Christianshavn Færgecafé: A true taste of Denmark
TEXT: TRINE JENSEN-MARTIN | PHOTOS: MIKKEL BÆKGAARD
For a genuine experience of Nordic cuisine, look no further than the quintessentially Danish Christianshavn Færgecafé in one of the capital’s oldest, most charming neighbourhoods. Here, you can sample outstanding old-school classics with a contemporary twist, served with a side or two of homemade snaps.
When Erik Frandsen took over Christianshavn Færgecafè (CF) eight years ago, he wanted to create somewhere he would want to eat himself, somewhere for the whole family – a space for any celebration or event. “This place is a people place, for children and grown-ups alike. I love seeing a three-year-old with his or her first big plate of our ‘stegt flæsk’ [a much-loved Danish dish of fried pork belly] and to see them return over the years too,” says Frandsen – or the captain, as he is lovingly referred to by staff and locals.
Family and a heartfelt welcome are at the core of CF, both its food and its people. They are self-confessed food nerds, who take everything from their smørrebrød to their evening menu equally seriously. “We want people to get to know Danish food and cooking, and to feel like many of us feel when we sit at our mother’s table sharing a meal with family and friends,” Frandsen explains.
It is about much more than food: the quality is all-important, but the way you eat, the enjoyment and the ritual, is crucial. On their website, they even have suggestions for songs to sing as you toast your snaps and enjoy your food – an element that most Danes recognise from gatherings involving a shared meal.
Snaps does something different
“We want to dust off the slightly old-fashioned and outdated image that snaps has, to give it a fresh identity,” says Frandsen. Craft beer from micro-breweries and whiskey from independent distillers are nothing new these days, he argues, but in some ways snaps is. “Snaps does something very different to other spirits,” he says. “It is perfect for clearing the palate in between dishes and is a game-changer. It sits next to food in a completely different and very playful way.”
Their snaps list currently offers 40 unique tastes and styles, ranging from sweeter ones to savoury or spicier options. Captain Erik is now a snaps enthusiast extraordinaire. “When I first took over CF, I didn’t even drink snaps, so I decided to create one that I liked.”
His first foray into the art of snaps making was the now popular Christianshavnerurten, made with tarragon, which, he explains, goes spectacularly well with their deconstructed, curried herring – a traditional and hugely popular dish on a Danish lunch table or at Christmas.
These days, Frandsen is also partial to their horseradish-infused snaps, the Moby Dick, and enjoys sharing his expertise and passion for snaps making at one of his regular workshops, or ‘snapseskoler’, which concludes with a shared meal and a tasting of snaps. Frandsen is both honest and transparent in what he does and generously shares recipes and ideas.
No frills but lots of thrills
“We are contemporary, not modern, and you will find no foam or powder on our dishes,” Frandsen says. The focus is on serving the same food that you might have eaten at home – food that instantly transports you back in time, yet holds you right here in the present because of the way Frandsen and his team recreate the classics. They keep the ingredients the same but make slight changes here and there, the overall effect still being a great taste of nostalgia. The main drive for CF is not to be at the very forefront of experimental haute cuisine, but instead to serve food that you recognise on your plate. What they do try to be is real, honest and with a focus on the full experience of the Danish kitchen.
The food of love
“I want our customers to feel like they have had a fantastic home-cooked meal, like it was made by mum and consumed in cosy and friendly surrounds,” explains Frandsen. The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ has become very popular in the UK over the past six or seven years and is absolutely key; the atmosphere and banter between customers and crew of the great ship of CF are as important as the food. “It usually takes me ages to walk to the restaurant, because the locals know me and I them, we chat, we connect and engage with one another,” the restaurateur continues.
Christianshavn Færgecafè is a neighbourhood restaurant, a place for all people, where you can expect excellent, old-school food done in a current style; where you will always be warmly welcomed and treated to a new and exciting flavour of snaps to sample. So tread the wooden boards of this much-loved local establishment, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will leave with both belly and heart completely full.
Join Erik Frandsen for one of his hugely popular snaps workshops: faergecafeen.dk/snapseskole. If you can’t make it to Copenhagen, then the ever generous Captain Erik happily shares recipes of some of the firm favourites from Færgecafeen: faergecafeen.dk/opskrift-snaps Web: faergecafeen.dk Facebook: Christianshavn Færgecafé Instagram: @faergecafeen
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