Shamyat – amazing baklava on Amager

Thanks to an instagram post from some people I know who have just moved to an apartment on Amagerbrogade I found out about the most amazing baklava shop called Shamyat. It is the kind of place you might miss as it is located on Amager Boulevard, a little before the main parades of shops start on Amagerbrogade.

On Sunday I decided that it was time to try this place and I was not disappointed. As soon as I walked in the door the man behind the counter offered me a taster and that was enough to know that this was the place to get some delicious Mediterranean delicacies.

I asked the man for a selection box and he popped in two of each type. In my excitement to order I hadn’t really looked closely at the prices. As he presented me with the box below I was astounded only to be charged 50dkk. And it was 50dkk well spent!

They went down a storm at home so we’ll definitely be back! Shamyat also sell a selection of more generic (and not doubt delicious) petit fours and boxes of little Dannebrog cake/cookie type things.

So if you don’t live on Amager pop on the 5C bus, which stops almost directly outside and get the taste of the Mediterranean this autumn. (Address: Amager Boulevard 127)

On another note, I am starting to record the first interviews this wee, for my forthcoming podcast, which will be launched in October. If you are interested in hearing more about the podcast and other Dejlige Days news please sign up for my newsletter here.

A Little History of Amager

As some readers will recall we moved to Amager earlier this year. As I am a bit of fan of local history, i was curious about our new area, often sidelined for the trendier areas of town.

I was surprised to find that Amager used to be known (and apparently still is in some circles) as Lorteøen (Sh*t Island) as for many centuries the sewerage from the city was brought out to the largely uninhabited island. Up until 1970s the main landfill sites for the city were also located here, cementing the name.Amager was a farming area and in the 1700’s the King decided to create a broad street from the farms on the island into the city so the farmers could easily bring their wares into the town markets. That street is Amagerbrogade.

After the second world war a reclamation project doubled the size of Amager and added the wonderful nature reserve of Kalvebod Fælled. Amager Strand was also created in the 1930s and later fell into disrepair only to be redeveloped in 2004-5.The main building on Amager began in the 20th century, the area of villas around Femøren and Kastrup were largely built in the 1930’s and the more working class apartment buildings closer to the city slightly earlier. In the second half of the 20th century Amager gained the reputation as a slightly run down working class area but has recently undergone urban renewal and there are signs that even hipsters are starting to discover Amagerbrogade. They haven’t got that far down the street yet but the recent opening of  Jagger outpost as well as Cocks and Cows and Gorms indicates the future.There are still a number of businesses on Amager which have been around for generations and I hope they continue. I found an interesting article about these shops and businesses and I thought I’d share a little summary here.

Th. Sørensens smørrebrød shop has been run by four generations of the family since 1896. PE Larsen butcher, which always seems to have queues on a Saturday, has been operating since 1901 and another fourth generation business (with the fifth about to join). Bacher, a shop selling work overalls, safety boots and men’s fashions has been in operation since 1897 and now also has an extensive e shop. The oldest goldsmith shop on Amager is the 110 year old business Anni Jensen.

Amager Fiskehus on Holmbladsgade started in 1870 when the then owner, Peter Salmon drove his horse-drawn carriage to Frederiksberg to sell his fish before opening a shop in 1902. The business is now run by the fifth generation of his family. Finally there is Gunnar Madsen wine shop also on Holmbladsgade since 1927, in some reviews it says this is the old style wine merchants we need to stick around and I couldn’t agree more! I hope all these shops stick around for as long as possible. 

Pictures from here and here

What is a murermester villa?

Earlier in the week I mentioned that our new house was a murermester villa. As this was a new kind of architecture to us when we started looking at houses, I thought I’d talk a bit about what this kind of house is and about the history.Typically murermester villas were built between 1915 and 1930 and were the first example of a standard designed house. They were built for middle class families in residential areas in a ring around major cities in Denmark. In Copenhagen they are mostly in Vanløse, Brønshøj, Hvidovre, Lyngby and parts of Amager.

The design was a reaction by architects to the style confusion which had dominated the late 19th century and a group of Danish architects initiated various measures to promote the construction of good yet simple classic family houses.

Typically they were built over three floors with the ground floor arrange into four equal sections – one for the kitchen and pantry (at the back of the house), one for the entryway and stairs and the other two for living rooms one of which would have a bay window or way out to the front garden. The first floor would contain fewer rooms as they would be under the roof and there would be a full basement for storage. They would have been originally built without an inside bathroom or toilet. There would have been an outside toilet.

Gardens, which previously would have been for the wealthy, were an important element, especially one at the front of the house behind a picket fence so passersby could admire both the house and garden.

The original aim of a strong and robust home was one that has been borne out by time. These types of houses are still very popular with middle class families now but due to the small nature of the top floor most now have converted basement with some living space in them. They are difficult to extend outwards and in some cases the exterior of the house is protected from being altered.

9 things I love about living in a house

Almost 10 years ago we sold all our garden tools and said good bye to living in a house as we prepared to move to a new life of apartment living in Copenhagen. As I have written before, this suited us for many years until a year ago when we decided that it was time for a change and a move to a house.

If I am honest I found the first few weeks living in our new house something of an adjustment – it was a lot quieter than I was used to and I was constantly finding I was at the opposite end of the house to the thing I needed so spent a lot of time going up and down stairs, which was great for my step count on my Fitbit. But within a month I was settled and starting to love living here, so I thought I’d share the reasons why in case you are also thinking of making the transition.

1 The quiet

One of the biggest reasons why we wanted to move was the lack of control we had about the noise around us. With a neighbours who enjoyed a ‘social life’ at 4am at the weekend on far too frequent a basis and when they weren’t doing this they were stamping around. As the weekends rolled around, a time when we wanted to relax and sleep, I would start to feel tense and nervous about whether this weekend would be our neighbour’s turn to host the ‘social life’.  The flipside of this was the noise we made. I don’t think our family noise was in anyway extreme but it is nice to think we can be noisy if we wish now. Living in our own house, the noise we hear is our own. It is also lovely not to hear traffic noise but beautiful bird song instead.

2 A garden

We are lucky enough to have gained a mature garden which the previous owners had spent time thinking about and planting in. They have chosen shrubs that are pretty self sufficient and yet beautiful. They have also staggered the times of the season when the shrubs bloom so we have had wonderful colour in stages and there is still more to come. We are delighted that their choices are also some of our favourites including hydrangea, red maple, peonies and lilac. Oh, and a whole bed of strawberry plants! This we are are just seeing what is coming out before we decided what to add next year. It is wonderful to have a garden that people turn to look in admiringly as they walk past.

Plus it is wonderful to have your own space outside to enjoy the summer weather and also the snow in the winter.

3 A laundry room

Living in an apartment, if you are lucky enough to have your own washing machine, means that you hear the washing machine all the time if it is located in your kitchen. If you don’t have your own and share the communal one, you are dictated by when the machine is available to use. Living in a house we are now lucky enough to have our machines in the basement on a solid tiled floor so the noise is very minimal. Plus I can hang my washing outside on a warm day.

4 A basement

Whilst the actual floor space of our house is not that much bigger than the largest apartment we have lived in over the last nine years, it is spread over three floors. This means we are really lucky to have a large basement room perfect to use as a play room cum office space plus a storage room for all our junk. No more traipsing up to the cold attic to find things stored there.

5 A feature wall

Now this is specific to our place but I have coveted an exposed brick wall for years and years. In our previous apartment this wasn’t possible but here we have one, which I adore. Even if we hadn’t it would have been a hundred times more possible to make our own.

6 History and variety 

Although our house was built in the 1930’s and not the 1890’s ( as our previous ones were), it still comes with a lot of history. It is a muremester house and as such the exterior is protected. It is fascinating to look at all the houses in our street and not see one that looks the same, even the other muremester ones. I shall write some more about this style of house soon.

7 Community

I thought that one of the things I liked about living in an apartment was a sense of community but in our last place this seemed to be lacking. In the first few months of living in our new street we have found neighbours coming up to introduce themselves when we have been outside in the front garden (thankfully, for me, the Danish way of not calling on your neighbours is the same here as in an apartment), when they have been passing walking dogs or as we walked past people’s gardens. We in turn have also introduced ourselves and everyone has been friendly. Our opposite neighbour was collecting for Doctors without Borders at the weekend and took the opportunity to introduce herself.

8 Encouragement for healthy living

I no longer walk past tempting bakeries on my way home from dropping off my son at school and added to the extra walking which is now part of my day, I have been feeling and looking a lot healthier. We live close to a place where I can pop and sauna in the evening and the beach is just a short walk away.

9 Easy transport access

Although we are living on the very edge of Copenhagen and Tårnby, it is surprisingly easy to get into the city from here. In less than 15 minutes I can be at Kongens Nytorv and the journey to my son’s school takes half the time it used to and is one easy bus journey and a healthy walk. This gives me and us a lot more time to spend doing what we love, such as sleeping later in the morning and having more family time in the afternoons.

Two years ago I wouldn’t have thought this would have been for me but I wouldn’t change it at all now. With Copenhagen being such as small city, if you are thinking of buying your own place here then don’t discount exploring the option of a house instead of an apartment.

 

Amager Strand at Femøren

Before we moved to our new place we usually went to Amager Strand at the end closest to the city. As we are now within walking distance of the opposite end of Amager Strand close to Femøren Station. We’ve been up there every warm weekend so far – flying kites, paddling and eating ice creams.

The swimming bath, Kastrup Søbad, is a wonderful addition to this end of the beach, although we’ve not been brave enough to take the plunge. The sea temperatures of 10 degrees c are not appealing at the moment, although that doesn’t stop the fearless Vikings. The other plus points of this end of the beach are that the beach is very shallow, perfect for families and it doesn’t get that busy (so far). I don’t want to encourage too many crowds but it is definitely worth travelling a few more stops down the Metro!

The search is on for our new home

Last week, when I wasn’t checking out Danish men, we were checking out potential new houses. After eight years living in apartments we decided it was time to look at having a little more space and privacy but at the same time still living in the city. The dream of a villa (as detached houses are called here) in Frederiksberg remains a dream unless we win the lottery so we took the practical approach and found an area that ticked the boxes for us all.IMG_4767Quiet streets with reasonably priced but good size villas. Close enough to my son’s school to mean that we may get an extra half hour in bed. Close to green open spaces and beaches but still with easy access to the kind of city amenities we have become used to. And finally fast transport links into the city.

Sundby on Amager ticked all these boxes for us and the search is on. Interestingly I am being my own client for this. I know a little of what is available on Amager but as it is an area that is pretty much new to me, I need to find out what is there that I and my family will enjoy. So I am working on a local guide and map for myself and I am finding I am a tough customer! Tomorrow I am going to head out and walk the streets, just as I do for my clients needing a local guide written for them. I love this process of discovering hidden gems and it is even more fun doing it for myself.

We spent yesterday going to open houses at the places we have identified online (a tip if you are house hunting is to use Boliga as it brings all the places from different estate agents all together in one place) and all but one were not right for us and the one that was – really was. I know you are not supposed to fall in love with a house as it leads to disappointment in many cases but it is hard when you are choosing your home. The place we loved had an amazing history, perfectly laid out for us and totally modernised. However someone has already offered on it and as we haven’t sold our apartment yet we are in a very weak position. But as they say nothing ventured, nothing gained!

The process of both buying and selling a house at the same time is new to us and we are still learning how everything works here. I hope to share a lot more of the journey and the practical process as we go along here.

A spontaneous afternoon on Amager Fælled

Yesterday was the first glorious summer afternoon we have had this year with temperatures nudging 25 degrees. I picked my son up from school and we took a wander down towards the water behind Sluseholmen and then ended having a long walk around Amager Fælled (Amager Common) together. It was an area he was familiar with from a school sports day but it was new for me.IMG_4715

It was amazing to be in nature so close to the city. We spotted birds such as swallows and jays – birds I have never seen here, even in the city parks. It was peaceful and beautiful (if a little hot, dusty and sweaty by the end of our hike). But as well as that there were pockets of recreation such as a BMX centre and dirt bike tracks – yet they didn’t encroach on the experience of enjoying nature. IMG_4716 IMG_4718

The views towards the city, over Sluseholmen and over towards Ørestad were well worth the trek to the top of the hill here. With our plans to move out to Amager afoot, this place is certainly is adding to the appeal.IMG_4719 IMG_4721 IMG_4723 IMG_4730 IMG_4732 IMG_4733

Beaches are not just for summer!

It’s been a bit quiet over here and on my social media this last week as we’ve had my mum to stay. My son proclaimed that a visit from his beloved Nanny was better than Christmas! But this morning I dropped her off at the airport and made my way home. Recently I have started to listen to podcasts and find it a great way to effectively use my time when travelling back from dropping my son off at school and the return journey to collect him.

This morning I was listening a podcast by Janet Murray interviewing Natalie Sisson, known as The Suitcase Entrepreneur. A big part of Natalie’s ethos is about finding your freedom. As I was travelling back on the Metro I looked at the wide blue skies over the Øresund and inspired by what I was listening to, and almost without thinking, I hopped off the Metro at Amager Strand and walked along the sea listening to the podcast. My eyes were watering in the freezing wind and my cheeks got very rosy, but by the time I got back on the Metro one stop on, I was feeling inspired and energised (and actually not that cold). IMG_2787One of my favourite things is a windswept beach in the winter. We are so lucky to live so close to the sea and beaches are not just for the summer! It was quiet with a few runners, dog walkers, mums with prams and of course, winter swimmers but an amazing way to spend an hour. The sun had only been up less than an hour but it was great to feel the sun rays after a week of dismal skies and rain. The best remedy to tackle the winter blues as far as I am concerned. IMG_2772 IMG_2773 IMG_2775 IMG_2779 IMG_2781 IMG_2790 IMG_2789

Amager Nature Centre

On Sunday we were invited to one of my son’s classmate’s birthday party at the Amager Nature Centre. We have been to the edge of the nature reserve, close to Vestamager Metro, before but for some reason I thought the nature centre was much further in from the road. We weren’t the only people attending who thought this but the centre is actually just a short walk from the entrance of the open space.IMG_2101As an organised event we had the use of a hut, a fire pit area and equipment to use to toast marshmallows and also to cook snøbrød or damper bread as I know it. Close by is the wide open space of Kalvebod Fælled and wild roaming sheep. The main nature centre has a cafe and an activity centre where you can borrow nature spotting equipment or take part in organised events – on Sunday they were running two spider spotting hunts.IMG_2103I was very grateful to have been introduced to such an amazing space by being invited to this party and we will definitely be returning to explore as a family and also on my own with my camera to capture the famous Kalvebod fog (if you are instagram it even has its own hashtag #kalvebodfog and if you want to really see this area in its glory I recommend following @gittestark on Instagram).IMG_2113 IMG_2109

Punjabi – a must-try for curry fans

I will start with a disclaimer, this is not a sponsored post although it may read like one. It is a public service post for all expats who are missing a great Indian meal.

I miss very few things from living in the UK but a decent hot curry not made hot by the addition of about ten chillies is one of them. So I was tentatively excited when I saw a former kebab shop across the street from our apartment being refurbished and renamed as Punjabi with a sign on the front saying it would be offering Indian food prepared by an Indian chef. Their menus appeared in a little glass box outside the shop and a sign announcing a 50% deal on meals on their opening night of the first of August.

IMG_1663On that date I made my way over clutching our order to be faced by a massive queue and a wait of an hour (at least) as the good people of Østerbro took advantage of a bargain. I decided to wait for another day.

That day came last night. We ordered samosa, chicken tikka masala (for my husband), a chana masala for me and a few sides such as rice (which unusually the main dishes do not automatically come with), roti and a naan bread (which looked homemade). I asked for my chana masala to be made hot.

To say this is the best Indian meal I have eaten in Denmark is doing it a disservice.  It was probably one of the best I have eaten from an Indian takeaway ever outside of Aberdeen (which surprisingly is the home of a massive collection of amazing Indian restaurants). Many places here seem to have one sauce that they add different things to and call it a different name but each of the sauces were very distinctly different, mine was nicely spicy without the addition of a ton of fresh chillies. The dishes were generous and the bill was affordable. I fear that there general level of spice may be too much for the average Dane and I hope that they don’t adapt to this audience. They say their purpose is to improve the standard the standard of Indian food in Denmark, I would agree they have managed that goal!

It is located dangerously close to our place so I see many more delicious meals in my future. So if you are on the look out for a decent curry check out their website and get on down to Østerbro (they also already have a place on Amager ) or order your takeaway directly from them. They will charge from 29 kr for a delivery, and the payment is available with cash or mobilepay before the delivery man leaves the takeaway.

Adresses:
Strandboulevarden 168, 2100 København Ø
Amagerbrogade 188, 2300 København S
 Website