Lars Eriksen, The Guardian, July 23, 2014
The Danish island of Bornholm is a geographical deviation in the Baltic Sea. It’s closer to Germany, Sweden and Poland than to the rest of Denmark, and occasionally gets demoted to a box in the corner of the country map. But Bornholm holds a central place in Danish hearts as a treasured holiday spot: it enjoys more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country, and has a dramatic rocky coast with some fine sandy beaches. To round things off, it has developed a culinary scene that punches well above its weight.
This is thanks, in large part, to an abundance of first-rate local producers and restaurants. Places such as Stammershalle Badehotel , rooms from £96) on the north coast and Kadeau in the south have catapulted Bornholm into Danish gastronomy’s premier league.
Each summer, the island plays host to a cooking competition that sees some of Denmark’s best chefs arrive to show off their culinary skills. Sol over Gudhjem literally translates as “sun over God’s home”, and is named after the picturesque fishing port where the competition takes place. It’s also the name of the traditional smoked herring dish for which the island is famous. Bornholm’s oldest smokehouse is in Gudhjem, one of the harbour towns on the north coast, where dozens of herring are speared, dried for 90 minutes and then smoked over alder wood until they turn golden.
“It has to be served the old-fashioned way, on freshly baked rye bread, with chives and raw egg yolk on top,” said Ole, manning the ovens in the smokehouse. “That’s the way to do it.”
Further up the coast, the twin towns of Sandvig and Allinge are home to fewer than 2,000 people in winter, but Allinge becomes a bustling hub during the summer. Crowds flock to Gæstgiveren , an inn whose small garden stage has become a popular summer venue for Danish pop stars such as Mø and Kashmir. Concerts are preceded by a barbecue of locally sourced produce (food £20pp, concert tickets from £12).
But it is fine-dining restaurant Kadeau (set menus from £60) that has really trained the culinary spotlight on the island. A former beach pavilion amid dunes on the south coast, its cuisine is very new Nordic – langoustines in a rich bouillon of shrimp and seaweed; slow-cooked egg yolk with pureed black trumpet mushrooms and porridge of local grains; smoked mackerel with hemp.
Once summer is over, the chefs pack their pickled Bornholm produce and head to Copenhagen, where their outpost has won a Michelin star.
“I find the nature on Bornholm immensely inspiring,” said head chef Nicolai Nørregaard. “Rocky coasts, dunes, beaches, forests and meadows are all on your doorstep.”
Also on the doorstep is the small farm shop Hallegård in Østermarie, where the homemade sausages and cured meats would give any Mediterranean butcher a run for its money. Hallegård’s owner, Jørgen Toft Christensen, has won awards for championing old techniques and recipes without using additives. He sells more than 25 types of charcuterie, including hams, sausages with sea-buckthorn and ramsons, and a salami called Fru Larsen, after the woman whose original recipe Christensen tracked down. You can enjoy cold cuts with a glass of wine outside the half-timbered farm or pick up supplies from his van, which tours Bornholm.
Svaneke, on the north-eastern tip of the island, has its own brewery and a chocolatier . Ice-cream parlour Svaneke Is uses milk and cream from local Jersey cows and flavours it with Bornholm berries, liquorice, herbs, honey and beer (the bitter hoppy taste is surprisingly light and fresh). If ingredients such as liquorice and beer are not esoteric enough for your tastes, it’s a short walk to Mermaid Universe , where they turn Baltic seaweed into wine gums.
Bornholm may not look like much sitting in that small box on the map, but its producers and chefs have made it an intriguing outpost in the Nordic culinary landscape. And it has cemented the Danes’ love affair with the sunshine island.
• You can fly Copenhagen-Bornholm in 35 mins, but most people take the ferry from Ystad in Sweden to Ronne, Bornholm’s biggest town . Trains run regularly between Copenhagen and Ystad , combined train/ferry tickets from £25
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by Lars Eriksen from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.