Five years ago, I took my first trip to Copenhagen. I had a day and half to spend in this beautiful, coastal Northern European city. On my first day, in order to get the lay of the land, I decided to join in a couple of walking tours of city to see some of the sights. The tour guide was Copenhagen’s most beloved son, Hans Christian Andersen. Ok, so it wasn’t the real HCA, as they call him, but an American ex-pat who had moved to Copenhagen long ago and has taken to offering guided walking tours of the city dressed up as HCA himself. In between the two tours I was taking that day, he gave us some time for a lunch break on our own. Without wanting to get lost and wander too far off on my own, I decided to see what was in the neighborhood I could grab for a quick-lunch. Of course, there was the obligatory McDonald’s only a few blocks away, but I really didn’t want to do McDonald’s if I didn’t have to. Right around the corner from the McDonald’s, there was a bread and pastry shop that was bustling with noontime workers who were constantly coming in and out of the place with their lunchtime snacks. The bakery was called Illum Bager, and the displays in the window looked amazing. I figured that with the amount of business they were doing, this place had to be good. So, I gave it a try, and I fell in love. It’s nothing spectacular, but delicious, filling treats that were fresh-made and perfect for a meal on-the-go. In fact, I loved it so much that the next morning, I found myself back there for a breakfast treat. A few years later, when my parents were in Copenhagen, they sought out the same bakery and enjoyed treats from there as well!
When I knew I would be back in Copenhagen again this past summer with my husband, I had told my husband that we had to find this place. Not only did I want more of their treats, I wanted to have my husband experience their goodness as well. In fact, the bakery has created enough of a following, that I actually saw it mentioned in Rick Steve’s Denmark guide-book for 2012! And I thought this was my secret place! After having worked up an appetite by climbing to the top of the Round Tower, just off the Stroget, my husband and I went off in search of the bakery. I had a fairly good idea of where it was located, and based on memory, I was able to lead us there! And much as it was last time I was there, it was hustling and bustling with people crowded into the store to get their hands on some of the goodies that had come straight out of the oven! However, this time around, instead of the bakery being called Illum Bager, they had changed their name to Holm’s Bager.
Even though the name changed, everything inside the bakery remained the same. The display windows of freshly baked breads looked mouth-wateringly good. And considering how expensive everything is in this part of the world, their prices were actually pretty reasonable.
How could you resist fresh-baked rolls topped with melted cheese and yummy toppings? Ok, apparently we couldn’t. We didn’t buy these exact same rolls for our snack, but we bought something very similar.
Then there were these. Look at the bottom row there, fresh-baked morning pastries. Now, I think you can see why I came back for breakfast on that second day I was in Copenhagen all those years ago. If we had stayed in Copenhagen another day, I am sure I would have come back here for breakfast again! Who can resist a fresh-baked croissant or Danish in the morning? After all, we are in Denmark, right? Where Danishes come from??
See, there’s those darn croissants again! Maybe that was a sign. Maybe I should have just bought one and taken it back to the hotel to have for later? Coulda, shoulda, woulda…. oh well, that just means I’ll have to go back to Copenhagen again, right?
Since it was close to lunch time, here’s what we ultimately decided on. Pizza. Fresh made flatbread pizza. All you do is walk up to the counter, take a number, and when you’re number is called, you tell the girl behind the counter what you want – in our case, pizza – and she asks if we want to have the pizza warmed up in their oven or if we’re just going to take it away. We chose to have it warmed since we would be eating it immediately. The pizza’s go into the oven, are warmed through, and then are handed to us in take away bags and we’re all set.
The store is located on a square, and at the center of the square is the famous Stork Fountain. Like many others, we walked up to the fountain, found a ledge to sit on, and enjoyed our Holm’s Bager pizza lunch! My husband got his favorite, pizza with ham and pineapple. The ham was cut into little strips and the pineapple was small chunks. My husband thought it was tasty, cheesy goodness that hit the spot.
I went with my standby of pepperoni pizza. I loved the mix of Italian spices they put onto the pizza with the very thin layer of sauce. The bread was crispy and crunchy and flavorful. And like my husband, I thought this really hit the spot of a good, easy, and very affordable take out lunch in Copenhagen.
Illum Bager, Holm’s Bager, whatever they call it, all you need to know is that it’s good. Morning, noon and night. Fresh baked breads and pastries at your fingertips. What more could you want? Can they open a branch in Los Angeles??