Lad os mødes til kaffe

I think it is fair to say in my time here thus far I have undertaken a comprehensive survey of the coffee on offer. Danes are great consumers of coffee, with one of the highest per capita intakes in the world (fourth on most online rankings). The type and quality of coffee on offer varies greatly, and so does the price.

I have found a couple of really nice coffee bars, selling espresso coffee the equal of the best places in Wellington. Happily flat whites are on sale, and are recognisably the antipodean style, unlike a few flat whites I tried in the UK. Coffee bar is really a good name for these places, as food options are pretty limited. Though I can usually keep M happy with a plain croissant. You certainly pay for the quality, a flat white will set you back on average 35kr (NZ$7.50). It’s a fairly steep price, and certainly not a daily habit! Though many places sell ‘klippekort’, a pre-pay coffee card which can save you 10kr or so per coffee. A coffee at the larger chains, Baresso or Starbucks, will cost you about the same. But, it’ll be rubbish.

I don’t mind paying for a good coffee here. The staff at the places I like are lovely. Because it’s Denmark, I know they are being paid a decent wage for their expertise. I’ve spent long enough earning crappy hospitality wages not to begrudge them that! Admittedly I’m not usually there at peak-times but I’ve never seen one of these places busy like the busy you get down-under. Instead the staff seem to have the time to make each cup perfect. As well as espresso they are often serving the ‘new’ coffee trends, like chemex (which I like) and aeropress (yet to try, must do soon!).

Widely available here, and significantly cheaper, is filter coffee. Usually the quality is good. Turnover seems to be high, so I haven’t yet been served a cup that had that lingering-in-the-pot-for-hours-taste that makes filter coffee awful. Even cheaper are those little automated coffee machines, but unless you are stuck at Ikea, I guarantee you that a better offer can be found nearby. And if you are stuck at Ikea – well, you should definitely go with the Ikea experience and pair it with meatballs and a mini kanelsnegl.

As for taking M to cafes, he is used to it, and as long as he has a snack, or a toy car to play with, he behaves well. They don’t serve fluffies/babycinos here. But, as is so often the case in Denmark, they like to give kids stuff. So a wee glass of milk is often offered for free. M prefers the cold milk, and it keeps us free from the marshmallow demands, so we are all happy.

Lemon juice and sugar

I’ve been having one of those weeks where I really miss my family and wish I could be closer to them. Many of you readers will understand why. You will also know that we are a family that enjoys food; not so much as a solitary pleasure, but as a communal gathering, cooking and eating together. So I have taken some comfort in making and eating one of my earliest food loves, my Gran Joy’s Lemon Honey.

I used to love going to stay in Auckland, although the long drive from Wellington to Auckland was not so great. I have so many lovely memories of their home. Hot Auckland nights tossing and turning in the back bedroom I shared with my middle sister. Star-gazing on their balcony with my Dad. Hours spent at the beach, and hours spent trying to wash off the sticky sand. The year my sister got roller-blades for Christmas and we rushed outside to try them out on the hills of St Heliers. Gran’s clashing pink and apricot kitchen with its old fashioned bean slicer. Grandad’s bread, Gran’s preserved fruit, meringues, and always, always, jars of lemon honey. I suspect Gran made a big batch in advance of our arrival, as I at least slathered my bread with it.

Tasting the same food I ate all those years ago isn’t just about my memories. It gives me a sense of my place in the world. Lemon honey, Gran Kath’s apricot slice or toasties, my mum’s fish pie, and scones. These aren’t just recipes to me, they are stories. They tell me the story of the women who came before me: the tastes they enjoyed, the ingredients available to them, and the kind of cooking they could do with eyes on whoever was scampering at their feet. Once I was the child coming hungry to the table. Now I am the provider. I watched my son lick the lemon honey off the top of his crumpet and knew the next generation of lemon honey lovers had arrived.

Gran’s recipe is a simple, economical, homely recipe, perfect for someone with an army of kids to feed on a budget. I’ve seen lemon curd recipes in fancy cookbooks, they all use four or five egg yolks. I’m sure they taste delicious, but it’s just more bother. She always made it one jar at a time, straight into the fridge, so no messing around with sterilising equipment either. It’s super simple, as long as you don’t let the temperature get too high and ‘scramble’ the eggs. But it wouldn’t be Gran’s lemon honey if you didn’t find at least one string of egg white somewhere. Lucky you whoever finds it. I always used to love that bit.

Joy’s Lemon Honey
Juice and rind of two lemon
2oz butter
1 teacup sugar (a scant ¾ cup, but I like the old-fashioned name)
1 egg

All ingredients into a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir over low temperature until it boils and thickens. Pour into clean jar and keep in the fridge.