Copenhagen is the type of city where you walk into a store and you want to buy everything: chairs, light fixtures, a $100 pillow you have no use for. Danish design is famously simple and functional and, well, gorgeous. But if you don’t have the extra bucks to spend—or if your shopping time is extremely limited due to a tagalong toddler, as was our case—you’ll have to satisfy yourself with some oohing and aahing and moving right along. Fortunately, there are other ways to take a little bit of Denmark home with you. Here’s what we brought back, pictured above.
Danish rugbrød, or rye bread: Not just any rye bread, but the super dark, dense, seed-speckled rye that Danes live and die by. We got ours at the excellent local bakery chain Lagkagehuset, which has a branch in the airport, thus letting us continue at home the ritual we began in our Copenhagen apartment of beginning the day with a slice of thickly buttered rye.
Clockwise from top left:
Snaps and bitters: On a last-minute run through Magasin, Copenhagen’s nicer version of Macy’s that includes a grocery and wine store, we grabbed bottles of Aalborg akvavit and Gammel Dansk bitters (the latter is a gift for someone who will appreciate it). Also called snaps, we didn’t love the aquavit but it’s such an integral part of traditional Danish dining that we nostalgically wanted to see it on our home bar. We also believe in its digestive properties, so this will be something to break out after dinner parties.
Pufferfish: Our five-hour plane delay home meant we could skip over to Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet), the terrific national aquarium that’s a convenient five-minute bus ride from the airport. This toy from the gift shop bought us an hour of peaceful play from our 18-month-old on the flight home. Score!
Local craft beer: The local beer we didn’t get to in our rental fridge is a common stowaway for us. These are both from Copenhagen’s Amager Bryghus, which several beer geeks in the city cited as their favorite area brewery.
Øllebrød: We tasted a modern, absolutely delicious twist of this porridge, made with rye bread and beer, at the excellent “new Nordic” restaurant Geist (pic here), but we couldn’t find it more traditionally prepared anywhere. I spotted this mix at a grocery store and knew I had to have it (thought I did have to send a photo of the instructions to my Danish friends for translation!). Just add water and heat. I will be trying it out as soon as we finish our rye bread!
Läkerol: This licorice was a parting gift from a local friend, happily accepted because there is no good salty licorice anywhere in the U.S.
Kex choklad: This Kit Kat-like Swedish chocolate-wafer bar was a spontaneous purchase at the Malmö train station, during our day trip to Sweden. One of us is a sucker for regional candy! (Me, obviously.)
Mouse on wheels: Another tiny toy for our little guy, bought at the wonderful Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in nearby Humlebæk.
Kay Bojesen songbird: We needed to take some Danish design home with us, and the iconic wooden animal figures by Kay Bojeson are a great bet in the under-$100 category, found in nearly any home-design store. This gray guy is called Ernst, named for the designer’s father, but our son knows him as “Ducky.”
What’s your favorite souvenir from a faraway land?