When my brother and I went to Japan, we waited in line for sushi at the fish market for 4 hours. Yes. 4 hours.
Needless to say, I love food. It has always been 'live to eat' and never the other way around. There are articles written out there about our current culture's obsession with food and the endless boards that exist on Pinterest which is everyone's not-so-guilty pleasure. So, I will gladly own up to the fact that, yes, I am a Millennial who is obsessed with food.
Food lovers - you HAVE to go to Copenhagen.
Your first thought might be, "Did you go to NOMA?!" The answer is no, I did not.
I thought about going there and giving myself an insanely expensive treat but I decided that I wanted to keep that experience for later on in my life so that I have something to look forward to (and also to have an excuse to come back to Copenhagen). I laugh about this because it only shows how deep my adoration for food really is. I am literally planning when the peak of my dining experience should be but I have no shame in this arena and neither do my siblings.
Little did I know that some of the chefs who have trained at NOMA have exited and started restaurants of their own - one of them is Christian Puglisi and I basically played in his playground for a large portion of my time in Copenhagen.
If I'm going to go with this playground analogy, this man has the best sand box called Mirabelle, the most wonderful snack tables for recess called Manfreds, the best swing set with trained pushers called Relæ, and the coolest kids in town to hang out with. He also has one of those domes you can crawl over called Bæst but I unfortunately didn't get to try that gem.
The Airbnb I stayed at had a really great book of local eateries that they crafted themselves and I am forever indebted to my hosts for introducing me to this place. I think I came here a total of 4 times. Yes. I liked it that much.
It was such a laid back place to do some work, to read, and to get some wonderful food. The people there are wonderful and there is a glass wall between the cafe and the bakers that make is so delightful to be creepy and stare at the process of all the goodies that come out of this place.
What I kept going back for:
1) The Sourdough Bread. This bread, ladies and gentlemen, is the best sourdough bread I have ever had. Ever. Ugh... I can't even write about it because it's so good. Let's just say that the day I was flying out of Copenhagen to come back to the states, I swung by to grab some to eat on the plane. It's that good.
2) The Cortado. I used to be a barista in Los Angeles, CA and let me tell you how hard it is to steam milk. It's one of those things that people really take for granted and I did so myself until I had the task to create some on a daily basis. Mirabelle does an impeccable job and their espresso is fantastic as well. So. Good.
3) The Plain Roman. This delightful treat is a thin focaccia like bread topped with sliced potatoes and leeks. There were other options available but this one takes the cake. It's so simple and clean but oh so delicious.
4) The Croissant. Oh. My. ... This croissant is amazing. The Danish baker who creates this I found is a young woman (through my Instagram research - basically internet stalking) and she is famous in Denmark for producing these goodies. In their take away menu it reads, "Our croissants are very popular and are ripped off the shelves every morning. Come early or call ahead to make sure you get one," and it is so true. It was only the third time I came to Mirabelle that they had some available.
I didn't feel like sitting at a restaurant but I did want some great food to take home so I figured it was my chance to try Manfreds. The reviews read that their beef tartare was impeccable. I'm actually really afraid of raw meat - I came out of my vegetarianism around 3 years ago but everything told me that I needed to try this dish. I ordered the beef tartare and the green dish of the day.
The hostess was really sweet and made sure I got some of Mirabelle's sourdough bread to accompany my meal. The. Best. Ever.
I ate both dishes in the comfort of my rented apartment and wow. It was delicious. Beef tartare is actually good and I think I may have been introduced to it in the best way possible. And with that bread? I don't think anything can go wrong with that bread.
The green dish had olives in it and that's something that I still can't get around. I can detect those things in their smallest form in pizza so that shows how much I react to it. I wish I liked it though because the rest of the dish was spectacular and I can see how it would've been oh so wonderful if I enjoyed the enhancing flavor.
The very last night I had in Copenhagen was originally planned for dinner with my new letterpress friend, Katrine. We had to cancel but I was miraculously called for an opportunity to eat at Relæ which I had been crossing my fingers for the entire trip.
I wrote that if I were to compare Christian Puglisi's restaurants to a playground that this place would be the swing set with trained pushers and boy was it a blissful ride. All I had to do was sit down and enjoy the acclimation of slowly being pushed higher and higher and then being brought down gently with a joyous treat at the end.
Another addition to this dinner that made it a serendipitous experience was meeting a fellow diner to my right who was visiting from New York. He, too, was on a small sabbatical and it turns out that his girlfriend is in the same industry as me. We had much to talk about throughout the night and it was nice to share a meal with someone who was also about to embark on an adventure of new work and challenges ahead.
Other delightful finds in Copenhagen include:
One of the strangest things I fell in love with in this magical city was oatmeal. Growing up, I didn't even know what oatmeal was until later on in elementary school, didn't taste it until high school, and even then I didn't like it. It always puzzled me how people could eat oatmeal and feel satisfied.
But Grød is so different. They stripped down the humble oatmeal and dressed it up with natural ingredients to enhance its flavor. One that surprised me was Icelandic yogurt which is very similar to greek yogurt. Wow.
Total times I tried different dishes here: 3. It's that good.
Another coveted place that is just as tough to get into as Relæ was Höst. I got a last minute reservation and got to spend some time eating delicious treats, meeting and talking wonderful servers, and reading my book.
The people here were so wonderful and the food was fun and paired with great wine. Something to note about this restaurant is their attention to their dinnerware. Each piece was created and/or selected for the dish in mind which supports the dish to achieve its maximum potential.
The interior is also really magical and quaint and you can tell why they have won 3 international design awards. They were also named the world's best designed restaurant at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in 2014 so there's that.
Service Design Notes: During my dining experiences, a lot of the restaurants had a interesting way to welcome you to their table. They would bring out a little treat for you while you began to browse the menu to figure out what you wanted to eat. This is a great way to welcome users and also gives a way for restaurants to buy a little bit of time. It also makes the introduction memorable as opposed to the standard bread in a basket.
UX Notes: One of the most important things about design is that everything must breathe together in its function and form. I once interviewed a girl for a UX position who stated that "UI is not UX." As we talked more, I found out that she likes to cook and asked her if she just eats out of the pot or pan she cooked from or if she makes an effort to place it on a dish in a way that appealed to her. The answer was the latter. Having visuals support your hard work of research and functional design elevates your design to correctly communicate how you want your users to receive your product. Food and mobile screen? Not so different.