After visiting Denmark, we stopped over in Paris for a week.
Paris is one of our most favorite cities in the world. Probably the city we've visited the most in our travels. So this time we spend much of our time exploring the neighborhoods of Paris and hopefully getting a different perspective on the "city of love". Follow us as we do a quick walk through of some of our favorite neighborhoods.
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Real-time photos on Instagram of our trip from where we are currently:
Thanks, Vu + Bella
We are still recovering from the flu which is pretty much a global epidemic, but hopefully we are really through it this time. So expect more blogs coming soon! Also in Paris, it was hard to find a local French craft microbrew beer. Although we know there are some, most of the beers were international and the closest was probably Belgium beers, which we love. So sorry no GBPI for Paris.
Does good food lead to happiness or is it the other way around? We set out to explore the food scene in Copenhagen to get a perspective on it.
We thought an interesting place to look is at one of the top restaurants in Copenhagen (and the world). With NOMA closed for renovations until Feb 2018 and after considering several well regarded restaurants, we finally decided to make a reservation at Relae!
Chef Christian Puglisi has a meticulous and unconventional approach to food and combining that with an innovative approach to casual fine dining, it made the experience amazing! At half the prices of places like NOMA, it was also more accessible. And to find out that this restaurant was the first to open in a neighborhood “riddle with drug”, as one local article puts it, was astounding. Some say Ralae has helped transform the neighborhood, others will say it was an economical way to start a restaurant. Whatever it may be, we definitely enjoyed spending a morning hanging out at Jægersborggade in Noerrebro where Relae is and warmed up with a tasty bowl of porridge at Grød too!
On the evening at Relae, we began to understand what they mean by “no muss, no fuss” casual dining experience. It meant as you enter the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by one of the friendly chefs, which felt like someone was inviting us into their home and kitchen. He led us past the kitchen towards the dining room. So you cannot miss the energy of the kitchen with the chefs working in unison and the smell of the food was mouth-watering. There was no doubt – our experience had begun.
In the main dining area, we were seated at a perfectly sized natural wood table for 2 under a vignette light. The chef let us know that we will find our menu and cutlery in the pull out drawer at the table. Self-service with our own eating tools, I really like that. As the night progressed, we noticed the same team that serves also works in the kitchen too. Perhaps, there are no servers, just chefs working together to cook and serve and answer questions from diners while they were taken through the experience? We don't know for sure, but what we know is they are very knowledgeable of every ingredient, their origins and took the time to explain things when we had questions. On one occasion, one of the chefs retrieved his iPad to show us a picture of a vegetable we hadn’t heard of. It was definitely like being at a friends house, but you rarely find friends that can cook like this.
With all our senses heightened with anticipation, the crisped sunchoke with juniper cream dip amuse bouche did not disappoint. Being causal fine dining also means the presentation is monochromatic in color but multifaceted in flavors. After 3 freshest display of Scandinavian's pike perch sashimi, seared trout and smoked salmon with caviar, there was this celeriac caramelized cream with coffee and toasted sesame. This was by far the most taste-provoking dish of the evening. Every bite was creamy, hearty, and bursting with pleasant yet unexpected flavors one after another. Next, we found out Relae has their own farm not only for vegetables but for game animal too. With a 19-day-aged goose over dehydrated and rehydrated yellow beets cleverly disguised underneath. The two meld together perfectly with savory goose sauce and intensified sweetness from the beets. Following the goose was the Rød løber (local cow's milk cheese) and blackberry tart to chase the richness before we cleansed our palate with clementine shaved ice over charcoal ice cream. This was one ice cream flavor I won't forget anytime soon! Finally, we came back down to earth with a rustic comfort of a pumpkin tart.
Today, chefs take their skills and creativity to new heights, presenting scrumptious meal and a delightful experience for their patrons. Many aims to fulfill every physical sense with fanciful plating, amazing smells, luscious tastes and even tantalizing sounds to an art form. At Relae, the understated elegance of the presentation and atmosphere is atypical for fine dining, however, these elements only highlighted the caliber of the team and their unique uses of the freshest ingredient and masterful creations. My attention was diverted back to the tastes of each dish and the easy feeling of having a wonderful meal amongst fellow patrons. I can only imagine this level of subtle excellence has been attempted by many but very few are able to achieve. A wonderful unique experience, one can only wish there will be more like this in the future!
Going back to the original question, we don’t know if it takes happy people to create amazing food or if amazing food creates happy people, but the food at Relae made us very happy.
We landed in Copenhagen in early December and made our way to our room in Nørrebro. We generally like edgy gentrifying neighborhoods to stay in, which is often more interesting, but usually because it’s cheaper.
In Nørrebro, you will feel the swirl of all the impactful influences of our time – diversification, local and sustainable, and ingenuity and craftsmanship. Historically it was the working-class neighborhood outside the city limits, but today it is an interesting and affordable places to live and visit. You can also see the amazing impact of immigrants over the years through food and shops. This is a neighborhood, where one in six people carry a non-Danish passport. The neighborhood also has a notorious history of violence and protest, but today it seems like an up-and-coming place to live. Young entrepreneur, artisans, craftsmen picking it to be the places to start building their business. For instance, we lived only a couple of blocks away from Relae, which is one of the top restaurants in the world.
We split our time in Nørrebro and Vesterbro. Vesterbro was going through major renovation while we were there, but it was clear why this was such an appealing neighborhood to live in. The streets were lined with intimate shops, restaurants, and pubs and family strolling with their children was a norm. Or sometimes parents stopping for a quick bite and drink and kids in the stroller parked outside the restaurant. This is something we would never fathom in the US, but common place in Denmark. Vesterbro, like the rest of the city, puts a lot of trust in its fellow citizens.
When we wander through out the city, we continue to see the same things over and over again – trust and respect for others, accessibility of resources, creative and ingenuity that spans everything from foods to architecture, and an active lifestyle. On the latter, it is a sight to see rush-hour bike traffic on major roads like Nørrebrogade, watching mass numbers of bikes orderly maneuvering to get home often in rain or snow. Copenhagen is a wonderfully progressive place!
For more, check out our video about our visit, but here are a few tips:
The Danes are well known to be some of the happiest people on earth, but for Copenhagen, if I had to come up with a brief description, it would be that Copenhagen epitomizes all the best of what makes a hipster community with little pretense. Fantastic! It's a place we can imagine calling home.
P.S. We took some time off in late December for the holidays and now we are both sick with the flu, but expect more post soon!
Grocery Beer Price Index: 18.95 DKK for Stenol Ale 500ml ($3.10)
We visit Copenhagen to see what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. After our visit, we got a little glimpse of why. Copenhagen is a fantastic place to visit for food, architecture, and culture. A place that can only be crafted by happy people!
We forgot to mention in the video that the street food on Paper Island is closed on the 22nd of December, 2017. We were there just a couple of weeks before they closed. Hopefully, they will be back in the new development.
Real-time photos on Instagram of our trip and where we are currently:
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Vu + Bella