Umami Mart Sake
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My neighbourhood is changing rapidly these days-- for the better. The whole block used to be really sad, shopping-wise. A nasty old bakery with day-old bread, Christian-sects' offices, and three different Thai "massage" parlours (last year a war broke out between them, and the hookers smashed each other's glass windows with bricks every night, what a party). One time, an entire police task force stormed the Arabian "club" right beneath my apartment. They found weapons, drugs, and ten hand grenades hidden in the bushes right next to the children's playground in our backyard. Charming...

But all that's history now. A new estate agent has taken over the store spaces, lowered the insane rent and sought out some better alternatives to prostitution and drugs. Just before Christmas the old bakery on the corner of the building reopened as a trendy conditori (bakery/patisserie), called Nikolaos Strangas Cakeaway.

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So..."cakeaway" huh? Is this a new trendy buzzword of 2011? Takeaway cake? In that case, I've been unawaringly trendy every Sunday morning when I buy cakes at the local bakery and DON'T immediately eat them in the store in front of the other customers. But that's how it is, and it's neither a new or bad idea.

The owner, Athens-born Nikolaos Strangas, explains that this is quite popular in countries such as Italy, Greece and France. In those countries, it is customary to bring dessert to a dinner instead of flowers or wine. Before you go to the party, you visit a conditori and pick out an assorted selection of delicious cakes, pastries and small beautiful bites which are then served on a cake tray after dinner. Then, everyone tastes each others'. Cakes are selected and shared according to the guests' personal tastes and preferences. How fun and relaxed!

The small but cozy conditori space which only has ten seats for guests. I love the shop's balance between rough and delicate, dark and light, smooth glass and textured stone.

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Nikolaos has worked in Copenhagen as a pastry chef at the famous and fancy restaurant Era Ora as a since 2005, and now he's running his own business on the side together with his Danish wife Lotte. It took five months to clean out and break down the former bakery and rebuild it into a white, spacious kitchen area. But it was worth the wait.

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Cute lil' meringue drops with natural colouring.

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Everything in the store (except the Fairtrade coffee) is crafted in the kitchen-- no imported powder baked crap. Prices are medium to high, but it's fair considering that it's all homemade with natural and seasonal ingredients.

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I really like the rustic, bare brick wall-- very New York. And a very nice contrast to the fine colours and textures of the pastries and cakes.

Homemade wholegrain müsli, biscuits, macarons...

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Freshly baked scones-- plain or with cocoa bits and raisins. These are the original Scottish kind from Glasgow with more air and fluffiness in the dough-- much better than the heavy, sticky Danish version.

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Different kinds of white, milk or dark chocolate "tablets".

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Homemade marshmallows-- soft and spongy.

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Today's selection of cakeaway cakes. Notice the super cute little panna cotta glass spheres. Small cakes are 35-45 DKK ($6-8), the big ones 4-500 DKK ($73-91).

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Nikolaos is a super friendly host. He greets the guests with a handshake, talks passionately about his many pastries, generously hands out taste samples and bites-- he even finds time to sit down with his customers and hang out. No stressed-out store clerks in this conditori, a rare sight these days. Imagine all store owners in your city being this proud of their business.

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What his shop is most known for at the moment though, is his macarons.

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American readers will probably say "pfft" and raise their eyebrows in belittlement, but hold your horses; this is a very new thing in Denmark, and almost no bakeries or conditories have yet managed the rare skill of making these small wonders. Umamimart's own macaron expert, Yamahomo is actually the one who introduced me to the phenomena by writing about his endless efforts in his NYC kitchen to attain the highest skill and quality possible.

The conditori offers a daily selection of 10-12 different flavours. Apart from classics like chocolate and raspberry, Nikolaos offers local flavours like basil and sea buckthorn, a Danish berry recently re-introduced to the Nordic kitchen. The macarons are beautiful with perfect "feet" and small decorations if they are a special variation.

The space was packed with Sunday walkers when I visited, so I brought home a small batch of the sugary jewels for a closer look.

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The whole identity of the store is well-designed and consistent-- from bags and boxes to storefront and coffee cups. Elegant purple and pastels, always with a bow detail.

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I wish more stores in Denmark would actually put an effort into their visual identity.

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If I remember correctly, these are: basil, mint, passion fruit, liquorice, blueberry, lemon and strawberry.

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Around the clock macaron excitement, with a little figure I designed.

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I also got a gift box of mini babies. Love the gold bow.

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... and the adorable brown dot.

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This is pure "cakeaway"-- because macarons are so delicate, this box is perfect for maintaining the look of their crunchy bodies and avoid crushing accidents. If someone sat on this box, eating them smashed to splats just wouldn't be the same.

I also bought two cakes.

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Raspberry mousse, white chocolate ganache, dark chocolate bits, white chocolate string and a raspberry.

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Passionfruit mousse, dark chocolate layer, dark chocolate tiles with 24 carat gold, blackberry.

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Everything was sweet, fresh and filling-- as something made with love and good ingredients should be. Nice interior, good packaging and well-made products are a rare thing these days, I salute this shop.

Located right next to the Cakeway are the four great lakes of Copenhagen-- a beautiful and popular place for the Sunday walk among Copenhageners. Inspired by this, Nikolaos came up with a great idea which will be launched this spring: a cake & coffee picnic basket to enjoy on the many benches along the lakes. I'm sure that will be quite a popular sell.

To conclude the post, I thought the cakes and macarons would go well with my friends' and my own ceramic designs.

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"Dots" plates by my talented friend Lars Rank.
Mugs and figurines by Louise Gaarmann and me.
Column: Skankynavia
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5 comments

  • Wow, large cakes for $90? That’s more than NYC price. My macarons will look pretty with your designs too! I like how their colors are not sickeningly bright. Subtle colors are so much nicer.

    Yamahomo on

  • I so need to move to Denmark.

    Craig on

  • OK, I would like to book tickets to your pad now that this place opened up.

    yoko on

  • Thank goodness some bloggers can write. My thanks for this blog post!!

    Landscape Gardeners North London on

  • Ver nice peple, cosy place and absolutely "to die for "lovely cakes….go and get your calories:-)

    anita on

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