I just spent a week on Anholt for our friends Mette and Thomas wedding. Anholt is a small island in Kattegat, the ocean that connects the Baltic and the North Sea.
Only 160 people live there and every summer the residents are invaded by thousands of people visiting. Anholt has no luxury hotels or resorts. There is an Inn, which is a Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed. Visitors can also rent a traditionally Danish “summerhouse” as we call it. We have these small summerhouses all around Denmark, especially on areas near the beaches.
I have been to Anholt before but always sailed there with my father in his sailboat.
This time we drove halfway through Denmark to Grenaa, and then went by ferry to Anholt, which took 3 hours. The journey worked for me. The boat is a little ferry with a standard coffee and ice cream shop. The ferry gave us three hours to wind down, just relax and enjoy the sea. After you leave Jutland there’s nothing but the sea in front of you. My mobile phone had no service, so it was a great chance to lie down on the sundeck and take a nap or to be completely absorbed by nothing.
Spending time people watching on the ferry is also amusing. The passengers were a mix of people who normally do not meet often in life. There was a world-famous writer with this family on the ferry, a journalist that I know, and quite a few really trendy urban people mixed with a local farmer and this family going on weekend trip. Ferry passengers also included a fishermen and people who live on the Island. Some of the residents of Anholt looked a bit rough––like they had their share of hard work and fun.
When you arrive half the Island’s residents are there to welcome you, it seems. Anholt is place where a lot a people end up coming back year after year. I found myself in the midst of a welcome party of flags, shouting, cold beers and lot of fun and joy. But about 30 minutes after the ferry arrives it all quiets down and the peace and tranquility of the island are restored. Here there is almost no Internet access, and I found myself walking around as a stressed out city girl looking for somewhere with a bit of cell phone coverage. In the end I just gave up and let time fly and forgot about the modern world for a while. Then it was time for friends and good food.
After the arriving tam tam is over. The first thing visitor’s do is to rent a bike because cars are limited. The island while small is too big to walk. So a bike is a crucial means of transportation. We got our bikes and rode to our B&B, which was a small Villa made to what we would call ”hyggeligt”––a comfy place. There was a big garden where I sat every morning until lunch, working on new projects and my weekly column. Even though I said there was nothing to do, I did bring some work.
There are four restaurants on the Island, and for lunch they all serve the fish cakes with rye bread (see page 130 and page 12 of The Scandinavian Cookbook.) In the Scandinavian tradition you drink aquavit and beer with that. There are not only Danes on the island also a lot of people from Norway and Sweden sail there in their sailboats. We are nations of yachtsmen, because of the long stretched out coastline, lots of little islands and small harbors all around the region.
The Norwegians and Swedes really appreciate the open-faced sandwiches with fish cakes or local herrings. So going to the local place at the harbor is where everybody meets. Both the locals and visitors eat and drink together and the locals will tell the latest gossip. After a lunch with aquavit and beer most people need a nap, so I avoided the aquavit had a small beer. I love the taste of a cold pilsner on draft, so instead of a nap I was ready to go for a swim at the beach. Each day this was my routine.
Apart for all the wonderful fish and shellfish, Anholt’s biggest attraction is the beaches. There are long strengths of long white sandy beaches. The water is transparent and blue. The seabed is pure sand with no stones to step on. Swimming there is a treat, you feel so refreshed and alive after a swim along the coast. Simply the best, it does not get any better.
Anholt is also famous for its Langoustine (lobster) and they have plenty of them. As one the fishermen said, in 40 years he had spend on the sea, he had shipped tons Langoustine all over the world.
There is a simple fish shop at the Harbor. They sell a selection of local fish and shellfish. At the fish shop I bought a variety of different fish. To prepare them I just fried them in a little butter, added salt, pepper, lemon and dill. I served the fish with new boiled potatoes baked asparagus and green salad. The meal was very simple, light and tasty.
Local fish and shellfish are best everywhere in the world, because it is the freshest. One of my favorite summer dishes is fresh Langoustine on the grill served with chervil mayo, a green salad and a loaf of homemade bread. See The Scandinavian Cookbook on page 94 for recipes.
Take any local fish or shellfish from your area and make a chervil mayo and serve with a green salad, and a slice of homemade bread. This is the easiest recipe in the world.
Cold rising bread, made easy
3 tsp active dry yeast
3 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
2 ¾ c plain flour
2 ¾ c spelt flour
Mix the yeast into the water in a big mixing bowl, then add salt and honey, then mix in the flour and give a good stir using a wooden spoon as it is a very soft dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
Cover a baking tray with baking paper and cover your fingertips with plain flour, divide the dough in two and form to make loaves and place side by side on the baking tray.
Bake in the oven at 225 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake 20 minutes more.
The loaves should be golden and properly baked through. A way to test doneness is if you knock with the tip of your finger on the bottom and the sound is hollow, then the bread is done. If not bake for 5 minutes more.
Let the loaves rest on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.
All the best,
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