Rain or shine!

I was a little grumpy about the rain earlier this week. Then I thought about it, and I feel like an ungrateful child. I get to go on this fantastic vacation, I’m getting time off and I let a little rain bother me. I realized that I was just making my own holiday miserable and the rain had nothing to do with it.

So I rain proofed myself and went to face off with the rain. I was determined to learn to enjoy this rainy weather and not let it get to me. I was hopped on my bike and peddled through the rain. As it started to pour, I took cover in front of a bakery.

I stood there watch and watched as the rain fell. I had no where to go, no places to be. Then I began to notice…

The rain washed colours off buildings, and onto the cobblestone.

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Mom and Dad alike sheltering their children and getting soaked themselves. Couples holding each other closer to stay warm. Everyone rushing to where they need to be.

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Except for her. She’s learned to laugh and dance in the rain.

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Good food, great company!

I always feel so lucky when I go somewhere, and I get to meet up with friends. Lucky for me, Heidi lives in CPH! Her and her boyfriend (TB) are so sweet for showing me around. Here is the super fun couple!

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We went to Dyrehaven for lunch. It’s a cozy restaurant frequented by locals. The place use to be a bar and then it was purchased by someone else and now they serve smorrebrod as their specialty. The place is easy going, relaxing -very Danish.

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It was a smorrebrod feast. My first was a fried fish smorrebrod with dill, this creamy mayo-like sauce, and some pickles. The second one was a potato with this creamy sauce and fried onions. Both extremely tasty and very filling.

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TB ordered a roast beef and a bacon one.

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Heidi went with a goat cheese salad.

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They also had a very good selection of beer on tap. Being extremely satisfied, we went for coffee and sat outside to enjoy the nice weather.

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Thank you Heidi and TB for being such wonderful hosts.

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I have a confession to make.

So I have a confession to make. I went to Nyhavn for the shot that every tourist takes when they visit CPH. (Can you blame me? It’s so pretty)  Nyhavn is a 17th century harbor.  It’s the image that every foreigner thinks of when someone mentions CPH.  I went an hour before sunset.  The clouds were beautiful, the sky was a rich blue, and the sun was out.  Nyhavn was lively with locals and tourists alike enjoying the weather.

It was picture perfect.

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With a photo like that in the bag, I felt like my trip is complete.  But.. I have a confession to make.  When I got there and started my shoot, I was a little shocked.  Houses were beautiful, people were happy, sun was shining.. the water was dirty.  Actually, the water was SO DIRTY, there were cans, plastic bags, flags…etc floating.  It was gross.

Mind you CPH is a fairly clean city.  No where in CPH have I seen a neighourhood this dirty. (Maybe I didn’t look hard enough)  I consider Nyhavn a city landmark.  It breaks my heart.  I know what it is.  It’s the number of tourists that come here every year, and don’t respect the place.  Leaving trash and junk behind.  But, let’s not blame it all on the tourists.  Locals spend time there as well.

So, I confess that I Photoshopped all the garbage out (above noted photo).  I’m a perfectionist and I just can’t have so much garbage floating around in my photo.

So here you go, for those that love spoilers.  The unedited photo.

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Hi, would you mind taking a photo for me please?

One of the woes of traveling alone, is getting a photo for yourself. Normally it’s fine, I prefer to be behind the camera. But, there are moments where I wish someone would hold the camera for me. Today was one of those days. I visited Kronborg Slot today. Having studied Hamlet so intensely in school, it was one of those moments where I really wanted a GOOD photo of me with the castle.

So, I had to pull a touristy: “Hi, would you mind taking a photo for me please?”

I normally don’t like to give my camera to someone else. Handing over my most valued possession to a complete stranger just doesn’t sit well with me. But if I have to, there are 2 broad groups of people I target.

1. Couples
I normally target couples because there would be 2 of them. If they are tourists themselves, than the likelihood of them running away with my camera is lowered.

2. Fellow Camera User (Nikon users preferred)
Then there are those fellow camera users. I usually check what camera they are using. If they are using a half frame, then I normally set it to AP for them. If they are using a full frame, I normally set it on Manual mode with all the settings I already had -assuming that most full frame user uses manual mode. I assume that because they own their own camera and probably wouldn’t need to steal mine.

I also never hand my camera to someone that looks flimsy, high maintenance people who look like they can’t lift and hold steady my 10lb gear.

Anyways, I side tracked a bit, but for a good reason. Today I wanted a photo with Kornborg Slot. The first time, I asked these 2 nice looking middle aged ladies to help me take a photo. She doesn’t look like she’s ever held a DSLR before, but that’s fine. I switched it on live view, and changed all the settings to automatic for her. So I get into the shot, and she’s fiddling with the camera. Then she looked up from the camera and asked me how to adjust the zoom. I had my wide on for her, so she should be able to get the whole castle and me in it. But she wanted to adjust the zoom, so I showed her. And this was the result:

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This is the picture I took of the castle standing at the same spot as her. I set EVERYTHING up for her, so she can get the WHOLE CASTLE, and not just half of it. Argh. Thanks anyways nice lady.

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So, disappointed, but not defeated, I walked into the castle and it looked really cool. I was standing around, trying to take selfies. Then I saw target #2. Fellow DSLR user (NIKON = BONUS). He was using at D300s, super high end pro full frame. His wife was there too. I had high hopes. I set the settings properly into manual. I got into the shot. He came forward to frame, got down onto 1 knee for a better shot. All I could think of was: “Wow, fantastic!”. He’s framing, he’s getting it from a lower angle, the towers are going to be in frame too!

And here’s the shot:

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He framed it, but heck! WHY IS THE TOILET SIGN THERE! IT COVERED THE TOWER!! I was so upset. I didn’t want to ask him to do it again because I felt bad. And this was the shot he could have taken…

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Anyways, I gave up and did a selfie.

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Getting Lost

Whenever I visit a new city, I always make a point to get lost.  Instructions on how to get completely lost:
1. Throw away map.
2. Take off your watch or leave it at home.
3. When in doubt of directions. Just keep walking.

I watched how cyclists navigate through traffic.  Observing their hand signals, and how they go about crossing intersections.  I’ll be borrowing a bike from Heidi soon.

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Hands down to Danish brick work. It’s amazing. Interesting patterns combined with intricate work.

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And of course, dainty small shops line the streets.

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I stopped by a bakery that had their own stone oven. Heidi mentioned that they were famous for their bread. So I decided to have a prosciutto and cheese sandwich. The bread was made of various grains, nice and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The bakery was cozy, with a nice sitting area.

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After 4 hours of wandering, I ended up back in front of the apartment I’m staying in. Not too shabby for a first day of feeling out the city.

So Danish

After much tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep last night at 3am.  When I woke up it was already 12 noon.  I must have been super exhausted.  Realizing that I already lost the morning, I headed out for Torvehallerne.  It’s one of the biggest markets in Copenhagen featuring the best meat cuts, fresh fish, and small food stalls for people to eat in at the bars or take out.  The market looks very posh and so Danish.  The whole building is class to allow for ample amount of sunlight in and allows those outside to see all the happenings inside the market.

 

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There’s definitely something for everyone.  Cheese shop…

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Bottled juice goodness…

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Danish baked goodies filled the air, tempting all by-passers.

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An abundance of fresh vegetables. Perfectly arranged, grown in a nice shape. The Danes approve.

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Here, I also had my first Mikkeller beer. And let me tell you, it’s so good!! SO GOOD! They were recently featured in the NY Times.  I’m not a big beer drinker, but boy did the beer go down easily with a smoked salmon asparagus smorrebord.  I’m going to make sure I have a few more pints of Mikkeller before I go home.

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And if only I had more room in my tummy..

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I also tried an avocado, citrus, ginger juice from the juice bar. Their tag line? Look good naked! (So Danish) Great message, hits home, sticks with you. Bravo once again to the Danes.

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..and as for my juice? Delicious!! You can barely taste the avocado, but the consistency is there. You can taste the ginger, and citrus.

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And as always, there is a focus on relaxing, comfort and enjoying life. Like these girls..

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And this couple, stealing a kiss behind the lemon tree.

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La Vinia

On Saturday night I was sweped away by an elaborate plan orchestrated by Ru and made possible by R.  I was taken to a surprise birthday dinner with a promise that the food will wow me.

We arrived at a small homey restaurant called La Vinia.  The waiters and waitresses were pleasant.  They were very helpful with the menu and gave some really good recommendations too.  Everything looked so delicious, I’m pretty sure we ended up ordering half the menu.

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Gambas al Ajillo: Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic and Olive Oil.  The shrimp was very fresh. It came out in a cast iron pan that was still sizzling hot.  The shrimp was perfectly done.  I would imagine it would be slight under cooked before it was served, and as the food is being served it continues to cook so that when it arrives on my plate, it was perfect.  Very tasty and fresh.  The garlic does not over power the fresh shrimp flavour.

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Sweetbread:  Sweetbreads or ris are  the thymus  (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) of the calf or lamb.  This was slightly gamey. The sauce was heaven.  It was creamy, with lots of spices, and a bit of carrots.  Perfect for dipping fresh bread with.

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Pimientos del Piquill: Piquilo Peppers Stuffed with a Seafood Mouse and an Anisete cream.  The pepper was cooked until it was soft and tender. The seafood mousse was a light cream, with a bit of a salty seafood taste to it.  There was pieces of crab meat in it as well.  This was added to another personal favourite.

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Calamares a la Plancha:  Grilled Calamari with Chilli oil.  The calamari had a slightly charred flavour to it.  It has that crispy savory taste to it.  It was served with a generous drizzle of chili oil which gave the squid a very aromatic flavour.  It was grilled perfectly, not to raw so that it was slimy  but not too cooked either to make it take like rubber.

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Pulpo a la Gallega: Poached Octopus Marinated in Olive Oil and Pimentón. The octopus was so soft, and so flavourful.  We had to ask the waiter how it was prepared. The waiter said that the octopus was tenderized before being cooked by beating.  Then it was poached for in broth.  I’ve never tasted octopus so soft before.  The chewy elastic texture is completely gone.

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Jamón Ibérico: Spanish Ibérico Ham.  I could seriously eat this all day.  Ibérico is the Spanish’s version of prosciutto.  It was slightly salty, the a similar texture as prosciutto.  Excellent with wine and fresh bread. Writing about this post makes me want to go back from some more ibérico.

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Seafood: We also had this seafood dish which had scallop, mussles, shrimp served with a light tomato based sauce. The flavour was light, not over powering the seafood.  This dish compared to all the other ones was good, but not as outstanding.

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Fideuá: Spanish Catalonia Style Spaghetti Pasta with Shrimp, Calamari, Scallops, Monkfish.  This is a pasta version of paellas.  We ordered it because we though the concept was very unique.  The flavouring used such as safforn, and other spice is like the traditional paella, except it is made with pasta and not rice.  The pasta was thick, perfectly al dante to my taste.  First bite, and this reminded me of chinese noodles. Haha.. I know it sounds weird, but it’s good noodle, with a nice broth and seafood.  Very tasty, and I’m glad we tried it.

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Paella de Marisco: Spanish Saffron Rice with Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, Scallops, Monkfish and Clams.  Paella, the chef’s pride.  The paella was traditionally made with fine safforn spice, infused with flavours of the seafood.  The rice was soft, but not overly cooked.  The flavour was fantastic, with lots of seafood flavour from the shrimp, mussels and calamari. This has got to be the best paella I’ve had since Barcelona. A+++

An assortment of desserts to finish off the night.

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Mango cheese cake

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Lemon Sorbet

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Raspberry Sorbet

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Chocolate Tartufo

Where: La Vinia
Location: Toronto, Ontario
What: Almost half the menu. Too many dishes to list. See above.
Verdict: Highly recommended. Would definitely go back.
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