I happened to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in the little Danish town of Odense, about two hours’ drive from Copenhagen. Odense is most renowned for having been the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, and it shows. The quotes from his fairy-tales emblazon even the walls of the local Radisson Blu, enlivening the otherwise bland, if comfortable, interior of the chained 4*.
However, my real reason for driving through the dark Scandinavian evening away from the firework-sparkling capital lay in the culinary realm rather than in the literary one.
The restaurant, Den Gamle Kro (Overgade 23), was housed in what used to be a city inn dating back to 1683 – so, my history geek side was satisfied along with my all-devouring side. I would have claimed it to be built in Tudor style, but the last Tudor queen was entombed precisely eighty years before this half-timbered house was erected. But the building’s dark, visible beams have called up precisely that era in my mind; a sort of architectural frankness of an early age.
The New Year’s Eve dinner itself was sublime; a set menu, every dish set strictly to follow another, yet none of them disappointing. The mushroom soup we started with was thick and warm and hearty, and called to mind the warm fare served during long Northern winters for the more elegant patrons of the bygone inn.
The lobsters served next were, therefore, a little surprising with their lightness and tenderness; this dish was compact, white, and airy.
It was, as it turned out, a respite before the great meat tenderloin, and an even greater prodigy of choice on my dessert plate. I settled for vanilla ice cream and strawberry pastry, this being able to sail into the new year with sweetness upon my tongue.
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