Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne: A lazy Sunday

Due in Copenhagen for a meeting, my colleagues and I arrived a day early to have time to see some of what the city has to offer.

Copenhagen market digest

I think it is fair to say that we were all bowled over by just how great it is – Danes are such friendly people, Danish streets are so clean, everyone is so unknowingly good looking, and, most importantly, restaurants give you blankets to keep you warm when you sit outside. I mean, in London that just wouldn’t work, would it?!

We all agreed that you can see exactly what the Danish people’s sky high taxes are spent on, and I decided that one day I will marry our Danish colleague Jes (who was back in the office and is blissfully unaware of this plan) so that I can eventually retire to Denmark.


Impossible to take a photo without a cyclist getting in the way….

A lazy Sunday afternoon ahead of us, Jes recommended going to Torvehallerne, or “The Market Halls,” Copenhagen’s biggest food market, located a stones throw from Nørreport station at Israels Plads.

The farmers market, priding itself on having “a fundamental respect for the product, meal and food culture,” (massive thumbs up to that; I love the Danes) happened to be celebrating its first birthday on the day we were there, and had musical entertainment throughout the day, most notably The Bluenette Sisters, a swing trio taking you back to the days of the 1940s.

The Bluenette Sisters

Eating lunch with swing and satire in the background

coffee bean roasting

This coffee-bean roaster operator did confess that, owing to safety restrictions, it was not actually roasting anything… but, nevertheless, the beans on sale by Coffee Collective smelt delicious. (And by the way, coffee beans are greeny blue prior to roasting. I did not know that!)


Open every day and with over 60,000 visitors per week, Torvehallerne has around 60 stalls offering just about anything food related you
can imagine.

In addition to the expected fare (traditional Danish as well as international ready-to-eat food), you can buy cut flowers, kitchen equipment, live herbs… the list goes on.

Samples are everywhere, and I tasted some warming masala chai from a stall owner who spent a year living on a bus in India sourcing the spices for
his stall.


So, what is a typical Danish lunch?

The open sandwich, smørrebrød (Danish for “butter and bread”), is a national Danish tradition. A piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød) with a topping (pålæg), smørrebrød has been a staple on the lunch menu in Danish households since the 1800s, typically eaten by farmers and agricultural workers. A classic low-cost meal, it was originally just a piece of bread used to mop up food on a plate, and developed into a piece of bread with a dedicated topping.

In recent years smørrebrød has been reinvented and has become a trendy lunch, and, with more emphasis on healthy eating, recipes have altered to include less butter and low fat toppings.

Fish cakes

Me with a fishcake, rye bread and remoulade; does that make it a fishcake smørrebrød?

A limitless number of combinations of toppings (pålæg) exists; however the classic choices include:

  • Pickled herring (plain or spiced)
  • Cheese
  • Cucumber, tomato, boiled egg
  • Leverpostej, which is pork
  • Cured or processed meat
  • Smoked salmon
  • Mackerel in tomato sauce
  • Remoulade (mustardy mayonnaise pickle thing)

For further reading on all things smørrebrød, visit the excellent blog

Ailsa and Zoe

Ailsa and Zoe and their pulled pork baguettes

If only a work crisis hadn’t taken place while we were there… though it could have been worse: the market did prove to be a very nice environment to create a “pop up office”, with plenty of food and drink to have at your desk…

danish nougat

Nougat heaven

danish herbs

Danish friske anyone?


Every spice under the sun

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