Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen takes us on a trip through his holiday memories.
By Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen
As autumn starts to wrap its bleak veil of gloom over the landscape here in Not So Wonderful Copenhagen, it seems appropriate to file a belated summer greeting from the pen of porcine pleasure.
As I look back at my blurry holiday snaps, the drool starts dripping when I think of foie gras feasts in Languedoc or eating scallops fresh from the sea in Cornwall. However, the image which elicits most joy, and a hungry obsession of Fatal Attraction-esque proportions, is from much nearer my home turf. More precisely from the farm shop Hallegård on Bornholm, the Danish island located in the Baltic Sea as a geographical afterthought of the old Viking empire. You need the satellite navigation system of a small-scale Nasa mission to find the old timbered farm in the heart of the island, but your reward are some of the finest salamis and sausages produced in Denmark.
The chief sausage maker and proprietor, Jørgen Toft Christensen, wasn’t around when we arrived on a Sunday morning (allegedly the old hippie from western Jutland takes Sunday mornings off to go to church), but his young assistant guided us through their selection, which included a glorious air-dried beef salami and a paprika-packed sausage that offered plenty of umami. The sausages are all hand-made from artisan recipes which have been passed down through generations, and the Danish gastronomic academy has rightfully bestowed Christensen and Hallegård with its honourary award.
It was tempting to stick around the little farm shop café and wash down the charcuterie with some claret, but we were on a tight schedule to reach our lunch booking at Kadeau – Bornholm’s outpost of the new Nordic restaurant movement.
Restaurants always brag about stunning views, but Kadeau puts most of these claims to shame. The small beach pavilion is located on the southern coast of the island with panoramic views of the sea, which almost splashes its waves onto the doorstep of restaurant. The kitchen explores the virtues of the new Nordic cuisine; there is an allegiance to locally sourced produce and the menu conveys the clean, clear and crisp tastes and textures that have become the trademark for this culinary style. This was best expressed in a dish of salted and lightly baked cod, which was hidden beneath a landscape of beach herbs, cucumbers, malt crumble and Romaine lettuce.
Kadeau is the high-end gastronomic adventure on the island, but Bornhom has always been more famous for its more rustic signature dish. ‘Sol over gudhjem’ – roughly translated as sun over the town of Gudhjem – is part of Danish open-sandwich folklore and consists of smoked herring, chives and egg yolk on rye bread.
One of the finest purveoys of this national treasure is the smokehouse in Svaneke on the east coast of the island. The herrings are golden and glistening when they come out of the wood-fired chimneys, and the waiters snap them off the rails like ticket stubs. Getting rid of the tiny bones can be a fiddly process but the laminated instructions on the wall guides you along.
A short stroll from the smokehouse (everything seems to be just around the corner on Bornholm), we found Svaneke’s ice cream dairy. The ice creams are made with milk from local Jersey cows, and the sorbets are packed with sun-ripened berries which enhances the natural flavour and cuts down on the sugar content. The lady behind the counter kindly offered samples of the various batches – including the beer-flavoured variety – before we settled on a scoop of licorice ice cream and took it outside to soak up the afternoon sun.
Holiday memories don’t come much better than this.
Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen lives in Copenhagen where he writes about food and football for the Guardian newspaper. Prior to that he spent 10 years in London where he studied journalism, worked on the Guardian’s newsdesk and enjoyed a passionate love affair with British food culture (stop sniggering at the back) and the pub.