Denmark’s tartlet champions
TEXT: LOUISE OLDER STEFFENSEN | PHOTOS © CAFE ALRØ
Hanne Ovesen and her wife Lene Henriksen had no experience whatsoever within the restaurant industry when they decided to open a café together in 2010. They relocated to the island of Alrø and decided to bring back the old Danish dishes tartlets and lemon mousse. Eight years later, Denmark’s ‘tartlet champions’ have served 108,315 giant tartlets to people flocking in from Denmark and beyond.
In 2010, Lene had a career as a social worker and Hanne worked as a maths and physics lecturer in Horsens. “Oh, we just thought we could do with a bit of a change,” Hanne says, when asked about the reasons behind the switch in direction. “One day, we drove across the dam to tiny, idyllic Alrø and fell in love with this colourful old farm house. This place oozed old-style eccentricity; something we could deliver.”
Lene is also an artist and has worked with locals to make a trail of stone sculptures scattered across Alrø, which tells visitors about the island. The café is a treasure-trove of homemade artworks and oddities, including a bottle-opener collection. “We must offer guests who come all this way a fun, nostalgic experience,” Hanne explains. “What delicious food did our grandmothers make? That’s how we hit on tartlets and lemon mousse.”
“We were young and naïve back then,” Lene chuckles. “I had a silly little 2.5-litre saucepan; now the 20-litre one gets filled up many times a day!” Danish tartlets are savoury shortcrust or puff pastry shells, holding in thick, soupy fillings such as chicken and asparagus or salmon and prawns. Normally small enough to gobble up several, Café Alrø’s tartlets reach the size of about 400 grammes each: They are renowned as the biggest in Denmark and a whole meal in themselves. “We get Copenhageners, Germans, Swedes coming in to sample them, but also, importantly, the lovely locals,” Hanne concludes. “Our record was a guy who ate five, but anyone should feel free to come by and beat it!”
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