To say that Denmark is having a culinary “moment” isn’t entirely accurate. The truth is the country has been at the forefront of edible innovation for well over a decade. New Nordic cuisine was thrust upon the global stage in 2003 when chef René Redzepi launched Noma, and the iconic restaurant remains one of the world’s toughest reservations. That style of cooking — artful, delicate, with a focus on fish and vegetables — is now prevalent well beyond the canals of Copenhagen where it was born. Ironically, though, as it has spread, New Nordic is defined more and more by its setting than it is its presentation.
Denmark holds over a thousand years of well-preserved history. Many of its medieval castles and fortresses loom large over the flat, rural grasslands. A handful of them provide more than just a portal to the past. They are grandiose platforms for world-class dining. It’s become something of a trend for big names in New Nordic, disillusioned by city life, to set up shop in these remote hideaways.
The best way to experience this phenomenon is by tasting your way across the Danish kingdom. There’s a lot to sample, but it’s sandwiched into a relatively compact space. At 43,000 square kilometers, Denmark is just a little smaller than Ohio. Most of the noteworthy dining exists on one of two islands: Zealand, containing Copenhagen and its surrounding metro area; and Funen, a coastal landscape at the mouth of the Baltic Sea. For the adventurous gourmand, a fairy tale awaits. It finds form within the dining rooms of Denmark’s culinary castles.
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