Monthly Archives: September 2013

Enjoy the Land’s Produce: Making Jam

One of the beauties of living in Sonderborg is that you are so close to nature. You are essentially living in a small city right in the middle of a rural area. This makes the possibility to enjoy the produce of the land so much easier. There is always a stall selling strawberries, or potatoes, or eggs, or tomatoes, or a whole lot of other things by the side of the road, ready for you to stop by and grab something for your dinner.

Another thing that I have realised is that I really don’t need to go very far to get access to this produce. It’s been a pleasure getting to taste the produce grown by my own colleagues. Chickens once a year from one, promise of lamb sometime in the future, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, plums, apples. These are just some of the things I have either bought from or been offered by my colleagues.

I have been trying for a while now to weasel myself an invitation to one of their houses to learn about different ways to use the produce; in Denmark you are not ‘friends’ with your colleagues, and an invitation home is limited to ‘friends’. And finally, after a lot of hints and overt ‘suggestions’, I got an invitation – to make brombær (blackberry) jam with Jutta.

Picking berries in the forrest

Making the jam is actually much easier than I thought. First you pick the fruit from the trees. Jutta and her husband own land on which quite a number of blackberries grow, so that was easy. We picked over 2 kg, and only stopped as it started raining. Having picked the fruit, you wash them, weigh them, and put them in a big pot with a little water. Get the mixture to boiling, add 500g sugar to every 2 kg of fruit, and boil for 10 minutes. After that add a packet of melanin and 2 tsp sugar to the mixture and boil for 2 minutes. And that’s it! The instructions are also on the melanin packet, so do follow those rather than these if you want to be sure.

Besides making the jam you also need to prepare the jars for the jam. The jars should be rinsed with hot water, then rinsed again with something called Atamon and water to help ‘disinfect’ the jars. Leave to drip dry, and the jars are ready to be filled with the jam. You also add 1 capful of Atamon for every litre of jam you have. Once the jars are filled, close them quickly, wipe the surface, and they are ready for labels. In less than 2 hrs of work we made 8 jars of jam. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon?

Brunch at Ib Rehne Cairo Cafe

Brunch is that delightful excuse for not waking up too early on a weekend, while still gabbing something substantial before you die of hunger by lunch. It seemed to have become all the rage in Denmark a few years ago (just before mojitos, tapas, and in the same league as pulled pork this year*), where on one visit to Denmark everyone pretty much invited us over to brunch!

To my delight, Sonderborg was not left behind in this trend, which has now become a staple weekend offering. All the cafes on the town square (and probably a couple of others) offer their own version. Now that the sun is starting to rise later, not waking us up early when we don’t want to, brunch on the weekends is sounding like a very good proposition. So we made a start with the offerings in town.

Ib Rehne Cairo ‘Brunch for Two’

Ib Rehne Cairo was the first establishment that we selected. There was no special reason for this, except that we had been given a voucher for this from friends a while back that we had to make use of. There are a variety of brunch items on the menu here, with a buffet brunch offered on Sundays. We were there on a Saturday so opted for the ‘Brunch for Two’. There is also a ‘Classic Brunch’ with a few less items.

Brunch til to hos Ib Rehne Cairo

When the food arrived my first concern was ‘oh – is there enough there for two’ – I do tend to suffer from much bigger eyes than a stomach – followed by ‘hmm – I hope there is enough bread’ – I do come from a country where we eat bread with anything; sort of like Danish potatoes, just at all meals! However, the food looked good, and I was hungry, so I started tucking in.

The food was good decent food. I was quite surprised to see that there wasn’t ‘two of everything’, which probably explained my first concern on if there was enough for two. Some of the decisions on what was double and what wasn’t seemed a bit arbitrary, such as two yoghurt containers, but only one fruit salad. Others were understandable, such as one salmon with smoked cheese. in this case, the amount of salmon we had was much larger than I had anticipated on first glance, so I was a happy salmon lover!

My favourites from the selection were the salmon with smoked cheese and the fruit salad. I also liked the cheeses (which is always a big hit with me – I love cheese!). I didn’t taste the pancakes, as I sacrificed mine to Michael in exchange for being able to finish up all the fruit salad. My lowest points were probably the egg-related stuff: the aeggekage and the vegetable ‘tart’ (oh – why don’t ‘tart’s in Denmark come in pastry?! I miss my pastry!). They were perfectly edible, but were not my highlights. And for those that are suffering from a hangover, you also get two rostis and one fried Camembert. Nomnom! More cheese!

So we ate, and we enjoyed, and all my previous worries disappeared. We didn’t manage to finish the food, and there was even a slice of bread left. I wonder if we had eaten all the bread whether we could have asked for more? That’s always something I am interested in, but I apologise – dear readers – I didn’t ask!

Verdict: good variety of items, right amount of food (with a bit left over). Coffee or tea included in price. Won’t make me run out and get it again anytime soon before I have had the chance to try out the other offerings in town, but happy to return to it in the second round. The price for two people was 226 DKK.


Aside: We are on the lookout to identify the best brunch offerings in town. Mainly we are looking at buffet or offerings which come with a wider selection of items, rather than ‘porridge’ or ‘scrambled eggs on toast’. Which one should we try, and any we shouldn’t even touch with a barge pole. And if you want us to check our your own establishment’s offerings?? We won’t say no a an investigatory invitation to sample your menu 🙂

*or is it just me who sees these trends in Denmark, where all of a sudden all restaurants/meals at friends offer the same thing was in neither of their food offerings the year before?

Camping in Denmark

Speak to any Dane and most probably they have fond memories of camping as kids and they still do it on a pretty much annual basis. But what does ‘camping’ mean in Denmark?

Well, first of all remove any notion of camping meaning being ‘one with nature’. Camping in Denmark most commonly means ‘caravanning’, possibly in a caravan that is sat fixed in one location, and comes with an extension tent containing a fridge, freezer, oven top, and most conveniences. From my experience people take pretty much everything but their kitchen sink with them, so this is not exactly ‘slumming it’. Cheap but with home comforts seems to be the requirement.

Now that we have understood that, the next step is where to go camping.

There are loads of camping sites dotted all around Denmark. Most of the sites are quite huge set-ups, with place for over 150 caravans. See why ‘being one with nature’ is not exactly what you get?


However, if ‘being one with nature’ is what you are looking for, a bit of digging may also bring up something more to your liking.

One of the options in this case would be what are called ‘primitive camp sites’ (primitive overnatningspladser). This distinguishes them from the larger commercials sites where you get comforts from showers, toilets, laundry, kitchen, a shop, entertainment for your kids etc. Most of these sites are owned by farmers, who provide some space to pitch up a tent. Others are in forests (Frie teltningsområder). One important thing to remember about these sites is that you shouldn’t travel to them by motorised means.

A good place to find such camping sites is the website udinaturen. There is also a book about smaller camp grounds that comes with a handy map showing the location of the camp grounds around Denmark,a s well as contact details (where relevant) and indication of what facilities (toilets, showers, drinking water) there are at the sites.

My Danish camping experience

During the summer Michael and I joined Michael’s parents during their camping holiday for a weekend. I have been camping in tents before in other countries, but this was my first Danish camping experience – and also first time in a caravan! This is what I thought about my stay:


The caravan we were in came with a big (average Danish) tented area in front and a green patch with some tables and chairs outside. I was, therefore, surprised with the space available. However, if the weather is bad and you are stuck inside I can see cabin fever starting to haunt me! I was also surprised at how clean the toilets were every single time I used them, regardless of the time of day.


I guess the main con relates to my main doubt I had about camping in such a way before I went: Why on earth would I want to leave the comfort of my house to be in a crowded area crammed with loads of people, where I can hear every sniffle or sneeze they have? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of camping to be close to nature?

I’d like to hear from you! Have you been camping? If so, what did you think? And if you are a ‘Danish camping’ fan, what draws you to it?

Relive your Childhood at Legoland

Getting there

The park is around 1.5 hrs drive from Sonderborg. This makes Legoland a good day trip from here.


Keep your eyes open for coupons, especially for kids. Coupons can be found in newspapers, on cereal packets and similar. Also, if you buy the ticket online you can get a discount.

What to do

I am not the biggest roller coaster fan, so I was a bit apprehensive on the first rides! However, once I relaxed, it was good fun. My favourites are probably the Viking ride, the Adventure land ride (which was the last, and had relaxed by then) and the canoe ride. Besides the thrill-seeking area, there are also other more relaxed things that should be checked out, including the ride in the top for panoramic views of the park and the airport, and the boat ride around the lego-buildings. Oh – and don’t miss Atlantis, the aquarium! The information about it is pretty skimpy, such that we had no idea what we will find inside, but there are actual real-live fish, sharks and huge crabs.

The aquarium in Legoland

Some Tips

If you are there in the morning, start from the back of the park. That way you escape the crowds for the beginning of the day as the rest of the crowds slowly filter to the back.

You will get get wet, so take some waterproof clothing.

Parking can be had close to the park for 50 DKK (buy the ticket in the park on your way out) or further away fro free. What you choose depends on whether you are more concerned over budget or over comfort.

House of Knowledge – TeleBilling, KPMG & Rambøll

On the harbour of Sønderborg a new building is rapidly taking shape. It’s another of the pieces from Frank Gehry’s Masterplan for the harbour front of Sønderborg. The plan is to transform the harbour into a vibrant new part of town.

Sønderborg Videnshus / House of Knowledge

The first block was the white residential building (to the right in the picture above) – this time it’s a bronze “House of Knowledge” – Videnshus in Danish – (to the left). The building will be the new corporate residence for local IT company TeleBilling, the local branch of KPMG accounting and Rambøll engineering.

house of knowledge

Recently TeleBilling made a film of what the building looks like now as they are still working on the interior. (Skip to 0:23)

The offices there will have amazing views up and down Alssund and you couldn’t blame the office workers for sometimes stopping what they are doing to stare at the beautiful scenery.

interior house of knowledge

The building has 6 floors and 4750 square meters of office space. The roof will be fitted with solar panels and will comply with the 2020 standard of buildings, which means it’s very energy efficient.

If everything goes according to plan the three residents should be moving in in November. Let’s hope they have an open house reception, so the rest of us can come in and be jealous of their sparkling new office.

Read more at Byens Havn