Every year in early July, 130,000 people attend the Roskilde Festival outside Copenhagen. Occupying a bare field, the rock concert-goers need the fortification of beer and food to sustain them through the four days of rock music. It’s primarily a young audience on a modest budget, but it’s also a captive one, and the food purveyors, who serve more than 2 million meals over the festival’s run, make the most of it.
At Roskilde there are no fast-food chains, just fast food made of high quality ingredients. The nonprofit festival promotes awareness of issues such as climate change and social responsibility, and donates all its revenue to charity. Eating is an important part of the experience at the festival. There is a lot of talk about where and what to eat — Italian, Swedish, Danish, Thai, Mexican, Japanese? Burgers? Everybody who serves food must offer a vegetarian meal, and one area is designated for the 100 percent organic offerings.
Organic soup and smorrebrod
I’ve been to Roskilde many times. Last summer it was clear that the Nordic trend had hit the festival. I often went to the Nordic Pavilion for the organic pea soup made by Christian Puglisi, a former Noma sous-chef who now owns Relæ and Manfred’s & Vin, two highly regarded restaurants in Copenhagen. In the Nordic Pavilion, you can also find sandwiches of smoked cheese, radish and cabbage on whole wheat buns, and smørrebrød, the Danish open sandwiches made on rye. For the early birds, there was organic porridge — I must say that saved my life, after a long night of drinking and sleeping in a tent. Starting the day with a big soothing portion of porridge reset my body.
The choices at Roskilde are endless: pasta with pesto and a salad, risotto with lamb and lemon, organic Mexican burritos served from a small, old-school, silver American camper van. Auntie’s T house offered good coffee and cake. At dinnertime we headed to Kristinedal, named after an old Danish farm, for Hereford beef. The beef is slow-cooked for hours and then sliced thinly and served with sweet and sour cucumber salad in a slider bun.
Danish hot dogs
Once during the four days I have to go for a true Danish hot dog: a grilled 100 percent organic sausage served with mustard, ketchup, remoulade, raw and fried onions and cucumber salad. Denmark’s absolute No. 1 national dish — crisp slices of pork belly with new potatoes and white parsley sauce — is also on most guests’ list during the weekend. Tons and tons of pork are sold all day long. The boundaries for meals begin to disappear as the days go by, and we tend to find ourselves eating any time we’re not listening to music.
At cocktail time, we head for the 100 percent organic drinks made with local Danish spirits and sodas. An independent producer called Fiona from Ørbæk on the island of Fiona makes the best tonic water. Crisp and fresh, and not overly sweet, it makes a sublime G&T.
Because of its music as well as its food, Roskilde festival is one of the few events that I try not to miss. This year Bruce Springsteen, the Cure and Bjørk are playing. I don’t have a stall, but if I did I might serve cold buttermilk soup with strawberries and biscuits. If a trip to Denmark isn’t in the cards, make this Danish specialty, put on some rock tunes and make believe.
Buttermilk Soup With Strawberries and Biscotti
For the biscotti:
For the soup:
For the biscotti:
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar and lemon zest.
- Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the beaten egg and milk and stir to form a dough.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Knead the dough lightly on a floured counter, then roll into a long, thin sausage. Cut the dough into small even-size pieces and use your hands to shape them into balls about the size of walnuts. Place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 7 minutes.
- While the biscotti are still hot, cut them in two. Place them back on the baking sheets and bake again at 300 F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight tin.They will keep for weeks.
For the soup:
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds with the tip of a knife into a bowl.
- Beat together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and buttermilk. Chill for 1 hour.
- Cut the strawberries into slices and add to the buttermilk soup just before serving. At the table, break the biscotti over the soup and eat immediately.
Trine Hahnemann is a Copenhagen-based chef and caterer and the author of six cookbooks, including “The Scandinavian Cookbook” and “The Nordic Diet.” She has catered for artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones. Her company, Hahnemann’s Køkken, which runs in-house canteens, counts the Danish House of Parliament among its clients. Trine writes a monthly column in Denmark’s leading women’s magazine, Alt for Damerne.
Photo: Banner from Roskilde. Credit: Trine Hahnemann