I chatted with long-time friend, talented graphic designer, photographer and credible food enthusiast Nicole (Nika) Nyholt about her experiences with local European flavours and favourites.
You’ve eaten in multiple cities and countries around Europe, what’s the most memorable destination for you in regards to food and why?
I would say that Copenhagen is one of my favourite destinations for flavour but also for the overall eating experience. The atmosphere and aesthetic of each restaurant is so carefully crafted; they’re really on top of their design and the branding is impeccable. I mean, the whole city is photograph-worthy. The food is also to die for.
What’s the food like in Copenhagen?
The central idea around the food in Copenhagen is quality. I remember my friend and I went out for a coffee one day and I ordered this really delicious raspberry smoothie that was probably the best smoothie I’ve ever had. I think it was nine dollars or something, it was so expensive but so worth it; you could tell it was made with pure ingredients. I forget the name of the place, but it was nicest coffee shop I’ve ever been to. We sat by a window sipping our drinks and watched the beautiful people ride by on their bikes; it was a perfect setting.
Another thing you must order while in Copenhagen is a traditional Danish ice cream. They top their ice cream with fancy marshmallow foam and red jelly, which you can see in one of my photos. Also, one day my friend and I went to our school mate’s place and his Danish boyfriend made loaves of fresh bread and pistachio spread. The pistachio spread was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted; I think about it all the time. We had such a nice lunch with just a few home made loaves of bread and spreads. I think one of the breads even had fresh spinach and cheese baked into it. Breads and spreads – so simple yet so good. The perfect way to describe the food in Copenhagen is quality over quantity. They don’t have too much at once but everything is impeccable. They serve the best of everything.
Now that I think of it, I don’t even have a favourite city to eat in; I have two or three favourite foods from each place I’ve been.
Can you name a few of your favourite foods to eat while travelling Europe?
The gyros in Mykonos were a huge stand-out for me, especially when there were fries inside. The best calamari I’ve ever had was at this little rustic restaurant on the beach in Rhodes; we sat facing the ocean. The calamari rings were massive yet incredibly tender; you definitely can’t find calamari like that in Canada. It also came with home made tzatziki and a beautiful horiatiki.
The gelato in Mykonos was life-changing; I’ll never forget that white chocolate cone made with fresh cow’s milk. I also love the Speculoos gelato that you can find around Italy.
The beef Carpaccio in Florence was delicious, I can’t leave that out.
What dishes would you recommend to someone travelling to Holland for the first time?
Croquets, you’ve got to try the croquets. Dutch cheese is also a must, they’re known for their amazing cheeses in Holland. And of course, Hagelslag! It’s funny because when I go to Holland I stay with my family so I get a true picture as to how a Dutch person lives and eats. Every morning for breakfast my cousin would put out a loaf of bread and a selection of beautiful spreads. Again, northern Europe is huge on their bread and spreads! It was the best because some mornings I would top my bread with peanut butter, chocolate Hagelslag, and strawberries and that would be breakfast. Another morning would be brown sugar and rhubarb on toast. The choices were endless.
Oh also the pancakes! How could I forget about the pancakes?! These are a must-have when in Holland. They’re slightly thicker than a crepe but thinner than a traditional Canadian pancake and are usually served with different toppings like ham and cheese, fruit or Nutella. Everyone ate pancakes, especially at the music festivals; they would serve them in long cardboard take-out containers.
Which pancake toppings were your favourite?
The apple pancakes for sure.
Moment of truth: would you rather eat pizza or pasta?
This goes against everything I believe in! If I have to answer I’d say pizza if it was Hawaiian pizza but pasta if it was seafood pasta. I would never be able to choose between Hawaiian pizza and seafood pasta – they’re even. Although generally speaking, I think I would go with pizza, I don’t think much beats pizza to be honest. OK, pizza is my final answer.
I agree, pizza wins.