In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food

Copenhagen is the jewel of Scandinavia’s culinary scene and in recent years gained the international spotlight thanks to Noma, which has four times been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant. Aside from Michelin starred restaurants and pastries (known here as weinerbrod  or “Vienna bread” instead of danish), I sadly knew little of Denmark’s cuisine. In my opinion one of the best ways to learn about a culture is in the kitchen so on my recent trip to Copenhagen I took a class with Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food to find out what Nordic cuisine is all about.

A quick train ride to the outskirts of Copenhagen delivered me to Mia’s home where she warmly welcomes guests into her kitchen. Her bright flat was efficient and cozy, equal parts Danish minimalism and warmth; which was currently stocked with overflowing bowls of late spring produce. Mia, who is currently pursuing her Master’s in Food Science, has authored several cookbooks and showcases local farmers and food purveyors highlighting the best of what makes Nordic cuisine unique.In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com Mia Christiansen of CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com

After a quick introduction to our fellow classmate Javier, a yoga instructor from Mexico City, we were quickly put to work. Bread has been an integral part of the Danish table for centuries and provides the base of everything from smorrebrod (traditional Danish open faced sandwiches) to desserts. On board for this afternoon was parsnip bread, often served for breakfast or as an accompaniment for dinner; as well as rugbrod, a traditional Danish whole-grain sourdough rye bread that is dense and wonderfully malty. As we busied our hands peeling parsnips and kneading dough Mia instructed us not in times or amounts but rather by feel and intuition. Flour was  added until the dough was no longer sticky and kneaded until it had the “texture of chewing gum”. We set our breads aside to rise and got to work on traditional Danish crispbreads. Again mixing and kneading by feel, we added sesame, flax and dill seeds to give our free-form crackers a little extra texture and flavor. After fifteen minutes in the oven I couldn’t resist sampling the results of my labor; these crispbreads were crunchy and nutty with an herbal pop from the dill, and they were just perfect topped with smoked cream cheese from a local creamery.

In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com

With the breads baking it was time to get to work on the main course. After a visit to her favorite butcher earlier in the day, Mia procured some pork cheeks vacuum sealed with mustard seed, thyme, garlic and juniper. Pork cheeks, typically very lean with a lot of connective tissue, do best with a longer braise.Smoked flavors, long ago necessary as a preservation method, remain a hallmark of Danish cuisine. Hay-smoked oil and bacon provided a smoky base for our pork cheeks while a local beer brewed from hay offered up some brighter notes to the dish.

In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com

As our main course continued it’s slow braise it was time to make our butter — by hand. If you have never whisked your own butter by hand let me assure you, it’s a workout but completely worth it. Creme fraiche, a 15 minute biceps workout and salt combine to produce some of the best butter I’ve ever tasted.

In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com

The bounty of late spring produce would be highlighted in a fresh grain salad. “Grandma Dressing”, a cream based vinaigrette studded with horseradish provided a surprising light foil for pearled barley, cabbage, ramps and freshly shelled peas. Nasturtium and other flowers, often foraged, are frequently featured in Nordic dishes.
In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.comIn the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com After several hours of baking, cooking, talking and laughing it was finally time to reap the rewards of our afternoon’s work. Our table was graced with wonderfully complex breads full of character, richly flavorful pork that was fork tender, and a healthy flavorful salad each of which paired nicely with a selection of some of Copenhagen’s best craft beer.In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food www.casualtravelist.com

Not only was my afternoon with Mia a wonderful introduction to Nordic food and flavors but also introduced me to the Danish concept of hygge; which loosely means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s an atmosphere that Mia fosters perfectly and what makes a day with CPH Good Food a highlight of any trip to Copenhagen.

 

I was graciously hosted by CPH Good Food but as always all opinions remain my own. Please contact Mia at CPH Good Food for information on class schedules and offerings.

55 Comments on “In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food

  1. Totally agree with you that the best way to learn about cuisine is in the kitchen! Would love to do more cooking classes like this, I haven’t done one in years (last one was in India and I still use the curry recipe now!) I think gaining a skill like this that you can use at home is one of the best souvenirs you can get from any trip!
    Michael Huxley recently posted…Experiencing the Wilder Kaiser Alpine Sports Week in Austria.My Profile

    • I agree! I’ll be throwing a Nordic dinner party for my friends in the fall thanks to this class 🙂

    • This class with Mia was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, I definitely recommend it

    • Peru would be a fantastic place to take a cooking class, especially as a vegetarian.

    • Only fresh live yeast is available in Denmark, I’m sure that’s one of the secrets of their amazing bread!

    • I highly recommend a class with Mia, but there are plenty of great places to eat in CPH.

    • What really surprised me was how light and floral Danish food was.

    • I was amazed how how easy ( in theory ) making butter was, its definitely a good arm workout.

    • Mia definitely gave one of the best classes I’ve been to. I highly recommend joining her next time you’re in Copenhagen.

  2. You’ve totally inspired me. I have Norwegian heritage, and I love doing cooking classes when traveling (especially with my kids), yet I’ve never combined the two of them. I was even in Oslo for a couple of days last month with my son and forgot to look for cooking classes. Next time I will!
    Eric Stoen recently posted…Traveling Deeper in Montreal with AFARMy Profile

    • Noma is ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world for a reason, definitely a bucket list experience.

    • Food tours and cooking classes are some of my favorite travel experiences, you should definitely give them a go!

  3. Uuuuum food is one of the main reasons I travel! I did a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand and also loved it! You learn a lot about the culture through cooking and at the end you can taste your own creations. I will make sure to check CPH Good Food when I finally visit Copenhagen!
    Ana recently posted…Southeast Asia – Your packing listMy Profile

    • You won’t be dissapointed, Mia puts on a fabulous class 🙂

  4. I am super excited about parsnip bread – in part because we once over-planted parsnip in our own garden , leaving us with a massive abundance of it. Someone once told me that parsnip was used to make fudge in England during World War II when rationing was in effect – it really is a versatile veggie!

  5. Everything looks so good! I’ve been interested in Danish food for awhile now, since hearing of Noma. I can’t wait to go and experience it for myself one day!
    Vicky and Buddy recently posted…An Ode To BetsyMy Profile

  6. This is a great idea. We’ve arrived in Peru and are thinking that the best way to really dive into the food culture will be a cooking class. This looks like a really enjoyable one!

    • Peruvian food is delicious, I definitely think you should try it!

  7. I’ve never done this…almost did in Italy but opted for a tour instead. I should really try this on my next trip. Looks like so much fun, you learn about the culture and gain a skill, too!

  8. Thank you for sharing. Reading the article, and watching your nice pictures made me both hungry and ready to try some of the recipes 🙂
    Koen

  9. Do you do take out? Amazing, love cooking classes but better still the eating. Very nice pics. This outing will be on our list when we hit Copenhagen

    • Good lighting is key which can be hard in a lot of restaurants.

  10. I really enjoy taking cooking classes – when I travel and at home in Chicago (I recently did a French bistro class here). With the right chef leading the class, you can truly learn. It seems like your experience was just like that, and I’d like to try making bread one of these days. Excellent photos, it’s like I was there with you.
    Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted…Travel giveaway: 1Above® The Flight DrinkMy Profile

    • Mia gave one of the best cooking classes I’ve had. I love making bread by hand, it always amazes me how a few simple ingredients can turn into something so delicious.

  11. Looks absolutely delicious! I’ve been reading a lot about Nordic food recently, never realising how tasty an adventure there could be. One day – thanks for the inspiration.

    • The class with Mia was one of the best cooking classes I’ve ever taken.

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