Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Olympic Cakes and the Round Tower

Was it presentient they gave Chicago the zero?

Wednesday, September 30. Copenhagen, Denmark

Monday night was bad. Randy went out for drinks with the clients and I couldn't sleep, then when I could, he knocked on the door at two a.m., wasted, and I couldn't sleep again, worried about both of us being grumpy and irritable with our girls who deserve better in the morning.

I had just decided to ignore his pre-bender promise to "take the girls in the morning so you can get a run" and detach with love and take them out for a ride on the Ferris Wheel when I drifted off.

A nice plan but his snores in the a.m. wouldn't let me leave well enough alone and I yelled, "You promised!" And took my run around the lakes. Big swans, bright sun, strange black and white ducks and glimpses into woodsy backyards with roofed fire pits. Cool in the shadows.

I grabbed a vegetarian Vietnamese sandwich on French bread for lunch with what I assume is a birch beer soda. The bottle has a cute gnome on the label that I want to show Mia. After a shower, when I meet Randy and the girls at the Ferris Wheel just north of Central Station, he looks wiped out and pissed off and Nora is exhausted and underdressed for the cold wind. I send them home and perky Mia and I go exploring.

We stop at a tacky tourist store so she can get little gifties for her classmates and I can check out the Royal Family on postcards.

"How about this place for ice cream?" I ask her and my wise one says, "There's no scoops taken out of it. That means people aren't buying it because it isn't good." I look at the untouched mound of gelato and give Mia a big laugh and a kiss. We stroll on until I find La Glace, the famous 130 year old cake and sweets shop. Cakes fashioned into the numbers 2,0,1 and 6 dress up the front windows, each number representing one of the four bid cities. Little marzipan athletes compete in summer events on another set of cakes. Adorable.

A nice woman sees us eyeing the cakes and advises us to go in. We tell her we are on the hunt for good ice cream and she kindly directs us to Paradise across the way, which turns out to have fabulous organic gelato with plenty of telling scoops taken out.

We amble from square to square, stopping at windows we like, ("How many brides can you count, Mia? Now how many when you include the headless ones?") laughing at a drunkard's song to a piece of dog poop in the street. A Spanish jam session serenades us from their cafe seats. We pass a stand of Mediterranean treats; a vat of boiling sugar waits to bathe almonds.

Mia has plenty of energy to climb the Round Tower. We have a few magic moments here - the narrow bricks curving under our feet in a constant ramp that seems to transport us. We're three flights up before I know it. Tiny child-sized alcoves with rounded tops carved out of the stucco walls must have been used for lamps. Now the walls are white-washed, all ancient smoke long gone. The outer curves have larger spaces with seats. Light streams in from the large windows - it's a wonder of simplicity and atmosphere.

We only peek through a door at the church attached to the tower (the entrance is one curve up) but the former library space above the church (another two curves up) has been transformed into an airy gallery with minimalist shop and cafe. Gorgeous and so Danish, but the modern art that resembles children's work without the joy scares Mia.

More curves up, past a funny old loo and the bell room to finally reach steps and the roof. Tycho Brahe had a gold nose and studied the stars here. The heavy apparatus required horses to haul it to the top. I also tell Mia the story of a lazy king who wants to ride rather than walk to the top. A beautiful view but windy. Mia is cold. Students hang out here; the tower is open until ten in case you want to stargaze a little yourself.

It was the climb itself, the circling the center, through the blocks of light streaming in that enchanted me more than this payoff view of the city. "Thank you," I tell the ticket man when we reach the bottom. "That was fun and beautiful."

As we descended, we could hear echos of a band playing in the square below. Now we see they are Hare Krishna sitting on a blanket on the ground. I am transported and ready to convert. Tinkly bells, strumming guitars and a harmonium toy piano with hand-worked bellows accompany the six singers in a lilting chant that I completely understand as the basis for a transcendent spirituality. Mia has to drag me away.

Our last stop is Candy Planet, not a planned visit, but Mia is so pleased to be able to scoop up her choices from the dozens of bins into a little bag that the experience is the first she tells Dad about when we return.

Our last dinner with Ken, who the girls call "Mr. Ken" and Randy calls "Tex," before he flies home in the morning, is at a French bistro on Vaemedamsvej called Cafe Viggo. After a lovely afternoon of exploring with my dear companion of seven years, the day is balanced out with an overlong dinner, overtired parents and kids up way past their bedtimes. Tex is a trooper but I don't know how Job could have stood the never-ending Movie Game as we wait and wait for our entrees (delicious as my butterfish in cream sauce with carrot souffle eventually is.)

Mia drew this face on the butcher paper that covered our tablecloth while we waited for dinner. She copied the image from a cartoon painted on the wall and imitated the emotion when her food arrived.

"When you think of a movie, no one can take a turn until you say the movie clue," instructs Mia which means the grownups sit in suspension, too tired to fight the rules, while the children look upward for inspiration, fingers to chin. The restaurant was described as cartoon-themed French, which sounds kid-friendly, right? And it really was, to a fault, perhaps. The super-kind waiter goes in the back to check if they have pasta when the menu (three choices of starters and five of entrees scrawled on a chalkboard) fails to ring any bells with our children. (See note above about hanging up my dreams of exposing foreign culture through cuisine to my kids)

The chef comes out of the kitchen twice to confirm: "Any meat?" "No, thank you." "Cheese?" "No, just butter."

What appears is a gorgeous dish of fettuccine with a vegetable studded ratatouille sauce, topped with a melty pat of the famous butter. Absolutely delectable and absolutely intolerable to my little demons.

"Yucky!" Mia says before being hushed, then cries at being hushed. The girls eat bread and butter and we sneak delicious bites of their abandoned pasta, spreading some noodles on a plate as if sampled, in hopes the chef won't feel rejected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is Bronco. I thought your comment about the "Superyacht" was funny:

"We see the mermaid from another angle, an eye-popping immense yacht that looks like it was designed by Donald Trump for Captain Nemo, the opera house, the new "Black Diamond" library and a crazy twisty church steeple in Christianshavns that Ken wants to climb. "

As it turns out, that yacht appears to be named "A", and quite a bit of related info is on the net similar to the following:

"philippe starck designed motor yacht A with martin francis for russian billionaire
andrey melnichenko. built by blohm+ voss motor yacht A is 119 meters long and weighs
approximately 5500 tonnes. reminiscent of a submarine warship the mega yacht's name
is a tribute to andrey melnichenko and his wife serbian fashion model aleksandra nikolic."

On the back of the ship, it looks like there is a big letter "A", and below it, in smaller letters is the word "Hamilton".