There is nothing we like more than trying pastries from around the world, so we were delighted to visit a new bakery in Andersonville in Chicago that celebrates the neighborhood’s Scandinavian heritage: Lost Larson ( 5318 N Clark St Chicago, IL). Lost Larson specializes in traditional Scandinavian pastries made with the highest quality ingredients. The bakery itself is bright and clean, and there are even some comfy booths for seating.
We have been to Lost Larson a few times, and we have yet to try something we did not love. We think that the croissants are particularly good. The scrumptious chocolate croissant has a touch of cardamom, and there is also a Danish riff on a croissant, the Tebirkes ($4.50), which has an almond filling and is covered with poppy seeds. M was head over heels for the cinnamon roll ($4.50), which was subtle, not overly syrupy or sticky. The cardamom bun ($4.50), a Swedish classic, was also superlative. They also have seasonal specialties in the pastry case like Saffron buns for St. Lucia’s day in December (unfortunately they were sold out when we got there).
A full selection of beverages are available including espresso drinks, tea and a matcha latte. Recently, we also sampled a special elderflower mulled apple cider. Don’t sleep on the breads displayed behind the counter either, we were in love with the slightly-sweet Swedish limpa bread with fennel, anise, and orange peel. There are also a few savory open-faced sandwiches (known as smorrebrod in Denmark) with eclectic toppings like avocado and pickled herring ($8.50-10) if you are in more of a lunch mood. Though Lost Larson may be a bit more expensive than other bakeries, it is worth every penny!
The call is coming from inside the house! This may be the first time that I have written a post about a place from inside the place itself, so here I am sitting in Copenhagen Coffee Lab (R. Nova da Piedade 10, 1200-298 Lisboa) writing this post! The coffee scene in Lisbon is very particular. The coffee is very strong, comes from only a few national producers, and is usually taken in tiny shots like espresso standing up at a bar. Barring that, you can get various dilutions with milk and sugar. When espresso exists it is often in the form of Nespresso pods, which seem to have taken the entire city by storm. All of this is fine, but sometimes you just want some really good coffee. Thankfully, Copenhagen Coffee Lab, a new third wave coffee shop, has opened in the cute neighborhood of São Bento.
In Scandinavia coffee is king. While in Copenhagen we tried what was purported to be the best coffee in the world. Copenhagen Coffee Lab makes no such bombastic claims, but I can definitely say that this is the best coffee I have had in Lisbon. And, this place is actually run by two Danes, and imports all of their coffee from the Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Copenhagen, making it sort of a cross-country mini-chain. At Copenhagen Coffee Lab (Lisbon) you can get your full range of espresso-based drinks, from a single shot to a flat white to iced coffee, a dirty chai latte and beyond. For those with more refined tastes you can also get filter coffee made in a V60 (4€), Aeropress (4€) or French Press( 6/10€).
For the non-coffee drinker there are hot teas, chais and house-made iced teas (a rarity here). They get their Chais from David Rio in San Francisco, and they are very tasty, though sometimes they will run out for a week when more is being ordered from San Fran. Along with the full coffee, there is a nice selection of foods and snacks including Swedish style kanellebullar cinnamon rolls, muffins, knækbrød flatbread with spreads, yogurt, oatmeal and creative salads for lunch. This is the perfect place for vegans or vegetarians, or anyone who wants a laid-back brunch with great coffee.
Moreover, what drew us to Copenhagen Coffee Lab is that it is also a great place to study and work, which is no secret because the place is full of people with laptops on most days. True, this may also be a little off putting (and we are contributing to the problem) but there are still plenty of people just chatting. There is also a larger communal table in back where those working tend to congregate. The crowd seemed to mostly be foreigners, and my hunch is that Lisboetas have not quite embraced this type of third wave coffee that deviates so far from their traditions (and there are no pasteis de nata sold here). Whether you are looking to use the free Wifi or not, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is a must for any coffee fiend in Lisbon.
We arrived in Denmark with a near-complete ignorance of Danish food. Not on purpose of course, but knowing no Danish people or restaurants in Chicago, we only have our perusal of the Nordic Food Labs Twitter account to go on. On our way back to Chicago from Europe, we happened (well, opted) to have a 12 hour layover in Copenhagen. Even though we had very little time, we were determined to make the most of it. We got up early, and set out to the center of town on the weird little operator-less, futuristic monorail from our airport hotel. We do know the country is purported to have some of the best coffee in the world, so we made that a priority.
The purported best coffee in the world is served at Coffee Collective (Vendersgade 6D 1363 Copenhagen K)which now has a mini empire of shops in Copenhagen. We visited the location in Torvehallerne, an interesting place to visit in its own right, because it boasts over 60 vendors under one roof.
At Coffee Collective, there were two varieties of single origin coffee: Kenyan and Guatemalan. We ordered a cortado and hot chocolate from a pleasant barista with accentless English (like most Danes seemed to have). Both drinks were good, but the coffee was a little steep at about $8 USD. We think you may have to try for yourself to see if this is indeed the best coffee in the world, though M thought the hot chocolate was excellent.
After coffee, we wandered around the Torvehallerne a bit more to check out the other stores, which included cafes, greengrocers and bakeries. We supplemented our coffee with cardamom and cinnamon rolls from Laura’s Bakery in the same market (20 K apiece), which were quite good. We were pretty excited to see that they are actually called “Cinnabuns” in Danish, too. We took our breakfast to eat on the wooden tables flanking the market, and as you can see from the photo below there are truly bikes everywhere!
We wandered the pleasant and orderly streets until we found a lunch place that seemed to strike our fancy. We happened upon the cute and trendy Ricco’s Kaffebar (Strandboulevarden 98, 2100 Copenhagen) and we knew it fit the bill. In addition to coffee and baked goods, Ricco’s had a selection of traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches, Smørrebrød. We ordered a caramelized potato open-faced sandwich with Brunede Kartofler, or caramelized potatoes, and a goat cheese sandwich on rye. Both were tasty and surprisingly filling.
Despite being a relatively chilly country, Danes are also big on ice cream. You will see ice cream shops everywhere, including this classic shop by the water boasting a giant cone statue – Vaffelbageren (Nyhavn 49, 1051 Copenhagen). Other top choices for ice cream in Copenhagen that are more unique are Siciliansk Is (Skydebanegade 3, Copenhagen 1709) and Ismageriet (Kongelundsvej 116, Copenhagen 2300). Siciliansk Is specializes in authentic Italian gelato, and Ismageriet specializes in local, seasonal Danish flavors.
Though we were only able to visit Copenhagen for a short time, it was enough to make us want to come back for more. Copenhagen is one of the top foodie destinations in Europe, and there are enough places to fill weeks of eating adventures.
I recently learned about the Nordic Food Lab, and I have never heard of anything like it before! The mission of the Nordic Food Lab is as follows:
Nordic Food Lab is a self-governing organization run on a not-for-profit basis. Established in 2008, we work to investigate the idea of deliciousness and its interconnected systems. We explore the raw materials of our region, the flavours that say something about us and imbue the foods we eat with a connection to this place and this time.
The lab is the brainchild of René Redzepi, the owner and founder of Noma, considered one of the best restaurants in the world. It is not a lab in the strict sense of the word, but rather a place to experiment with the latest intersections of taste, chemistry, flavor and even the idea of dining itself. Chefs, scientists and anthropologists alike all collaborate on lab projects. It also appears to be right on the water, which really appeals to us!
Waxing Plums at the Nordic Food Lab
The ideas coming out of the food lab are extremely avant-garde, and by just poking around on the blog you’ll get an idea of what the mad scientists are up to. For example, learn about the flavor science of vinegar, or using wax to ferment plums. The lab even received 3.6 million Danish Kroner ( Over $600K US) to conduct research on edible insects. There is definitely something to be said for the Nordic countries being on the cutting edge of cuisine. We are curious to see what the Food Lab will come up with next.
We’ve never thought of potatoes as a sweet dish, but Kalle Bergman’s post about Brunede Kartofler (Danish Caramelized Potatoes) on Honest Cooking definitely intrigued us. As opposed to the salty mashed potatoes we enjoy in the US, the Danish go the sweet route with this traditional Christmas side, which is an excellent match with heavier meat dishes. Brunede Kartofler are deceptively simple, and consist of peeled new potatoes, pan-fried in butter and sugar. In order to cut through the heavier dishes, you will often see the meat and potatoes cut with the tangy cabbage slaw, Rødkål.
Like many other counties, Denmark celebrates Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras – Fastelavn – with merriment, rich treats and other festivities. But you’ll never guess where it pops up outside of Denmark – Brooklyn. Apparently there is still a yearly Fastelavn celebration going strong in Sunset Park, at the 120-year-old Danish Athletic Club. We love hearing about hidden cultural pockets like this, still surviving after 100+ years.
Now here’s an intersection of world cuisine and food trucks we had never considered… being a chef for a cycling team in the Tour de France. The Velo News blog has an interview with Hannah Grant, the official chef for the Danish team Saxo-Tinkoff. Chef Granthails from Denmark, and has been the team chef since 2011, and has also recently published a cookbook, “The Grand Tour Cookbook” (English translation coming soon). Beyond typical considerations of the kitchen, she also has to deal with stocking days of food without pit-stops (such as when they are in the Alps) and the specific nutritional needs of advanced athletes. In another interview on VeloVoices, chef Grant details a typical day on the road. You can find out where Hannah and the team are on her Twitter or her blog DailyStews.
We recently wrote about the vibrant coffee culture in Scandinavia, particularly Norway. Adding credence the near-mythic status of Scandinavian coffee is “Bean Everywhere” a wordless video tribute to Scandinavian coffee by the South African Coffee publication, The Coffee Mag, with the much different Turkish coffee in the mix as well. If you are a coffee lover it is definitely worth a watch.
Semla (or as it goes by many other names: fastlagsbulle, laskiaispulla, or fastelavnsbolle) is a Scandinavian pastry strongly associated with Lent in Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. Semlor (plural) used to be eaten on Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, however, it is now eaten throughout Lent, especially on Tuesdays. Semla seems pretty easy to make – and consists of a cardamom flavored sweet roll filled with whipped cream and almond paste. During this time of year, all of the bakeries in Scandinavia stock semla, and it is the perfect snack to enjoy with your afternoon coffee break, or fika. For those outside of Northern Europe, Camilla’s Cravings has a recipe for Semla.
Welcome to Eating the World! We’re two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.To contact us for partnerships or just to say hi, email us at eating the world (at) gmail.com
Eating The World · We're two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.