Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Some wives drag their husbands to romantic comedies or shopping malls. I drag mine to remote eateries down highways and industrial park roads, for miles, on chilly overcast days, in a foreign country, on an empty stomach, with the possibility that we will arrive past the two hour lunch operation window. 

At the possibility of travel, down the block or across the sea (I don't discriminate), I immediately start to plan where we will eat like a hound thrown a new scent. The glimmer in my eye at the prospect of a new epicurious adventure strikes fear into the heart of my beloved. I'm like a child constantly seeking out the nearest amusement park. For my partner this only foreshadows long lines, too much money spent on ethereal pleasures and questionable restroom facilities. But I live for it.  

I must state for the record, it was Chris' idea to take the 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden early in our recent week long visit to Denmark, and that it was he who suggested going to Saltimporten Canteen after having read an article singing it's praises in my Bon Appetite magazine. And he will be the first to admit this. But be careful what bones you toss my way, I will bite.

It is true however, that I knew, well in advance, that Saltimporten Canteen was located at the end of a long industrial pier with no direct access from the city center, and that according to Google maps it anticipated a 25 minute walk along highways and long, sidewalk-less roads. And they were right! And it is true that I chose not to share too much of this information with Chris. I figured that the pot of gold at the end of a long, rainy rainbow, would more than make up for the highly unpleasant trek to the restaurant.

About half way through, however, I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake. Every exasperated "are we there yet" from Chris turned from annoyance on my part, to inward panic. Walking a long deserted road, using only my phone to navigate us, I began to worry that not only were we going to arrive at the end of the pier to find that they had 1. sold out of all their food because of all the foodie, hipster attention they are basking in at present, 2. that the line would be around the block and more waiting would incur filled with sighs and glares or 3., worst of all, there would be no restaurant at all, and Chris and I would be in a self-inflicted Waiting for Godot foodie Hell, without even a turnip or carrot to chew on. In Sweden. 

Well, lets just say we made it and might I suggest taking a taxi from the train station, as we discovered upon arrival that the restaurant takes credit cards and so the few Swedish Kroners we had just changed over from Danish Kroner, would not have been wasted on the door-to-door service. Live and learn. But on to the food.

Saltimporten Canteen looks like this from outside:

And like this from the inside:

And it works like this, the food is prepared by NOMA graduates in a different location in the morning, brought to the restaurant before opening, and then lunch is served from noon to 2pm. And that's it. There are two options, a meat option and a vegetarian option along with freshly baked bread you slice yourself, wine, beer and water, and coffee with milk and sugar for dessert.

At about 1:30 on a Monday the place was about half full with what seemed to be a nice, local crowd, chewing away, some quietly doing business while they ate. I chose the meat dish and Chris ordered the vegetarian. It was brought to our table (although I think that's just because we looked like harried foreigners close to fainting, most people just waited at the counter for their bowls) I sliced some bread, water was poured, Chris washed his hands and we dug in.

Chris had Cauliflower on a bed of grains and yogurt (?) with raw shaved cauliflower, a Swedish berry broth (tasting a bit like a kumquat) and sprinkled with leek ash.

I had stewed lamb resting on braised rhubarb and yogurt with shaved cauliflower, lovage and chervil and a light sprinkle of sea salt. I was in heaven. The bread was awesome. Chris agreed his meal was delicious too, and the tension began to dissipate. A nice older couple drove up and sat just opposite us and in my foodie buzz I considered asking if we could bum a ride back to the city, but after food and hydration, we sucked it up and walked 25 minutes up a different but equally unpleasant route.

I don't think we shall be returning to Malmo anytime soon. Perhaps ever again. But I am certainly glad we went. Speaking for myself, it was the best lunch I've ever had.

If you want to make a Saltimporten lunch at home Bon Appetite has a lovely selection of recipes following an article on the restaurant, with no walking required.

(not for the faint of stomach)

Upon arriving back in Copenhagen at our hotel, Chris proceeded to get sick, very sick. Undoubtedly food poisoning. To the point that I considered calling a doctor or taking him to the hospital. It passed after 12 or so hours, but it was fierce and swift.

In recounting our story to friends later I cracked a joke, farm-to-table-toilet! But it wasn't funny while it was happening. Some days later a friend told me that 70+ people got severe food poisoning from NOMA, perhaps a risk in the whole foraging-farm-to-table trends. I hope those preparing food in this new and burgeoning cuisine can figure out how to keep their food as safe as it is delicious. I mean come on guys. I cook in my bathroom!