Sunday, September 29, 2019

In Search of a Cheese Danish

I’m not a fan of junk food, donuts, or yeasty cinnamon rolls. But I’ve been known to indulge in a butter croissant or a cheese Danish.

During my weeks in France, I indulged frequently in light, flaky, fresh croissants. Yum. 

When I got to Denmark, however, finding my special pastry proved elusive.

There were plenty of Danes—tall, stout, often blonde. The towering blonde women inspired Pope with wonder.

I spied a few handsome males. This hunk’s at least 6’5”. Buff.

This young man is probably 6’3’. Lanky.

For a tall Dane, it’s easy to reach those overhead racks on trains and planes.

At other times it can be a liability.

But my quest was for delicate pastries with creamy, cheesy centers. A Danish, not a Dane.

The shops sell healthy brown bread with nuts and seeds—delicious with butter and jam, in my opinion. (Too healthy for Pope.)

The sweets include brownies and an assortment of items involving hazelnuts, which are not my favorite. 

After a brief visit to Copenhagen, we fled the big city for rural environs—a windy island, Samsœ, blanketed with potato farms. We cooked up eggs, local potatoes and buttery brown bread toast in our apartment’s kitchen. I found potatoes and a cucumber in a roadside stand.

At the small grocery store in Ballen, the small town where we stayed, I scored an avocado in heavy packaging—probably shipped from Spain or Portugal all the way to the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. 

Ballen is primarily a fishing village but also offers scuba diving, boat tours, and three small restaurants. On the weekend, lots of Danish (people) came over on the ferry. No Danish (pastry).

The restaurants served lots of fish, but the only dessert was hazelnut cake. No thanks. 

We rented bikes in pursuit of coffee shops in other towns. Alas, there was only one such establishment, in the tiny village of Besser, in the middle of the island. It was closed.

The bike ride was cool and windy. At Besser, Pope plunked himself down in a chair and refused to continue. He turned back toward Ballen, vowing to stay inside our apartment with its double glazed windows and radiators.

I persisted for another dozen or so kilometers, all the way to the top of the island. Here, there was nothing but rocks. And wind. And a few Danes strolling out onto a narrow spit of land at low tide. In pursuit of...what? Fresh air? Plenty of that.

The next day, I cycled the other way down the coast, to another rocky beach. 

No other stores. No coffee shops. Not even a beach-side tiki bar. Lots of wind. In fact, wind turbines are abundant, towering above the potato farms.

I tried biking inland to two more towns. Nothing but potato farms and crooked houses. 

You’d be crooked, too, after hundreds of years on a windy island.

The weather turned cold and wet.The gloomy clouds dramatically reflected my predicament. I reluctantly relinquished the rental bike and resigned myself to settling for brown bread for breakfast.

After three days, I persuaded Pope to reboard the ferry to return to the big city, Copenhagen. 

At the ferry’s snack bar, Pope bought me a custard-y almond Danish, a perfectly adequate substitute, though not quite the real thing.

In the big city, I’ll try again. There are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants. If I can’t find a real cheese Danish, maybe I can at least find a cheese quiche served with a flaky dinner roll.

My mouth waters in anticipation.

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