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The New Nordic Cookout at the Union Square Greenmarket

I’ve only ever visited Denmark once, and that was on a trip to Copenhagen in the early 1990s as part of a business conference.  What I remember aside from the architecture is the breakfast at the hotel with all sorts of meats, cheeses, yogurt, jam, and several kinds of herrings.  I mentioned this to another attendee at today’s New Nordic Cookout at the Union Square Greenmarket, who had lived there during that time and had also experienced this more traditional fare.  Yesterday, however, the focus was on how Danish chefs have become a new standard-bearer for rediscovering local ingredients, flavors, and textures and combining them into more modern-style dishes.

Rene Redzepi of Noma

With Noma having been named the best restaurant in the world, and its chef René Redzepi being heralded as a culinary innovator, it was wonderful to see some of this cuisine come to our shores so that we could experience its beauty and deliciousness without having to board a long-distance flight.  I even managed to catch a glimpse of HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary as they toured the Greenmarket, a food resource Redzepi mentioned during his interview with Food & Wine‘s Dana Cowin that he was a bit envious of us New Yorkers for having.

Adam Aamann of Aamanns-Copenhagen

Claus Henriksen of Dragsholm Castle

Danish chefs Adam Aamann, who will be opening a restaurant in New York in December, and Claus Henriksen were also there, hard at work behind the serving tables to produce tasty nibbles for the audience to sample, as you can see in the photo sequence below.  The smørrebrød and other bites were piled high with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the combinations were intriguing (like the oyster cream) and flavorful.

Ebleskiver filled with Bone Marrow with Rose Petals and Capers

Smørrebrød of Pork Terrine with Apple, Hazelnut, Aquavit, & Kale

Smørrebrød of Shaved Beets with whipped Cheese with Sunflower Seeds

Shaved Root Vegetables with Oyster Cream

Smørrebrød of Juniper-cured Smoked Salmon and Cauliflower Purée with Dill on Rye

Mussel Cream inside of Potato

Raspberry and Yogurt-topped Marzipan Cake

Although I’d probably go back for seconds on everything, as it was all fantastic, my favorite of the dishes was the Marzipan Cake, which seemed to capture not just the taste of almonds, but also some of the mouthfeel of marzipan inside of fluffy cake.  More photos of beautiful smørrebrød created by local chefs and information about Danish cooking were also shown at yesterday’s event on a video of last year’s Smørrebrød Festival at the New Amsterdam Market.  The rugbrød (rye bread) used as the base for the smørrebrød served there was made locally using grain grown upstate through Chef Trina Hahnemann and her Danish Rye Bread Project.  I look forward to exploring other aspects of this cuisine when Adam Aamann’s new restaurant opens in Tribeca in December to see what creations he will bring to New York.

Buon appetito!