Eating Eurovision – Denmark

May 16, 2009

Denmark Ball

If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say, ‘Eating Eurovision‘ then um, where have you been?! If you follow me or any of the other participants on Twitter, you surely couldn’t fail to notice the desperate pleas for help. Our challenge (set by food journalist Andrew Webb), was to each draw a Eurovision participating country and then go forth into the city with the aim of seeking out some traditional cuisine. To be perfectly honest, I thanked my lucky stars when I pulled this Danish beauty out of the bag and tried not to show too much relief when others plucked countries like Moldova.

 My first investigations yielded the suggestion of Madsen restaurant in Kensington and, although it does look rather nice, I wanted something a bit more traditional, more full-on nitty-gritty hardcore Danish. My trusty friend google turned up ‘The Danish Club‘ (a stones throw from Green Park tube), founded in 1883 and patronised by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark no less! Full of excitement, I was straight on the blower to the lovely Lizette Bang, who invited me (and my mate) over for a traditional ‘Danish Platter’ – result!

I will admit to feeling a little out of place when I rocked up in my usual clobber to find something akin to a beautiful stately home awaiting me. It was the kind of place where you automatically start whispering and worrying about your posture – pillars, chandeliers and paintings with eyes that follow you around the room. The staff inside were warm and charming however, and fears of not being worthy slipped away as we moved through to the dining room to begin our Danish adventure.

 We kicked things off with a strong, dark and super malty Danish beer which Lizette tells me may have been ‘Christmas Beer’ (Juleøl) – so popular that the Danes drink it all year round. A measure of seriously potent Aquavit (Akvavit) arrived at the same time but (on the advice of our waiter) remained untouched until the food arrived – the idea being that you sup it as an accompaniment to the herrings on the Danish platter. You take a bite of herring, followed by a sip of Aquavit.

 The platter is apparently a very traditional meal, typically served at lunchtime and bulging with fish, fish and more fish. Oh, and meat. As suggested, we started with the herrings (my favourite part of the meal). There were three kinds – the first marinated in Madeira, the second straight up pickled and the third served in curry sauce – all sweet, soused and incredibly soft, almost buttery in texture. Among the other fish we devoured were smoked eel, fried plaice, prawns and smoked salmon. Among the meats, a Danish meatball (frikadeller), crispy bacon and pate with rye bread. It is the use of rye bread which makes Danish cuisine different from that of other Scandinavian countries apparently – the bread is spread with butter and the fish piled on top to make an open sandwich, or Smørrebrød.


Amongst all that fish nestled some welcome crunchy beetroot and mystery pickle, which my friend and I tried and failed to identify as pickled pear. Together with some crispy fried onions, the whole plate was a fishy, meaty extravaganza of contrasts although in the end, it defeated even two ladies with seemingly bottomless pits where our stomachs should be.

At this point the restaurant was really filling up, as was the surrounding bar. I imagine this place is a real haven for the Danish community in London – there are some 600 members of the club, although Lizette would like to encourage more of the 40,000 strong Danes in the capital to sign up. I left the Danish Club feeling rather privileged actually, to have been so generously invited and to have enjoyed such warm hospitality. A huge thank you to Lizette and the staff at the Danish club for making my Eurovision challenge a success and a pleasure.

Posts from the other participating bloggers here.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Su-Lin May 16, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I really enjoyed Danish food when I was in Copenhagen (ok, so I also really liked the Danish hot dogs…). That platter looks so good! I want to try this place!

    Su-Lins last blog post..Eating Eurovision: Moldovan Food in London

  • Avatar
    Reply canelvr May 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    That platter does look delicious. But the club is members only, right?

    canelvrs last blog post..Eating Eurovision: Azerbaijani food in London

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    Reply Lizzie May 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    How lovely the Danish are, to invite you there! Mmm herrings.

    Lizzies last blog post..Eating Eurovision: Lithuania

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    Reply Kavey May 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    One of my sister’s good friends is Danish and has stayed with my sister in London numerous times, last time was for about 3-4 months. During that last visit, she taught me how to make traditional frikadeller and the traditional gravy that is served with it! It took me straight back to childhood experiences in Sweden (yes I know they are separate countries but the meatballs and gravy are virtually the same). Mmm!
    Is the Danish Club open to non-members?

    Kaveys last blog post..Boston Baked Beans with Pork Belly

  • Avatar
    Reply Chris Pople May 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I think the platter looks lovely! Again, just goes to show all the best places in London are members only 🙁

    Chris Poples last blog post..Eating Eurovision – Finland

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen May 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    This looks like a fantastic meal, Helen. Reminds me of when I lived in Norway! Love Scandinavian cuisine!

    Jenn AKA The Leftover Queens last blog post..Finest Foodie Friday – May 15, 2009

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    Reply Linda (aka goodshoeday) May 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    This looks really good. Well done for getting in there. I loved fish platters like this especially smoked eel (which you can get quite easily in Suffolk). Yum.

    Linda (aka goodshoeday)s last blog post..Eating Eurovision: Part 2 Russia – bring on the blini…..

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    Reply Jonathan May 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Smørrebrød has to be one of my favourite words when written in English. But when it has ‘o’s with lines through it’s just brilliant.

    Looks like you had a great time. I’m curious to know more about the curry sauce.

    Jonathans last blog post..Eating Eurovision, Turkey – Antepliler on Green Lanes

  • Avatar
    Reply OysterCulture May 17, 2009 at 3:06 am

    What a fun challenge and a great way to explore a cuisine.

  • Avatar
    Reply Helen May 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Su-lin – ooh, what’s different about a Dannish hot dog then?
    Canelvr – I’m afraid so…
    Lizzie – If only we had known what was coming next…
    Kavey – I’m afraid not. The frikadeller sounds great though – recipe?!
    Chris – Indeed.
    Jenn – You lived in Norway? Didn’t you live in Scotland too?
    Linda – I love smoked eel too, shame it is quite expenisive. Probably because I always buy mine in Borough Market though.
    Jonathan – Well, the curry sauce was basically like eating Coronation chicken but with fish in it. It was ahem, interesting!
    Oysterculture – A fun challenge indeed. We only had one day to do it too and although I was nervous at the start I’m actually glad because it made us get out there and get on with it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Gourmet Chick May 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Great idea to go to the Danish club. I love the Smorrebrod (can’t find the strike throughs on this keyboard) on a trip to Copenhagen last year. Perhaps lots of Smorrebrod and smoked eel is the secret to being as good looking and all round cool as the Danish!

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    Reply Mark May 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    This sounds really great. And the Danish platter looks like a fantastic thing. Aquavit is pretty dangerous stuff, we had some at uni because we saw Keith Floyd drinking a load of it, oh how fickle and silly we were 🙂

    Marks last blog post..If I Were a Brewer…

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    Reply Danny May 17, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    The platter truly looks delish and as for the beer, well looks like everyday is Christmas Day in Denmark. Can you buy it from Utobeer I wonder?

    Dannys last blog post..Eating Eurovision – Germany

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    Reply Ollie May 18, 2009 at 8:01 am

    You got doubly lucky this time – a country with more than decent food, and an invite to a members-only place. Lovely post.

    Ollies last blog post..Eggs Baked with Spinach and Ham [Recipe]

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    Reply MsGourmet May 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

    You have all done such an outstanding job – I think you have done Terry Wogan proud!

    MsGourmets last blog post..First Offerings

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    Reply Vigfus May 20, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Mystery pickle: Probably “Asier” – a special type of cucumber, halved, de-seeded, filled with salt, emptied and pickled with pepper, mustard seeds, chili etc. They have the same texture as a firm pear, a slightly acidy but mild taste.

  • Avatar
    Reply Nancy December 30, 2009 at 5:01 am

    I just found a most unusual Danish Pastry recipe using margarine. I tried it with butter and it was perfect. My sis says in the 1950s women were given the recipe booklet in an attempt to sway them toward using margarine; but we all know butter is better.
    This is truly an heirloom cook-booklet!

  • Avatar
    Reply Helen December 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks all for the comments!

    Vigfus – brilliant! Thank you for taking the time to identify the mystery pickle.

    Nancy – Well I never! I’ve never tried making Danish pastries myself but it looks like this might need to change. Of course, I agree that butter is always better!

  • Avatar
    Reply mia October 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    May i use the image of danish platter?
    im Korean and i need to make a presentation for my school homework but i couldnt find the image in Korean website.
    if would be nice if you allow me using it. I will write where i got the picture

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Mia, Yes sure, no problem. Helen.

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