How to savor a Nordic feast
Highlights from Edible Brooklyn’s food event
On Wednesday, November 4, Edible Brooklyn held an intriguing program at Brooklyn Brewery, called “How to Prepare a Nordic Feast.” The Brooklyn Brewery was the perfect place for this presentation, housed in some of the original Hecla Iron Works complex, which was built by two Scandinavians, Charles Eger and Nils Poulson. It was renowned for its innovative technology and beautiful decorative works in iron.
At the event Brooklyn Beer was available for purchase, including some with quintessential autumn flavors such as Brooklyn Oktoberfest and Post Road Pumpkin Ale. I choose the latter and it was very tasty. There was also Swedish cider available for tasting from Rekorderlig Cider. We had a choice of Pear or Spiced Apple. I choose the first one and it was impressive—crisp and a little tart.
Revolving Dansk, creator of the Copenhagen Street Dog, was the first presenter. Their slogan is, “It’s Not a Hot Dog, It’s a Pølse.” Proprietor Martin Høedholt moved to Brooklyn from Denmark. He spoke about how he missed Danish hot dogs and how the American ones did not have the same snap.
Did you know that originally the Danes ate their pølse and bread separately? They did so, according to Martin, “so as not to adulterate it.” Today, things have changed; not only is the pølse eaten on the bun, it is also topped with an assortment of goodies.
Martin and his wife Sera’s journey to create the perfect pølse began by experimenting in their Brooklyn apartment. The result is 100% pork beechwood-smoked pølse. They served it in a bun with ketchup, grain mustard, remoulade, raw and fried onions, and last but not least pickles.
They are hoping that the Copenhagen Hot Dog becomes as ubiquitous in New York as pizza. Do they have a fighting chance? They do, from what I tasted. Copenhagen Hot Dogs can be purchased online, at Scandinavian Butik in Connecticut, or at Park Luncheonette in Brooklyn.
The second food purveyor was Bröd Kitchen, located in Manhattan. The presenter was British and explained that she had always been interested in “culinary experiences.” While in Switzerland she came across a brasserie that specialized in New Nordic Cuisine, and she found an entire new way of cooking. “It’s not just about Scandinavian food. It’s about eating and creating,” she said.
The presenter added, “Great bread is a must.” Whimsically, they called up a volunteer, like a magician would do for a card trick. The guinea pig was all smiles and was asked to put together in any order and amount a smørbrød of her liking. She joked that she was well equipped to produce a smørbrød, as she was part Danish.
The attendees were offered three different samplings—roast beef with a tangy mustard, salmon with a smooth undercoat, and something totally untraditional: a sweet and savory concoction with goat cheese and cashews. All were good, but the roast beef won hands down.
Bröd Kitchen is located at 1201 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. Its Facebook page is jam-packed with pastries that will delight your eyes and make your taste buds yearn.
A sweet Swedish woman, Ulrika Pettersson, was the last one to speak about the company she founded, Unna Bakery. “Unna” means to indulge oneself. The owner grew up in the north of Sweden and learned to bake from her grandmother. She and her husband and child decided to have an adventure and moved to Brooklyn from Stockholm about five years ago. She loves it but missed Swedish cookies terribly. So she decided to bake and sell her own. She does so in Harlem at the Hot Bread Incubator.
In her delightful presentation she gave both a historical and social perspective of cookies and the Swedish psyche. But I think what she explained applies to the psyche of all Scandinavians.
She began with the history of the “kafferep” in Sweden beginning in the late 1800s. It is like a coffee party in high tea style. It was a way for women to gather and support each other. “Some say that this may have been the start of the Swedish women’s rights movement,” she said.
It was fun to hear about the unwritten rules of the kafferep: “1. The perfect amount of cookies is seven. If you give too many you are haughty, and if you give too little you are cheap. 2. Set table with fine embroidery and tableware. 3. Know your place. Younger wives have to defer to the older ones. 4. If there is any coffee in the cups keep serving cakes.”
The attendees were showered with samplings of her Dream cookies. I only had one, but could have eaten a dozen easily. Although their initial texture was firm, this quickly changed to light-as-a-kite sailing along one’s taste buds. One ingredient they use is baker’s ammonia. I had never heard of it and asked the miracle worker who made these delectable treats if it actually contains ammonia. Indeed it does. The best way I can explain it is that it makes the ingredients kind of spread out, so they are crisp and airy.
Unna currently offers five kinds of cookies: Farmer, Ginger Snaps, Chocolate Caramel, Raspberry Cave, and Dream cookies. They can be sampled at a few places in New York and one in Connecticut, or you can purchase them online.
It was a great night in terms of ambiance, presentation, and tasty tidbits. Although I learned a lot about the history and evolution of some Scandinavian food, I didn’t learn how to prepare a Nordic Feast. But I certainly did learn how to savor one.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.