With only a few days left living in Copenhagen, I made a lunch reservation at Restaurant Radio. It was to be the first of many farewell meals in this city, my home away from home for the past 15 months. Time spent here as a working expat among the Danes (plus a four month exchange in college) means that Copenhagen will always be a part of me. The Danish food culture is inherently connected to that, and I've done my best to explore and appreciate it wholeheartedly.
This year has led me to some great meals, many that have happened in the homes of Danes who welcomed me in and graciously took the time to help me learn about their food traditions. As I look back on so many treasured moments of immersing myself in their food culture, so many of these meals flash through my mind like the scenes of a Perennial Plate episode: tasting the fresh venison hunted by my former Danish host family, savoring the crunch of flæskesteg (a traditional pork dish) washed down by strong schnapps at Christmas time, and learning how to make "snegls" (cinnamon rolls.) And one can't forget the bakery scents wafting down the bike path during my morning commute. I'm hanging on dearly to these snapshots of food exploration and hoping they never fade.
Radio was a great chance to add another scene to the episode. With a menu based on locally farmed, seasonal ingredients, they also have a table bread that I would dare say is one of my favorites in any bread basket. The butter served alongside the bread, placed atop a small wooden platform, was flavored with what I suspected to be caramelized onions-- but I was too caught up in the moment to confirm. This meal was not one for taking lots of notes-- it was a chance to have a great dining experience, and to celebrate a great friendship made during my time here. (Everyone knows the best way to say goodbye to a fellow food enthusiast is over a great meal!)
Both my Danish friend and I could not resist choosing the cheese course as our last: a raw cheese from Germany called Deichkäse from Backenholzer. It was served with sugar beet syrup, and was the perfect course to nibble on with the last few sips of my IPA from local brewery Evil Twin Brewing. In just a few days, I'll be hopping a flight to LAX, so raw cheese seemed like the choice that would be truest to my philosophy to sample the maximum possible amount of European cheese before entering stricter cheese law territories.
I'm still reflecting on the last 15 months in Copenhagen, but with exactly one week to go until my return to the States, I still have 7 days to take in a lot of new experiences. For now there's no time to think, only time to be grateful. With my hard drive much more full of photos, my head full of new memories, my heart full of friends who I'll miss, and my suitcase full of Danish cookbooks to keep the spirit of culinary exploration alive, I'm grateful for all that I'm taking back home with me.
Thanks to Copenhagen, thanks to the team at Radio for making one of my farewell meals a charming and delicious experience, and thanks to all my Danish friends who helped me translate portions of recipes Google translate wouldn't. Finally, thanks to everyone else in this city, who through big gestures and small kindnesses, made this Californian feel a bit more at home in Scandinavia.