Dinner at Noma in Copenhagen: A little more than finely polished silverware

While Copenhagen has long been considered a leading European city in terms of fashion and design, until recently the culinary delights to be found here were not exactly seen as one of the city's strong points. That is, restaurants (and food in general) in Copenhagen has rather lagged behind other cities of Europe (and elsewhere). But as the restaurant scene in Copenhagen continues to develop, it is fast changing for the better - from the high end on downwards.

Noma, a restaurant on the waterfront in Christianshavn, has leapt to the forefront of the high end thanks to events over the past while.

Noma was recently awarded it's second
Michelin star and has also just been ranked No. 15 in the world on Restaurant Magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants - apparently a rather influential magazine in this area, if you're into those sorts of things. Naturally, price is not exactly factored into these rankings and awards - so bring your credit card.

Actually, the full Noma gastronomical experience (a 7 course meal with plenty of wine) will set you back about 1500 kroner per person, which some would argue is a pretty reasonable price to pay for the privledge of dining at one of the best restaurants in the world.

However, if you should want to pop by Noma for a quick bite, plan a few months in advance for it as the restaurant is
almost fully booked until August. Myself, I think I'll bank a couple more paycheques before I get around to booking a table.

An amusing side note regarding Noma. A friend who dined there a few months back suffered an unfortunate case of food poisoning following the visit - apparently that didn't happen to the critics and reviewers from Michelin or Restaurant magazine.

Aha! Gotcha!

An oddly satisfying moment occurred a couple nights ago coming home on the metro from visiting some friends out in Amager. Satisfying because it proved that even in Denmark, a place where there is a bureaucratic process for everything and, more importantly, a person responsible for overseeing each of these processes (and making sure every one is followed correctly and in a timely manner) - oversights do happen.

Even lapses and oversights that would no doubt be considered rather serious by those of a more bureaucratically-oriented disposition (which is certainly not me). In fact, this one could even be given the onimous sounding classification of a safety issue.

at Lergravsparken Metro station an elevator inspection date had actually passed without the scheduled inspection occurring. You heard it here first.

It's reassuring knowing that even in Denmark the bureaucrats and inspectors are human. Oh, and we opted to take the elevator, anyway.

better hurry up with that inspection boys, March 19 is coming up...LAST MONTH!!

Feist concert in Copenhagen cancelled - damn! (to be rescheduled...)

I was rather disappointed when I received an email in my inbox today informing me that the Feist concert in Copenhagen tomorrow (that I was supposed to attend) has been cancelled.

Last time Feist played in Copenhagen, she put on a great performance - it was a sold out show at Lille Vega for 300 people of so. This one was supposed to be at Store Vega in front of an even larger (and again sold out) crowd...apparently it will be rescheduled.

About Feist.

Feist is one of those artists that just grows on you. It doesn't take long. She writes brilliant songs that are seductively simple. Her voice is utterly unique and her videos, though relatively simple productions, have this compelling quality about them that just kind of grabs you. Just like her concerts.

My first introduction to Feist was about 3 years ago, one of those seemingly random happy coincidences that occurs from time to time. While passing through Calgary during a visit to Canada in 2004, Feist just happened to be playing a concert in town that night. I'd never heard of her, but a friend we were visiting there was a big Feist fan, and he suggested we go.

As it happened, Feist actually grew up in Calgary, though at that time she was relatively unknown - there and in the rest of Canada. She first gained a measure of popularity in France and England and a few other countries around Europe, before people back in her home country began to catch on to her. So all of this made for an excellent backdrop for an introduction to Feist's music.

Here's her latest video from her new album (The Reminder) for
one two three four. It's almost like a dream which fluttered into reality from some deeper subconscious level. It's just so damn uplifting, you gotta smile watching it.

And here's a video from her last album (Let It Die), another catchy song called one evening.

Denmark: That country of shiny happy people (actually the happiest in Europe?)

So that's it, Danes are the happiest in Europe according to this recently released survey (or at least according to this recently released survey). Really. It's true. The statistics tell the story.

From The Economist.com.

Still, if you ask the average Dane how they feel about this idea, they will almost universally scoff at the notion. The feeling is generally that things could always be better.

However if you ask me, well, I think it could well be true.

Naturally there is always one thing or another could be improved. The amusing thing is that in Denmark, whatever your particular quibble, there's probably somebody already looking into it, working diligently to change things. And you can probably find their phone number and email address. And they'll almost surely get get back to you (and promptly) if you drop them a message. And this kind tends to soothe those frazzled nerves that result from trying to get to the bottom of one frustrating issue or other you happen to be dealing with.

And whenever my life is affected by the diligence of others (and it certainly does happen), it does makes me happy to be here.

But the surveyors already knew all this, of course.

(Or check out this related BBC news story about all the happy people in Denmark.)

The yes-men of Danish broadcasting: TV2 News mindlesslessly tows the global line

by: Tim Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

Sitting in the office where I work, a media bureau, small flat screen TV's line the columns down the center of the office. Most play TV2 News, Denmark's 24 news channel, throughout the day.

Almost constantly, for several hours all this morning, TV2 News focussed on the tragedy in Virginia involving the deranged gunman who ran amok. Not only that, the editors and producers at TV2 News chose to incessantly play the video the gunman sent to NBC, along with various still images of the gunman (waving his guns around).

Why would TV2 News do this? Not only TV2 News, but all the other TV stations and news organisations around the world covering the story in a similar manner.

Are the producers and editors of these news organisations so intellectually challenged, shortsighted and generally boneheaded that they cannot comprehend that by broadcasting the gunman's picture and his message, they are playing right into his hands - even when he's dead?

TV2 News and the rest may as well make it an official policy and print it on their respective websites:

'As long as any deranged individual out there is willing to step up and make a suitably horrendous and presumably bloody statement, we will without prejudice broadcast any accompanying message in the form of video or text that they (the perpetrator) would like to have heard by the world at large.'

Broadcasting the gunman's picture and his homemade videos should never happen. It's an embarrassment to these supposedly respectable news organisations.

Because the question repeatedly asked is why do these shootings keeping happening?

And the newsmedia must bear at least a small portion of the blame. By exactly doing the gunman's bidding, the event becomes far more than a tragedy - it also becomes a means for the gunman to get a specific message out and heard, far and wide. Far beyond the borders of those directly affected by the tradegy itself.

Not only is it a shame, it's the greatest disservice imaginable to the victims, and their families and friends. The greatest message a media organisation could send is to report the tragedy, but to steadfastly refuse to play even a single video of the gunman, show a single picture of him, or read (or print) any statements of his on air. It's even debatable if revealing his name at all has any value.

That is, news organisations should send a message loud and clear they they will not be turned into a platform for any crazed individual wanting to get their words out and heard (and their image seen) simply by virtue of having carried out a horrendously violent act, as this one was.

But surely those at TV2 News, and all the various other news organisations out there around the world, are well aware of this? And knowing this, one would think it would be enough to stop them cold in their tracks.

Are there not a few courageous producers and editors out there willing to take a principled stance, even if they are in the minority, and refuse to broadcast these images? There must be. You certainly won't find them employed at TV2 News in Denmark.

Barbarelleh in Copenhagen: The place to eat a late-night plate of nachos, cheese and salsa (while sipping champagne)

by: Tim Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

Despite visiting Barbarellah in Copenhagen in a handful of times previously, I must admit I'd never seen the place in quite the right light. Not until yesterday. Or maybe it's just that it's only recently begun to hit it's stride.

As it turns out, Barbarellah is an excellent place to go to kick-off the night on the weekend. Arriving around 11PM yesterday, the place was standing room only - the first time I'd seen it that way - though previous visits were mostly on weeknights. As the night progressed, it got only busier and busier.

Barabarrellah on Saturday night

Since it opened about 3 years ago, Barbarellah has always been a place in Copenhagen with great potential. From the start, those behind Barbarellah had figured out a few things that most other cafes in Copenhagen hadn't.

For example, there was the insight that couches, being rather comfortable, make a quite good addition to a cafe. And by not filling the entire floor space with square wooden tables (and uncomfortable wooden chairs) squeezed as closely together as possible, a less conventional and more appealing atmosphere can be created - something Barbaralleh has managed to do quite successfully. And as music is a rather crucial aspect of ambiance, it's a good idea to have some turntables and a decent DJ set-up - and not just a stereo behind the bar. So Barbarelleh seemed to be off on the right foot from the beginning.

a couple of turntables in the corner - always a welcome addition to a cafe

Yet in spite of this great potential, Barbarellah has been a consistent underperformer.

The service has always been painfully slow and it seems to have taken a while to settle on a specific food concept for the place. Even now, I'm still not entirely sure what that concept is, in fact. There are worse places in Copenhagen for service (read: Cafe Sommersko - avoid, avoid, avoid) but the staff at Barbarrellah can leave you pretty thirsty while you wait. But last night, at least, it was not all that bad.

Barbarellah has a couple decent beers on tap (Hoegaarden and Leffe) - a prerequisite for even being considered as an interesting cafe - and they can make decent cocktails. But what is really unique is that food is served all night - not only until 10PM, the normal Copenhagen cafe cut-off time.

Meaning that at Barbarellah, it's actually possible to order a bottle of bubbly to cheerfully wash down a late night plate of nachos, cheese and salsa. An unconventional combination indeed, but hey, why not?

it's 1AM: some nachos and salsa with your champagne?

Follow the queues: The best ice cream in Copenhagen!

by Tim Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

is there an ice cream shortage in Copenhagen?

On pretty much any hot and sunny day in Copenhagen (in fact, it doesn't really need to be that hot, just sunny), at certain hours of the day you'll find queues like it was a supermarket twenty-five years ago in Eastern Europe suffering a food shortage.

Alas, it's not a shortage of food that drives the crowds toward Paradis in Copenhagen, rather it's a shortage of comparably tasty ice cream to be found anywhere else in the city. Italian style ice cream. Really f#%*ing tasty ice cream.*

How good would I say Paradis ice cream is?

Well, in the office where I've been working the past couple months Ben and Jerry's, one of the most popular American style ice creams, is stocked in the freezer for staff to help themselves to. There's a lot of it and many flavours all there for the taking. And it's free. It's also rather tasty. But it's just not tasty in the way Paradis ice cream is.

Ben and Jerry's ice cream has that artificial sweet kind of taste that Americans (and lover's of American products) go for. So even though I can eat all the Ben and Jerry's I want at work, I instead find myself occasionally opting to pay a few kroner for a hit of Paradis after lunch - it's just around the corner, after all. Because Paradis sells their own homemade Italian style ice cream and, even for free, Ben and Jerry's is no match for that.

At this point, there are several Paradis outlets around Copenhagen - basically one in each part of the city. The first that opened was in Nørrebro at Sankt Hans Torv a few years back, the next a couple years ago in Vesterbro and Amager, the latest ones just opened last month in the centre (on Købmagergade near Nørreport Station) and in Østerbro.

On a sunny summer day, lengthy queues can be found at all of them. And for good reason.

Paradis ice cream lovers...

learning about the joys of Paradis ice cream

*Note: the author has not received any favours from
Paradis in relation to the promotion of Paradis ice cream on this blog. However, he would welcome such favours - for example, free Paradis ice cream for the next year - and does feel they would be an appropriate compensation for his wholehearted and unconditional endorsement of the Paradis brand and associated products. He can be contacted via email, address above.

Help! I'm selling my apartment in Copenhagen. What should I do?

by: Tim Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

It's hard to imagine a relatively dry article about the housing market in Copenhagen - The sound of the popping bubble: A bit about psychology and Copenhagen's housing market - a recent article on this blog, going over especially well. Especially as it also happened to be a rather long article - even by my own rather, ahem, lengthy standards.

To my surprise, up to now it is the article that has generated the most emails of any of the articles on this blog. Even more amazingly, it's actually one of the top google hits for 'Copenhagen housing market' at the moment, which is rather funny. So here's a slightly shorter follow-up.

The issue of the buying, selling, renting and moving apartments - and the general state of the Copenhagen housing market - are all subjects that tend occupy a rather significant mental space in the minds of many of those living here (myself included - we're in the process of moving apartments right now). Even if in themselves they aren't the most entertaining of topics.

Which brings me to the latest email I received in relation a couple previous Copenhagen housing market articles written for this blog.

It went like this:

"My interest is as a seller. I put my apartment on the market about 2 months ago and only one person has been to visit. My estate agent recommends I reduce the price and do so as soon as possible...thing is he's not very clear on why exactly other than the volume of properties is increasing. My reservation for dropping now is we're moving into what is typically considered to be a more active season in the market and I had hoped things would pick up...I'm not in a rush to sell the property, but don't want to wait it out and get caught in a readjustment."

The first thing I should say is that I find it odd and rather amusing to be answering such questions. I'm certainly not an expert on this subject - the experience I have comes from selling private jets a few years back, and noting that the behaviour in private jet market largely mirror what happens in the housing market.

Here's my thoughts on this particular question.

The typical market cycle in the housing market is LONG - normally three to four
years. Meaning a quick turnaround in the Copenhagen real estate market is unlikely.

To imagine there is any significant 'seasonal variation' in a market like this one - as in a pile of buyers appearing who will suddenly drive up prices or even hold prices to their current level - is purely wishful and unrealistic thinking. There are simply too many apartments for sale in Copenhagen, at the moment. A few extra buyers in the springtime is unlikely to have even the slightest impact on selling prices.

The housing market in Copenhagen has been overheating for too long. But now it is catching up with itself.

A lot of people have second apartments to sell, interest rates have risen slightly, and frankly price inflation bypassed the money that was out there some time ago. Hence why more and more apartments are being put up for sale. A lot of people were essentially speculating on continued price inflation, even if they didn't fully realise that this was what they were doing.

The current downcycle has probably been going for about 12 to 18 months - which is a lot longer than most people realise.

It has really only been in the past couple months that this downcycle has been widely acknowledged in the media (and real estate agents have begun to shake themselves out of denial). And sellers are really only beginning to react, en masse, to the situation now. Hence the flood of asking prices being lowered (check out www.boliga.dk - only in Danish, but just look at the big negative number in the top right corner to get an idea of what is happening - it's the amount asking prices have fallen across Denmark since the beginning of the year).

This is a trend that will continue as more and more people react to the situation, realising that the plans for buying and selling and the amount of money they thought they would make now looks rather different. And a lot of sellers are imagining that they are going to wait the market out and hang tough on their selling price. It's a game of chicken, but the market has plenty of room left to fall. A lot sellers will crumble, and a lot more prices will tumble.

Sure there will always be the remote possibility that something unexpected will happen that will distort the typical lengthy market pattern/cycle and reverse the current trend (for example, the new 200 year mortgage that the government has proposed). But realistically this remains quite unlikely.

Even when the cycle hits the bottom, it will be some time before any significant price recovery can be felt - all the apartments for sale at the moment are not going to get sold overnight.

So it's unlikely an apartment seller will get any higher sales price than right now for at least the next couple years. But prices are quite likely to drop further still. Meaning that for sellers, unless you are willing to hold out for quite some time, the best advice really is to drop the price and
sell it when a serious buyer appears.

Because attracting a real buyer is the issue. Playing around with the asking price probably won't make that much difference to this end (of course, it might help a little). It's the selling price that counts, so getting the message across to as many real estate agents as possible that you are a
serious seller might.

Let it be known that
your selling price is flexible, because sellers will have to match the market to get their apartments sold no matter what their asking price is.

My experience (gleaned from selling jets) is to tell your agent (and everyone else you can) that you want
your apartment being one of the next ones (in it's size range) to sell, so they should make sure any buyers they have have see the place and have them make their best offer for it.

Any good agent will understand this as code to mean, '
forget about our asking price, just bring us a serious offer from a real buyer and we'll probably take it'. Still, with everyone clamouring for buyers, even this may not make much difference for some time to come. But it's better than nothing.

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