We’re standing under Copenhagen’s Black Diamond - Schmidt,
Hammer and Lassen’s striking black granite waterside extension to the Royal
Looking out over the dark
choppy water as the wind whips round the building, it’s impossible not to feel
exhilarated. It’s like another world, yet it is only a few hours since we
landed in Denmark.
My husband and
I have already wandered across the city, and lingered in the pretty medieval
courtyard of The Royal Café to eat smørrebrød (open rye sandwiches) before
finding ourselves marvelling at this extraordinary building.
We’re staying at Nimb, a small luxury hotel in the centre of
the city with a Michelin-starred restaurant, a Moorish-style façade dating from
1909, and a terrace that opens on to the Tivoli Gardens. Each of Nimb’s 13
rooms combines antiques and open fires with beautiful, pared-back, modern
The next morning as we munch pastries, we plan our second
day and discuss the Danish attitude towards life - a refreshing mixture of
directness and practicality.
come to Copenhagen to eat Rene Redzepi’s innovative yet dreamy, modern-Nordic
food at his restaurant, Noma.
is unlike anything you may have eaten, with exquisite combinations of raw and
cooked, wild and regional ingredients.
Each dish captures a sense of the Scandinavian landscape, from the
tartar of musk ox with wood sorrel, to turbot with pickled elderberries and
birch-syrup sorbet with ash meringue and honey sauce.
Hardly surprising, then, that aside from its two Michelin
stars, Noma has been voted third-best restaurant in the world in the S.
Pellegrino ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list, with only England’s The Fat Duck
and Spain’s El Bulli ahead.
Our confab results in our walking to the nearby Danish
Design Centre and National Museum, before heading to Noma in Christianshavn.
The former is a must for anybody interested in current design, while the latter
has a superb exhibition of early Danish history, with beautiful early Bronze
Age exhibits. Somehow, exploring fibre-optic lights, flint daggers and bronze
lurs (Bronze Age horns) contextualises and deepens our
enjoyment of our sensational meal at Noma.
The following day we set off for Dragsholm Slot, our rural
thirteenth-century castle lies in the rolling glacial landscape of Odsherred at
the edge of Lammefjorden in northeast Zealand.
It’s only 90 minutes drive from Copenhagen, but we can’t
resist stopping halfway at Roskilde to visit the Viking ship museum.
As soon as you arrive at Dragsholm, you know you’re going to
love every moment. Guests are free to wander around the castle, along winding
corridors and up creaking staircases. You can curl up with a novel on an
Edwardian sofa, or wander out into the grounds, through woods and fields and
down to the beach. Wild flowers and bird song abound, while the huge sky could
be taken straight from a Constable painting. The rooms are more country house
And then there is the
food, which is sublime.
Claus Henriksen is a former Noma sous chef, though his
cooking is slightly softer, and more traditional than Rene Redzepi’s: raw-pea
soup with a crab claw wrapped in smoky bacon, for example, or a scrumptious
morsel of crispy succulent pork - actually roasted pig tail - with a
pork-and-roasted-shallot sauce scattered with raw blackcurrants. Like Noma,
superb wines match the food, and we’re thankful that all we have to do is clamber
up to our bed.