Jutland’s new Nordic cuisine

Danish capital Copenhagen and its culinary prowess has snatched the international headlines over the past five years with chef Rene Redzepi’s two Michelin star restaurant Noma taking the title of ‘World’s Best Restaurant’ for four years out or five since 2010.  It is therefore hardly surprising that other regions in Denmark are also successfully turning the taste buds of foodie connoisseurs and making their play for distinguished international gourmet titles.

Vivid colours are a feature of New Nordic cooking
Vivid colours are a feature of New Nordic cooking

None more so than North Jutland … Stepping up to the mark in 2015, the North Jutland head chef at Svinkløv Badehotel, Kenneth Hansen is set to take on the prestigious biennial Bocuse D’Or world championships in January after his successful silver placing in the European heats.  Following in the footsteps of 2013 silver finalist Jeppe Foldager who also hails from North Jutland and 2011 winner Rasmud Kofoed from the two Michelin star Copenhagen restaurant Geranium, Hansen is seen as a prime contender to take the coveted award, which has been described as ‘the Olympics in the restaurant world’.

With the region of North Jutland providing a plethora of delicious produce, ranging from the very freshest of seafood to scrumptious forest pickings, local chefs have creatively regionalised the concept of the ‘New Nordic Kitchen’ to offer an excellent taste of this part of the country.  Highlighting the finest in their menus, many pay homage to the source of the ingredients which include the likes of the much sought after European oyster, pink lobsters and mussels from the Limfjord; air-cured ham from Ålbæk; Rold Forest woodland mushrooms; Lindegaard dairy’s goat cheese and Vildemose potatoes.

For a journey into to North Jutland’s many delights, the following makes an excellent start to a world class culinary trail:

Salad using garden grown flowers
Salad using garden grown flowers

Svinkløv Badehotel, Fjerritslev
 Home to Kenneth Hansen’s award winning à la carte restaurant, the historic Svinkløv Badehotel is a charming historic seaside retreat set amid rolling dunes just yards from stretches of pristine white sandy beach.  Surrounded by a protected area of heath, ponds and pine forest, the restaurant attracts diners and hotel guests from afar who come to savour this unique spot and the award-winning cuisine that has set Kenneth amongst some of the world’s best chefs.

Villa Vest, Lønstrup
 With a prime location on the beach in the seaside town of Lønstrup, close to magnificent drifting sand dune that engulfed Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Villa Vest is characterised by waves lapping at the restaurant door, romantic sunset vistas and the beauty of the surrounding nature.  Providing inspiration for the restaurant, the menu features delicious combinations of local seafood, locally raised meats and locally made cheeses such as freshly caught Monkfish with clams, pork rind and cabbage, Lobster with local Svenning plantation apples and hazelnuts and Danish cheese with candied nuts.

Fusion, Aalborg
 Set right on the water’s edge overlooking the sparkling Limfjord in Aalborg’s newly rejuvenated waterfront area, Fusion takes the very best of local North Jutland produce and mixes it with both European and Asian gastronomy to offer an assortment of delicious taste sensations.  With the ‘Gourmet’ à la carte menu offering eclectic dishes such as Roasted foie gras with green Thai mango, apple, shiitake mushrooms and ramson and Turbot with tataki langoustine, tomato-chilli -lemon grass and lobster sauce, diners can also choose from an array of freshly made sushi derived from the locally caught daily catch.

Mortens Kro, Aalborg 
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Mortens Kro has long been a must for the gourmet connoisseur.  Said to have put North Jutland on the culinary map, the restaurant is the creation of one of Denmark’s leading chefs, Morten Nielsen, who has been at the forefront of the new Nordic Cuisine movement since its earliest days.  Combining a chic Scandinavian designer interior, swish Champagne Bar, Chef’s Table and open kitchen with a deliciously inventive locally sourced menu, Mortens Kro has continued to offer an exceptional evening to ‘dine out on’ (especially if having the signature 7 course gourmet menu). On a smaller scale but equally tasty, Neilsen’s new waterfront restaurant at the Utzon Center provides a literal smørrebrød of the delicious Danish snack with the option of other light meals.

New Nordic fish salad
New Nordic fish salad

Restaurant de 2 Have, Skagen
 At the top of the sand dunes where the two seas meet at Grenen, Restaurant de 2 Have is a perfect way to get a real taste for the most northern tip of Denmark. To an expansive backdrop of wild 360° sea and dune vistas, chef Krestian Nilsson is gaining a reputation for producing dishes with great depth and purity of flavour.  Developing a concept which he refers to as his ‘cool climate kitchen’, he utilises only local seafood and regional meats, combining these with herbs, plants, fruits and flowers from the area, to produce an impressive array of inventive dishes which are both modern and respectful of traditional Danish cooking.  Complemented by one of the most extensive cellars in Denmark, the restaurant tops in terms of wine as well.

Brøndums, Skagen
 Housed in the late 19th century Brøndums Hotel – a favourite haunt frequented by the famous colony of painters whose artworks are housed at the The Skagen Museum, the restaurant has long been a central focal point for its visitors. Offering a mix of classical and seasonally inspired dishes with a new twist, its 140 year old history remains as impressive as its modern day menu which comes mainly from locally sourced ingredients.  Given the painters appreciation of great wine, it also continues to stock an extensive selection of ‘old world’ vintages from France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Bryghuset Vendia, Hjørring
 With the winning combination of the Brasserie, Gourmet restaurant and Brewery, Hjørring’s stylish Bryghuset Vendia is fast becoming one of the most critically acclaimed eateries in the region.   Relying on old fashioned craftsmanship in the brewery to produce a selection of high quality bottle and draft brews, Chef Kristian Rise takes a slightly more complex approach in the kitchen.   Balancing classical cooking methods with gastronomic innovation and the best of local raw materials, he produces dishes of notable complexity and flavour.  Offering a choice of menus, the emphasis is on affordable dining in the Brasserie and total degustation in Gourmet with a 12 course set menu.

Fresh salmon salad
Fresh salmon salad

Sallingsund Færgekro
 Overlooking the Salling Sound on the Limfjord and surrounded by the magical wilderness area of Legind Bjerge, Sallingsund Færgekro is built on the water’s edge where there has been of royally licensed inn since 1767 and under the current ownership of Jens-Peter Skov has very much maintained its royal connections.  A purveyor to the Danish Court for royal family celebrations, Skov’s cuisine is certainly fit for a Queen having supplied the wedding breakfast for Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.  Popular for its mix of  ‘New Danish Kitchen’ and traditional inn cooking (both of which focus on fresh locally sourced ingredients), Sallingsund Færgekro also has the added attraction of the largest wine list in Jutland.

Nørlunds Gæstebud, Rold
 On the edge of the ancient forest Rold Skov in the picturesque grounds of the historic 16th century Nørlund Castle, the aptly named Nørlunds Gæstebud (feast) takes its inspiration from the surrounding area. Believing that proximity and simplicity are key to creating a dining experience that not only looks, tastes and smells good but surpasses expectations, the menu often feels as if is has just been picked from the neighbouring forest with seasonal dishes such as Game Consommé with pear and chervil, Smoked Venison with pickled porcini and rosehips and Venison with potato rösti, parsley, wild berry and mushrooms sauce.

New Nordic dish
New Nordic dish

Ruths Hotel, Gl. Skagen
 Thorsten Schmidt, the internationally acclaimed chef behind what was regarded as one of the most innovative kitchens in Denmark,  – ‘Malling & Schmidt’, has infused the kitchen at Ruths Hotel with a new energy following the opening of ‘Ruth’s Gourmet By Malling & Schmidt’ earlier this year.  Known for his pioneering Nordic molecular gastronomy (which has seen him likened to Heston Blumenthal), Thorsten’s inspirational menus focus on regional ingredients, clevering playing with tastes and textures, to highlight the diversity of the region. Running alongside Gourmet, Ruths Brasserie continues to offer quality classic and modern French fare as developed under the former French master-chef Michel Michaud.

With thanks to  http://www.visitdenmark.co.uk

Bruce McMichael

I am freelance journalist and published author focusing on food and drink; business startups and enterprise; culture and travel. I have also written about the global upstream oil and gas industry, shipping and current affairs. Based in London, I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur.

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