So Karen and I have been saving up pretty well so we can eat a few of the places around here. The past couple weeks, we’ve ventured out to nearby European towns to eat at places like Bastard (yes, that’s really what it’s called) in Malmo, Sweden, and Volt Restaurant in Berlin. To save money we’ve been eating a lot of leftover staff meal that we’ve stockpiled during the week, and going down to our Netto (our local grocer) for some cheap sources of subsentence: frozen frikadeller, bananas, yogurt, and müsli.
We’re doing this because before we came to Europe we both agreed that it was pretty important for us to really eat out around the places we are staying to understand the food that surrounds us. While researching Denmark we found that the smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich, is synonymous with being a Dane, so of course we had to have our share. We had some very classical versions during Christmas, but Aamann’s Establissementet, a modest restaurant with modern ambitions pushes the classical smørrebrød a little further. So about a month ago (yes, I am that far behind on updates), we went to go check it out.
What makes a smørrebrød?
To make a smørrebrød requires a buttered, thinly sliced rugbrød (see Karen’s bread documentary below if you don’t know what that is), cold cuts, thinly sliced pieces of meat, patés, and their accompaniments. Typical combinations include: curried pickled herring with red onions and 5-minute eggs, chicken salad with apples, corned beef with horseradish, pickled herring with dill and sour cream, red wine vinegar pickled herring with red onions and capers. (As you can see, pickled herring is not in shortage here)
Aamanns Etablissementet refines the lunch which Denmark loves: pickled herring, some smørrebrød, a bit of snaps, and places it in a comfortable bistro setting. It’s just one of those places that you want to be at when you feel like treating yourself a bit without really breaking the bank or having to feel like you really have to *get* or *think* about the food.
Somedays, you just want good food you can understand.
We popped into Aamann’s for a late lunch and had their full lunch special which included starters and a whole tray of smørrebrød accoutrements. Of course, we had to start with a beer and snaps, but this wasn’t just any snaps (which burns with the fire of a thousand suns all the way to your belly), but rye bread infused snaps. If you’re gonna try to be Danish for lunch, might as well be *really* Danish for lunch and this stuff was like alcoholic liquid bread (which sounds great, if you ask me). To start, we had herring two ways – pickled and fried – pickled with apples and dill or fried with potato chip and parsley. Herring, like it’s other… oceany flavored buddy, mackerel, to many people is a very acquired taste. I personally love the stuff, but Karen… she has grown to love the stuff. Interesting, for a gal who ate well done eggs and meat less than five years ago, and then was a vegetarian for a long period of time, right? But to the Danes, herring is about as regular of an ingestion as Lone Star is to a Texan, so we’ve definitely had our fill. Here, it was firm, strikingly vinegary, and just plain delicious.
Our smørrebrød platter was epic. It’s one of those things that just can make my eyes light up like a fat kid at Ryan’s Steakhouse (yes, I was also that kid in a time. long, long ago…) There was curried chicken salad with juicy chunks of light and dark meat, a un-apologetically gamey, smooth, liver pate, beef tartare with mustard and shallots, earthily sweet beet salad, and Danish cheeses. Oh, the Danish cheeses. You eat slow, you enjoy yourself, picking, and choosing what to eat next– and figuring out whether or not your arteries can take any more of the lard butter slathered on the homemade bread that they give you (the answer, by the way, is always yes.) The biggest pointer, however, is just to not get all worked up that this place isn’t a brand-spanking-new-foraged-and-tweezed-food type of place. It is what it is. They know what they are, and now you know what they are. So don’t go in expecting it to be something that it isn’t.
My only suggestion?
Eat. And be merry.
Just make sure you wash it all down with some more snaps.