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  • Lens on Aarhus

    25 March 2017
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Aarhus 25

The streets of Aarhus are literally in the “here and now”. Across Denmark’s second-largest city today, you can spot paving stones that bear the slogan “Aarhus 2017”– a reminder of its status as this year’s European Capital of Culture. Not that anyone needs reminding of course. Aarhus has quickly become one of Europe’s hottest destinations – an alternative to the cool capital, Copenhagen, and for good reason. Aarhus seems to have it all;
cobbled streets and cathedral spires, cutting-edge architecture and dazzling design, world-class museums and first-rate restaurants – including three with a Michelin star. No wonder they call it the City of Smiles. Many visitors arrive in Aarhus by train (for such a small city its airport lies strangely far away), but the railway station provides a useful compass point for exploring the city – which, I discovered, is easily done on foot. Aarhus is a compact city – and much smaller than Copenhagen – so much so that even the tourist board notes that “When we say walking distance, we really mean walking distance.” Hence Aarhus’ other nickname, perhaps: the World’s Smallest Metropolis. What makes Aarhus especially charming, I soon learnt, are its contrasts. Aarhus is a city steeped in history but with a young, energetic population – it is home to no fewer than 40,000 students – a city with medieval courtyards hiding cutting-edge New Nordic restaurants, a city where you can cycle through a forest in the morning and go for a dip in the sea in the evening.

 

 

To start exploring Aarhus, head north from the station. You will find yourself on a pedestrian street that stretches for a kilometer and ends up in the shadow of the city’s majestic cathedral. The street – known locally as Strøget (it sounds like “stroll”, which is what most people do, unless they are scurrying out of the rain) – is home to a Scandinavian department store named Salling, as well as Danish brands such as fashion label Samsø ø Samsø and silversmith Georg Jensen. Look out, too, for the HAY store on Rosenkrantzgade, a temple of modern Danish design. If you are feeling peckish, drop in at the new Aarhus Central Food Hall, which offers a range of street food, (think: Thai curries, Vietnamese banh mi, and sushi).

Strøget slices straight through the center of the city. Look left at Sønder Allé and you should catch a glimpse of the Technicolor roof of the city’s art museum, ARoS (more on that later). Look right and you will spot the harbor district – much of which is being redeveloped – and beyond that the sea. Aarhus lies on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula, and many years ago its dark, wine-colored waters were a graveyard for warring Vikings. In the basement of a branch of Nordea bank at St. Clements Torv, you can see a display of Viking artefacts unearthed when the site was excavated in the ’60s. They include 1,000-year-old tools and pottery, plus a Viking skeleton.

Nearby is Aarhus Cathedral. Almost 100m tall, it is Denmark’s largest cathedral and, as you walk around this medieval city, you will often catch sight of its spire peeking above the rooftops.
Pop inside to see restored fourteenth to sixteenth century frescoes. Opposite the cathedral, however, is an excellent example of Danish architect Hack Kampmann’s work – the Aarhus
Theatre. Look out for the gargoyles on the facade of this impressive building, which dates back to 1900.

Heading west into Store Torv, you will pass the Royal Copenhagen concept store – an opportunity to admire the 241-year-old hand- painted porcelain dinnerware they produce. For contemporary ceramics and tableware, head to Illums Bolighus, in Lille Torv – a treasure trove of Scandinavian design and home furnishing. Opposite it is Magasin du Nord, another department store. Better still, head down Badstuegade, which takes you into the Latin Quarter, a cluster of cobbled streets packed with shops and cafés. This is the city’s cosiest neighborhood – which in Denmark, where cosiness is practically an Olympic sport, makes it the city’s best neighborhood.

On Badstuegade itself, head to Lertøj for contemporary ceramics. Or add to your vinyl collection at Badstuerock, now in its fifth decade. And don’t miss Designer Zoo, which represents 100 Danish artisans, from jewelry designers to furniture makers. Look out for the miniature paper replicas of buildings and landscapes, made by Taiwanese industrial design student Li-Yu Lin. They are exquisite pieces of design, and you can see why LEGO snapped her up even before she had graduated.

From the Latin Quarter, head east towards the redeveloped harbor district known as Aarhus Ø. Its spectacular contemporary architecture that has sprung up on the site of a disused container terminal provides a striking counterpoint to the quaint medievalism of the Latin Quarter. The most eye-catching edifice is the Iceberg, designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group. A private residential building, it was completed in 2013 and won an International Architecture Award in 2016.

Further south is the city’s new public library, DOKK1 (the name is a pun: pronounced “dock it”, it is a nod to the building’s waterfront location). Admire the quirky parking system – you
leave your car in a space, which automatically descends into the ground and come back up when you leave. Then head inside and marvel at the interior. If you are lucky, you will hear the Gong – a tubular bell that sounds whenever a baby is born in the city (apparently it rings at least three times a day).

Retrace your steps to the city center and head along Vestergade – passing Our Lady’s Church, where you can enjoy a restorative break in one of the city’s most beautiful spaces. Heading south you can find Møllestien, perhaps the prettiest street in Aarhus. Roses and hollyhocks hug pastel-colored, half-timbered houses built in the eighteenth century. Cobbled and quiet, this small street exudes charm. Around the corner, on Åboulevarden, is F-Høj – a spin-off of the Michelin-starred restaurant Frederikshøj. It serves a gourmet version of Denmark’s famous open-face sandwich – smørrebrød.

To the west of the city lies Vesterbro. Though mainly residential, the neighborhood is home to one of the city’s most unusual attractions. Den Gamle By – the Old City – is an open-air
museum dedicated to three eras of Danish history: the 1860s of Hans Christian Andersen, the industrializing 1920s, and the tie- dyed 1970s. It is worth a visit to see its 75 half-timbered
houses which were brought there from all corners of Denmark and reconstructed as a provincial market town.

 

Better still are the four climate-controlled greenhouses at the Botanical Gardens, which lie at the top of a nearby hill. Wander from the olive trees of the Mediterranean greenhouse into the
cacti and dates of the desert, and from the Spanish moss of the mountain greenhouse into the butterflies and banana trees of the tropics. The greenhouses were designed by architects CF Møller and won an International Architecture Award in 2016.

Aarhus 7

Head down the hill and sweep down onto Thorvaldsensgade but instead of continuing straight ahead, zigzag south till you reach Godsbanen – a highlight of any visit to Aarhus. It is a
collection of renovated industrial buildings on the grounds of a former freight yard, which was built in 1923 but closed in 2000. A decade later, the repurposed main building opened, followed by the annexes. Today they house a range of creative businesses such as designers and theatre companies, and around 200 people work in Godsbanen every day. It is fun to wander around this hub of creativity and see what’s happening. Make sure you head outside
to see the eclectic range of materials used to make other workshops and creative spaces, including recycled shipping containers and yurts.

There’s arresting architecture around the corner, too, at Sonnesgade 11. This eye-catching and asymmetrical mixed-use building was designed by award-winning local architects SLETH.
Its concrete facade has cracks that make it resemble marble, and it houses three floors of offices plus a restaurant on the ground floor. It is worth booking ahead to enjoy the seasonal gourmet food that is shuttled from the open kitchen (think: roasted wood pigeon, turbot soup and Danish oysters.) The head chef is Jesper Thomsen, who trained at Restaurant Frederikshøj. The wine comes from a branch of cool Copenhagen vintner Rosforth and Rosforth – located in the basement.You can find other splendid restaurants a stone’s throw away, in the residential neighborhood of Frederiksbjerg. One of them is Restaurant Hærværk, whose menu changes daily, depending on the season and the whims of its suppliers. Its name translates to “vandalism”, though there’s nothing antisocial about what head chef Rune Lund Sørensen sends from the kitchen. Since Hærværk opened in 2014, he boasts to have served over a thousand different dishes – mostly using ingredients sourced from no further than 40 miles away. Thanks to its reasonable prices and relaxed vibe, Hærværk won a Bib Gourmand this year.It lies round the corner from Jægergårdgade, a vibrant street you could spend a whole morning exploring. You will find lots of independent shops here, like Nr.4, which sells a mix of Danish and Icelandic designs – look out for ceramicist Trine Bech Jakobsen’s quirky egg cups. If you are thirsty, grab a beer at Mikkeller, the microbrewery founded in Copenhagen, or head to St. Pauls Apotek, a former pharmacy where mood lighting and champagne cocktails are the order of the day.

Just south of Jægergårdgade is Ingerslevs Boulevard – home to Denmark’s biggest food market. It boasts some 60 stalls, including greengrocers, cheesemongers, organic butchers and fishmongers, and you can also pick up fresh flowers and honey from local beekeepers. Time your visit right, though, as the market is open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 2pm.

Head north from Jægergårdgade along Frederiks Allé and you will catch sight again of Your Rainbow Panorama – Olafur Eliasson’s striking walkway above ARoS, the city’s contemporary art museum. Don’t head there yet, though. Pause first to explore the distinctive grey building on your right. It is Aarhus town hall, designed by the godfather of Danish modernism, Arne Jacobsen and it turns 75 in 2017. Clad in Norwegian marble, it is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and a striking visual counterpoint to the cubist design of ARoS, a couple of hundred meters to your right.

Take your time to enjoy ARoS’s permanent collection, which includes works by Frank Viola and Andy Warhol. Among the major attractions is Boy – Australian artist Ron Mueck’s five-metre- tall sculpture of a crouching boy, whose down-dappled skin looks unnervingly real. ARoS also has an eclectic calendar of temporary  exhibitions, with recent artists including Grayson Perry and Robert Mapplethorpe. As well as a food hall and eclectic gift shop, there’s a spectacular spiral staircase, which provides access to all the galleries on the museum’s 10 levels.
The indisputable highlight is Your Rainbow Panorama. Few views of the city are more enchanting than the one offered by Eliasson’s rooftop walkway – 360 degrees of glass in every shade of the rainbow.

More than anything, though, it offers the footsore visitor a chance to retrace their journey through the city, to piece together its constituent parts from high above, and – in the warm glow of a modern Danish rainbow – to understand for themselves why they call it the City of Smiles.

 

Words James Clasper
Photography Benjamin Lund

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“I can’t stand people who do not take food seriously,” Oscar Wilde famously said. In Germany as in Italy, but also in China and, more specifically, on the 103th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong, it is all about the pleasures of fine dining. Charming and welcoming settings offering a chance to explore new flavours in that special convivial atmosphere that only food, tantalisingly paired with wine, can create.

ToscaNightTosca
Hong Kong, Cina

www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/china/hong-kong/dining

We are on the 102nd floor of Ritz Carlton, the tallest hotel in Hong Kong. This is the home of Tosca, an exclusive Italian restaurant led by executive chef Pino Lavarra. Tosca, like the famous opera: “We have an open kitchen,” Lavarra explains, “it stretches out into the restaurant like a stage, and you can watch the show from your table, as if you were sitting in the stalls. It’s just like a theater where the food is the real protagonist.” Born in Puglia, Lavarra trained on the Amalfi coast and relocated to Hong Kong three years ago. He is positive, “This is the real deal: here you can truly enjoy the ‘Italian way’, not only with regards to food and wine, but as an all-round fine dining experience.”
The ‘Italian-way’ isn’t just about old clichés such as pasta, pizza and penne arrabbiata. Lavarri’s cuisine privileges excellent ingredients, finding its true expression in signature dishes such as the Sea Tiramisù: a Mazara prawn carpaccio, topped with a cereal crumble and a mussel and clam foam. “On the outside, it looks like a tiramisù, but the heart of this rich Italian dish is in its explosive bouquet of sea flavors. Excellent Italian ingredients are crucial to my cooking,” Lavarri continues, “they are the very foundation of my cuisine.”
The elegant wine list at Tosca offers the perfect counterpart to the food menu, exalting the taste of every dish. Lavarra works closely with a team of sommeliers to discover the right balance, the perfect union between food and wine. “Sometimes we end up changing a dish to better pair it to the sapidity of the wine. If an ingredient doesn’t suit the wine we have in mind, we find an alternative, or temper its taste, in order to achieve the perfect harmony.”

EO5DMarkIII 025823Ristorante Pacifico
Milano, Italia

www.wearepacifico.it

A friendship and a passion for Peru’s cuisine. This is how, a year ago, Pacifico was created: a restaurant with the goal of innovating foodservice in Milan. There are three masterminds behind the project: Guillaume Desforges, Jacopo and Leonardo Signani. “My brother and I…” says Leonardo, “…had a Peruvian nanny who used to prepare us ceviche since when we were little. Guillaume, instead, has a Peruvian fiancée and he has quickly become passionate about this type of cuisine. This is why we all had a common wish: make the dishes that we adore known to the city.” The project is already destined to expand: “We’d like to open new restaurants in Italy and abroad. We are aiming for New York, Paris, and Rome and there’s also the possibility of Los Angeles,” says Jacopo. For the moment, Milan is already a big success: a Peru-based magazine, six months after the restaurant’s opening, declared Pacifico the best restaurant in the world beyond Peru. “If you can anticipate the wishes of others, while meeting your own, you’re able to innovate. And we have created this restaurant because it is the type of place where we would have loved to hang out,” explains Guillaume. This is a New York-inspired restaurant, as Jacopo loves to define it: “This restaurant exalts Peruvian cuisine thanks to the skills and experience of the Chef Jaime Pesaque, but it is also a place filled with music that gets truly lively in the evening.” Here, Peruvian tradition adapts to its Italian setting and the Italian wines that, as Guillaume explains, “represent the connection between Peru and our land. When we decided to create this place, I immediately thought about the strength of the Santa Margherita wine for pairing certain white wines with some of the fish dishes. The Asian salmon ceviche, for example, is literally exalted by Pinot Grigio.

ENZ 0243Vinoteca San Felice
Karlsruhe, Germania

www.sanfelice-restaurant.de/vinoteca

Enzo Gallicchio has been managing Vinoteca San Felice, in Karlsruhe, for over thirty years. Born in Calabria, he moved to Germany to pursue his great passion for wine and fulfil his ambition of opening his very own wine bar. “For me, wine is life,” he confesses. “My customers trust me completely. That’s why it’s so important that I immediately establish a strong relationship with them. If I know what kind of person I’m dealing with, then I can pick the right wine for them.” Gallicchio’s skill is above all his capacity to spark an emotional bond with the customer – the ability to understand their taste and personality.
The food menu at Vinoteca San Felice offers a wide and excellent selection, from truffle white pizza to steak and tortellini. “I usually pair a Barbera or a Nebbiolo with red meat, while my go-to white wine is Ca’ del Bosco – a perfect wine to be served alongside fish, or a starter, but also a good bet for pasta and veal meat.” The most popular dishes at Vinoteca have been on the menu since the start and are customer favourites to this day. For example, catfish with spumante and black truffle, or Parma ham-stuffed fagottini with mozzarella and a white wine reduction.
“Seeking out the best ingredients matters, but you also need to know how to use them,” Gallicchio points out. “A good chef needs to be able to cook all kinds of dishes – otherwise, all dishes end up tasting the same.”

FotoLanzeni1000 2Caffé della Posta
Courmayeur, Italia

Since 1911 the Caffè della Posta has been a landmark in the small town of Courmayeur, thanks to its proximity to the post office, which made it a favorite meeting place for the local community. Since 2005 Biagio Costantino has taken charge of the venue. “I first came to Courmayeur on a holiday 30 years ago,” he explains. Born in Salento, he fell in love with the Aosta valley to the point that he decided to relocate up north. He first worked at the Caffè della Posta as a simple barman, buying the premises when they went up for sale. “Here, people can truly feel at home. I have developed a very close relationship with all my clients. Those coming to Coumayeur for the first time can sense the familiar vibe when they step into the Caffè, and often come back many times during their holidays.” The hospitable nature of his establishment is reflected in its interior decor: the warm and relaxing environment of Caffè della Posta retains most of its original features – from the fireplace, to the stove and the 17th century furnishings. “The most exciting new addition” Costantino reveals, “is our wine bar. Here customers can pick and choose their favorite wine by the glass. I was determined to have an area reserved for wine, because I think it offers customers a moment of pure relax.” This sums up the whole ethos at Caffè della Posta: nothing matches a peaceful break, an aperitivo made up of simple ingredients, while letting this family-run establishment look after us, as if we were family ourselves.

FotoLanzeni1000 2Ristorante Da Franco
Stoccarda, Germania

www.trattoriadafranco.de

Ristorante Da Franco believes that the key to choosing the best fresh produce is in the natural cycle of seasons: this notion has been guiding this restaurant’s excellent food and wine selection for over 50 years. Angelo Annunziata was born in the Naples region, and moved to Stuttgart fifty-six years ago, with the dream of bringing Italian cooking to the German table.
He certainly succeeded in his mission: today, at 76, he is still firmly at the helm of his now-legendary restaurant. He runs the table service, while his wife cooks all the dishes in the kitchen. The Ristorante is a real family affair; it even takes its name from the owners’ son, Franco, who was born around the same time the couple launched their business.
Da Franco appeals to an international clientele: “My customers,” says Annunziata, “are used to traveling; they know all types of cuisines and enjoy Italian cooking very much. When they come here, they can fall in love with a simple plate of tomato sauce spaghetti, when it’s prepared with the right ingredients.”
Ristorante Da Franco’s cuisine is inspired by the typical dishes of the Italian regional tradition: from Sicily to Piedmont, without forgetting Campania. “I love to change my menu,” continues Annunziata, “from pasta to fish to vegetables. Above all I make sure I use seasonal ingredients. When it’s truffle season, for instance, truffle becomes the real protagonist of many of my dishes.” For each seasonal dish, there is a seasonal wine: “The people of Stuttgart love Italian wines, and I won’t serve a dish unless it’s paired with the perfect glass. My wife’s clam spaghetti, for example, are just something else when they come with a glass of Franciacorta on the side.”

Testo – Marianna Masciandaro

GettyImages 455978270In the past few years Peru has been experiencing a cultural revolution. It all began with food.
And, of course, it all began in Lima, the capital. With its award-winning restaurants, chefs of world fame and a territory renowned for the unique quality of its fish, the city is being revitalized with the construction of new hotels and galleries.

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