Feature: Culinary delights of London and Copenhagen

Monday, 27 June 2013 11:30 AM

Perched on the edge of the continent, the financial and cultural capitals of Western Europe offer some of the most exquisite dining options in the world. Ancient, historic cities still stand after hundreds of years, and a merging of cultures and retention of old world values has created a fantastic dining scene which varies widely from city to city. From the pork heavy dishes of Austria, in one short train ride you could be dining on rustic risotto in Italy before flying to Spain for seafood galore.

In our final guide to Western Europe’s gastronomical capitals, we focus on one famous and one not so famous destination for culinary delights for you to enjoy over a long weekend. So get your travelling shoes as we show you the delights of London and Copenhagen.

The multi-cultural wonders of London are a must for any fan of history and culture. One of the oldest cities in the world, some of the world’s most iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament characterise the cityscape along with chic new skyscrapers and architectural wonders. With so many museums to choose from, five star establishments, and a restaurant scene to die for, a long weekend in Britain and England’s capital will be hard to forget.

Stare in wonder at the crown jewels of the Tower or London and the many ravens that grace its grounds. Ride the London Eye for unparalleled views of the cityscape, and appreciate 20th century art at Tate Modern. But setting London’s many wonders aside, a growing fact about this great city is the endless array of top class restaurants and funky bohemian joints. Sure, traditional British food like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie might be a little homely for those with fine tastes, but missing out on the capital’s gourmet and fusion cuisine would be quite silly. Fine diners will love the Oxo Tower restaurant, perched eight stories up and offering stunning views of the city. The cuisine is a gourmet take on rural British cuisine, but with a very strong French influence. So expect roast quail dishes, and Devonshire crab served with sorrel mouse. Other iconic stalwarts include The Ivy and The Wolseley. But with so many restaurants to choose from, there are literally hidden gems on every street corner, from Korean joints and Indonesian bistros to homely English cafes serving sausage stew.

Make sure you head to swanky Borough Market with its incredible range of fresh, gourmet, and obscure produce, and taste the delicious ales on offer in the surrounding pubs. But for a real taste of London ale, head to the award winning The Harp pub in Covent Garden, for an incredible range of local beers in a Victorian environment. And it would be impossible to write about this fabulous city and not mention its many iconic hotels known around the world. The 19th century Savoy is located on the Strand, in the heart of the City, while The Ritz offers delightful rooms in the West End, where you can enjoy afternoon tea in style.

With more Michelin stars than any other city in Scandinavia, and more than 2000 cafes and restaurants, the Danish capital is a delight of culinary marvels, architectural delights, and a laid back pace which is almost impossible not to love. Start off your trip by heading to the 150 year old Tivoli theme park – the second oldest in the world and one that gave Walt Disney the idea to open one. Don’t miss out on the magnificent Amalienborg and Christiansborg Palaces, the latter of which contains the Queen’s tapestry series depicting 1000 years of Danish history. View the contrasts of the little mermaid statue opposite the grand Opera House, and climb the 1642 Round Towers for magnificent views of the city. Marvel at 3500 years of art history with Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art collections at the Ny Carslberg Glyptotek, and enter the communal world of Freetown Christiania where around 1000 people live an alternative lifestyle.

Due to its Scandinavian location, cold winters necessitate the need for hearty food which is Germanic in essence. Traditional classics include roasted meats like frikadeller (Danish meatballs) served with potatoes and gravy, and the famous open-faced sandwiches called Smorrebrod, which come in hundreds of varieties. But gourmet fans will love to hear that some of the capital’s chefs have banded together to promote a New Nordic Cuisine, using local and rediscovered ingredients and new approaches to traditional techniques.

Make sure you visit Noma, which has won the world’s best restaurant award two years in a row. Using local ingredients like halibut, musk ox, berries and curd, the chefs do their own salting, smoking, pickling, drying and grilling to create unique dishes. Another good choice is Peder Oxe’s Restaurant, located in a 200-year-old building and serving Danish classics like lobster soup, fresh asparagus, and Danish bay shrimp. The Hotel D’Angleterre is the most elegant luxury hotel in the city, where all rooms feature antiques, and marble bathrooms.

Offering some of the best restaurants and dining scenes in the world, Western Europe never fails to astonish visitors. But now that we’ve toured the west, let’s head east. So join us next week for a new series of features on this grand continent.

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