the crispy, tangy apples gave a lovely sweetness to the dish. Highly recommended.
Next up were the pork wontons with chili, and they are a really great showcase of the portion size – they are definitely meant for sharing! There were seven or eight of these babies, drizzled in a spicy chili oil and topped with scallions and peanuts.
We also got a round of pan-fried beef orange dumplings, which were equally delicious.
Obviously, whenever I see sweet potato anything, chances are I will order it, especially when it’s tempura sweet potato fries with kimchi mayo! Soooo good.
At this point, you might begin to understand why our server was absolutely correct in putting the brakes on our order, even if just a little bit, because we’re only just getting to the steamed buns! We let him negotiate us down to two per person, and I will forever be thankful because I already felt like somebody would have to carry me home.
But these buns are so good, you won’t want to miss them! We started out with the Shanghai style braised pork, which was an absolute stunner. Lovely depth of flavor and warm spices in the pork, which was cooked to perfect tenderness, topped with scallions, peanuts, coriander, and pickles.
Next up was the fried chicken bao with kimchi, which was mainly the boyfriend’s, but of course I managed to sneak a bite and would definitely order this one again.
I had the fish bao – beer-battered cod with pickled red onion, radish, scallions and coriander – which was a total breakout star! It might not sound as sexy as the other two, but honestly, give it a shot. The fish was super soft and tender, in a perfect crispy crust, and worked really well as a whole with the steamed bun.
At this point, my stomach was waving all sorts of white flags, but I am not one to leave a restaurant without dessert (I have a reputation to lose, after all!). Especially not when the signature dessert is a deep-fried (!) bao with ice cream (!). GIMME THAT.
A deep-friend bao bun with caramelized milk, vanilla ice cream, and hazelnuts, coated in a light dusting of matcha and yuzu powder. I will concede that it’s a little difficult to eat but it’s oh-so worth it! Scrumptious!
At the end of the dinner, we were both so full we felt we could hardly move – my advice is to go easy in the first round of ordering and potentially build on that later, if you’re still hungry. You might also want to focus on things that everyone likes, because portions are definitely big enough for sharing. Oh, and get that deep-fried dessert bao!
Have you been to Mao Bao? Any other favored places for steamed buns in Copenhagen? Let me know in the comments!
MaoBao at Sidecar | Skyttegade 5, 2200 Copenhagen | maobao.dk
Spring has taken its sweet time to finally make it to Denmark this year – I was about to go mad with the grey and cold days! Luckily, now that we’re well into April, the sun is out, flowers are beginning to blossom, and I’ve finally been able to put my winter coat in the closet.
Earlier this month, we hopped down to the French Riviera to soak up some much-needed sun and spring feelings – and to drink as much rosé wine as we possible could fit into a three-day trip!
You see, as soon as the sun comes out, I need my pink wine, otherwise it’s just not spring (or summer). My favorite – without a doubt ingrained over many years of family vacations – is from Provence. According to this guide on my favorite wine blog, Wine Folly (side note: the Wine Folly book* is really great, too!), Provence rosé is fruity and lean and the “little black dress of wines”. According to me it is DE-LISH with a capital D and should be enjoyed on any sunny day. We started out strong with a pre-flight bottle at the airport bar, and then pretty much kept going until we were back home, which is really what a good vacation is all about, if you ask me.
We flew to Nice and headed to Cannes. Seeing as we only really had two full days (plus change), we chose to spend one of them in Cannes itself and the other one on a little day trip to Antibes.
Despite many family vacations in the South of France, I’d never been to Cannes before – our main stomping grounds was always the Provence region, an area stretching from the Rhône river to the Alps and the Mediterranean sea. We usually stayed further inland, in the middle of vineyards, olive groves, and the famous lavender and sunflower fields. We visited cities and towns like Avignon (an all-time favorite) or the amazingly beautiful Gordes, which is absolutely worth a trip if you’re ever in the general vicinity.
Of course that has massively shaped my image of Southern France, and doesn’t really match up with the glamorous yachts and high-end designer stores of Cannes, which is why the famous promenade didn’t really resonate with me that much. But once we walked up the hill and into the old town, Le Suquet, things started to feel a little more familiar – winding streets, old stone houses with colorful window shutters, small boutiques and cafes. And the view from up in the hills is pretty hard to beat!
We had lunch in a small café right by a marketplace, a little ways away from the touristy crowds, so we were actually surrounded by locals having lunch or an apéro. Lunch itself wasn’t a culinary highlight, but there’s just something about sipping a glass of cold rosé and eating a “salade chèvre chaud” (goat cheese salad, another favorite of mine which I had more than once on this short trip) in the French sun!
Another first for me, Antibes is a small former fishing village between Cannes and Nice. It’s famous for its seaside walk on the headland poking out into the Mediterranean. The walkway takes you along the sea, on steep cliffs, up and down winding and worn-out staircases and to sandy beaches, never losing sight of the turquoise-blue ocean. It was absolutely stunning!
I mean – just look at the palm trees! Doesn’t this look like a tropical paradise? I can hardly believe this is only a 2 hour flight away from Copenhagen!
We didn’t complete the round trip and instead headed back to where we came from after 45 minutes or so, to eat lunch at a restaurant we’d been recommended: Le César. I was sold in an instant when I spotted that they had tables on the beach – seriously, can you imagine a better way to eat lunch than with your toes in the sand?
We had rosé, of course, alongside beef tartar, risotto with scallops, and a deliciously creamy burrata with fresh tomatoes. I’m getting all dreamy just thinking about it!
After lunch, we ventured into the old town of Antibes in the French spring sun. We were quite clearly the only tourists, sporting t-shirts where all the locals were wearing jackets and scarfs – but if you’re used to the Danish “spring”, French spring feels like the height of summer!
Okay, honest answers: which one of you hasn’t dreamed of staying in a castle, like a princess?
I know I have!
The weekend before last, I actually got the chance, when I was invited to come on a weekend getaway to Langesø Slot, near the city of Odense. As the invite included a vacation apartment, the boyfriend and I grabbed four of our friends and headed out for a little weekend trip – city trip, nature, and board game night included!
Langesø Castle, built in 1775, is located in the countryside of the Danish island of Fyn (Funen), about 30 minutes by car from Odense. Surrounded by rolling hills and woods, the castle is a popular weekend destination for city dwellers looking to enjoy a long walk around the lake or a round of golf on the adjacent golf course.
There are plenty of opportunities to get active around Langesø Castle: you can opt for the basics, a walk around the lake and through the woods, or work on your handicap on the beautiful golf course. We would’ve liked to play a few holes, but we didn’t feel like braving the snow and sub-zero temperatures to do so, after all. I did get up early for a pre-dawn Sunday morning walk to capture the sunrise over the course, though.
If you’re into horseback riding, there are dedicated riding trails in the woods around the castle – all you need is a “ridekort”… and a horse. If you don’t have one, how about renting a mountain bike and hitting the trails?
In December, there’s a Christmas market at the castle, and during the spring and summer seasons, you can grab an ice cream cone at Langesø Vaffelhus.
The Baroness’ Apartment
If you, like me, enjoy the thought of waking up in a castle (like a princess!), there are two vacation apartments for rent, which house up to 10 people each.
We were staying in the Baroness’ Apartment, named after the current owner’s grandmother. The apartment is furnished with some original antique pieces from the castle, which give it a very regal vibe – very much unlike most vacation apartments, summer houses, and AirBnB’s you’ll otherwise come across in Denmark!
We were also told that there are ghosts in the apartment, albeit friendly ones, but unfortunately we didn’t make their acquaintance during our stay.
Things to do nearby
Apart from the activities at the castle itself, the city of Odense is just a short trip away – about half an hour by car. I’ll soon post a short guide on what to do and see in Odense in one day.
If you’re travelling with kids, you might want to check out “Odins Odense“, an open air museum about the Iron Age and Viking times.
We really enjoyed our stay at Langesø Castle, and we’d definitely like to come back during the warmer seasons to explore a bit more of the nature – and eat some ice cream, of course!
Can we get a show of hands: who else is about done with winter? I mean, where was all this snow in December, when we would have really appreciated a nice winter wonderland backdrop for the Christmas season?
I am really trying to stay positive, because let’s face it, there’s nothing we can do to change the weather, all we can change is our attitude. Blah. Inspirational insta-quotes aside, I’m cold, I’m vitamin D deprived, and I’m tired of my winter wardrobe, so can we PLEASE just get some spring now?
While we wait, here’s one possible way of warming up: hot pot. I mean, it’s in the name!
I only had a vague idea of what hot pot is, based on stories from friends and family who have been lucky enough to travel to Asia, something that’s still on my bucket list. Hot pot is a Chinese soup that you basically cook yourself right at the dining table. It’s a little bit similar to fondue, except that instead of oil or cheese (or chocolate), you have a pot of simmering hot broth that you cook your ingredients of choice in.
I was invited by Copenhagen’s first and only authentic hot pot restaurant, Hot Pot Republic, to come and give it a go. Knowing that nothing is better for warming me up than hot soup and spicy food, I happily accepted the invite.
The way hot pot works is pretty straightforward: you choose your broth(s) and your menu – vegetarian or with meat. We chose two base soups: a classic umami broth and a spicy broth. Neither of those are vegetarian, but you can opt for a veggie base as well. We chose one of each of the menus, just to get a bit more variety.
For drinks, we went with Chinese beer, but later also got to sample a mango and lychee juice, which were thick and sweet and great to take a bit of the spicy edge off (that spicy broth IS spicy).
The raw ingredients for the soup are delivered in a few servings. There was very thinly sliced beef and pork (which my research revealed is called “shabu-shabu” in Japan, where hot pot is also popular). The meat is cooked for only about thirty seconds and with a special technique that includes swishing the slice of meat around in the broth.
Apart from the sliced meat, there were all sorts of veggies, including mushrooms, root vegetables, leafy greens, tofu cubes and tofu skin, crab meat sticks, won tons, and Korean rice cakes. Finally, we got two dipping sauces, one based on peanuts and one with black sesame. Both were so delicious that we repeatedly asked for refills!
Hot pot is quite light – very low on carbs and high on lean proteins and veggies – but we still felt full after our meal. Everything was delicious, but hot pot is also a great social dining experience, as you sit around the pot and cook your food. That’s also what reminded me of foods like fondue or raclette, where preparing your food is as much a part of the meal as eating it – it also makes for good conversation.
So why not grab your friends and beat the cold with a nice round of hot pot?
Hot Pot Republic is currently doing a pop-up at Borgergade 17F until the end of April. You can follow them on social media to stay up to date on where they move to after that.
I was invited to Hot Pot Republic. All opinions are my own.
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