Eat your way through Copenhagen Cooking

Copenhagen Cooking new edition starts on Friday with more than 150 gastronomic temptations for delight of city foodies.

Eat your way through Copenhagen Cooking
Copenhagen Cooking is the place to explore with food. Photo: Rasmus Flindt Pedersen.
Food lovers will find plenty of reason to be happy throughout the rest of the month as Copenhagen Cooking, northern Europe's leading food festival, kicks off on Friday.
The festival will run for ten days and has scheduled more than 150 events to whet the appetites of foodies. 
The massive offer of events throughout the city include street dinners, organic and sustainable events and cooking classes aimed at children.
“The festival focus is Nordic food culture, but there’s also Italian food, Chinese food, and so on,” Lonnie Hansen, the director of Copenhagen Cooking, told The Local. “The background is Nordic, even though the Danish gastronomy is getting more and more inspired by international food.”
A lot of well-known names from the Danish food world will take part in the festival.
Michelin-starred restaurant Relae, regarded as one of the world’s most sustainable restaurants, will celebrate its fifth birthday with a feast in a park in Nørrebro during the weekend. The event will feature head chef of the world's third-best restaurant Noma, René Redzepi, and other well-known chefs like Chad Robinson and Rosio Sanchez.
Michelin restaurant Kokkeriet will also create a special menu as part of the festival’s concept Taste of Copenhagen, where restaurants and bars across the city will prepare special menus based on festival values.

Harvest feast Photo: Nicolai Engel.
“This year’s theme is local sustainability and togetherness, that’s why we’ll have long tables set up in the street so guests will have the chance to meet new people,” Hansen said. The massive street dinners will be held in Vesterbro and Frederiksberg.
Whatever kind of eating or food-related event your are looking for, you are likely to find it at the festival. You'll be able to do out-of-the-box activities, such as taking part in a day trip to Amager Faelled with a picnic basket provided by Michelin-starred Restaurant Kadeau. If you're more in to a trip to the gastronomic memory lane, you can relive the original 1983 menu from legendary Era Ora’s restaurant opening.

Photo: Rasmus Flindt Pedersen.
If you'd rather make your own food, Copenhagen Cooking can also offer some tricks to improve your skills in the kitchen. You should go to Meyer’s if you're interested in learning everything about Danish rye bread, with lessons on the Danish dietary staple offered in English. For tips on preparing a classic smørrebrød, head to Timm Vladimir’s Kitchen, where you can also learn the basics of the New Nordic Cuisine (in English too).
“Danes has a lot of interest in food culture. They want to experience new things and they want their children to join food culture too.The success of the festival is due to people driven by curiosity showing up and getting involved in the activities,” Hansen said. 

Photo: Rasmus Flindt Pedersen.
With ten days of events, you can choose the best option for you here. Some of them, like the Harvest Festival in Esrum or The Late Night Cook Off, are completely free.
It's worth checking out the interesting free activities list, including the Risotto World Championship on Sunday, August 23rd at 1pm on Frederiksborgade, the 'Arla Food Fest appetizer' on Monday, August 24th and Tuesday August 25th at Copenhagen Central Station or 'Cooking Kids 2015' on Tuesday August 25th at 1pm on Ingerslevsgade.

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Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

From Danbo to Danablu and the Danish feta that can't be called feta - Denmark produces over four hundred thousand tonnes of cheese each year and exports it across the world. So why is Danish cheese so popular, and what are the country's best-loved cheeses?

Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Cheese-making is a serious business in Denmark. In 2021, the country produced a total of 454,500 tonnes of cheese and Danish cheese has won awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The tradition goes back to the Viking era and today, the country’s climate and pastoral land make it ideal for producing cheese (ost). About three quarters of the country’s milk production is turned into cheese, butter and milk powder.

Not only is cheese popular in Denmark, where it’s eaten with pretty much any meal and snack (can you even have a bolle [bread roll] without ost?), it is also eaten around the world in countries including South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria and even France.

In 2021, Denmark exported a total of 401,845 tonnes of cheese, making it one of the top cheese exporters in the world. The biggest importer of Danish cheese was Germany (94,419 tonnes), followed by Sweden (52.924 tonnes) and the UK (42,905 tonnes). 18,097 tonnes of cheese was exported to Japan and 5,657 to the United States.

What types of cheese does Denmark make?

The different types of cheese in Denmark can be hard to distinguish and there are a lot of them. You can quite easily end up with a fridge full of strong smells that you weren’t expecting. 

Danbo, often called ‘Denmark’s national cheese’, is the most produced and consumed cheese in Denmark. It has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning it can only be made in Denmark to specific Danish standards.

Danbo is sold under various trade and brand names, including LillebrorGamle Ole, and Riberhus. Lillebror (meaning Little brother) is very mild and often sold in childrens’ packs, whereas Gamle Ole (meaning Old Ole) is matured for a long time, which means it’s strong and smelly. Caraway seeds are sometimes added to this cheese.

Esrom also has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk. It is semi-soft with small holes and is pretty pungent.

Havarti is one of the most famous Danish cheeses. It’s a bit like a cheddar in that the taste can be mild, but the longer the cheese is stored, the stronger it gets. 

Danablu is a Danish Blue soft blue cheese, similar to Roquefort. It has a strong aroma and a sharp and a little salty taste. Danablu is often used in America to make blue cheese dressing for salads and blue cheese dip for chicken wings. 

A dairy farm in Klemensker, Bornholm has twice been named world champion in cheese making. Photo: Morten Juhl/Ritzau Scanpix

Mycella is a veined blue cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk on the island of Bornholm and is similar to Gorgonzola. It goes well in a salad or cheese platter or even crumbled on top of an open sandwich.

Blå kornblomst, meaning ‘blue cornflower’, is a creamy blue cheese with a mild, slightly salty taste. The cheese is white to yellowish with blue tinges and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk on North Jutland.

Danish rygeost, meaning ‘smoked cheese’ is mild, light and smokey. It originates from 19th century Funen, with some believing it dates back to the Viking Age. 

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese.

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

Vesterhavsost, meaning ‘North Sea Cheese’, is a semi-hard cheese with a slightly salty taste as it is ripened in the sea air of North Jutland. It’s referred to as the Danish version of Gouda. 

Fyrmester or Fyrtårnsost, meaning ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ or ‘Lighthouse Cheese’, is an extra-mature version of the vesterhavsost, aged for at least 52 weeks.

Samsø cheese is similar to Emmentale and made on the island of Samsø in Kattegat.

Hvid ost, meaning ‘white cheese’, is Denmark’s equivalent to feta cheese but uses cow’s milk rather than the goat or sheep’s milk used in Greek feta cheese. It’s milder and doesn’t crumble like Greek feta cheese because it’s made differently, using something called ultrafiltration.

There have been debates as to whether this actually makes it feta cheese. Earlier this year, Denmark lost a case at the European Court of Justice over its farmers exporting cheese outside the EU labelled feta, something only Greece can do. The cheese is sometimes labelled in supermarkets as ‘salad cubes’ (salat-tern).

There is, perhaps, one thing that unites almost all Danish cheeses: they are sliced using the characteristic ostehøvl (cheese slicer), the quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cheese vocab:

Blød ost: Soft cheese

Halvfast ost: Semi-soft cheese 

Fast ost: Semi-hard cheese 

Hård ost: Hard cheese

Ekstra hård ost: Extra hard cheese

Frisk ost: Fresh cheese

Ostehøvl: cheese slicer