Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn Cooking and Voting

Cold weather has come to stay in Copenhagen. Our morning bike rides include bike seats with ice and wearing long johns and gloves. The inside of our apartment is currently 13C/55F (but I refuse to turn the heat on until December!). This cold weather, both inside and outside, means hearty, warm meals for dinner, like this crostata with roasted beets, caramelized garlic, goat cheese, and pecans.
Bobby and I fell in love with roasted beets while living in France. Our favorite salad, which we ate almost every day and wrote about here, was arugula, roasted beats, soft goat cheese, and walnuts. This rustic tart is obviously inspired by our beloved salad. And, as much as I love to complain about how expensive it is to live in Denmark, beets are actually quite cheep. I picked up 1.5 kg/3.3 lb at the market for only 5 kr./86 cents!
All sorts of squashes and gords have hit the market. I bought a butternut squash one day without any real plan of what to make with it. I stumbled across this recipe for creamy butternut squash soup and had some fun with it. Instead of the sherry called for in the recipe, I used cognac. I also swapped the leeks with an onion and a few shallots. I didn't add the cream at the end, but instead sautéed some smoked duck breast slices and added the rendered fat to the soup. Garnished with the sautéed duck and accompanied by some bread with herbed goat cheese, we had a tasty Autumn-inspired meal.
This is the first American presidential election held since we moved abroad. At first I didn't think I should vote: I don't plan on moving back to the States, so why should I have a say in the politics? However, a French friend of mine convinced me to vote by stating that American politics affects the entire world (and especially Europe), so I should cast a vote for Europe. So Bobby and I voted! It was a tough choice between Roseanne Barr, Barak Obama, and Mitt Romney, but I think we made the right choice.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bobby's birthday lunch/Meal of a lifetime!

Bobby had a birthday on Monday! On the day of, we had a nice meal at home, shared with friends Leah, Flemming, and their awesome son James. Leah and Flemming, who you may remember from when we visited them last March, were in Copenhagen for an appointment at the American embassy. It was so nice to meet James and to have friends help celebrate Bobby's special day. The day after Bobby's birthday was also a really special day: we had lunch at Noma, the world's #1 restaurant! I made the reservation in June, and am still amazed that I was even able to get a reservation!
Our lunch, which took 4 1/2 hours, consisted of 20 different course (not including the 3 little desserts we had with coffee) and 7 different wines (of which we had multiple glasses). Our first course was this edible centerpiece!
Another course included the mind-blowingly-delicious pig skin with a black currant topping, reindeer moss, and a mussel with an edible shell.
All of the courses were not only delicious, but beautifully plated. This little plate of salads, edibles flowers, herbs, and compound butter was added to a hot pan with an eggs (the dish called 'The Hen and the Egg').
I was constantly smelling everything and asking questions about the various ingredients. The waiters were unbelievably knowledgeable about everything on the menu, from the way a dish was prepared to what the oil was infused with to the very time and place where the fresh herbs were picked!
Here is the menu of our meal. This was a truly amazing and special experience. One might call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I don't want to say that because I hope to go back to Noma one day!

Happy birthday, my darling Bobby! May we share many more once-in-a-lifetime experiences together, and may we share them more than just once.

Some new apartment stuff

In the month of September, we added a few things to the apartment. One of our friends moved into a smaller place, so he sold us this sofa bed and a coffee table for the nook. I was really happy to get rid of the old couch (it was so ugly that I can't find a single photo of it... I have been avoiding photos of it, I guess), which had come with the apartment and was such an eyesore. This 'new to us' couch is perfect for the music room! I think the color looks nice against the grey walls, and it's nice to have yet another sleeping option for guests.
Here is the coffee table, which fits perfectly in the nook.
We also got a new TV table for the dining room. Again, it looks so much better than the old stand (pictured here) we were using. It's also nice to have a way to hide all of the cords.
When Dad and Gloria visited, they bought us some really nice house warming gifts! Gloria bought us 8 wine glasses, which was great because we were down to only 3 of the cheap Ikea ones. Our new glasses, which you can see here, are designed and made by a Danish company. Dad bought us the lovely kitchen island pictured here. It is so nice to have the extra counter space, and I love that the island is mobile. In this picture, two of Bobby's birthday cakes sit on top of the island.

Bobby and I also bought a new washing machine, which isn't pictured because it's hard to take a nice photo of a washing machine in a bathroom. Our old one, which came with the apartment, died quite violently and unexpectedly. Though the unexpected cost of a new machine wasn't fun, it is really nice to have a good, modern, reliable machine.

Visit from Dad and Gloria

After a few months of no blogging, we're back! Sorry about the absence. The academic year started on 3 September and both Bobby and I have been busy with work. We were able to take a bit of a break a few weeks ago, though, when Dad and Gloria came for a visit! Visiting in late September after their two week driving holiday in Ireland, we got to show Dad and Gloria our new apartment. It meant a lot to Bobby and me that they were so happy with our home. Aside of apartment stuff and some touring in Copenhagen, we also took a day trip to Sweden. After a 45 minute train ride from Copenhagen, we arrived in Lund. Lund was founded around 990, at a time when the southern part of modern Sweden was a part of Denmark. It wasn't until 1658 that the land was handed over to the Swedish crown. The Lund Cathedral, pictured here, was built in the 1080s, it was technically a Danish cathedral.
In the huge crypt underneath the catheral, there is a giant carved into one of the pillars. Legend has it that when the cathedral was being built, local troll Finn the Giant offered to help with the construction. When the cathedral was finished, the troll became angry (something to do with a lady troll and being tricked by the bishop), so the troll went to pull down a pillar in order to destroy the cathedral. Somehow, the troll was instead turned into stone just as he was about the pull the pillar.
In addition to some colorful folklore, the cathedral also hosts an amazing astronomical clock. Constructed in 1424, this still-working clock kept time for Lund for over three hundred years. We were lucky enough to be in the cathedral when the clock struck noon. Two knights joust on top of the clock, then the Middle Age Christmas carol In dulci jubilo plays on an organ while 6 wooden figures pass by Jesus and Mary. It was quite a special sight!
Aside from the cathedral, Lund is also home to Lund University, the largest university in Scandinavia. The university traces its roots back to 1425, but the current university was founded in 1666 (when Lund was part of Sweden, not Denmark).
This building, which is the main building of the university, was built in 1874.
The inside of the main building was amazing! This is one of many rooms that we peeked into.
After visiting the university, we walked around the town, where we saw quite a few lovely buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dad and I agree that a lot of the buildings looked Flemish and very similar to the buildings we saw in Northern France.
After a fun morning, we ate lunch at the Lund Grand Hotel. The meal was fantastic! I had Swedish meatballs, which came with home-made pickles and rich mashed potatoes. It was a great way to recharge before heading to the next part of our Sweden day trip, Malmö, where we had a lot of fun wondering around.