Once a year, when the strawberry season is in full swing, we head to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, to our favorite pick-your-own farm. I confess, I only eat strawberries when in season, and when I pick them myself. The entire experience can sustain me for a year. I get the fix of all things strawberry by making the seasonal treats that childhood memories are made of: strawberry pierogies, strawberry sirup for winter tea, and this Polish dessert. Recipe below.
3 tablespoon flour
300g powdered sugar
250g unsalted butter
very ripe strawberries
2 packages ladyfinger cookies
Boil milk and completely cool. Beat eggs with flour and bit of milk. Place milk back on the stove and on low/med heat, pour the egg mixture slowly into milk, constantly stirring, until it boils. Let it cool completely.
Beat butter with powdered sugar in a mixer, and start adding, one spoon at a time, the cooled off egg mixture. Again, let it cool.
Arrange ladyfinger cookies on the bottom and sides of a springform, trimming as needed to fill the smaller gaps. I trim the ends of the side pieces by about and inch, so they stand up easy and evenly. Start filling the springform with above cream and strawberry layers. Decorate with strawberries. Chill for at least two hours to set initially, but it is best enjoyed at room temperature.
The story starts in a restaurant with a drawing of a greenhouse in its logo. Instantly smitten, right? I went to Väkst (Danish for ‘growth’) with my Danish friend Sussi to celebrate my birthday. I was not taking any chances. Only few hours after arriving in Copenhagen, I stood at the door right at the opening time, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and giddy with anticipation. Since we were so early, I was able to take photos before the place filled up. But when the food started arriving, I put my camera down to enjoy the red sorrel until the last tiny leaf, and the sourdough bread until the last crumb…And that was just the beginning.
I “maximized” my time in Copenhagen by booking the hotel in the same building, Hotel SP34. It was at the top of my list for a while now, I have seen countless photos on blogs and it did not disappoint. Comfy lobby with a daily wine hour, and a quiet room with great reading light and leather head rest (swoon!) and city views. I just kept recording the Danish bicycle rush hour for Carl on my iPhone!
There was no time for jet lag. Mornings were spent at the bakery 5 minutes from the hotel, Sankt Peders Bageri. A small cappuccino and a raisin brioche bun, with unlimited people watching (and photo taking!) made for great mornings. They also serve lunch sandwiches to go – salmon and cottage cheese was superb.
The neighborhood is great for exploring on foot. Churches with moody courtyards (Sankt Petri), the Copenhagen Cathedral with its restrained but beautiful ceiling, small cafes and then there is Christiansborg, which happens to be the setting for Borgen. Pardon my TV reference here, but this is the only series we ever nearly binge watched and which briefly made me consider learning Danish. Not to mention, I am still searching for the handbag like the one Birgitte Nyborg had in the last season.
Just few minutes walk from the hotel in the opposite direction is Torvehallerne Market, where flowers and coffee were unquestionable delight…
If you have your walking shoes on, head to Nørrebro. My favorite street was Jaegersborggade, filled with small stores, coffee shops, and plenty of space for an afternoon break among the loveliest of the green spaces filled with history – Assistens Cemetery – just around the corner.
My Copenhagen story comes full circle and it ends, for now at least, where it started many years ago. As a child, growing up in Poland, I was given my own illustrated copy of H.C. Andersen’s fairytales. 3 tome collection, which I read over and over. One story, with all consuming drama of a skull in a flower pot and a fragrant jasmine, stayed in my imagination, but I could not recall the title. Just after Copenhagen, I visited my family and my childhood home, and after re-reading several of the stories I came across the one I was searching for. The Rose Elf.