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From meatballs to Michelin stars

Think of food in Denmark or Sweden and you can be forgiven for thinking only of herrings and bacon. But Copenhagen and the neighbouring region of Skane in Sweden could be one of Europe’s best kept culinary secrets

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Copenhagen has become a major gourmet destination in recent years with a breathtaking array of inventive, modern and stylish new restaurants opening across the city. Then you only have half an hour by train or car across the amazing Oresund bridge to Sweden’s third largest city Malmo, and the surrounding area of Skane, renowned for fine food, top chefs and the best home-grown ingredients.

The Danish capital has more Michelin stars than any other Scandinavian city – nine in total, one of which is within Tivoli Gardens.

Indeed chefs in the Danish capital often turn to the Nordic kitchen for their influences and ingredients, including fresh seasonal vegetables, wild game, locally caught fish, and smoked meats.

But eating in Copenhagen is also about tradition as well as the latest trends. Here you can try anything from marinated salmon to freshly caught lobster, from red hot Thai curries to traditional Danish ‘frikadeller’ meatballs, not forgetting the typical Danish smørrebrød – open sandwiches stacked with delicacies.

Enjoying lunch or dinner is not only about the food, it is about the location. Cafés and bars are often half-submerged in cellars or located in picturesque historical buildings. Picturesque Nyhavn, the quay where Hans Christian Anderson once lived, is teaming with restaurants in its 17th century buildings. Across the Oresund Bridge lies Malmo and the Skane region, known as the ‘Garden of Sweden’. At the mention of Skane, most Swedish folk think of food, from fine dining to traditional inns, herring, cheese, goose, eels, apples and everything in between. The region is home to several of Sweden’s top chefs and is the place to come for an out of the ordinary gastronomic experience.

The Swedish spring arrives first in Skane meaning its pastures are ideal for raising crops and livestock. The fish season starts with lumpfish which end up in fresh soup throughout the province as early as February. Eel is another Skane speciality, mostly eaten during late summer and autumn. Corn fed chicken from here is found on the menus of Sweden’s top restaurants. Mushrooms enjoys the same notoriety here as in Tuscany, plus the area is known for kale, asparagus, potatoes, rhubarb, apples and blackberries. Game is another integral part of the Skane kitchen: deer, wild boar, duck, pheasant and winter hare. Pork and beef also feature strongly, as in the celebrated Lundaknaken sausage from the city of Lund. Gastronomic delights in Malmo include Johan P, a superb fish restaurant in the city’s market hall; 1 R.O.K., which stands for one room and a kitchen and is one of the best restaurants in Sweden; Sturehof, a Malmo institution offering fine French and Swedish cuisine in elegant surroundings; and Atmosfar, arguably Malmo’s best pavement café. In Sweden it’s as usual to hang out in a café as it is to go to a pub. From April to September the café tables and parasols move out onto Malmo’s main square Lilla Torg and the atmosphere becomes almost Mediterranean.

If you love food, be prepared to leave this part of Scandinavia a few pounds heavier.

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