How to Throw a Dinner Party Like You’re in “the Hamptons of Denmark”
Your definitive hygge checklist.
Published Sep 8, 2019 6:00 AM
There’s an art to life on the Danish Riviera. The country’s northern coastline, which is often referred to as the “Hamptons of Denmark” due to the Copenhageners who flock to its small beach towns during the summer and fall months, abides by a code of unpretentiousness. They practice a different kind of hygge—one defined by roadside strawberry stands, early morning trips to the flea market, and thatched-roof cottages painted black and white. And in the century-old fishing town of Tisvilde, it’s a feel-good dinner served family-style.
“Hygge can be used as a verb,” says Christian Marquard, head cook at Tisvilde Kro, a local seafood restaurant housed in a restored pink farmhouse. “In Danish, we can say ‘Let’s get cozy’ or ‘We’re cozying together.’ It’s more intentional and active.” The food is prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, but the overall attitude of the place is “grandmas in the kitchen.” Norwegian lobster, plaice (a type of fish), and tiny potatoes with melted butter come out of the kitchen on giant shareable platters, and every room is painted a moody shade of orange, blue, or violet. You can’t save this kind of atmosphere to a Pinterest board.
Since hygge isn’t just something you say when you want an excuse to curl up on the sofa but rather a thing that you do, you can re-create it. Here, Marquard reveals seven Denmark-made essentials to bring to your next dinner party for instant cozy, coastal ambiance.
The Spirit of Choice
Akvavit, or Snaps, is to Danes what vodka is to Russians. The drink is an integral part of a late-afternoon meal, comes in a range of flavors, and is best sipped slowly. “We have a great producer in our little town, Schumacher Snaps,” says Marquard. “Our favorites are rosemary and apple, lemon and chili, and buckthorn.”
Perfectly imperfect is the motto for setting a Danish-inspired table. Marquard recommends mixing and matching your plates—bonus points if they’re vintage. These enamelware ones by Yto Barrada look just as good on the wall as they do on a placemat.
Or really, the lack thereof. Danes are notorious for burning candles 24-7. “Only white candles,” says the chef. “They should be genuine ones made from pure stearin (not paraffin).” Marquard claims their glow will be warmer and that they will “spread more hygge.” Put them in your windows or on the bar cart if the table is full.
Danes make next-level glassware—Helle Mardahl’s candy-like vessels are just one taste. Take your carefree tablescape one step further with different colored cups, like these subtly tinted ones by Copenhagen artist Sia Mai.
Fill an oversize vase with large branches or wispy floral arrangements. “Preferably made with wildflowers from the fields,” says Marquard.
Set the mood with international tunes. “At the moment we love playing Swedish troubadour music, older stuff like Cornelis Vreeswijk, Lisa Ekdahl, and Daniel Norgren.”
In the autumn and winter months up north, Danes will go for a “good long walk by the seaside,” post-feast. “It’s wonderful to get red cheeks from the cold wind and then gather around the fireplace,” shares the chef. We can’t think of a better way to end the night.
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