The Danes are well-known for their open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød). There are many tried and true recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Preserving these recipes is an important part of our culinary heritage. My food friend, Marcus, is doing a superb job of that on his food blog, Danish Open Sandwiches (Smørrebrød).
The underlying principle of smørrebrød is to provide a healthy meal, using the local delights on hand from the fridge and pantry, and allow the flavours to stand out boldly but to also complement each other. Bread is minimized and serves as the canvas. (The traditional bread used is rye bread.) Danes also take great pride in making their smørrebrød visually pleasing and much fuss is made of food styling. It is healthy, flexible, affordable and food life cycle friendly.
As is the Danish custom, smørrebrød is eaten with a knife and fork. It is considered a civilized way to approach the meal but it is also very practical as some smørrebrød can be vertically challenging.
The choices in our fridge and pantry in the 21st century, especially here in Canada, is so much more culturally diverse. It makes the possibilities endless for the modern day smørrebrød. Maybe even more favourful! (Some of the foods on today's lunch are more associated with Jewish, French, Mexican and Italian kitchens.)
Today's smørrebrød lunch was made using:
- half of a sesame bagel from the Ottawa Bagelshop, toasted
- chèvre from Clarmell on the Rideau, a nice spread to cover the bagel all the way to the edges (a smørrebrød rule)
- avocado slices
- oven-roasted tomatoes
- salt & pepper
- sprinkling of chives
If I had pesto on hand, I would have put a smear on the goat cheese or a few dollops on the tomatoes.
The best smørrebrød shops in Copenhagen, like Ida Davidsen, have a two week wait to get a reservation.
My dream for the Ottawa restaurant scene would be to have an adventurous and creative chef embrace smørrebrød and begin Ottawa's Smørrebrød Revolution.
And please don't take as long to open as Aamanns in NYC. It has been 'opening soon' since last October. I'm still waiting...