Thursday, September 19, 2013


We noticed the thin traffic as we cabbed into Copenhagen. After being dropped at the well-located First Hotel Kong Frederik (Kong means King in Danish), we used what little energy we had left after the long plane ride to stroll to a nearby outdoor restaurant for a light dinner and beer. Our room was wall-papered like a library.

Next day, we were planning our sight-seeing route when we read that cars are subject to a 105 - 180% tax in Denmark, the lower rate applying to small cars and the higher to larger cars. At minimum if you purchase a $30,000 car, you will pay over $60,000 for it. No wonder people are devoted to bicycles and public transportation.
Lotsa bikes, few cars
Everything is expensive in Denmark or seems expensive to foreigners. The minimum wage is about $20.00 an hour and prices relate accordingly. Taxes are high on everything, but the government recently repealed the world's first "fat tax" which added 9 - 20% increase to foods containing more than 2.3% fat. Didn't work to curtail fat consumption - only drove consumers over to Germany or Sweden to stock up on butter, oil, sausages, cheese and cream. A modest dinner for two will be $100.00 if you're lucky and don't drink more than a single glass of wine or beer. We ate at "Salt" where the restaurant looked like this (empty) and they dithered around about our lack of reservations, finally seating us.

Richard and the bill
The food was terribly expensive and just OK. We felt like this statue on the City Hall when we got the bill.
Just opened his tax bill!
Noma, voted best restaurant in the world for three years running, was within walking distance of our hotel. We could afford only to look in the rain-streaked windows. It was the one drizzly day of the trip - Debra and Zouzou, just back from hiking 125 miles on the Haute Route in the Alps, barely noticed the weather.
Debra and Zouka
Our days of eating this kind of food are over - it's just not worth the money ($220 for 7 courses) and effort;  the novelty wears off in a hurry. I get more pleasure from reading a good report on this kind of meal, than I do from actually eating it. Here's a link to Sue Dyson and Roger McShane's excellent account of their Noma experience from 

The idea of a savory donut with a fish poking through doesn't float my boat, but I like the photos.

"Next came a visually stunning snack in the form of a savoury doughnut Aebleskivers with a small fish poked through it. Inside was a ball of lightly pickled cucumber rather than the more traditional apple (aeble) and the doughnut was sprinkled with a topping of vinegar powder to counteract the natural sweetness of the dough."
Radishes planted in "hazelnut" soil:
"Then came one of the classic NOMA signature dishes of a flower pot with radishes planted in hazelnut soil. You scoop up the soil and an emulsion that lies below the soil to taste the deliciousness of the whole. You eat the radishes leaves and all - so fresh and perfect."
Instead of the twists and turns of food artfully disguised as something else, we enjoyed a straight forward traditional Danish Christmas dinner at Pok, where the atmosphere was cozy, service friendly and food hearty, in particular the cracklings rimming the untaxed fat on every pork slice. Hats off to Debra for this excellent idea!


  1. I love that your travel stories usually seem to end up with a flagon of beer. I will have you know that the Fallbrook Brewery is now open and we treated ourselves to a flight os stouts and porters yesterday. The coffee stout is incredible, what a nose!

    Richard looks a tad depressed looking at the final verdict, er, bill. Have a wonderful trip if you are still away.

  2. I'd love to have the books wallpaper, but not that donut!