Memorial Day Inspiration: Danish Brunch



With Alder Lane Eggs, Katz Sauvignon Blanc Vinegar, St. Benoit Yogurt and Black Pig Bacon I brought home from Bi-Rite, I recently went about returning to my happy place;  I highly recommend it to fill the luxurious time of a Memorial Day Weekend at home.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Denmark. You know, that place somewhere over there in Scandinavia, where people ride bikes, sport trendy blond haircuts, lounge on designer chairs, and drink schnapps. Nope, not Sweden. I’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors about Denmark, and have spent years trying to debunk the myth that Cheese Danish is the national breakfast of the Vikings. It’s herring on rye bread washed down with a Carlsberg. duh.
All kidding aside, my absolute favorite part of Danish culture is their fascination with brunch. I’ve always been a fan of breakfast, and I was ecstatic to find a whole culture that may be slightly more obsessed than I am! I spent most of my weekends in Copenhagen discovering the breakfast gems of the city, and had a meticulous method of ranking an outstanding brunch. You see, there are many, many factors to a delicious Danish brunch.

Alder Lane eggs: taste the rainbow!

First of all, the Danes are serious when it comes to cafes. I’ve never been more comfortable, cozy and content while lounging around with friends; the neighborhood restaurants provide board games, down blankets, candles, and near-perfect music. Cafes are open from the wee hours of the morning until…the wee hours of the morning! You can have a beer at 10 AM, or a coffee at 3 AM. Anything goes! Most importantly, Denmark is the land of “hygge,” or coziness, and it shows in their hospitality. It’s all about spending meaningful time with friends, and I certainly did my share of that over brunch.
The second most important factor in Danish brunch is understanding the simple notion that humans don’t like to make too many decisions, certainly not before they’ve had their stor latte, and certainly not about their food in the early morning.  In Denmark, you don’t have to. Sweet, savory, salty, spicy, crunchy, cold, hot, pickled… you name it and it makes an appearance on the danish brunch plate. YES, all on the very same plate. In fact, the Danes make it simple for you: order either the “meat brunch” or the “vegetarian brunch” and you’re good to go. None of this American tradition of substitutions.
Having moved to San Francisco from Copenhagen, I attempted to introduce Americans to my new found love of the all-inclusive breakfast. My friends tried to reason that it’s just called “brunch” here, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. “Oh no,” I’ve argued,”It’s different.”  My only solution has been to recreate my own Danish brunch, almost every weekend, and get as many friends on board as possible.
I’d like to think that my homemade brunches rate high on my personal BGS (brunch grading system). The key criteria of a successful brunch can be divided into many categories, including Quality of Ingredients, Variety of Product, Presentation, Uniqueness, and Experience (hold up: I need to clarify that this is a system that I personally invented. It’s not a Danish thing, it’s an Alli thing. Don’t go quizzing your Danish friends on their knowledge and opinions on the BGS).  In fact, I’ve shared a few photos from my most recent brunch so that you can judge for yourself! I’d say that it fairs pretty well, but was lacking an essential piece of cheese and rye bread, and could have used some pate and cornichon, or some grilled vegetables. It’s all about diversity on the plate, mind you.

My trusty co-chef Ian, ready to dig in

I hope that you’ve gathered some inspiration for your long weekend, and that you’ll find me in the market to talk about breakfast ideas, Arne Jacobsen, or even The Little Mermaid (who knew that was originally a Danish fairytale? A very dark one, in fact). Go on, light some candles, get cooking and let me know how it goes!



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